People either get the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, or they don't—as Facebook commenters proved in our video from Monticello Motor Club of the madcap, 707-horsepower, Dodge Hellcat-powered Jeep. Either you think it’s awesome that a family-friendly Jeep can launch to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds, and through a quarter-mile in 11.8 seconds (at 115 mph); or you wonder why anyone would want to design, build, drive or own such a ludicrous beast.
I can argue both sides of it myself. I was a once a skeptic of high-performance SUVs, but I’ve come around: Who exactly decreed that SUVs aren’t allowed to be fast or handle capably, even thrillingly? (See: Porsche Cayenne and Macan, BMW X6 M, Audi SQ5, Alfa Romeo Stelvio). Why should car buyers have all the fun? If you’ve got the money and you’re not into tiny two-seaters, then more (literal) power to you. And for all those smug Isaac Newton wannabes, yes, we're all aware that a tall, weighty SUV will never handle as well as a Lotus. By the way, have you seen Lotus sales lately?
Another argument holds that Fiat Chrysler especially, as Jeep’s supposedly responsible parent, shouldn’t be encouraging this stuff, not when the company's sales are tumbling—and not just for the Chrysler, Dodge, and Fiat brands, but now Jeep as well. In this version, FCA has more pressing issues, such as staving off disaster, instead of wasting finite resources on Tonka toys for a niche audience. Fans would respond that there is a market for this stuff, and profits to be made, as witnessed by strong sales of Dodge's muscle cars even as Fiat and Chrysler can barely give cars away.
Other critics are put off by the heedless, wasteful aspects of muscle-bound Blutos like the Trackhawk, whose appetite for unleaded—11 or 12 miles per galon, when you’re giving it the business—matches its appetite for destruction. SUVs like the Trackhawk come across as right up in your face, engines slurping, exhausts belching. Some people take that very personally, as they did when Hummer owners got flipped off on a daily basis, simply for existing. Mopar fans, of course, have a word, or several, for such sensitive types. And the whole “screw you” aspect of muscle cars has always been integral to their appeal, from the Sixties glory days of Hemi ‘Cudas to the 21st Century. Only now, you can cop that attitude in a Grand Cherokee, blow cars away at stoplights, and still tow a boat or ferry the kids to cello lessons through the worst weather this side of a geostorm. It’s not the way I would spend my 100,000 performance dollars, but I get it. Ultimately, to paraphrase several commenters, if you don’t like the Trackhawk, you’re free to buy a Tesla, Porsche, Chevy Bolt, or whatever. That’s why it’s called America.