2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 Review
Highs and lows
- Pure brute strength.
- Great exterior design.
- Sporty drive yet practical for family life.
- Gas consumption.
- Visibility rather poor up front.
Just try to be inconspicuous
When I pulled up at home with the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, my husband practically threw the baby at me in his rush to get out the door and see the beast up close. Each time a GC SRT8 growls past us on the street, it's all he can do to pick his jaw up off the ground and stick his tongue back in his mouth. He has a full-on man-crush on the in-your-face SRT8 -- and he's not the only one.
In all honesty, I didn't think I'd be as impressed with the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 as I was. Seeing the previous generation on the road always made me smirk at its pompous demeanour and look-at-me road presence. But, once behind the wheel, my smirk quickly turned into an ear-to-ear grin.
While some vehicles out there are all bark and no bite, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is a whole lot of bark with a death-grip bite to match.
If nothing else, the GC SRT8 gets some serious looks on the road. There's no denying that the new 2012 look is a winning one. Jeep has taken the Grand Cherokee to a new level of sophistication with classier lines, smoother edges and an overall cleaner look.
Then the SRT8 cures are added and the Grand Cherokee takes on a whole new persona. From the front, the SRT8 is aggressive through and through: with a fat bottom lip beneath the signature Jeep seven-grille grin and enormous hood nostrils above, it's clear this Grand Cherokee means business.
Angular wheel arches house 20" SRT8 wheels with Brembo brakes (which are needed to bring this monster to a stop when things really get going). A muscular shoulderline draws your attention to the back where Jeep chose to move the previous-gen dual tailpipes to the outer corners and house them in a fancy, black SRT8-labelled bumper lip.
Some might see the upgrade as less brute-ish and common compared to the middle-mounted look. However, by moving the exhaust to the outer corners, Jeep has given GC SRT8 owners the ability to tow (up to 5,000 lb), something that was previously impossible.
Inside, the GC SRT8 is just as impressive. Brushed chrome accents abound, and the sport-shaped steering wheel with mounted paddle shifters and handsfree control buttons is oh-so inviting. Simple is perhaps the best way, and Chrysler keeps the middle console just that with a familiar onboard computer system and easy-use-entertainment system. And, of course, looking at a speedometer that hits 300 km/h in an SUV is always pleasing.
In Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl, my GC SRT8 tester could not go quietly into any night, or day for that matter. Coupled with the barking (read: roaring) exhaust note when pushed, the SRT8 is a beacon for attraction.
I wanted the apocalypse
But I didn't get it. Sure, the Jeep SRT8 has a fantastic exhaust note... but only once you've hit the open road (in a straight line). It has a nice, deep rumble when turned on, but it's not enough. I wanted children to run scared, housewives to close their curtains frantically and men to go weak in the knees with envy as I rolled by. But, unless I was pushing the GC SRT8 past the 4,500 rpm mark, such reactions were not to be seen.
There's no denying that the 6.4L V8 HEMI engine is brutish and powerful, pumping out 470 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque, but I wanted to hear it more. That might seem petty, but I think it's something one expects from the GC SRT8 experience. Sure, it's felt throughout the vehicle (front seats or back), but aurally, it's just not as apparent.
Speaking of brute strength, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 is a monster in a straight line. Leave the cornering for those lower to the ground, but have all the fun you want on straight stretches (and make sure you keep both hands on the wheel).
I managed 0-100 km/h sprints in the 5-second range which, for a vehicle weighing in at the 5,000-lb mark, is more than damn impressive (to think, it could rival the 2013 Nissan GT-R I'd had the same week). And when you get it up to speed, you'll be happy the SRT8 is equipped with Brembo brakes that are more than adequate to bring the beast to a stop.
Piloting the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 is exciting, no matter what the environment. On the open highway, the GC is an expert cruiser. With more than enough room throughout the cockpit and rear seats, all passengers and driver will revel in the Jeep's comfort on long journeys.
On busy city streets, the GC SRT8 is just as at home, with its sleek design and lower-to-the-ground stance that make for easy entry and exit. The steering-wheel mounted shifters make for spirited driving and shifts are responsive, save for a lack of rev matching when downshifting which makes for a jerky drive every now and then.
On those back-country roads, the Jeep GC SRT8 is just as capable thanks to the Selec-Trac 4x4 system.
However, thanks to a sportier suspension set-up, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 can be quite rough, especially on uneven terrain. One might expect such a feel from the GC's nature-loving brother, the Jeep Wrangler.
One annoyance that plagued me all week was a massive blind spot thanks to the A pillars. They are so wide all the way up that it's almost impossible to see oncoming traffic at an intersection without moving your body to see around them. I thought perhaps it was just my small stature that caused the inconvenience, but my 6'0" husband had the same issue when seated in the driver's seat.
Luxury at a "bargain" price
If you're still not sold on the idea of the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, consider this: for just over $50,000 you'll get yourself an SUV that's not only capable of towing the family boat up to the cottage on weekends, but one that's also sporty enough to take a few laps around the local track with a bunch of coupe cars -- and possibly win.