Sometimes I wonder if the word “or” will disappear from our native tongue in the coming decades. Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me, given our affinity for “and.” The former indicates a choice is to be made, but Americans hate making choices — it means we’re not getting everything we want. The latter — and — means we get it all, and boy do we love more. Forget “having our cake and eating it too.” We’ll take our cake baked inside a pie, topped with a banana split, please and thank you.
Automotively, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk ($86,200) is one of the latest physical manifestations of this mentality. It’s a batshit crazy muscle car baked inside an excellent SUV, topped with handling capabilities that would surely elicit an eyebrow raise from even the sternest clipboard-wielding German engineer. It’s unapologetic in its purpose, which is to be the most wildly entertaining SUV on sale — to make people reconsider what Jeep is capable of. That’s not some marketing jargon either. Those are my own words, after having spent some time on a track and then doing a road trip between Phoenix from Los Angeles.
The Trackhawk is one of those special vehicles that doesn’t put me at a loss for words; rather, it brings them, accompanied by a range of emotions, flooding into my consciousness. My friends, pinned back in their seats when I took us from an urban crawl up to freeway passing speed in a matter of seconds, experienced an emotional range too: terror and joy. I found myself an opportunity to find the car’s “limit” in a straight line, and subsequently couldn’t stop laughing. (It’s been awhile since I’ve hit the fuel cutoff in a vehicle.)
I can easily imagine a future in which we have a Jeep that does 200mph. That’s a future I want to live in — a future I can believe in. Given that the Trackhawk’s top speed is only 20 mph lower, I won’t be the least bit surprised when that mark is hit and likely passed.
Back here in the present day, we don’t have it so bad though. The Trackhawk is among a very small group of vehicles that have utilitarian roots but are now as entertaining as any ground-hugging supercar. It’s a different brand of entertainment than driving a sports car or a supercar, one that’s ultimately far more accessible to the average person looking for a rush. The joy of running a race car around a track is tough to convey to someone who has never done it themselves. Turn loose the Trackhawk with a couple friends in the back and they’ll get a general idea. You’ll want to clarify that “No, race cars don’t normally have cooled front and rear seats” or “No, race cars can’t comfortably carry a Bernese and a Yeti cooler.”
However, there’s plenty you won’t have to explain because the car does it all for you: it’s equipped with on-demand vehicle performance data and a supercharged engine that’s cut out for hours and hours of abuse. As it turns out, the Trackhawk has more in common with a race car than it does with its peers in the mid-size SUV segment. It falls into that elite class of vehicle that is envelope-pushing while remaining relatively accessible in the same vein of the Raptor or Corvette ZR1. Unlike those two vehicles, however, the Trackhawk is primed for use in daily life in a city. It excels at being comfortable, manageable transportation and it just so happens to excel at accelerating quickly. Really, really, really quickly. Right up to the limit.