Dollar for dollar there isn't much, if anything, that trumps a '10 Grand Cherokee SRT8 on the road or at the track. Not only was the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 the first all-wheel-drive SRT vehicle, it is the quickest, most powerful Jeep vehicle ever produced. The specially developed all-wheel-drive system propels the Grand Cherokee SRT8 from 0-60 mph in less than 5 seconds-quicker than the $100,000 Porsche Cayenne Turbo and BMW X5. Not enough? How about 0-100-0 in a low 19-second range and 60-0 mph in about 125 feet. Still not enough? The sports-tuned suspension and all-wheel-drive allow the Jeep SRT8 to hold 0.92g on the skidpad, putting the 5,000-pound SUV on par with the $130,000 Porsche 911 Turbo, which holds just 0.04g more (0.96g) on the skidpad. Need more? Quarter mile times in the low 13s make the SRT8 Grand Cherokee the fastest accelerating vehicle within the SRT8 lineup and second only to the SRT10 Viper among all SRT-tuned vehicles. Plus there is no electronic speed governor, leaving the top speed rev-limited (revving to redline in top gear) to just shy of 170 mph.
Thanks to all-wheel drive, huge Brembo disc brakes, and the Electronic Stability Program (ESP), the Grand Cherokee SRT8 is a 420hp sports car that any idiot can push into performing heroic feats without becoming an obituary headline. That is, unless you just totally blow a corner altogether. Technology can only save your dumb ass from so much stupidity.
Sitting behind the wheel of the SRT8 Grand feels more like driving a two-door sports car than an SUV. Rallying through the twisties you quickly forget that there are two additional doors, seating for three more people, and plenty of storage space behind you. We appreciated all of the cupholders, storage bins, and pockets which were required to keep our valuables from becoming projectiles inside the Jeep during our hot laps around town.
The five-speed automatic did an awesome job of keeping the 6.1L Hemi in its sweet spot. We also liked the toggle shifter feature. You can downshift to help slow down in the corners and when you jump back on the throttle the tranny automatically upshifts, but only when you reach the 6,400 rpm redline. This feature let us concentrate more on driving and less on the RPM and shifting.
By design you'd expect a Jeep to be somewhat spartan and utilitarian. Not so with the Grand Cherokee SRT8. The interior has all the accoutrements you would expect to find in both a high-end sports car and in a modern-day SUV. Our test Jeep had the Customer Preferred Package, SRT Option Group I and II, as well as a few other wingdings. We appreciated these added features, which included dual climate controls, sporty leather power seats, a 115-Volt power outlet, power windows, a universal garage door opener, a sunroof, a CD/DVD/MP3 radio, front and rear seat heaters, a remote start, and more.
Opt into the $1,595 Customer Preferred Package if you are a stereo-and-navigation system kind of person. The $2,045 Option Group I is a must-have because of the many functional items it brings to the table. For $750 we could take or leave Option Group II, which added heated rear seats, an auto headlight leveling system, and HID headlights.
Other cool features that we had fun with were the in-dash 1/4-mile timer, G-force gauge, and of course, the MPG monitor that let us know we were sucking down 12-16 mpg of 91-octane. With a heavy foot on highways, in town, and on winding roads we averaged 13 mpg.
After railing the Grand Cherokee SRT8, you'd think we'd be too woozy with bliss from all the adrenaline pumping through our veins to actually have any legitimate complaints. Aside from the 20-inch wheels, 40-series street tires, lack of a low range in the transfer case, and less ground clearance than grandpa's Cutlass we do have some grievances. With more horsepower than a nuclear aircraft carrier, it seems like a sin that the dual exhaust tips fill the space where a factory tow hitch should be. Perhaps rightly so, since the SRT8 Grand only has a tow rating of 3,500 pounds. Altering the suspension to handle more load would surely compromise the crisp sporty handling. Who needs towing capacity when you can go 170mph?
The powerful V-8 induces some torque-steer, although it's not the aggressive torque-steer that you feel in a front-wheel-drive car. It's most present in corners where you let off and jump back on the throttle around the apex of a corner.
The easy-exit auto seat feature more than once crushed our driving-disheveled cargo on the rear passenger floor (someone should have strapped that stuff down in the back). Fortunately, this particular convenience feature (among others) can be turned off by simply toggling the switches on the steering wheel.
Like most Jeep products, the '10 Grand Cherokee SRT8 puts a smile on your face. We found ourselves coming up with errands to run just so we could spend more time in it. This is one Jeep we were sad to see leave our driveway. Think of the '10 Grand Cherokee SRT8 as a sports car for the truck and sport-utility guy. It's a sleeper if there ever was one. Nobody expects an SUV, much less a Jeep, to be this quick and agile. At a moment's notice the SRT8 Grand is ready to sneak past any Mustang GT driver from a standstill, and then wallop him in the corners. But with government-mandated fuel economy standards increasing quickly, it's this kind of performance that may soon become extinct. It's possible that this generation of the Grand Cherokee SRT8 could be the last available with a big-inch V-8. So if you want to get behind the wheel of an SRT8 Grand with the 6.1L Hemi, you better jump on the '10 model. There's no word on if there will be a SRT8 Grand in the future. And even if there is, it could be a year or two before it hits the dealer floor.
- It's a better sports car than most sports cars
- Lots of interior seating and storage space
- Plenty of interior appointments to keep you busy for weeks
- No tow hitch and low tow rating
- You can't take it off-road at all
- 12-16 mpg