Before I even took a minute to study the dash and controls, I jumped in, hit the pushbutton start button, and hit the accelerator as hard as I could. The sensation of being hurled against the front seat was not unlike a ride at an amusement park. This is the essence of the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8.
Let’s start with the obvious; the powertrain. Under the hood, you get a 6.4-liter Hemi V8 that is pumping out 470-horses. Note that unlike most vehicles pushing 500-horses, this beast is naturally aspirated with no turbos or superchargers under the hood. It is just pure, raw power. It runs like it sounds…bad to the bone. This Jeep engine hooks to a 5-speed automatic transmission that can be shifted with paddles on the steering wheel for maximum performance.
My Deep Cherry Red test vehicle comes with an intense list of standard equipment including leather and suede seats. The front buckets are incredibly comfortable and they hug you nicely, which you’ll need when going into a hard turn too fast. In the early development of the new Grand Cherokee that debuted last year, Mercedes Benz owned Jeep and you can certainly see styling cues from the luxury automaker.
Also standard is 4-wheel drive with adaptive suspension and an electronic limited-slip rear suspension and electronic stability control. Those items provide superb handling and ride quality whether you are pushing the Jeep or driving normally.
It also comes with rearview camera, parking sensors, pushbutton start, and it will unlock itself with keyless enter-and-go. You never need to pull the key out of your pocket. Other no-charge items are a heated steering wheel, air conditioned and heated front seats, automatic temperature controlled air, navigation system, beautiful 20” aluminum wheels, Pirelli tires, voice controls for the Bluetooth, even heated second row seat.
Then we move on to option packages, which I find to be priced very well. This SUV has the DVD player mounted in the roof with wireless headphones, and it comes with a power sunroof, all for $2495. For you techies, get the luxury group for $4495 and you get more leather on the door panels and arm rest, but you also get power liftgate, blind spot monitoring system, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning, which can literally be a lifesaver.
If you want a 19-speaker, 825-watt stereo that rocks, it will set you back $1995. If you plan to tow something with the Jeep, trailer towing package will get you completely ready including the hitch for $995.
Here’s what you have: a luxury SUV that looks hot, handles great, and performs like a Ford GT Mustang. What’s not to love? For upper income couples, this may be the perfect mix of Mom’s SUV Monday through Friday, and Dad’s play toy on the weekends.
I admit to having a bit of sticker shock when I looked at the price, but then I drove and looked at the performance numbers. It performs equal to or better than, the Porsche Cayenne S, Supercharged Range Rover HSE, and BMW X5. Using the track experience mode on the dash, this 5200-pound mass of metal did 0-to-60 in 4.6 seconds, and with the 15” Brembo brakes, shut itself back down to a dead stop quickly and easily.
If you want a sports car, but need an SUV, this is the one.
What I liked most: The horsepower, handling, and interior.
What I would change: Give me at least a 6-speed automatic, 7 would be nice.
MSRP: $54,470 base price, as tested, $65,375.
Fuel Economy: Rated at 12 City/18 Highway but I’m not getting that.
2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 in a few words: High performance sports car in an SUV body.