Engine: Pushrod V8
Output: 470hp, 465 lb ft of torque
Starting Price: $63,990
MPG: 13 city/ 19 hwy
Despite what every review I’ve read says, you won’t forget you’re in a 5,200 lb SUV when you drive the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT on the track. It’s impossible. This thing is heavy, elevated, and spacious. Now that you think I’m criticizing this vehicle, allow me to gently correct you. It’s precisely the fact that you can’t ignore the SUV qualities that makes the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT so impressive.
I hopped into the SUV SRT (that’s fun to say) for a couple laps around Monticello’s circuit with admittedly limited expectations. Yes, there’s a massive 6.4 Liter Hemi V8 at the front, but it has to lug 11lbs per horsepower. To put that into perspective, the new Alfa Romeo 4C daintily carries just 8.7 lbs per horsepower. These ratios were glued to the back of my mind instead of the fact that these cars have nearly identical 0-60 times. Had I remembered that SRT had added a new Selec-Trac suspension system, slapped on giant Brembo brakes, and fitted huge 295 Pirelli P Zero tires at all 4 corners, I may have been less surprised when the Jeep hunkered down and squeezed through corners like it was never meant to do anything else.
SRT performed serious witchcraft through the driving dynamics. With the Selec-Track system notched to “track mode” –one of 5 available settings- the SRT SUV (I’m just not going to use any other term for it anymore, sorry), blitzes through curves. Yes, there’s some body roll because even magic can’t completely compensate for the fact that you’re driving a locomotive, but the movements are never unsettling. As long as you utilize those strongman Brembo’s to cut speed before corner entry, you can rely on the suspension management system to funnel power to all 4 wheels and efficiently launch you out the other end.
The steering has just enough weight to build confidence, but wasn’t as direct as I would’ve liked. That said, I found a sweet spot when the SRT SUV entered the tight esses following Monticello’s back straight. Though I had to compensate for a brief input delay through the wheel, the car changed direction with poise that again made me feel like SRT engineers were hiding in the bushes, hurling spells at the car to make it move with such agility.
In reality, most prospective buyers of the SRT SUV aren’t considering a track car that can also haul kids and groceries. More likely is the buyer who wants to do the latter necessities while being able to mash the throttle and dust some 370z’s once in a while. For the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, suburban prowling won’t be a chore, but the beauty of this vehicle is that the track credentials are absolutely there, should an owner ever want to scare three of their pals at the local autocross.
Verdict: Spell-binding handling, brutish HEMI power, requires a healthy petrol allowance
*Read this review on Fast Lane Daily*