This Jeep Grand Cherokee is the biggest beast in the SRT family, and the most luxurious and all-weather capable, blogs Dan Scanlan.
“Regular” Grand Cherokees make do with a 3.6-liter V-6, a 3-liter EcoDiesel or a 5.7-liter V-8. But our 5,600-mile-old Grand Cherokee SRT has a 6.4-liter HEMI with aluminum alloy heads. It funnels its 475 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque through an 8-speed automatic hooked to a traditional shifter, as well as paddle shifter.
This Jeep has four-wheel-drive. But it’s a full-time Quadra-Trac 4x4 system with a big mechanical "wet" clutch and electronic limited slip differential in the rear that allows up to 100 percent of torque sent to one rear wheel if needed. Torque split and suspension damping is handled with a new Selec-Trac center console knob. Our 5,104-pound SUV had Auto, Sport, Tow, Track, and Snow modes, which control all-wheel drive, transmission, paddle shifters, stability control, suspension and steering. Auto is the default and launches quick off the line when your right foot demands, with torque split 40 percent front, 60 percent rear. Eco lets the engine shift into 4-cylinder on highway and deceleration to save gas, with second gear starts.
We netted 0-60 times of 5 seconds and 0-100 in 12.9 seconds in this mode, the four-wheel-drive putting the power to all four Pirellis as they dug in, the 8-speed shifting precisely and quickly.
Track mode delivers all 475 horses immediately with quicker shifts, sets suspension to full firm and dials in a 30 percent front/70 percent rear torque split. This is where we used Launch Control, also available in Auto and Sport. That adjusts suspension, stability control, driveline, and transmission settings to get the best hole-shot off the line. Tap Launch Control next to the Drive Mode, then hold the brake as you floor the gas. When the gauge display flashes go, meaning the rpm is where you set it, release the brake and the SRT handles the torque split as traction control turns off. We netted 4.8 seconds to 60 and 12.8 seconds to 100 mph in launch control after setting it to 3,250-rpm. The engine bellowed as shifts came hard and clean with an exhaust “whoomp!” - gas mileage dipped below our average 13-mph.
With the four-wheel-drive biased 65 percent aft in Sport, the Grand Cherokee SRT cornered very nicely, with a slice of understeer and some body roll. Sure, you felt its size, but it was quite happy to play in the curves. The only time we felt like we were playing in an SUV was if we hit a bump in mid-turn and its cornering line was upset. Set in Track mode, with 70 percent torque to the rear and stability control off, it felt like a tall Challenger.
The Grand Cherokee SRT may be the subtlest looking member of the FCA performance family, but it still exudes attitude behind the classic seven-slot Jeep grille and squared-off wheel arches. The most apparent is the 1.5-inch drop in roof height, evident when we parked next to a 69.3-inch-tall Laredo model.
Other changes include a gloss black grille surround, extending to the headlights and LED fog light slits on the corners of a sleeker front bumper over a wider lower center intake with air dam and chrome side inlets. The hood has a more rounded power dome with twin vents. The fender flares get body color accents to frame meaty P295-45/ZR20 Pirelli P-Zero performance rubber on black chrome alloy wheels that show off red Brembo brakes. The lower sill flares a bit, with a twin set of gunmetal exhaust pipes in an SRT-embossed lower fascia. The whole Jeep just sits square, low and a bit menacing.
The base rear-wheel-drive V-6 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo starts at $29,995, while the SRT starts at $65,695 with that HEMI, four-wheel-drive, heated/ventilated seats, 20-inch alloy wheels and tires, 506-watt stereo and navigation. Our Jeep that thinks it’s a Supercar came in at a whopping $76,995.
For more information about the latest SRTs, please visit http://www.drivesrt.com/street