Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is planning a high-powered preview at the New York International Auto Show later week, the Euro-American automaker set to debut two of the most powerful vehicles ever to roll off an American assembly line.
While FCA is waiting for its Wednesday news conference to provide complete details about the Dodge Demon, the muscle car it has been teasing in recent weeks, the maker did pull the covers back on the new Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.
In what might actually seem something of an understatement, Jeep chief Mike Manley suggested that with its 707-horsepower V-8, the Trackhawk delivers “astounding performance numbers.” But Manley also stressed that the new Jeep is more than just the SUV equivalent of a classic muscle car, promising it also offers “luxury, refinement and an array of innovative advanced technology.”
(Click Here to check out this year’s crop of Jeep concepts headed for the annual Moab safari.)
The Trackhawk is motivated by a version of the 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 first introduced in the Dodge Charger and Hellcat models, the first time that massive engine is being used for an SUV. The supercharger itself has a larger displacement than some high-performance engines now on the road.
Jeep has never been shy about offering performance versions of the Grand Cherokee, but the Trackhawk is about 50% more powerful than any SUV it previously offered, and the Trackhawk is likely to give even such rivals as Porsche and Mercedes-AMG a run for the money.
The latter maker’s new GLC 63 S makes a relatively tame 600 horsepower and needs 3.7 seconds to get to 60, two-tenths slower than the Jeep. The Trackhawk’s 707 hp and 645 pound-feet of torque will take it through the quarter-mile, meanwhile, in 11.6 seconds.
That’s still likely to be a lead sled compared to what insiders are hinting the new Demon will muster, that new version of the Dodge Challenger expected to come in somewhere in the range of 900 horsepower. Nonetheless, Jeep is aiming to grab the king-of-the-hill slot among SUVs at a time when a growing number of makers are coming to market with high-performance trucks – like the 420 hp Chevrolet Tahoe RST unveiled last week.
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That’s “fairly predictable,” said Stephanie Brinley, an auto analyst with IHS Automotive, considering that SUVs, CUVs, pickups and other light trucks now account for nearly two-thirds of the American market.
The Hellcat engine in the new Trackhawk is paired to a modified version of the eight-speed automatic now used in more mundane versions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. There are no plans to offer a manual gearbox.
The basic 6.2-liter engine isn’t entirely new to the Hellcat family, but like the Challenger and Charger models, the Trackhawk powertrain has undergone significant enhancements to handle all that torque. The engine, for example, gets a forged steel crankshaft, and the upgraded rear driveshaft is paired with a stronger rear axle.
To front end of the Trackhawk has been modified to help the engine breathe, and remain cool. Among other things, the driver’s side fog lamp has been replaced with a cold air scoop – a trick first used on the two Dodge models.
Steps were also taken to keep the Trackhawk’s brakes cooled. To stop the beast, the Grand Cherokee gets 15.75-inch six-piston, two-piece vented Brembos up front, the largest ever on a Jeep.
The suspension has, no surprise, also been upgraded to keep the Trackhawk stable, whether operating on the street, the track, or off-road.
Drivers will be able to choose between five different modes, ranging from snow to tow, sport to track, and they’ll also be able to mix and match settings in a custom mode. Those settings will adjust a variety of vehicle features, including throttle response and transmission shifts.
Considering the Track Hawk is expected to be the most expensive version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee ever offered, it will feature plenty of creature comforts, including sports seats, and special instrumentation. Along with the touchscreen display in the center stack, it will offer a 7-inch reconfigurable display in the instrument cluster.
Pricing and fuel economy numbers will be released closer to the on-sale date late in 2017.
(Toyota’s tough-truck concept debuting in NY. Click Here for a preview.)