Before you stick your tongue out and spit at another overpowered high-riding 4WD, consider the business case for a 707-horsepower Hellcat-style Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. Modern muscle cars are selling. SUVs are even more popular. Everybody loves Jeep. And what better way to increase margins than to spice up an existing vehicle?
The cons on a super-fast luxury SUV like this are obvious; you’re sacrificing utility and all-weather appeal — try putting snow tires on the wheels of a Grand Cherokee SRT — in favor of extreme speeding abilities you’re never likely to use. It lowers an automaker’s average fuel economy. And it’s borderline offensive to anyone who sorts and rinses their recycling.
Performance SUVs have been with us for a while now. Heck, a Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk (known internally as “Project K,” apparently) would be the model’s third on-road ass-hauling variant.
But this year more than ever, the market for luxury 4WDs has been on fire. It really started escalating with the Ram Laramie Limited. Ford fired back with the ultra tech’ed-out 2016 F-150 Limited. Fiat Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne has basically promised to out-luxury Range Rover with yet another large luxury SUV. And speaking of Range Rover, they’re smashing the stained glass at Westminster Abbey with electronically modulated obnoxiousness on exhaust pipes now.
All the aspirational automakers are into super SUVs; BMW X5 M, the Mercedes-Benz G, GLE, and GLS AMGs, the Audi SQ5, and any Porsche that’s more than four inches off the ground.
Interestingly, Ford and GM have held off. Rumors about a Cadillac Escalade V-Sport fizzled out and Ford doesn’t seem to be in the mood to dial up the boost and slap a body kit on the Expedition.
Jeep knows it doesn’t have the cache of those German premium brands, so they’d be smart to leverage what they do have: an engine with obscene power and the rambunctious “Hellcat” badge (and exhaust note) to advertise it. Think of the swagger the Jeep brand has been snowballing anyway; people are ravenous for the things all over the world.
In putting their own spin on the “super SUV,” FCA and Jeep could end up creating a whole new niche; the muscle SUV, and distill just about every automotive thing people have been going nuts for in 2015 (luxury, Hellcat, SUV, Jeep) and dump it into one single vehicle that will allegedly be offered at a bargain-basement $80,000.
Image by the author with graphics via FCA
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