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2018 Jeep Trackhawk has a Hellcat heart

Charles Fleming, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Automotive News

For the 2018 model year, Jeep has introduced a 707-horsepower version of its Grand Cherokee Trailhawk.

Called the Trackhawk, it answers a question no one ever asked: What would it be like to cross a Jeep trailhopper with a Dodge muscle car?

Imagine the pitch at parent company Fiat Chrysler HQ:

"Boss, what if we put a Hellcat engine in a Cherokee -- just because, you know, we can?"

The result is a mild-mannered, off-road-ready Jeep, smirking slightly because it has a secret.

Under the hood is the same supercharged power plant Fiat Chrysler Automobiles puts in its insanely fast Dodge Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcats.

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This is big Detroit beef at its baddest -- a massive 6.2-liter V-8 growler that makes 707 horsepower and 645 pound-feet of torque. In a Jeep.

That's like a Vespa overdosing on Viagra, or a Harley big twin in a tricycle.

With the enormous engine mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, and assisted by Brembo brake calipers and a special Bilstein competition suspension system, there's plenty of "track" in Trackhawk.

The beast is reputed to get from zero to 60 miles per hour in a snappy 3.5 seconds, making it among the quickest gas-powered sport utility vehicles ever offered. (Tesla's battery-powered Model X, tested at 2.8 seconds, appears to wear the quickest SUV crown.)

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