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SRTGR8

By John DiPietro
Date posted: 12-12-2005

As we wondered about the need for such a lovably absurd vehicle as the 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, we could almost hear the gruff voice of Patches O'Houlihan of Dodgeball fame. "Necessary?" he'd exclaim with one eyebrow raised. "Is it necessary to have 420 horsepower in a Grand Cherokee? Probably not. But it looks and sounds mean and I like the performance." And after a week in this road-bound hyper-Hemi SUV, we'd have to agree with the crusty son of a gun.

At first blush, the idea of a full-on street-performance-oriented Jeep may seem sacrilegious. But one look at the hunkered-down stance, deep front air dam and big wheels with low-pro tires and you'll quickly realize its true purpose is blazing the blacktop, not tackling the trail.

Styling Sacrifice
As cool as it looks, the SRT8's styling has a price — that low-slung chin requires attention when going over speed bumps and when parking (be careful when approaching a parking lot block). We even grazed it on a gently sloping apron while entering a restaurant's parking lot — not exactly a radical angle of approach for a sedan, let alone an SUV. We'd suggest that Jeep either make it not quite as deep or make the lower portion a separate and flexible black rubber piece.

The styling hit has to be the center-mounted dual exhaust, something you'd expect on a Lamborghini, not a Jeep SUV. It looks cool and has the sound to back it up — a low, muted rumble that segues to a hearty bellow when you tromp on it. And yes, you can still tow with this rig, up to 3,500 pounds.

Hold me, thrill me
With its hard plastic dash top, the cabin doesn't look especially luxurious, but fit and finish is very good and the key touch points like the seats, steering wheel and gearshift knob are nicely trimmed.

With a vehicle capable of pulling 0.9gs of lateral acceleration (that's sports car territory folks), aggressively bolstered buckets are a must. The Jeep's seats qualify with firm side wings as well as suede inserts that hold the driver in place on twisty roads. Long-haul comfort is commendable, too, with excellent under-thigh support and a feeling of the seats wrapping around you. The second-row seat is another matter altogether as it's too flat in comparison and has a cushion that's too low for proper leg support.

Our SRT8 was fitted with "Option Group 1," a $3,200 package that adds features such as a power moonroof, heated seats, Sirius Satellite Radio, reverse park sensor and side curtain airbags. It also dresses the cockpit with eye candy, including metallic door and pedal trim. Blue-ringed gauges add to the performance theme.

Super utility vehicle
The heart of the beast is the same 6.1-liter Hemi that also sees duty in the Jeep's SRT8 cousins, the 300C, Charger and Magnum. In this application it makes 420 hp at 6,000 rpm and 420 pound-feet at 4,800 rpm.

All that power is sent through a five-speed automatic to an electronic all-wheel-drive system, which normally runs at a 95-percent rear/5-percent front torque split, but has the ability to ship all the torque to the front or rear wheels as conditions dictate. There's no "Low" range as this Jeep is not meant for boulder bashing, and Jeep spokesperson Scott Brown says there's no rear-wheel-drive version because the carmaker considers all-weather performance to be paramount to the brand's heritage.

At the track the Grand Cherokee SRT8, which rides on massive 255/45ZR20 front and 285/40ZR20 rear Goodyear Eagle RS-A run-flats, laid down some serious numbers: 5.2 seconds to 60 mph, 13.5 seconds in the quarter-mile. That makes this a 4,800-pound SUV that easily smokes a new Mustang GT, Pontiac GTO and, its most direct competitor, the Chevy TrailBlazer SS. And, you may want to sit down for this if you're a Porschephile, it's even quicker than the $90,000 Porsche Cayenne Turbo (0-60 in 5.9, quarter in 14.3).

And you don't need the skills of Big Daddy Don Garlits to duplicate those numbers, either. With all-wheel drive, tweaked for this high-power application, the GC just digs in and takes off. Even with the traction control switched off, the result is the same — major urge without wasted time spinning tires. The run up the acceleration curve is virtually seamless, it pulls hard with the smart automatic furnishing rapid, seamless gear changes. Although you can shift it for yourself (it is AutoStick, after all), you probably won't bother because the tranny does fine left alone.

This Jeep's groundswell of power at highway speeds is equally astounding — punch it at 65 and it rushes to 100 faster than you can say, "But Officer, I was just testing it." We have to warn you, however, that if ya wanna play, you're gonna pay — we averaged just 11.7 mpg (against EPA ratings of 12 city/15 highway) during our 600 miles with the SRT8.

Keeping the speed in check are four-piston Brembo calipers and massive 14.2-inch front and 13.8-inch rear discs with standard ABS and BrakeAssist technology. The Brembos lived up to their lofty reputation. Our SRT8 needed just 120 feet to stop from 60 mph, and the binders showed absolutely no fade in four successive panic stops from that speed. Pedal feel and modulation are excellent.

A heavyweight with middleweight moves
More than just a straight-line runner, the 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 handles the curves like a sport sedan. Among the handling enhancements are Bilstein shocks and beefy stabilizer bars for the independent front and live-axle rear suspension. A front strut tower brace adds stiffness to the chassis as well as additional street cred.

A stable cornering attitude guided by firm and precise steering show that all areas of performance were given equal weight. Running through the slalom at 63.5 mph, the SRT8 crushes the rear-wheel-drive TrailBlazer SS (60.3 mph) we recently tested and ties the Cayenne Turbo.

Our only complaint was that, in normal mode, the standard stability control system proved somewhat intrusive on the track and during aggressive driving. Although this can be remedied by the push of the ESP button, which defeats the system 80 percent, we'd rather be able to shut down the system completely.

Another problem for some was the Cherokee's firm ride. Although our full-on driving enthusiasts thought it was a small price to pay for the sport sedan-level handling, more than a few passengers, especially those riding in the rear seats, felt that it was just too stiff.

Putting money where their mouths are
After thoroughly enjoying this latest hot rod from the lads at SRT, we all agreed that this is one well-sorted performance vehicle. You can tell where they spent the money. As Executive Editor Richard Homan stated: "One lean into the brake pedal or a turn of the steering wheel makes it clear that this is a performance-engineered project, not a 'guess it needs more power' also-ran vanity vehicle. SRT placed the needs of the enthusiast first — engine, drivetrain, suspension, brakes, steering and seats. The best carmaker in the U.S. right now is team SRT."

Need more proof of how serious these guys are? They even throw in a free day at a Skip Barber high-performance driving school where one gets to sample all manner of SRT products while honing their skills.

How often do you see that in the "Standard Features" column?
 

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Did I read that right? :confused:

A stock, off-the-showroom-floor Jeep is faster than a Porsche Turbo?!? :eek:

Dr. Ferdinand Porsche must be rolling over in his grave!! :cursin:


-njjoe
 

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I hope there is not going to be a lot of this.......

As I said in another post, I'm TRYING to NOT go take the thing for a ride..........I'm pretty sure I would be DOOOOOOOMMMMEDDD if i did.

I'm actually a little surprised that sub 5s aren't the norm for 60 here.

And there is one other little item that will slow it down.


The Price will keep a herd of them from jumping off the showroom floor.


But if you want an SUV, and you want Hemispherical delights........


Homer
 

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I Am Not Surprised At All ..

Having A Hemi On The Jeep Is Great !!
 

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hfelknor said:
I hope there is not going to be a lot of this.......

As I said in another post, I'm TRYING to NOT go take the thing for a ride..........I'm pretty sure I would be DOOOOOOOMMMMEDDD if i did.

....

The Price will keep a herd of them from jumping off the showroom floor.


....
Now you know what happened to me. What made it worse, was I had the SL AWD and after driving that for a year or so, was convinced the next one had to be an SE AWD to get all the toys.

Well, I got all the toys at a price roughly the same as the SE AWD loaded. I also got the storage capability I need.

My brother-in-law still drools over my Mag SRT8, but he want's the Cherokee so bad he's got pictures of it all over his office. It will take the Magnum off the lights (and therefore, the Charger and 300, same car) due to the AWD, but the Magnum overtakes and pulls away as you get into highway speeds.
 

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Impressive. I remember reading a lot of 'Jeepers' complaining that is isn't a Jeep. Or why does anyone need a fast SUV. If you look at the number of people who have SUVs and how many of them see an incline greater than their driveway?

:29: to Jeep.

Homer - let me know when I can come drive yours ;)
 

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The Muscle Car era is back………just look around…….especially at Daimler-Chrysler offerings………I guess they are cashing on people wanting more power….and Hemi heritage and fame……

PS. I think Homer will follow jaak………..anybody want to bet?
;) ;)
 

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Wow, gas prices must have gone done.
I had a Grand Cherokee before my MO a V8 and that's one of the reasons I got the MO, gas milage.
 

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Kris said:
I think Homer will follow jaak………..anybody want to bet?
;) ;)
They'll be calling him Hemi-Homer in no time at all. :roadtrip:

-njjoe
 

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dmako said:
Wow, gas prices must have gone done.
I had a Grand Cherokee before my MO a V8 and that's one of the reasons I got the MO, gas mileage.
I have the same sentiment... what about fuel economy? I went from a Honda CRV to the Nissan MO. The Mo gives me close to the same economy as the CRV with much more performance. I realize that this Jeep would perform even better than the MO... but at what cost?!?!? :eek:
 

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Speed costs $$$. Always has, always will.

-njjoe
 

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I'm with ya Kris.

dmako, yes, I was grinning thinking of all the complaining posts we have seen about Mos getting 16-18 mpg. Imagine getting 12mpg.

But hell yeah, it would be fun to have one.

I remember seeing an article once on Bonzai Runners in Hotrod magazine. This one guy had a carrera with a 454 in the back. He ran alcohol in it through hilborn injectors--gold plated of course and sticking out of a neatly trimmed hole in his rear windshield.
He said he ran through a 55 gallon drum of fuel a week, it was his daily driver. Wanna talk about fast? Wanna talk about fun?

But dang, his fuel expenses were out of this world.

If I had the moneys, yes, I am afraid I would have to succumb to the new hotrods as well.

:2:
 

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If I keep my foot out of it, I can easily get 17 mpg on the SRT8. I've heard of people doing better with highway mileage.

The cost? Rather spend it on gas, than smoking, movies, or whatever. OK, smoking the tires is ok, when it's time for new ones.
 

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Poor mileage?

Well, that's like complaining that Tiger's wife can't cook.

Homer

BTW, I see where Tiger and Mrs Tiger bought a small spread don in Florida for $40 million.
They plan on tearing the house down and building a nice place.

H
 

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Common guys,

performance and gas mileage are like fire and water……nobody buys performance cars for good gas mileage….if one needs that there are Corollas, Civics, Priuses…….

So flat it out jaak and enjoy! “Smoking” cost money, but so does fun….
:D
 

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Well it's still in the plans to turn this into the weekend toy, in about 4-5 years. So that's when the fun can really begin!

I wonder what a 6.1 with a blower would be like?
 

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I just don't know guys. I traded my 97 Grand Cherokee for the MO.
It was so hard to find out my Jeep with a 27K price sticker ( I did not pay that) was only worth 3200 bucks when I bought the MO Dec 27, 2003.
Maybe they have fixed all the problems but I tell you that it sounded like, drove like and had gas economy like a WW-II Sherman tank.
It was so noisy that it was hard to have a conversation when driving. The rear door entry and exit was really uncomfortable. A local fix-it car place asked if I had been mad at them because they don't see me any more. I said, no, I'm not mad, I just happened to get rid of my Jeep. He said, "why are there always so many for sale in the newspaper." I told him the answer was obvious.
It is no longer 1997, maybe its a good car now.
Bob1
 

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Bob1-

Mine was a '95. I know exactly what you are talking about.

Even when brand-new, it would never be considered a smooth riding nor quiet car. But I have to tell you, I never had a problem with traction. Reliability was so-so. But Jeep was never known for it's quality.

Jeep has had ten years to refine the Grand Cherokee. Hopefully the rest of the Jeep can live up to the hype of the Hemi.

-njjoe
 

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I went and test drove a Magnum R/T because I knew Dodge/Chrysler products sucked and I'd stop looking at the Magnum, once I drove it and confirmed they still did. That backfired on me!

Daimler's had a huge impact on newly designed vehicles. It's not the old Chrysler by a long shot, and I'd be very confident that the SRT8 Jeep Grand Cherokee is nothing like the old ones either.

Don't test drive one unless you're ready for the consequences.
 
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