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Tested: The hair-raising super SUV

SUVs are designed to ferry around families in relative comfort, this high-rider has a different purpose and it’ll change everything you thought you knew about cars.

Tested: The hair-raising super SUV

2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.Source:Supplied

1. Join an exclusive club

Ferrari. Lamborghini. Porsche. McLaren. Aston Martin. Jeep. One of those names doesn’t quite belong in the top tier of supercar brands offering 500kW-plus for the nation’s wealthiest car lovers. Then again, you don’t need to be a millionaire to take home a Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. Priced from $134,900 plus on-roads, the Trackhawk is the cheapest ticket to the 500kW club by a long margin. It has a comfortable SUV package and five-year warranty, though capped price servicing is expensive — it’s an eye-watering $2175 for the 60,000km service.

The Trackhawk is one of the few cars with more than 500kW.Source:Supplied

As the crown in Jeep’s Grand Cherokee range, the Trackhawk is loaded with kit including plush heated and cooled leather seats, climate control, 19-speaker Harmon Kardon audio, 8.4-inch infotainment screen with satnav, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, reversing camera and more. There’s plenty of space for five occupants, and heated rear seats help keep everyone comfortable on chilly mornings. A full suite of driver aids including active cruise control helps take the sting out of long journeys and adaptive dampers bring a surprisingly cushy ride in comfort mode.

The Trackhawk is amazingly fast for such a heavy car.Source:Supplied

Originally developed as the thumping heart of Dodge’s Charger and Challenger Hellcat muscle cars (sold only in America), the 6.2-litre V8 in the Trackhawk is a thing of brutal beauty. Its supercharger crams air into domed “hemi” cylinders found in all Mopar muscle cars. Jeep claims outputs of 522kW/ 868Nm, awesome figures that launch the big wagon to 100km/h in 3.7 seconds before reaching a top speed of 289km/h. It feels mighty on the road, shoving you back in the seat and playing an intoxicating, DJ-turntables-meet-heavy-metal soundtrack — the supercharger’s high-pitched whine plays over the top of thunderous bass from quad exhaust tips. Few cars can match the Jeep’s rock'n'roll swagger. Particularly at this price.

The enormous engine is an affront to environmentalists.Source:Supplied

A supercar with this level of grunt must be used very carefully, not driven daily, with tyre temperatures, road conditions and other factors checked before lighting the fuse and hanging on tight. The Jeep isn’t like that — it’s a car with everyday practicality and impressive 4WD traction. Rain or shine, you can boot it from a standstill without worrying about spinning off the road. Decent enough in the bends and endowed with enormous brakes, the Jeep is a truly entertaining car to drive. You can even use all that grunt for practical pursuits such as towing, which makes this a far more relevant machine than most 500kW cars.

The Trackhawk’s fuel use car easily creep above 30L/100km if you push it.Source:Supplied

Tempting as it is to think of the Trackhawk as a big, dumb, brute, there’s clever stuff at work. Engineering apart, there is fun software to play with, including “performance pages” with live updates for engine output and chassis performance, 0-100km/h and 0-400m timing, launch control and more. Fuel economy is a figure worth keeping an eye on — the claimed 16.8L/100km is easily doubled if you start exploiting the V8’s potential.

From $134,900 plus on-road costs

5 years/unlimited km, $5365 for 5 years

5 stars, 7 airbags, AEB, active cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning.

6.2-litre V8 supercharged, 522kW/868Nm

16.8L/100km (claimed)

782L

Topic: #suv
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