Making a good first impression is everything. But you don’t need to worry about that when you’re a 2017 Grand Cherokee SRT with sweet smelling cherry leather. Open the door, sit down, inhale, love. At least that’s how it went for me. Ever the skeptic though, I didn’t expect the model to deliver so much sporty handling on a Formula One track. And that was my great mistake leading to a wonderful surprise on my recent test drive at the Circuit of the Americas. Pulling up to the pit exit and entry point onto the track, blasting the Ramones’ “I wanna be sedated,” I flash the checkpoint guy the rock sign and sing out to him. They laugh and say, “Yeah and that one [the Jeep Grand Cherokee] more than packs the pickup.” Sure.
And then it launches. I’m laughing in sheer glee.
The Grand Cherokee definitely possess the power of a heavyweight at the tap of a lightweight. Meaning, you don't have to be into launching for this thing to launch for you faster than a sneeze. It's a solid roller that lends a feeling of complete, powerful, control. I couldn't figure out the steering wheel controls in my amount of time behind the wheel. They didn't come naturally to me and I couldn't get them to control the volume or media. That's okay though. In this case, the Ramones were blasting and the volume is an easily found large turning knob on the central media dash. The touchscreen is also large enough and easy enough to use without lessons. Aside from the awesome handling, the interior really does stun. The steering wheel is a unique shape that adds an extra jolt of fun to take it through the slalom course. The seats are super deep and the ceiling super high. An NBA player would love this thing. The digital cockpit is super cool. It actually shows you the exact pressure of each tire for maximizing peak handling. The speedometer is a little hard to see, it's not in the usual middle or right side, but rather is a small left side meter.
It's both the ultimate family car and ultimate adventure car.
Just thinking about taking this car on a family campout sounds perfect. There is plenty of advanced rear seat entertainment to keep the kids from whining on the drive. The Grand Cherokee SRT also offers 7,200 pounds-feet of towing. So load up the trailer and the s'more supplies. It's a big car with a go-carting personality. No worries about bumping it into things though. Its collision warning system is super sensitive. It gave a yellow warning just for driving close alongside the cement divider in the pit. Hopping out you'll notice the beautiful Brembo brakes in red. These explain the exceptional handling with stable braking. The gray color of the test model is a little boring. Would be nice to see it in the Velvet Red Pearl paint.
Grand Cherokee SRT by the Numbers
There's nothing not to love about its 6.4-liter HEMI V8, except maybe fuel economy. It gets 13 city and 19 highway mpg. Pricing is also a bit of an issue if you're tight on cash. Jeep gives it a starting sticker of $66,795, but our test model came with a hefty $82,455 sticker. That makes it $10,000 more than the Alfa Romeo's Giulia Quadrifoglio RWD which won Car of Texas at the Texas Auto Roundup.
Feature Credit: Marshall Tidrick Photo/ Photo Credit: Jeep