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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Afterthoughts: Going the Distance in A Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

      Is it possible to get decent gas mileage out of a 707 horsepower SUV?

    “I can’t believe we’re going to make it”

    This thought passed through my head as I brought the vehicle to a stop on an off-ramp. Somehow, I was able to travel from my house in the outskirts of Metro Detroit to my hometown of Midland, Michigan on just a quarter-tank of gas. That may not seem like a huge accomplishment except when you look at the vehicle I was driving, the 707 horsepower Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk.

    Originally, I wasn’t planning on traveling to Midland in the Trackhawk. Earlier in the week, I had driven it down to an event in Ann Arbor to drive a couple of Mitsubishi vehicles. The trip revealed the thirst of the supercharged 6.2L V8 by using up a third of the gas tank. My plan for the rest of the time would be running errands and some small trips to get a feel of the vehicle. Over the weekend, I would get some work done and take photos. But that would be thrown out the window when my brother brought up the idea of heading to the Northwood Auto Show in Midland.

    The Northwood show takes place on the grounds of Northwood University. It is a unique auto show as the students of the school run all of the aspects of the show ranging from the planning to being the product specialists for each brand. This is part of their automotive and aftermarket degree programs. When I lived in Midland, the show was something I looked forward to every year as I would get the chance to sit in various new vehicles. Also, I would come home with a big bag of brochures that I would be reading throughout the year, letting all of the information seep into my brain. This may explain why I became so crazy about vehicles.

    It had been a few years since I last attended the show due to various factors such as not knowing when it would be put on. But I was surprised that it would be taking place around the same time I would have the Trackhawk. At first, I was hesitant to go. But then, my brother said the magic words,

    “I would be willing to pay for gas. I want to go for a ride in the Trackhawk.”

    Once those words came out of his mouth, I had decided that it would be a good idea to go to Northwood. But something else crept into my head. Would it be possible to travel to the show on a limited amount of gas? I decided to put it to the test.

    Saturday morning, my brother and I got into the Trackhawk to head towards Midland. Starting up the vehicle, the supercharged V8 thundered to life and the gas gauge rose to just a hair over a quarter of a tank. My plan was to put the vehicle into Eco mode and use the radar cruise control to travel at a steady speed of 75 mph. The instant fuel economy screen would be up in the instrument cluster to let me monitor and make adjustments as needed. I would stop for gas when the distance to empty notification reached 15 miles or under.

    As I began to pull away from the house, my brother noticed that the vehicle was in Eco mode.

    “I think its more of a suggestion than an actual mode,” I said when he brought it up.

    To demonstrate what I meant, I pushed the throttle to almost the floor on an on-ramp. The V8 engine roared into life with the supercharged screeching. Even in Eco, it is quite shocking how fast this brick picks up speed.

    “I get what you mean by this being a suggestion,” my brother said to me as we merged onto I-75.

    The trip from my house to Northwood is about 90 miles. The trip computer told me that I would be out of gas in 90 miles. Cue “Challenge Accepted” picture. 

    The first 15 to 20 miles of the trip was a bit nerve-racking. Watching the instant fuel economy fluctuate between 10 to 15 as the vehicle would slow down and accelerate as other vehicles came into its path. I began to worry about my goal of reaching Midland was all for naught. But as we traveled further on I-75, my confidence began to grow. The engine settled down and cruise at just a hair above 2,000 rpms. The fuel gauge was steadily going down, but my average fuel economy was rising.

    It wasn’t till we passed the small town of Auburn, that car flashed its low fuel light. The vehicle said it had 30 miles till it reached empty. I knew that Midland was only ten or so miles away and decided to push it. The gauge continued to fall as did the distance to empty. I held my breath until we got onto the off-ramp. Just a few hundred feet away was a gas station. We had done it with just 20 miles to spare. According to the car, I had an average of 15.1 mpg for the trip.

    I know there will be someone who will be saying: “Why did you this? Aren’t you missing the point of this vehicle?!” No, I know the point of the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is to go stupid fast. Defy the laws of physics. But that is what every review (including mine that will be coming in the near future) goes on about. I wanted to do something a bit different and look at it from a different angle. 

    I think my brother said it best about this whole experience as I got back into the car after getting some gas,

    “I wasn’t expecting that to happen.”

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