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Friday, June 9, 2023

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk First Test Review

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There’s a line from Moby-Dick, “In a whaler wonders soon wane.” Cetaceans are awesome creatures, magnificent mammalian consequences of evolution.

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Awesome, in the older, proper sense of the word. And in a life spent in their pursuit, so filled was it with wonder, the whaler soon grew immune to unsubduable excitement. As much as I try and not let myself get numb to the routine of driving fantastic dream machinery, it happens.

As Jimi Hendrix would term it, I am experienced. Experienced with both powerful and crazy. The AMG 6×6 jumps to mind, as does the Lamborghini Urus, the Lamborghini LM002, the BMW X6 M, and even a good old Unimog. I’ve also driven a number of cars with 700-plus horsepower; heck, I had a Dodge Charger Hellcat for a year. Until recently, however, I’d never driven an SUV with 700-plus horsepower.

I had been in the Trackhawk’s driver’s seat for maybe a minute and just buried my right foot. To brag a little, I’ve hit 171 mph on the front straight of Big Willow in a Porsche 918 and hit 193 mph on the Bonneville salt in an AMG GT S. I’m used to big machines doing big things. But none of them tickled my funny bone like this $100,960 Jeep. I haven’t laughed about a car like that since I don’t remember.

How does this thing handle? Another reminiscence if I may. Since I’ve driven the Porsche 918, I inevitably get asked how it is to drive. “Fast,” I say. “It’s just fast.” Meaning, I know that I drove four laps around the big track at Willow Springs, but I literally remember nothing about the 889-hp hybrid hypercar, save for how fast it is.

“Once there, it turns in rather slowly, offers only a little hint of the front tires’ punishment, and eventually settles into terminal understeer,” he continued. “The exit, however, is where the ‘Wheeeeee’ happens. You can literally stand on the loud pedal and do a four-wheel drift until it’s pointing straight.

Before the Trackhawk, if you would have told me that one day there will be a $100,000-plus Jeep, I would have assumed it would have been some sort of luxurious, reborn Grand Wagoneer—complete with the off-road chops the fabled brand is known for. I never would have seen a dragstrip bruiser in the cards. Yet here we are. I’m sure we can all agree that there’s no need for a vehicle like this. But boy, are we all happy Jeep gave it the green light. I got no problem with crazy, as long as it’s the good kind of crazy. You know, the kind that makes a supercar saturated car scribe giggle like a todder. Ain’t no wonder waning here.

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