High-performance SUVs are becoming more and more popular, but most of them are still high-dollar items. When you look at the industry, most of the seriously fast SUVs come from European brands. There are two exceptions. The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and the Dodge Durango SRT. These beasts offer a lot of power and surprisingly good high-speed handling prowess that other manufacturers can’t match for the price. Let’s take a closer look at these two models and then compare them to the competition.
Dodge’s Demonic Durango
Dodge’s Durango is already one of the most masculine SUVs on the block. Its muscular exterior and spacious interior make it attractive to a wide variety of owners. The Durango SRT is Dodge’s way of drawing in people who love big engines and high speeds. Under the hood is a 6.4-liter HEMI V8 engine that makes 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque.
In SRT form, the Durango comes in either rear or all-wheel drive. It can sprint from a standstill to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds and will do a quarter mile in 12.9 seconds. The Durango SRT isn’t all about straight line speed, though. The vehicle is track ready with adaptive suspension, adjustable drive modes, six-piston Brembo brakes, and Pirelli tires.
In addition to being able to put most coupes to shame, the Durango SRT can also tow 8,700 lbs, which is better than most in its class. It also has an inviting interior, Uconnect infotainment system, and tons of cargo space. All of it comes in at a base MSRP of $62,995. A pretty penny, to be sure, but still cheaper than other import performance SUVs.
Jeep’s Screaming Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
While most Jeep’s are designed for rocky trails, the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk tackles different terrain altogether. It’s Jeep’s fastest vehicle. The Grand Cherokee is a versatile SUV. It can be outfitted to traverse some of the most difficult terrain, made to be pleasant for the average American family or built into a race-track demolishing monster. Under the hood of this angry beast is a supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8 that makes an astonishing 707 hp and 645 lb-ft of torque.
The Grand Cherokee Trackhawk has a face-melting top speed of 180 mph and can do the 0-60 sprint in just 3.5 seconds, besting its Dodge cousin by almost a second. The quarter mile comes in at a blinding 11.6 seconds. The Trackhawk isn’t just about going fast in a straight line either. It can hustle around a race track with ease thanks to Bilstein adaptive damping suspension and a five-drive-mode Selec-Track system. Stopping power is supplied by six-piston Brembo brakes, and Pirelli tires provide grip to the road.
Inside the Grand Cherokee features luxury-level materials and FCA’s Uconnect system. The Trackhawk also isn’t a slouch when it comes to towing. The model, in addition to all its other capabilities, offers up to 7,200 lbs of towing capacity, which is quite a lot for a five-passenger unibody SUV. All in all, it’s a pretty amazing package for its base MSRP of $85,900.
The High-Performance, High-Priced Imports
Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Jaguar, Land Rover, BMW, Porsche, Bentley, and now Lamborghini all have high-performance SUVs. They’re all excellent and anyone who tells you otherwise is frankly wrong. The thing is, though, they all come with high price tags. The Dodge Durango SRT and Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk are expensive vehicles, but when placed next to their high-performance luxury SUV counterparts, they look like bargains.
Let’s take the Land Rover Range Rover
Things get even more outrageous with Porsche’s new Cayenne Turbo. The model is a speed enthusiasts dream, for sure. It has a twin-turbocharged V8 that’s good for 550hp and 567 lb-ft of torque. All that power launches the Cayenne from a standstill to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds. It has a top speed of 177 mph. Pair that with an extremely luxurious interior and sports-car-like handling capabilities and you have an amazing machine. Starting price? $124,600. Yep, you could almost buy two Dodge Durango SRTs for that. Is a half a second faster to 60 mph really worth all that extra money? Also, the Jeep is actually faster to 60 mph and costs more than $38k less.
The same goes for several other import high-performance SUVs from BMW’s X5 M to the Mercedes AMG GLE 63 S. They’re all wildly expensive when you compare them to the Jeep or Dodge. While many of these machines come with higher grade interior materials and some special features exclusive to their respective brand, the fact of the matter is that the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and Dodge Durango SRT are well equipped, too.
The Dodge and Jeep are not quite as luxurious, but it’s hard to sit in them and not feel comfortable. They come with plenty of technology, too. This makes them crazy bargains, especially when you consider that they beat or closely match the performance numbers that their luxury high-performance competitors are putting out. We’re not saying you shouldn’t buy the luxury brand SUVs if you can afford it, we’re just saying that you can get close to the same thing for a heck of a lot less money.