Driving Hennessey’s 1,000-HP Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk: More Hell for the AWD Hellcat
Adding 300 horsepower to a 707-hp Hellcat Jeep, as it turns out, only makes a good thing better.
Colloquially speaking, insanity is something of an either/or proposition: Either something is insane, or it isn't. The Hellcat-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, by production car standards, certainly falls on the far side of sanity. After all, it's a sport-utility vehicle that comes standard with a 707-horsepower, 646-pound-foot supercharged V8—one that, thanks to an all-wheel-drive system not found on any other Hellcat-packed Mopar, can propel this 5,300-pound SUV from naught to 60 in just 3.5 seconds en route to a top speed of 180 miles per hour.
But "stock" is a dirty word for the gang at Hennessey Performance, no matter how powerful a car might be when it rolls off the production line. And with buyers snapping up customized crossovers and off-roaders from the Texas-based company like oil was going out of style, the market seemed primed for John Hennessey and Co. to work their jacked-up magic on Jeep's hellacious kitty. So they swapped out the stock blower for an even more massive supercharger—at 4.5 liters, it alone displaces as much air as the engine in a BMW M5—and further reworked the engine to handle the extra air and fuel needed. The resulting tweaks, by tuner standards, aren't all that insane—an extra 300 ponies or so. But that was enough to push Hennessey's Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk over the 1,000-horsepower mark.
Ask the Texas-based company, and they'll tell you that, in fact, the HPE1000 upgrade dials the Jeep up to 1,012 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and 969 pound-feet of torque at 4,200 rpm. I didn't have a chance to slap this monster onto the dynamometer, so I'm taking the company at their word for it. What I can vouch for, though, is that it's fast as—well, hell. Launching the Hennessey Trackhawk is as easy as holding down the brakes and loading the transmission up by revving the Hemi to around 1,800 rpm, then yanking your left foot up as fast as you slam your right foot down. Do it right, and it'll knock off 0-60 sprints in the low three-second range over and over again—even in the 98-degree, high-humidity weather of Sealy, Texas in summer, on somewhat worn-out tires, on a concrete surface more suited to Grummans than grip, while blasting Toto's "Africa" loud enough to be heard over 1.2 gallons of supercharger whine.
More remarkable, though, is just how sweet and easy this 1,000-hp sport-ute is to toodle around in. Stick to the first third of the throttle's travel, and it's gentle as a Xanaxed lamb. During The Drive's time shooting in Texas, we repeatedly used the Jeep like we would any other support vehicle, driving it on coffee runs and to the local barbecue joint for a heavy midday meal. We jammed out to classic rock, lounged around in the overstuffled leather seats, hammered up to near-triple-digit velocities on on-ramps then tucking behind pickup trucks to keep from drawing the gaze of the omnipresent cops in the area. (The fuzz know full well where Hennessey is headquartered.)
More impressively, perhaps, three-quarters of us picked the Trackhawk as the cream of the Hennessey crop. Your humble author was the sole holdout, and that was admittedly because of the near-religious experience of driving a thousand-horsepower Camaro. Still, after ruminating on it for a while, I find myself missing the Jeep even more than the maximum 'Maro. The Exorcist may be the more entertaining date...but the HPE1000 Trackhawk is the Hennessey I'd rather live with.