April 8, 2013
I drove our long-term 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 to Sonoma Raceway and back while towing a terrible hoopty. The trailer was a robust steel job, the car formerly a Miata. California caps anything towing a trailer to a speed limit of 55 mph, which I pushed to 65 because, hey, I actually want to arrive at my destination.
April 5, 2013
A previous towing trip in our long-term 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 had me scratching my head over its ride quality, which worsened when towing a trailer. My most recent towing trip revealed to me the reason why.
April 5, 2013
Our long-term 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8's final trip was a thousand-mile voyage to tow my crappy race car to Sonoma Raceway and back. This time, I also had to pack all the spares and tools and supplies in the cabin. Big time Tetris exercise, since I had a passenger, our gear and a 50-pound dog to fit as well.
April 2, 2013
We added just over 2,000 miles to our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 during the month of March. Its last hurrah was a 1,200-mile road trip with Jay Kavanagh towing a 24 Hours of Lemons racecar behind it. We say last hurrah because, sadly, the Cherokee will be sent back to Jeep soon. Our year with the car is nearing its end.
March 29, 2013
It's time to put summer tires back on our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. For the past several months we've rolled around on all-seasons. But our time with the SRT8 is coming to an end. We need to restore it to original condition before returning the car to Jeep.
March 22, 2013
Sometimes, you need to get out of town. Last weekend was one of those times. Our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 shuttled a carload of us to the Calico ghost town outside of Barstow, California. There, the Jeep stood witness to the sort of stuff that happens when a bunch of guys head out to the desert for a weekend.
March 20, 2013
I picked up my friend for a Saturday afternoon excursion and as usual we talked about what I was driving. Then he asked, "Why would anyone need a Jeep like this with the SRT8?"
After looking at him like he was daft for a few minutes, I told him to listen to the sweet sound of the SRT8 engine roaring to life. Then I told him to pay attention to how effortlessly the SRT8 climbed a very steep hill. If you were driving to the mountains to go skiing, for example, this would be a perfect vehicle to carry your passengers, your gear, and still have no problem tackling the steep incline.
At the end of the day he asked, "Why would anyone not buy the Jeep Grand Cherokee with the SRT8 engine."
I had converted him.
Then after dropping him off, I filled up the gas tank and was reminded why not everyone would want to have a full-time SRT8.
March 19, 2013
I'm not married, I don't have any kids, I live in a two-bedroom apartment, and the most I ever need to load into my car is a few bags of groceries and a duffel bag for the gym. But after driving our long-term 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, I feel like I need one.
It puts an ear-to-ear grin on my face every time I flex my big-toe near the throttle, and for that reason alone I'm happy the entire time I'm driving it. Still, there are three specific reasons I would want to own this truck.
March 7, 2013
Our Grand Cherokee has 627 hours on its engine. I know this because engine hours are among the data available in the instrument panel's Vehicle Information menu. It's in there with other items like coolant temperature, oil temperature and transmission fluid temperature.
March 5, 2013
One of the worst things about our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 is the behavior of the trucks' five-speed transmission on downshifts. Something about lawyers and unintended acceleration meant that that generation of Chrysler products were not able to add fuel unless the driver hit the gas pedal. This prevents nice, smooth rev-matched downshifts from the autobox. Instead, you get a hard drop into the lower gear. Think the first time you drove a stick. It's not great.
March 4, 2013
During the month of February we drove our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 1,031 miles. During those four weeks the SUV averaged 13.5 miles per gallon of premium 91 octane fuel. That's slightly below the running average of 14.0 mpg it has produced over 21,000 miles, a number which aligns perfectly with the EPA's 14.0 mpg combined rating.
February 22, 2013
It's only been around for roughly two decades, but the name "Grand Cherokee" has become almost as synonymous with Jeep as the name Wrangler. Much of that comes from the fact that the Grand Cherokee arrived right in time of the dawn of the modern SUV and has managed to stay relevant ever since.
On more than one occasion over that time period, however, there has been a rumor that Jeep was planning an even bigger Jeep, one that would offer three rows of seating. Usually those rumors were accompanied by the name Grand Wagoneer, the iconic nameplate that the Grand Cherokee effectively replaced
February 20, 2013
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee will be available later this year. New headlights align it with the Chrysler family look and it gets a new eight-speed transmission. But the biggest buzz is a new 3.0-liter diesel V6 option. The new Italian-built diesel makes 420 pound-feet of torque at 2,000 rpm and Jeep says the Grand Cherokee diesel can travel 730 miles and tow up to 7,400 pounds.
February 19, 2013
Here's an unexpected JGC surprise: rear seat heaters . I've never had cause to use them and haven't driven with anyone who has. But shows how much I know. The Grand Cherokee Limited, starting at around $37,000 comes standard with a heated second row. Our SRT8 would cost nearly $63,000 new off the lot. Still, heated rear seats aren't a given, even in this exclusive space.
If you're buying in this exclusive space, you'd need to equip a Range Rover HSE with the Luxury package (a $4,700 option) to get heated rears, for an MSRP of around $64,700. A BMW xDrive50i starts at $64,200 and you'll have to add the $750 Cold Weather package to get heated second row (although they are three-stage heated, not the two-stage like our SRT). Finally, the Mercedes-Benz ML550 comes off like a bargain here: a $620 option that brings the sticker up to about $59,400.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 20,085 miles
February 14, 2013
Most people figure that the Grand Cherokee SRT8 is nothing more than a plain old JGC with a big motor stuffed into it. To some degree, they would be right. But as you can see from something as simple as its door panel, there's a little more to it.
Take the "carbon fiber" trim for instance. It's well done in this Jeep. It's not stuffed into every nook and cranny, just tastefully applied in places where it's visible without being overly decorative. Add to that a dose of suede and leather trim and you have an interior that looks and feels a step above your average Grand Cherokee.
February 8, 2013
This past Saturday I drove our long-term 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 from Santa Monica to Los Feliz in Los Angeles to attend my first live Internet concert supporting the band The Mots Nouveaux. The band features lead vocals by Emma Fitzpatrick.
Emma is currently enjoying success with a recent viral video where she played the role of Anne Hathaway in For Your Consideration. The video is on target to break 1 million views this week. Congrats, Emma.
February 6, 2013
There are plenty of examples of smart design in our Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. From the steering wheel, which I have already noted, to the great seats, the SRT8 is well executed.
February 4, 2013
Fresh from a video shoot where we used the SRT8 to haul plenty of gear and crew from the beaches of Santa Monica to the mountains off Angeles Crest Hwy, it's time for the fuel report on the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8.
In January we drove our Grand Cherokee SRT8 nearly 2,000 miles. During those four weeks the SUV averaged 14.88 miles per gallon of mostly 91 octane premium (one tank was filled with 87 octane).
That's slightly above the 14.0 mpg we've averaged so far and with the Jeep's 14 mpg combined EPA rating.
David Landsness, Director of Video @ 19,933 miles
Worst Fill MPG: 10.8
Best Fill MPG: 19.0
Average Lifetime MPG: 14.0
EPA MPG Rating (City/Highway Combined): 12 city/18 highway/14 combined
Best Range: 393.2
Current Odometer: 19,933 miles
February 1, 2013
At about 18,200 miles, our JGC SRT8 let us know it was due for an oil change via a reminder in the instrument cluster. So we took it to Buerge Jeep located just a few miles down the road. As I went to drop off the car, I steeled myself for the task of fending off a bunch of unnecessary additional "dealer recommended" services.
To my surprise the amiable service guy, assistant manager Jeremy Battat, didn't give me any business when I stated we simply wanted an oil change/filter and tire rotation just like the scheduled maintenance called for. He said "sure" and that he'd call us when it was done.
Two hours later we picked up the Jeep. Total cost for the service was $100.76. No, that's not cheap. But considering that this high-performance SRT8 baby takes seven quarts of synthetic oil and that it included rotating the big donuts, not too bad either.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 18,620 miles
January 30, 2013
We've put nearly 19,000 miles on the SRT8 and the outside driver thigh bolster is starting to show it. Granted, we've had bodies of all shapes and sizes sliding in and out of this seat for 19,000 miles. That's a lot of denim, twill, rough cotton, linen, hemp, silk, satin and bare skin (nothing wrong with driving naked now and then) passing over that patch of leather. Clearly the bolster needs some conditioning. My question is: should it need it by now?
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 18,622 miles
January 29, 2013
The SRT8 went in for a routine oil change, but there was nothing routine about the price: $100.76. That's 65 bucks for the oil change ($49 of that to cover seven quarts of 0W-40, the other $15 for filter and labor) and $30 for a tire rotation.
That's Santa Monica prices for ya, but that's also price of ownership for the SRT8. Stomping on the pedal with an open lane makes you believe it's worth it, but fishing a Benjamin out of your pocket for an oil change/rotation still stings.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 18,622 miles
January 28, 2013
With its run-flats, the SRT8 drove many on staff, including Editor Oldham who commissioned the switch to Sumitomos, to distraction. For whatever reason, I'm in the minority by never being too bothered by the JGC's prior ride. You wouldn't call it compliant, but I always felt the seats and acceleration made up for it. At $60,000-plus, I can see why you'd want a better ride, but I figure you don't buy a 470-hp Jeep for its compliance. That's why they make ML550s.
My first time back in the JGC after its Sumitomos, I couldn't discern a major difference. But it's been awhile. Maybe my memory of the run-flat ride has sufficiently faded. I think it's quieter. But the suspension seems like the main suspect in any ride quality investigation. Simply rolling over a speed bump at a single-digit speed brought it to the bumpstops. No matter. This is still primetime fun and it's still a head turner. One of my neighbors asked "is that really a Jeep?"
Sure is. A weird one, but a Jeep all the same.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 18,500 miles
January 26, 2013
During my Colorado road trip, I became smitten with our long-term 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8's heated steering wheel. See, we were visiting relatives who don't happen to be coffee drinkers. I am an incurable coffee drinker. So every morning, I'd get up in subfreezing temperatures and drive the Jeep to the nearest coffee-themed watering hole. (There wasn't one in walking distance, or otherwise, yes, I would have walked to burn off some of the holiday feasting.)
Since I don't own a good set of winter driving gloves, the heated steering wheel and the heated seats were the first things I'd turn on in the Jeep. I wouldn't bother with the heat until it was all warmed up, because I sure didn't want chilled air blowing in my face.
January 25, 2013
It has been a month since I took a road trip across the Rockies in our long-term 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. Fitted with all-season tires we bought on the aftermarket, it was a great vehicle to have on a wintertime adventure, since we drove through snow and subfreezing temperatures. Plus, there was the unexpected off-road drive through Monument Valley.
Since my return, I've reflected on the drive and considered whether I'd actually want to own a Grand Cherokee SRT8. You know, really own own it, as in my very own, and not have to share it with the other editors. And the answer is probably not.
The reason is I'm way too practical and way too cheap when it comes to buying my own stuff. And when driving at high elevations in Colorado, the Jeep's ordinarily potent 6.4-liter V8 simply didn't feel that powerful, yet it still consumed just as much if not more 91 octane. I totally expected that (the engine is naturally aspirated after all) and wasn't surprised or disappointed. I just know that if I owned a JGC, I would take it on road trips and I'd want it to feel great all the time.
And that's why I'd get the 2014 Grand Cherokee with the turbodiesel 3.0-liter V6.
January 24, 2013
One irritation during my December road trip in our long-term 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 was its navigation system's ridiculously small screen. It's only 6.5 inches measured diagonally. Plus, there are so many touchscreen "buttons" crammed onto it that it's hard to see exactly where you are at a glance.
You can press the orange arrow to clear away a bunch of those buttons to try to get a better view, but the map still just looks small with minimal detail whether you set the scale at 700 feet or 2 miles (or half a mile as I did here). And when you choose the minimalist display, you no longer get the bit of text that shows the street you're currently on, obviously not what I wanted when driving in unfamiliar areas.
January 23, 2013
One of the biggest criticisms of the Jeep Grand Cherokee has always been its lack of passenger space. The driver and front passenger never had much to complain about, but anyone in the second row typically felt like a second-class citizen.
As you can see, it's still not a cavernous back seat, at least compared to some of the latest midsize crossovers. There is decent knee and toe room, however, and the shoulder and head room is more than adequate for average-sized adults. Three kids will fit back there with ease and they might not even complain.
The worst that can be said about the current second row is the fact that the seats aren't nearly as aggressively bolstered as the awesome chairs up front. Shotgun, anybody?
Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor @ 12,361 miles
January 14, 2013
With just over 18,000 miles on its odometer, our Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 is telling us it needs an oil change. For a few seconds this "Oil Change Due" message appears on the SUV's instrument cluster every time we start up the Jeep's supersized 6.4-liter V8.
Its last oil change took place at 12,000 miles.
We'll hit the local dealer service department in the next few days and let you know how it goes ASAP.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @RealScottOldham