Comparing the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat for speed is less straightforward than one might expect.
The Trackhawk is an SUV, and the Hellcat is a sports sedan for road use and fast track times. However, they have similar horsepower at 707hp for the Trackhawk and 797hp for the Hellcat.
Which Is Faster: Trackhawk or Hellcat?
The Hellcat is faster with a higher top speed reported to be 203mph. The Trackhawk’s reported top speed is 180mph. However, the Trackhawk posts a faster 0-60mph time with 3.3 seconds versus 4.0 seconds for the Hellcat.
By two more measures, the ¼ mile time and figure-8 course, the Trackhawk narrowly wins both by two and one milliseconds, respectively.
Despite the Trackhawk having a smaller engine with less horsepower, 4-wheel drive comes standard, and there is no 2-wheel drive option.
All Wheel Drive (AWD) gives the Trackhawk an advantage at getting off the line faster to beat the Hellcat in the 0-60mph challenge. The Hellcat’s engine picks up at a higher speed to provide the power necessary to have the highest top speed.
How Do the Trackhawk and Hellcat Compare?
First, let’s take a look at the specs side by side:
|Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye||Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk|
|Output||797 horsepower/707 lb-ft of torque||707 horsepower/645 lb-ft of torque|
|0-60mph||4.0 seconds||3.3 seconds|
|¼ mile time||11.9 seconds @ 126.6mph||11.7 seconds @ 116.2mph|
|Figure-8 course||24.8 seconds||24.7 seconds|
|Top speed||203mph (claimed)||180mph (claimed)|
Before continuing this comparison, we must clear the air about the Trackhawk and the current lineup. Jeep put the powerful 6.2L V8 707hp engine in a 2018 limited-run Trackhawk. The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT fills a similar role.
The engine we are covering here is currently in another model of Jeep Grand Cherokee, which is fast but not designed for speed. The SRT looks the same as a Trackhawk. Under the hood now sits a 6.4L V8 SRT HEMI MDS Engine.
The Trackhawk with a 707 HP Engine
Perhaps some people sat around and wondered, why doesn’t a Jeep go as fast as a sports car? And, perhaps nobody ever asked that question.
Either way, the market responded and some people wanted a fast Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the Trackhawk fills that role.
In addition to the 707hp and 645 lb-ft of torque, the Trackhawk features a TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission. Eight speeds allow for a smooth transition from gear to gear that passengers barely notice.
How Can a Jeep Beat a Charger?
The 0-60mph in 3.3 seconds might be the most interesting stat the Trackhawk produces. By all numbers, the Charger, with a larger, more powerful engine, should win this competition in every straight-line speed test.
However, the Trackhawk’s 4×4 drive makes all the difference due to its grip. Simple physics dictates the reason, four tires spinning with power all at once cover more surface area and offer more traction and a better launch than two tires pushing everything else.
In addition, the Trackhawk has a built-in launch feature that allows 1800 to 2200 rpm to build up before launch. The build-up combined with the AWD allows the Trackhawk to get off the line so fast that the Charger cannot win a 0-60mph contest.
With the rush of speed at launch, one might think the Trackhawk could lose control, but the AWD keeps the control in the driver’s hands. Launch does not feel chaotic and scary.
The Trackhawk has a sibling Grand Cherokee named the Trailhawk. The off-road version is what Jeep is known for, and the Jeep Wrangler sits alone as the poster child promoting the outdoor adventure image.
The Trackhawk covers the other side and defends the reputation of Jeep on the road or track. As stated earlier, the Grand Cherokee SRT occupies a similar spot for the foreseeable future.
What Are the Hellcat’s Strengths?
The difference in AWD and Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD) is profound enough to allow the Hellcat to lose to the Trackhawk in a short race. The reason comes down to friction. A wider tire makes more contact with the road and creates more friction.
Friction dictates how much horsepower can propel a vehicle forward. Some simple math helps to clarify why the Hellcat lost. The Trackhawk has 707hp divided by four because of AWD, which equals 176hp per wheel. The Hellcat with RWD comes to 398hp per tire.
We can put wider tires on a Hellcat to allow the RWD to have more friction. Unless the tires are oversized in width, they cannot control 398hp, so the wheels spin out. In a 0-60mph race, the tires should maintain contact with the road. The Hellcat has to start slower, whereas the Trackhawk can launch.
Physics makes the Hellcat slower in the 0-60mph race, not the engine. Looking at the engines, the Hellcat should be faster, but two tires cannot utilize 398 horsepower each.
The friction is also the reason the Hellcat seems to take off around 90mph. At 90mph, the need for high friction reduces, and RWD and 797hp start to work in tandem. The Charger takes off and goes significantly faster than the Trackhawk. 23mph makes a big difference at top speed.
If Dodge wanted to utilize the Hellcat’s engine, AWD as an option for the sedan would deliver a lot more launch power through the tires by creating more friction and improving grip on the track.
Will the Trackhawk and Charger Faceoff Again?
Only if Jeep brings the Trackhawk back for another limited run. And Dodge has plans to scrap the Charger, at least in its current iteration. For the time being, the 2018 models offer the best comparison.
The next best option is to compare the latest Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, also only available in AWD, with the latest Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye. The stats of a matchup would be interesting to see, but the Trackhawk has more horsepower in a smaller engine.
Can a Trackhawk Go Offroad?
Yes, because the Trackhawk has AWD, but the design of the engine creates high speed on a track. However, with 645 lb-ft of torque, the Trackhawk has more than enough power to take on rough terrain.
The tires will not perform the same as dedicated off road tires like the Wrangler. Rock crawling would ask too much of the Trackhawk, but rural trails would still be a lot of fun.
Why Is Dodge Canceling the Hellcat?
Unfortunately, we live in an age where the market does not win if a fun engine in an exciting car produces more carbon than the climate warlords deem acceptable. In short, the government has fined the Hellcat to death due to emissions standards. By 2023, it will be no more.
If Dodge can find a way to deliver 797hp and meet emissions standards, the Hellcat can come back. If not, keeping the monstrously powered sedan on the road is too expensive for Dodge and the consumer.
On the website, underpowered engines, half the size, and half the horsepower are already showing up for the 2022 models, and the trend will continue. The Hellcat had a good run, but the time has arrived to say goodbye.