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Holy Hellcat: Jeep CEO confirms mega-powerful Grand Cherokee in 2017

One very explicit statement is all it takes to set the gearhead heart aflutter.

2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Night
2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Night
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

When Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced the introduction of a 707-horsepower Hellcat trim for the Dodges Charger and Challenger, it didn't take too long for horsepower freaks to figure out what else FCA could shoehorn it into. The Jeep Grand Cherokee was always at the center of that conversation, and it's apparently closer to reality than anyone thought.

Journalist Brian Makse was interviewing Jeep CEO Mike Manley at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, when he inquired about putting the 6.2-liter Hellcat eight-cylinder engine into Jeep's largest SUV. The exec's answer was about as straightforward as it gets: "Not only can I put a Hellcat motor in one of those for you," Manley said, "I'm going to bring that to market before the end of 2017."

The rumor mill really started swirling when FCA trademarked the "Trackhawk" name, which many assumed would be the name of a Hellcat-powered Grand Cherokee. There wasn't much supporting evidence for that theory, but there sure as heck is now.

Jeep spokesman Trevor Dorchies said, "We don't have any comment and nothing official from FCA has been announced." Automakers typically refuse to comment on future products, so don't take Dorchies' response to mean that it's not going to happen.

Currently, the most powerful Grand Cherokee on sale is the SRT model, which packs a 475-horsepower, eight-cylinder engine and retails for $64,895. The price difference between a Charger SRT 392 and a Charger Hellcat is approximately $16,000, and that markup would put a Hellcat-powered Grand Cherokee at $80,895.

Considering its potential competitors, the Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR and the BMW X5M, start about $10,000 above that, a hi-po Grand Cherokee could be the performance bargain of the century.