Jeep’s Hellcat-powered Grand Cherokee is a rolling monument to horsepower

Jeep has borrowed the vaunted Hellcat engine from sister company Dodge and stuffed it under the Grand Cherokee’s hood. Named Trackhawk, the supercharged off-roader will be one of the uncontested stars of this week’s New York Auto Show.

Dropping the supercharged 6.2-liter V8 in the Grand Cherokee’s engine bay was easier said than done. Earlier reports suggested Jeep needed to either ditch four-wheel drive in favor of rear-wheel drive, or settle for using a detuned version of the Hellcat engine. In the end, engineers managed to clear every hurdle and they avoided making compromises.

The V8 generates 707 horsepower and 645 pound-feet of torque, and it spins all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission controlled by shift paddles. The gearbox and a majority of the driveline components were strengthened to handle the extra grunt, and the Trackhawk is equipped with the largest front brakes ever fitted to a Jeep in order to keep the cavalry in check.

In the SUV segment, the 5,300-pound Trackhawk’s performance numbers are second to none. It sprints from 0 to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, it blasts through the quarter-mile in 11.6 seconds, and it goes on to a top speed of 180 mph. Jeep proudly claims the newest Grand Cherokee is the quickest SUV on the planet. Alternatively, the Hellcat V8 helps the Grand Cherokee tow 7,200 pounds.

Five driver-selectable modes called Auto, Sport, Track, Tow, and Snow, respectively, change the Trackhawk’s character. The torque distribution varies from 40 percent front/60-percent rear in Auto to 30/70 in Track. The driving modes also change other parameters like the steering’s weight, the transmission’s shift times, and the suspension’s firmness.

The aesthetic modifications are surprisingly minor considering the monumental firepower lurking under the sheet metal. The Trackhawk only stands out from the less powerful Grand Cherokee SRT with air dams that replace the front fog lights, air vents cut into the hood, and quad exhaust tips. Bold “supercharged” emblems on the doors add a finishing touch to the look.

Built in Detroit, the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk will reach showrooms nationwide by the end of the year. Look for a pricing announcement before then.

Who gets the bragging rights?

Critics quickly pointed out Tesla’s Model X deserves the performance crown because it performs the benchmark zero-to-60-mph sprint in 2.9 seconds, over half a second quicker than the Trackhawk. Jeep disagrees; the X and the Grand Cherokee are not direct rivals because Tesla’s seven-seater isn’t a true SUV.

A company spokesman told Digital Trends Jeep relies on Ward’s vehicle classification system, which ranks the Grand Cherokee as a sport utility vehicle and the Model X as a crossover. When viewed in that light, the Jeep is indeed the quickest SUV while the Model X is the quickest crossover — not to mention one of the quickest product cars regardless of segment.

Cars

Startup Rivian exits stealth mode with a bold promise to electrify off-roaders

Electric car startup Rivian has finally turned off stealth mode and provided details about what it's been working on since 2009. It will build battery-powered off-roaders instead of taking on Tesla and others in the luxury EV segment.
Cars

2020 Toyota Corolla sedan aims to offer sharper handling, better tech

The 2020 Toyota Corolla sedan gets the same upgrades as the recently-introduced Corolla hatchback, including a firmer foundation, new engine, and more tech features. Will that be enough to keep the long-lived Corolla nameplate relevant?
Cars

Jeep’s outdoorsy Gladiator pickup truck bares it all ahead of schedule

Jeep will introduce the long-promised Wrangler-based pickup truck at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show. Named Gladiator, the model was designed to conquer the great outdoors, not for the construction site.
Cars

Where are you going this weekend? These 5 off-road vehicles say 'anywhere'

The body-on-frame SUV is going extinct, but there are still several options for buyers looking to skip the asphalt. To help you sort the good from the bad, we've rounded up the best off-roaders currently available.
Cars

Our favorite fuel-efficient cars are as frugal as they are fun

You don't need to opt for a hybrid or an all-electric ride in order to achieve good fuel economy. These vehicles pack both performance and style, whether you're in the market for a luxury sedan or a game-changing pickup truck.
Cars

Out of juice? Learn how to jump-start a car with this quick guide

Jumping a car is a simple procedure, but not everyone knows how to properly do so. To make things easier, we've put together a quick-hit guide on how to fire up your vehicle using jumper cables and a second power source.
Cars

Many adults believe fully self-driving cars are already traversing U.S. highways

The American Automobile Association tested cars with features such as lane-keeping and adaptive cruise control and found them lacking in real-world conditions. Forty percent of surveyed U.S. adults think self-driving cars exist now.
Cars

Born to run (forever): The most reliable cars you can buy right now

We all dread the thought of our car turning into a money pit, but choosing a dependable vehicle from the start can help us rack up countless care-free miles. Here, we've rounded up some of the most reliable cars available.
Cars

Prep your car for the coming snow and sleet with these cold weather tips

Driving in the winter, whether downtown or across the country, is rarely easy. Luckily, we've put together a quick rundown of a few things you should do to winterize your car before the snow officially hits.
Digital Trends Live

DT Daily: Waymo’s driverless cars, ‘Fallout 76’ tips, and Racella

In today's episode of DT Daily, we discuss Waymo's foray into the ridesharing sector, along with various tips for making the most of the recently launched Fallout 76. We also sit down with singer Racella to chat about her new EP, Waves.
Cars

Want to keep connected on the road? Here are 5 ways to add Bluetooth to your car

The best way to make an old ride feel young again is to bring it up speed with the 21st century. Here's how to properly add Bluetooth to your vehicle, via independent kits, vehicle adapters, or aftermarket head units.
Cars

The hamster-friendly 2020 Kia Soul will rock out at the Los Angeles Auto Show

Kia has released a teaser image to preview the next Soul. Scheduled to make its debut at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, the 2020 Soul will keep the outgoing model's boxy proportions but it will wear a sharper design.
Cars

Honda will squeeze another model into its SUV lineup at the Los Angeles show

Honda will introduce a new SUV with a familiar nameplate at the 2018 Los Angeles auto show. It envisioned the 2019 Passport as a five-seater alternative to the eight-seater Pilot. The two models will share a platform and many tech features.
Cars

Uber rolls out rewards program that lets its most loyal riders lock in prices

Uber launched a new loyalty program today called Uber Rewards. It offers frequent riders credits to Uber Eats, car upgrades, and the ability to lock in prices on their most traveled routes.