2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8View Vehicle Profile
New Jeep’s a gas guzzler, but loads of fun
Compared to its German counterparts, the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee’s a real bargain.
The owner of John Zubick’s Ltd., a giant scrap metal concern in London, Ont., came out of his office and, with tongue-in-cheek (I presume), offered to buy my 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 tester for scrap.
Thing is, he didn’t have first dibs. That was the third offer my nephew and I had received, having been rumbling about this surreal postapocalyptic landscape for about an hour, dropping off some aluminum here, some brass there, and bits of steel on a pile that towered to the heavens.
This attention was all very flattering. These guys know their heavy metal, and Jeep’s new all-wheel-drive 470 horsepower, 470 lb.-ft. 6.4L Hemi-powered tough guy obviously rates pretty high.
What these dusty, orange jump-suited lads probably didn’t know was that, with a base price of $55,095, the 2012 GC SRT8 is a bit of a bargain. Granted, big SUVs that aspire to be sharp handling, ferociously fast road machines live on the lunatic fringe of automotive reality, but if you’re in the market, this ride is very good at what it does. And a steal when compared to the 100 grand-plus offerings from BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.
Before you dismiss the notion of a Jeep hanging with these overseas overachievers, note that the Grand Cherokee’s platform is Mercedes-derived.
Compared to the previous Grand Cherokee SRT8, this version ramps up the civility and tones down the rawness. It’s taller, wider (although a bit shorter) and has packed on over 200 kg. Compensating for this is the 6.4L Hemi (up from 6.1L) that adds an additional 50 horses and 50 lb.-ft. to the equation.
The cabin is roomier, and like all Chrysler products since Fiat took the reins, the fairy godmother of interiors has paid a visit. The design is simple and elegant with a pleasing look and feel of quality.
Standard issue in the SRT8 includes real carbon fibre accents, navigation, heated multi-function steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats and heated rear seats. It’s all stuff that would have a Porsche salesperson wringing their hands in glee.
The $2,995 Luxury Group II package layers on the deluxe door trim, stitched leather dash top, adaptive cruise, blind spot warning, forward collision warning and powered lift gate. This tester also had the $750 tow package — something you couldn’t get in the previous version because of its central exhaust outlets.
Fire up the Hemi and it fills the cabin with a warm, purposeful rumble. Not too loud — just enough to let you know there’s something lurking under foot. Plant said foot and this Jeep howls and bolts like a full-moon werewolf.
For a tall, 2,336-kg ute, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 has a remarkably buttoned-down feel. It’s eager to change direction and the steering has a natural heft.
Having driven this vehicle in anger at the Willow Springs Raceway in California on a previous occasion, I can attest to its impressive track prowess — for a tall heavy SUV, of course. Credit the new adaptive Bilstein dampers, rear-wheel torque vectoring, 295 mm wide tires all around and killer six-piston Brembo brakes.
New for 2012 is Select-Track (Track, Sport, Auto, Tow and Snow) that optimizes the dampers, stability/traction control, transmission mapping and Quadra-Trac On Demand 4WD bias for the selected conditions.
In my experience, when paddle shifters are connected to a transmission other than the twin-clutch variety, the tardiness of response renders them to the status of mere decoration. Not here. Even though the Grand Cherokee SRT8 has an automatic transmission with only five gears, tugs on the paddles have the gearbox hammering upshifts and snatching downshifts with usable urgency. An eight-speed auto is reportedly on the way.
As a daily driver, the GC SRT8 is refined, has a decent ride and largely comes across as a very swift luxury SUV. When not playing hooligan, the Hemi slips into 4-cylinder Eco mode quite often, signalled by an icon on the central display and a change in exhaust note.
Its observed 15.8 L/100 km thirst and $2,000 gas-guzzler tax notwithstanding, I was quite smitten with the 2012 Jeep GC SRT8. Yes, I know it is a completely ridiculous rig, but it delivers on its questionable mandate with such competence, comfort and yes, value, I tip my hat to the SRT engineers.
And think how boring our automotive landscape would be without a few nutbar rides like this. As far as guilty pleasures go, it’s a good one.
2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8
BASE PRICE/AS TESTED: $55,095/$63,680
ENGINE: 6.4L Hemi V8
FUEL CONSUMPTION: 17.1 L/100 km city, 11.4 highway
POWER/TORQUE: 470 hp/470 lb.-ft.
COMPETITION: BMW X5 M, Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, Range Rover Sport Supercharged, Porsche Cayenne Turbo
WHAT’S BEST: value, handling, that Hemi
WHAT’S WORST: fuel economy
WHAT’S INTERESTING: will pull more lateral Gs (.90g) than any other SRT vehicle.
Used Jeep Grand Cherokee All Used Vehicles
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