Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk Owns Virginia International Raceway

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The track’s Grand Course threw four miles of physics at the Trackhawk. The mighty Jeep simply laughed it off.

Car & Driver gets together once a year at Virginia International Raceway to put the newest group of performance cars through their paces. Obviously the field is filled with vehicles that have racing pedigree, like Porsche 911’s, Corvettes, McLarens and Lamborghinis. Yet one of the most powerful cars there was also the heaviest. That’s the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.

VIR is an incredible track to drive on, because it tests acceleration, makes you trust brakes, digs out handling flaws in tight corners and extracts confidence in tip-toe esses. For a 5337-pound vehicle like the Trackhawk, it is an almost improbable task.

Trackhawk Virginia International Raceway track test

SRT engineers made sure it was equipped for the job, though. Under the hood is the Hellcat’s 707 supercharged V8 which helps with forward momentum. Nestled within the front 20-inch rims areĀ  piston brakes on huge rotors, and on all four rims are 295/45 Pirelli P Zero sport tires.

Trackhawk Virginia International Raceway track test

On the track, it’s tough to avoid the laws of physics, but the Trackhawk does its best. Torque vectoring technology will clamp a rotor here and there in order to persuade the Jeep to respond to steering inputs instead of its heft. Interestingly, the softer suspension could be seen as a benefit, being able to thunder over curbs without upsetting the Jeep at all.

While the Jeep was fast, and bested another German rival in the X5M, it wasn’t going to make any Italian or German exotics scared about a tough competition. Still, a lap time of 3:06.9 is faster than a few notable “sports” cars. It set an identical time to a 2011 Mercedes E63 AMG, and was a half second faster than a 2010 Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang. Those two cars are unquestionably fast, and Jeep shows up to Virginia International Raceway to crash the party.

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Patrick Morgan is an instructor at Chicago's Autobahn Country Club and contributes to a number of Auto sites, including MB World and 6SpeedOnline.

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