2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Review

Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Overview

The 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is something of a miracle of automotive engineering. Here you have a vehicle with a curb weight of 5,104 pounds and an overall height of 5.6 feet capable of ripping off 4.6-second runs to 60 and 13-second quarter mile times—and pulling .88 g on the skidpad.

Of course, these days, every manufacturer with a halo SUV in its product portfolio has a high performance version of the top offering, so the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is far from unique in this regard. However, when you consider the price point at which it is offered, the Jeep’s performance potential is even more impressive, as all of its closest competitors cost far more. Yes, some of them do have an edge in terms of powertrain sophistication, but when it comes down to it, for anything anyone in their right mind would do on the street, the Grand Cherokee SRT easily runs with the best of the best.

Power comes from Chrysler’s ubiquitous 6.4-liter V8, which can also be found in the Dodge Charger and Challenger SRT models. Good for 475 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, an eight-speed automatic transmission routes output to all four wheels and an electronic limited-slip rear differential. Equipped with cylinder deactivation technology, the 6.4 is estimated by the EPA to return 13 mpg in the city, 19 on the highway and 15 overall. I averaged 13.6 mpg with a mix of freeway driving, city driving and a bit of back road barnstorming.

An improvement over the already notable handling of the more reserved Grand Cherokee models, the SRT version gets a Bilstein adaptive damping suspension setup, aluminum suspension components, revised steering calibration and 15-inch brake rotors with six-piston Brembos up front and 13.8-inch rotors at the rear with four-piston calipers. Directionally slotted, these rotors looked really nice framed by the 20-inch aluminum wheels encased in the low-profile Pirelli P-Zeros my test car wore.

As the most expensive Grand Cherokee offering, in addition to the prodigious performance potential (please pardon the alliteration), interior accommodations are absolutely top shelf. My test car had a suede-look roof liner, faux-suede and leather-upholstered seats, an 825-watt Harmon-Kardon audio system, dual-screen rear-seat Blu-Ray video entertainment and a dual-pane panoramic sunroof. Smart parking, smart cruise control and other driver’s aids including lane departure warning, forward collision warning, and rear cross path detection were fitted as well.

Build quality and overall appearance are good, the control layout is logical and I absolutely love Chrysler’s U-connect touchscreen. Though I still prefer a dial and pointer interface, at least U-connect is responsive, easy to use and pleasant to the eye. Its Bluetooth pairing is one of the easiest I’ve ever used as well.

All told, the 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is fast, good looking and well appointed.

So, what’s not to love—right?

Well, in all honesty, and I’m really surprised to hear myself asking this question (though it comes up every time I test one of these two and a half ton, five-foot tall sport SUVs); what’s the point? The as-tested price of my Grand Cherokee SRT came to $78,355. If you genuinely enjoy curve carving, why spend this much money on an amalgamation of compromises, when it would be better put toward a lighter, low-slung machine easily capable of besting the Jeep?

Now here, I will admit it was fun dogging the odd BMW with the Jeep, but ultimately it’s just too much. As sacrilegious as this might sound to driving enthusiasts, I’m having trouble seeing where the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT really makes sense — other than as an exercise in egomaniacal self-expression. It drinks gas the way German hackers guzzle Club Mate, it rides stiffly over all but the smoothest pavement and the high performance mods have all but eliminated off road capability.

I do love the way the 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT looks, I also love the way it goes and I’m really impressed that Jeep can deliver all of this capability at a fraction of the price of its European competition. But frankly, if I were looking to spend nearly $80K on a performance-oriented automobile, there are a lot of more capable cars out there.

Of course, your results may vary.

Pricing starts at $66,795.

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