Joshua Is a self-proclaimed Driving God with an almighty Forza Game Rank.
The Thing About Dominant Powers...
It’s 2005. And the board of operations at Jeep gives the green light to do something crazy: take the 6.1L HEMI V8 from the Charger/Magnum & 300C SRT8 and put it in the recently remodeled Jeep Grand Cherokee. Why? Because ‘Merica, that’s why.
And they did exactly that. Jeep unloaded the official first shot with the 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 and successfully dominated and held its own in a segment it created: performance SUVs. No Porsche Cayenne, Trailblazer SS, Land Rover, or Infiniti was able to put a serious dent into it. And most of all, it was fast, competitive, and affordable. Well, while its evolution stayed fast and affordable, compared to everything else it competed against, in a few short years, it was no longer competitive. The dominant power shifted overseas.
What Stopped the Domination
The problem with dominant powers is that they never stay truly dominant.
The power shifted with the Jeep’s second coming, or the second generation, released in 2012. The engine got more power. At 6.4L or 392 cubic inches and 470 HP, it was better than the previous 6.1L engine. But the vehicle gained weight, so it was slower than its predecessor.
And to make matters worse, the competition got stronger. In a 2010 Car & Driver Comparison Test, the old 2009 Jeep could at least still hold its own against newcomers, edging out the Land Rover by one point. Yes, it still lost, but third place bronze is still on the podium, ain't it. But in 2012, in another Car & Driver Comparison Test, the new Jeep came in fourth place because everything else was just significantly better. It was obvious Jeep needed to do something about it. But the FCA is slow, so it took six years.
Then in 2017, Jeep launched the Trackhawk, a 707 HP monster.
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The new Trackhawk solves the problem, right? It makes the Jeep competitive again? The dominant power? Well, yes and no. Yes, because until 2019, the Trackhawk will be here. But what about after?
See, in 2019, the FCA may ax the Hellcat engine and 6.4L HEMI V8s for twin-turbocharged four and six-cylinder engines. While I highly doubt the 6.4L HEMI is going anywhere, a 707 HP engine will guzzle gas. And even technologies like Start-Stop throttle control, cylinder deactivation, various eco-modes and a new 8-speed Auto Trans that help save fuel don't help save it enough. And a high NVH (Noise, Vibration, & Harshness) rating, all due to the engine, doesn't help the Jeep's case. And the FCA can’t keep buying Clean Air Credits. So then in 2019-2020, Jeep is left with the regular 6.4L, 475 HP SRT Jeep while the competition is still pushing 550-600 HP. The Hellcat engine is not the long-term solution.
I’ll elaborate more on it in a later post, but suffice it to say, the engine the Jeep should have launched with is the 426 cubic inch or 6.9L HEMI V8. (I don't care what anyone says: 426 is 6.9L, but 7.0L makes it a 427.) It easily could have made power figures between 550 to 600+ HP, easily competitive with anything Germany or Britain throws at it. Then attach the same price tag Jeep initially used. The Jeep SRT was already one of Jeep’s best-selling vehicles. But that's too much bang for the buck to not swing the powers that be back in Jeep’s favor. This way, Jeep would've never lost the top spot.
And then in 2017, when the Trackhawk launched, it wouldn't be an answer to the competition; it’d be on par with the Dodge Demon—a car made simply because it could be done, not because it had to compete with anything. And that's the American, more-so, the Mopar way to do things.
The Dominant Power Is Back With Jeep...But for How Long?
I don't hate the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. I absolutely love the car. It’s why in my follow-up post, a hypothetical about how I would relaunch the 2nd Gen SRT Jeep, I still launch the Trackhawk.
My issue is with the FCA and why the Jeep SRT is so underpowered. It competes with cars out of its league. And while its muscle car sound gives it plenty of bark, it doesn't have much of the bite.
In the Charger/Challenger, the 392 is amazing as it evens the playing field between the SS/Camaro SS from Chevrolet and the Taurus SHO/Mustang GT from Ford. In the Jeep, the 392 makes it an underachiever in its class.
The Jeep was an honor student in high school. Then it graduated and couldn't adapt to college. You used to be the one. The one everyone looked up to. Now you're at the bottom, looking up at where you used to be. The Trackhawk is not the permanent solution to Jeep’s HP problem. I just hope Jeep realizes this before it's too late.
© 2017 Joshua Nightshade