What do you do with a 707-horse, Hellcat-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk? When is just a short drive away, you take it to test and tune night, to see how close you can get to Jeep's 11.6-second quarter-mile time.
Yesterday afternoon, I took the two-hour drive from New York City to Atco Dragway to spend an evening doing quarter-mile passes. The guys from , came along too, and brought their Hellcat-swapped previous-generation Grand Cherokee SRT8. We figured we'd see what the factory-built Trackhawk could do against the swapped and tuned Jeep that the shop has been tinkering with.
Unbeknownst to us, YouTuber Sinister Life was there, too, and filmed a number of our drag runs. Thankfully, Sinister Life caught my fastest pass of the day in the Trackhawk. Here's how the brand-new Jeep does at the drag strip.
Before you watch the video, I should explain a few things. First off, True Street's swapped Grand Cherokee is still being tuned. The guys were testing new engine calibrations and suspension settings in a Jeep with seriously turned up power and street tires. On every run filmed by Sinister Life, the driver gets off the power early on, not wanting to beat on a truck that was just recently put together. Meanwhile, in the Trackhawk, I was essentially ignoring the Christmas tree. I wasn't concerned with reaction times—I just wanted to get a quarter-mile ET on the new 707-horsepower Jeep.
On the first run Sinister Life filmed, I did 12.061 at 113.68 mph, without launch control. The Trackhawk's launch system has you left-foot brake and floor the accelerator, spinning up the supercharger to build boost and sounding for all the world like a serious drag car with a two-step launch system, but on my first few runs I didn't use it.
The next run on the video was my best of the night: 11.899 at 114.64 mph (Sinister Life, standing at the starting line, captioned a few of the times slightly wrong in his video). I used launch control on this run—you can see faint smoke coming from the tailpipes as I rev the engine against the brakes. Jeep engineers say 2200 rpm is the sweet spot for launch control, and I believe it.
On my final run on the video, lined up against an orange BMW, I screwed up the launch control. The Jeep requires you to put massive pressure on the brake pedal, then stomp the accelerator to full throttle. Too little brake pressure, or too slow to full throttle, and the system disengages. I'm not sure which way I messed it up, but the Jeep crawled out of the staging lights instead of staying still and revving against the brakes. I ran a 12.180 at 114.09 mph, but my 60-foot time suffered at 1.832.
All in all, I'm incredibly impressed with the Trackhawk's drag strip performance. With all-wheel drive and a Track mode that's not afraid of a little wheelspin, launching the big 5300-lb Jeep is easy: Just floor it and let the truck figure out the rest. On a hot, humid night with a slightly slippery track surface, and a novice like me at the wheel, that's good for high 11s. With better weather and track conditions, an experienced drag racer might even be able to beat Jeep's 11.6-second claim. Regardless, the Trackhawk is an absolute hoot at the drag strip—just like we expected it would be.
UPDATE: And here's a second video courtesy of , showing a different angle of my 12.06 run, followed by a different run where I did 12.198 at 112.92 mph, not using launch control. The final run in this video was an 11.91 at 114.29 mph.