Jeeps Grand Cherokee has been an incredibly popular SUV since its original debut back in 1993, garnering a ton of awards and sales for the Jeep brand. Back in 2006 the SRT8 debuted based on the new for 2005 WK chassis. The 2006 Grand Cherokee SRT8 was powered by a 6.1 liter Hemi V8 that churned out 420hp and 420lb ft of torque delivering power to all 4 wheels. An SRT specific sport suspension as well as Brembo brakes rounded out the performance package, while styling and interior tweaks rounded out the SRT8 as a whole. Jeep and SRTs new creation was extremely popular, outrunning all other performance SUVs with a lower price of entry.
12 Model years later and the Grand Cherokee SRT8 is still around although now called the Grand Cherokee SRT. Jeep gave the Grand Cherokee a complete redesign for the 2011 model year and has kept it fresh with constant updates both cosmetically, functionally and mechanically. The Grand Cherokee SRT is no longer the highest performing Grand Cherokee in the line-up (Those honors go to the new 707HP HELLCAT powered Trackhawk), but make no mistake it is no slouch. Now powered by a 6.4 Liter (392 cubic inch) Hemi V8 rated at 475hp and 470lb ft of torque and backed by a ZF 8 speed transmission the 2918 Grand Cherokee SRT is both faster and more fuel efficient than the original.
Thanks to our friends at Abbotsford Chrysler I got to spend a day with the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT the other weekend. While I don’t get to spend enough time with the vehicles to do a thorough review these are my first drive impressions. My tester was finished in Granite Crystal Metallic and had black Nappa leather seats and suede seating surfaces. Options wise this SRT had the Rear DVD entertainment system, trailer tow package, SRT high performance audio package, panoramic sunroof and optional semi gloss black aluminum wheels.
Exterior wise the 2018 Grand Cherokee SRT has a classy muscular look with nice lines but enough visual cues to let you know it’s something special. Chrome trim and badging from other Grand Cherokees is replaced with gloss black trim giving a sinister look. The SRT gets unique front and rear bumpers, sideskirts, wheels and a lowered ride height.
Jeep did an incredibly good job with the interior, all materials are of very high quality and I’m a big fan of the black alcantara headliner and a-pillars. Gloss carbon fiber and silver trim is abundant, setting off the all black interior. The SRT gets a unique flat bottomed steering wheel with a nice thick leather wrapped rim. The steering wheel also has nice hand grips and perforated leather sections. A panoramic sunroof makes the interior feel airy, while back seat passengers get a reclining seatback and tv monitors with audio/video and HDMI inputs if so equipped. I’m just over 6 feet tall and found it easy to get comfortable in all seating positions. Seats are leather with alcantara seating surfaces, heated and cooled in front and heated in the rear. As with the Challenger 392 Shaker I reviewed, I found the cooled seats work much better with alcantara than standard leather. Apple carplay and Android Auto is now standard with the new UConnect 4C infotainment system which features crisper graphics and a faster processor than the older UConnect units.
While I couldn’t try out launch control, a little bit of brake torquing and flooring the gas resulted in violently quick launches with almost no wheelspin.
I recently reviewed the Grand Cherokee SRTs cousin the 2018 Dodge Durango SRT and I instantly noticed a few differences driving the Grand Cherokee. Compared to the Durango the Grand Cherokee has a 5.1 inch shorter wheelbase, is 11.4 inches shorter overall and weighs 406lbs less. While on paper the performance numbers are very close between the Grand Cherokee SRT and the Durango SRT, in the real world the Grand Cherokee feels just a little bit more nimble and a little bit quicker. On the road in auto mode the ride is smooth and the Jeep corners near flat, Sport and Track modes each up the steering effort, throttle sensitivity, suspension damping and transmission shift speed respectively. In track mode the Grand Cherokee SRT really comes alive, downshifting in corners and holding gears right in the powerband for corner exit. While I couldn’t try out launch control, a little bit of brake torquing and flooring the gas resulted in violently quick launches with almost no wheelspin. The Grand Cherokee SRT will get to 60 MPH in 4.3 seconds and run the quarter in 12.8 on its way to a top speed of 160MPH. 6 piston Brembos up front with 4 piston Brembos in the rear bring the Grand Cherokee SRT to a halt quickly with no drama, pedal feel is also excellent.
When not driving like a hooligan the Grand Cherokee SRT is still very enjoyable to drive. Road and wind noise is kept to a minimum with just the slight burble of the 392 Hemi entering the cabin. Due to the Grand Cherokees relatively small size it is easy to drive in traffic or parking lots. Visibility is excellent all the way around and you have a backup camera, front and rear parking sensors, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist to watch out for you. Believe it or not you could easily live with a Grand Cherokee SRT as a daily driver that provides both praticality and fun. That must be a big reason they are so popular.
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