TrackHawk vs 5.9 Limited: A retro comparison

Jeep's newest super Grand Cherokee meets its oldest relative.

Since its inception, Jeep has been a builder of sturdy and rugged off road vehicles, which makes the Grand Cherokee TrackHawk an extreme outlier. With 707-horsepower and launch control, the TrackHawk is anything but a typical Jeep. Or is it?

As it turns out, Jeep has a history of building high-performance Grand Cherokee models that dates back to 1998 when it introduced the 5.9 Limited. Like the TrackHawk, 5.9 Limited was the performance SUV of its day, with a world's best 0-60 time of around 7 seconds.

In essence, the TrackHawk is Jeep's modern interpretation of the 5.9 Limited. And, curious to see just how far the apple has fallen from the tree in the last 20 years, I decided to conduct a side-by-side comparison.

The findings

The accompanying video will explain everything in greater detail, but I was surprised to find just how similar the two vehicles actually are -- the 5.9 Limited and TrackHawk not only share the same basic formula, but also a number of design cues.

In terms of overall philosophy, both models are basically the same -- they both start with a normal Grand Cherokee and upgrade it with a nicer interior and a more (much more, in the case of the TrackHawk) powerful engine. There's obviously more to it than that, but that's the general formula for both the 5.9 Limited and TrackHawk when you really boil it down.

And when it comes to styling, the TrackHawk borrows plenty of cues from the 5.9 Limited. The most obvious visual connection is a set of functional hood vents, but there's lots more to find once you start searching. Look closely and you'll discover that both SUVs have the same kind of mesh grille inserts, they share similarly styled side sills, and sport and low-profile roof racks. Even the badging strategy is similar between the two.

Bottom line

The 5.9 Limited quite literally blazed a path for the TrackHawk; the TrackHawk might not exist today if Jeep hadn't created the 5.9 Limited back in 1998. But they did, and we have 707 reasons to be thankful for that today.

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