‘SRT’ stands for ‘Street & Racing Technology’ – it’s Chrysler’s high performance division. In the case of the new Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, ‘SRT’ translates to: “Whooooa!”
This loud, racy 6.7-litre V8-powered piece of American muscle-car-in-an-SUV throws down the gauntlet to rival Europeans wearing ‘AMG’ and ‘M’ badges. And priced at $77,000, the new Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT undercuts those Germans by more than $100,000 – yes $100,000 – to make it the buy of the year for SUVs.
And forget that old chestnut about American performance cars lacking technology – for starters the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT runs an eight-speed automatic transmission (that’s two more gears than the BMW X5M and one more than the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG), adaptive cruise control and a state-of-the-art driveline including launch control.
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Overview
The Grand Cherokee SRT comes to Australia from the massive – and historic - Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit, Michigan. We didn’t find any ‘stars & stripes’ flags anywhere nor were there hot dog wrappers inside, but this is pure American muscle car SUV no doubt about it.
Chrysler has just updated the Grand Cherokee with freshened looks inside and out and an injection of new technology. While the Grand Cherokee range starts at $43,000 (4x2 Laredo V6), the SRT is the range-topper, priced very affordably at $77,000.
That buys you a lot of car – from the 6.4-litre V8 to the advanced chassis technology and luxo interior, this family-friendly SUV lacks for nothing.
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Engine
We love our high-tech engines here at Car Showroom, and there’s no denying the appeal of Chrysler’s 6.4-litre 90-degree V8 with its pushrod-operated 16-valves. A product of the company’s engine plant in Saltillo, Mexico this powerhouse is all American muscle so you may be surprised to know that with its latest updates it actually complies with the tough Euro6 standards for emissions.
Maximum power is 344kW at 6250rpm and peak torque of 624Nm is delivered at 4100rpm. How does that compare? Well FPV delivers 335kW/570Nm from its supercharged V8 fitted to the GT R-Spec.
Like all Jeep Grand Cherokee models, as part of the latest update, the SRT scores the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. But the SRT goes further with its unique ‘Quadra-Trac’ full-time four-wheel-drive system. In the ‘Auto’ setting torque is distributed 40/60 but for the ‘Track’ setting this is changed to 30/70. ‘Sport’ is 35/65 while ‘Snow’ and ‘Tow’ are 50/50.
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT The Interior
SRT scores the centre-dashboard Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen for climate control, audio and satellite navigation plus a brilliant 7.0-inch TFT colour customisable instrument cluster.
As well there are superb SRT seats (black Nappa leather in our test car or you can choose Laguna leather). There’s also carbon-fibre-look trim highlights and the marvelous flat-bottom, leather wrapped steering wheel (heated and with electronic adjustment for rake and reach).
Rear seat accommodation is quite spacious (as you’d expect from an American SUV). Luggage space is 782-litres with the rear seat in-place or 1554-litres when folded.
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Exterior & Styling
In its latest guise, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is immediately identified by its revised version of the hallmark ‘seven-slot’ grille (it’s narrower) and funky HID bi-xenon headlights. The SRT version adopts adaptive LED headlights and stylish DRLs with black surrounds and a black finish for the grille.
At the rear are larger tail-lights (again black finish for SRT) and a distinctive, new-design Jeep badge. The SRT version also adds a new rear spoiler.
Maybe it’s the Fiat’s ownership of Chrysler-Jeep but pleasingly the SRT runs 295/45 ZR20 Pirelli Scorpion Verde tyres on massive 20.0x10.0 highly-polished alloy wheels – a meaty five-spoke design. The tyres are ‘run flat’ by the way – another example of the world-class technology in this SUV muscle car.
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT On The Road
To capture the spirit, we drove our SRT straight from Fiat-Chrysler’s Port Melbourne head office to lunch at ‘Misty’s’ - a famous American diner in the CBD fringe of Prahran. The Chicago-style hot dogs, washed-down with Dr Peppers were right at home but I bet you’re thinking the SRT would struggle in those tight confines.
Well you’d be wrong. Apart from our unwillingness to ‘curb’ those brand-new polished 20-inch alloy wheels on the cobblestone gutters, 3.4 turns lock-to-lock for the steering, a turning diameter of 11.6-metres and the standard reversing camera meant parking was a breeze. No denying though, while the Grand Cherokee SRT isn’t the biggest SUV, its 1954mm width (excluding the mirrors) did require some skill in those Prahran laneways and our CBD car park.
So that inner city maneuverability was surprise number one from the SRT. Surprise number two came when we tackled our high-speed mountain roads test loop.
The SRT runs a unique suspension set-up. The front is a short and long arm independent design with an anti-roll bar and Bilstein adaptive dampers. The rear is a multi-link design with aluminium lower control arms, independent upper links (tension and camber), a separate toe link, anti-roll bar and Bilstein adaptive dampers.
Sounds sophisticated and it is. As well, SRT runs the ‘Selec-Track’ system with driver-select ‘Auto’, ‘Sport’, ‘Track’, ‘Tow’ and ‘Snow ‘ settings which bring into play settings for stability control, active damping, transmission shift calibration, transfer case torque control, the electronic limited slip differential, throttle control and cylinder de-activation. For this updated model, Jeep improved the software to provide more discernible differences in the dynamics of the various settings.
So through the twists, Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT simply stunned with its sporty dynamics. Undoubtedly firm, this 2.3-tonne SUV was astonishingly precise, flat and responsive in the twists.
And the acceleration from the 6.4-litre V8 was enormous (especially in the ‘Sport’ setting, when exiting some tight hairpins in the wet the propulsion was phenomenal). As for the exhaust note…well that was just epic.
As much as we had AMG and M on our minds…well this too was HSV and FPV at their best. An SUV muscle car? You bet!
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Challenges
We get it – the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is an ‘in-your-face’ kind of vehicle – but those ultra-highly polished 20-inch alloy wheels are just a bit ‘over-the-top’ for our eyes (we’d go for the optional ‘Spider Monkey’ wheel design).
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Verdict
One of the ‘Cars Of The Year’ for us – so much performance, luxury and technology for so few dollars. Sure it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and no doubt European brand snobs will scoff - but the fact is the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT does challenge the X5 M and ML63 AMG in the ‘bang-for-your-bucks’ department.
The performance is blistering and is matched by a world-class, high-tech driveline and chassis to deliver a level of performance that is as good as the best in this league. And the design teams have also delivered – especially the interior which oozes quality and technology wherever you look.
Now free of financial hurdles and with parent company Fiat demanding world-class cars, the folk at Chrysler-Jeep have responded big-time with some breakthrough products and the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT heads the list.
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT The Competition
By any measure the BMW X5 M is one of the world’s best high-performance SUVs but there’s no denying its $183,700 price tag. Mind you that buys a 408kW/680Nm 4.4-litre twin-turbo V8, hallmark BMW luxury and M performance. It’s got the ‘wow!’ no doubt about it.
We’re huge fans of the Infiniti FX – we love the looks, the interior is a stand-out, there’s heaps of technology and it drives brilliantly. There is a Sebastian Vettel version overseas but the standard model sold here isn’t really in the league of SRT, AMG or M. Not that the FX’s 287kW/500Nm 5.0-litre V8 is a laggard but remember we’re talking 344kW/624Nm for the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. And the Infiniti’s $114,900 price tag is a fair way north of the SRT’s $77,000.
We’d walk over hot coals to drive the Mercedes-Benz ML 63 AMG – we think it’s astonishingly good and ‘Benz at its best. But you’ll need to stump-up $179,400 to secure this piece of German automotive brilliance with its 386kW/700Nm 5.5-litre twin-turbocharged V8 heart.