Exterior Design: ****
The SRT crew took a Grand Cherokee and meaned it up track style. The result is a low-slung brick fronted by a giant front air dam. Center exit dual exhaust on the other end puts a stop to any ridiculous ideas about towing. Why even pretend the thing is going to go off-road or tow a boat? The utility in this monster is apparent once you stuff it into a corner and hit the throttle. The exterior design is a case of form following modified function.
Interior Design: ***
Bolstered leather SRT seats are an early visual giveaway that this thing is not your standard four-wheel cell phone transport unit. The acres of gray punctuated by sliver accents and a few strategically placed SRT logos aren't going to win any international design awards, but add some sport to utility. Gazing around at interior bits isn't what this thing was built for. Looking out the front window at the unfolding road ahead is the key interior design feature.
Great Caesars Ghost! This monster packs a very large displacement V8 prepared for maximum output by SRT. Instant off idle torque is there on command. Sixty foot times at the dragstrip are right up there with any sixties musclecar. Jeep says 0-60 comes in under five seconds. The quarter-mile take a few tenths over 13 seconds.
A fat set of Brembos with antilock capability and brake assist will lock you up against the seat belt as they scrub inertia off this near 5000-pound machine. Brake city, and you're the Mayor.
Getting a 4,819-pound brick to handle like a slot car requires some sacrifice from the smooth ride department. Up front the ride is performance biased. Back seat travel can be a bit choppy.
Is this thing really an SUV? Bilstein dampers along with fat front and rear sway bars help the Jeep defy perceptions of what an SUV is supposed to do. Full time all wheel drive puts corners quickly into the past with ease.
Five-speed automatic is fronted by a slightly loose torque converter. This gives the 6.1 Liters of Hemi a few more RPM before it unleashes the power into the clutches. After that everything is a miracle of modern engineering and an amusement park ride quality demonstration of the forces of gravity.
The test vehicle was equipped with a 6CD-MP3 changer and SIRIUS Satellite Digital Radio and Boston Acoustics Premium Sound system. AC DC never sounded better then when traffic finally cleared up on I-15 heading out of Vegas.
Dollar for dollar the SRT8 Grand Cherokee is a performance bargain. Its nearest competitors may feature forced induction or a perceived level of refinement, but the SRT8 gets the job done for much less. Think 20K less.
The tester was chock-a-block with toys as part of the Customer Preferred Package 29L. Given some more time I actually could have figured out how to fully employ the nav system, Uconnect Hands Free Communication, Park Sense Park Assist, Remote Start System, and Power Adjustable Pedals! The back up cam system was tested, and it was pretty bitchen.
Being an SUV the trunk was more than adequate. That being said, this thing was not designed for carrying 4X8 sheets of plywood or bags of peat moss for planting begonias.
In a lot of ways this thing embodies what most people really buy an SUV for. V8 power and torque along a feeling of taller superiority over lower and smaller vehicles. Sure it doesn't make any sense, but it's a whole lot of fun without the hubris of its more expensive equivalents. The Grand Cherokee SRT8 demands admiration for what it does, and it does it very well.