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.
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.
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 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 11, 2013
Lately, I've been a tough customer in the seat comfort department, at least on road trips of more than 300 miles. I always liked our long-term 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee's driver seat during my commutes, though, so I wasn't dreading driving to Colorado in it. That is, until I seriously wrenched my back five days before we were due to leave on the trip.
Due to poor planning and procrastination, we hit the road just in time for evening traffic in Los Angeles. If it hadn't been for the comforting voice of Steve Inskeep on All Things Considered, I might have flown into my first rage of the holiday season right then and there. However, thanks to Steve, the Jeep's four-way power lumbar and the mostly toasty seat heaters (only two settings, though), I made it to our first fuel stop on the north side of Las Vegas without complaint.
My back healed over the course of our trip, and the front seats in the Jeep proved supportive enough for some really long stints behind the wheel (the SRT8 has a big gas tank, it turns out). The shaping of the seats is excellent. The seat-bottom cushion is long enough to support your thighs, and the heavily bolstered seat-back really wraps around your shoulders — it's great for driving and sleeping (haha, passenger seat only) alike.
The cabin space is also good. The foot wells have plenty of room whether you're driving or stretching out as a passenger. There was ample shoulder room, too, so that my husband and I weren't continually bumping elbows, yet it didn't feel like we were sitting in a huge cavern of an SUV either.
After nearly 2,400 miles, there was only one thing we didn't like.
January 9, 2013
The big, fat steering wheel in our longterm 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 is terrific to use... with one notable exception. See that silver plastic part on the bottom of the wheel rim? It's smooth. Far smoother than the leather elsewhere on the wheel, anyway. So when you do a hand-over-hand motion like in a U-turn, sharp hairpin or three-point turn, your (my) hand can (does) slip right off it. Maybe those of you with tacky hands don't experience this.
While I'm whinging, I'll add this - the wheel is also sort of flat in the same region, so it's easy to grab a handful of air in the process, too. Let's end this silly flat-bottomed wheel nonsense right now, please.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor
November 05, 2012
I humbly suggest that Jeep should consider offering the SRT8's steering wheel as an option on all Grand Cherokees. Yes, it's that good, even with the stupid flat bottom.
It's surprising how a thick, properly shaped steering wheel can affect your perception of a vehicle. In this case, the SRT's meaty wheel constantly reminds you that this indeed a high-performance SUV that will run low 13s. Then again, the awesome seats and the burly exhaust help quite a bit in that regard, too.
But even if your Grand Cherokee didn't have a 470-horsepower V8 under the hood, I bet you would like it better if you grabbed this wheel every morning instead of the stocker.
Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com @ 12,328 miles
October 12, 2012
I was lucky enough to spend the past few days in our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. There is a lot to like about the Jeep. But there is one thing I can't stand, interior chrome.
My dislike of these shiny, sun-reflecting surfaces is not limited to the Cherokee. I don't care for them in any car. This center console trim is positioned so the reflection shines up underneath my sunglasses. Sorry, Cherokee. But that is especially annoying.
Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 10,960 miles
September 28, 2012
This is the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8's dash. See the nice stitching?
Follow the jump for the problem with this white stitching.
September 13, 2012
Why are sun visors so hard to get right? Why do they rarely cover all the places the sun goes? Why don't they all do this?
That will be all.
Josh Jacquot, Senior editor
August 28, 2012
The analog gauge package on the Jeep SRT8 is very basic. Jeep gives you a tach, a speedo, water temp. (with no numbers), and of course a fuel level indicator.
Some could say it's too basic. After all, if you just bought a 470 hp Hemi-powered muscle ute you might just want some more information, like oil temp and oil pressure. Well, Jeep has supplied such instrumentation, you just need to know where to look. Push the right button and they're displayed on the Jeep's driver information screen, which is located front and center on the Cherokee's instrument cluster.
Jeep even takes it a step further with a transmission temperature gauge and a engine hours readout. Very cool.
August 08, 2012
Hands down, best idea on the market for audio controls. Hyperbole? Of course. But any time I drive a recent Chrysler, I wonder why more manufacturers don't copy this design and place rocker switches on the backside of the steering wheel. This doesn't force you to move your thumbs or otherwise change your fulcrum on the wheel. You remain in total control of the interface. I dare say it's even safer. NHTSA should create a rating for it.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor
July 26, 2012
I don't know about you, but the last thing I want when it's scorching hot outside is the experience of something -- anything -- touching me. That's why I tend to prefer looser clothes in warm weather, and that's why I thought I'd hate the Jeep's seats. They're pretty aggressively bolstered, which means they really get in there and give your ribs a hug when you slide into position.
It sounds like the kind of thing that would drive me crazy during the dog days of summer, but that's not the case -- I really like the seats. I like the experience of being held firmly in place, and the bolsters are a perfect fit for my frame; I wonder, though, if they might not be too constrictive for those with wider builds. The seat's soft, suede inserts also work in concert with the bolsters to further enhance grip.
Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor
July 19, 2012
Wait, what's that hiding in the upper deck of the JGC SRT8's center console? Why, yes, it's a USB port in the portion of the center console that flips up and locks into the lid. Never seen a USB port here.
July 16, 2012
Someone once said so eloquently about the new Grand Cherokee SRT8, "It don't match revs."
Which is true, and annoying, especially in a vehicle that begs you to drive it hard the way this GC SRT8 does.
But there's possibly something even more annoying than the lack of rev-matched downshifts:
The transmission upshifts quite abruptly in Manual mode when using anything more than mild throttle. I like to use the paddles so that I have full control over when the transmission shifts--call me bossy.
There's two ways around this: First, leave it in Drive for upshifts and only access manual shifting on downshifts. The second option is to back off the throttle slightly as you upshift, like what we had to do to make the original single-clutch paddle-shift gearboxes work smoothly many years ago.
Seems kinda silly to have to do this with an automatic, though.
Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 5,199 miles.
July 11, 2012
This morning during a 90-minute drive in our long-term Grand Cherokee SRT8, I realized how much I love its seats. Nappa leather and suede, combined with the perfect seat bottom width and length, and nice, high bolsters on the back and bottom.
July 06, 2012
Yeah, that's right. Seat coolers are the only way to roll when you climb into our longterm 2012 Jeep GC SRT8 after it has been parked for hours in Buttonwillow's unrelenting sun. The air temp is only in the mid-90s but the insane heat load pouring down from overhead makes it feel like 190.
Go ahead and call seat coolers sissylike. This sissy will be enjoying cool, dry nether regions. So there.
(Excuse the dust on the buttons. Along with being in the sun, Buttonwillow is also in the desert, which is where dust apparently is manufactured. It'll pervade every nook if you leave your windows open for any amount of time.)
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor
July 05, 2012
One thing about 24 hour-long races - they're 24 hours long. You gotta catch some Zs at some point during the race. For me the best bet was in the cargo area of our longterm 2012 Jeep GC SRT8. I folded down the backseats and threw down a Thermarest and some blankets.
I had to lay kittycorner to fit all 6'1" of me, and those backseats don't fold completely flat. But when it's 3:30am and you've been awake for 22.5 hours - five of which entailed wheel to wheel racing - even this suboptimal slumber zone is a little slice of heaven.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor
June 14, 2012
I prefer black interiors to just about any other color. But the Grand Cherokee is so new and its carpet so dark that this happened last weekend. I half expected to find a pot of gold behind the seats.
Instead, I found this...
June 13, 2012
This compact LED flashlight is built into the left rear corner of the Grand Cherokee's cargo area. It stores in its charger, releases with a solid push and snaps easily back into place
June 11, 2012
This was surprising and, I'll admit, a bit dissapointing. The Grand Cherokee accommodates car seats only marginally better than a Mazda 3.
The convertible seat in the foreground fits fine and is easy to install. Both passengers make small comfort compromises, but my four-year-old didn't care. And my wife is only 5'4" so she managed moving the seat forward a bit without a huge compromise in leg room.
The massive, rear-facing seat, however, is a different story.
June 11, 2012
The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 might weigh 5,150 or so pounds, but you'll be glad to know it packages its heavy battery low and toward the middle of the vehicle. In fact, it's in the floor under the front passenger seat.
Seems like an odd place for a vehicle which puts a priority on ground clearance -- at least in base trim.
June 06, 2012
I was hoping a photo would illustrate this, but unfortunately it does not -- the front doors of our longterm 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 open reeeally wide. Like freakishly wide. In the pic above, the door is dang near orthogonal to the rest of the car.
Yeah, not the world's most exciting observation, I know. Still, I can think of no other vehicle offhand with doors that open this far, and I wonder why it is so on this Jeep. Ingress, maybe. But if you need to open the door this far just to get into the SRT8, there's no way in hell you'll fit in the seat once inside.
It's just unusual, that's all. Carry on.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor
June 05, 2012
Our long-term Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 doesn't have the newer, larger navigation unit you get in the Charger, Challenger and 300 -- I'd guess packaging constraints precluded it.
I can deal with the smaller screen just fine. What I don't care for is the system's rudimentary software. It doesn't automatically zoom in or bring up any kind of inset map to show you exactly where you need to turn. Most other factory systems do this for you now. There may be a setting in the menus for this convenience that I haven't found yet, but it's not the kind of thing you want to dig for when you're driving around in unfamiliar neighborhoods looking at houses and realize that you've missed your turn. Manually zooming in is another option, but I find the small touchscreen a little chaotic and it's not clear to me exactly where to press -- an external dial or toggle switch usually works better for zoom.
I did notice that the system provides auxiliary visual prompts for upcoming turns in the trip computer, but depending on which display you're looking at, they don't always come up when I'd expect. And the voice prompts seem to be a little inconsistent in their timing as well.
This nav system offers basic functionality, but since it's in a $60K vehicle, it really should offer more than that.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor
May 31, 2012
This is the driver's seat in our longterm 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. It's got bolsters. You see, it's not a couch because this isn't your living room. The Jeep GC SRT8 is a performance
car truck wagon thing. The fact that it has good roll stiffness and steering with actual substance helps make it more than a one-trick drag-race pony. Yet none of its sporting pretenses are over the top, as it is totally suitable for day to day duty. If it's too aggro, you're too old.
It is true, though, that the SRT8's 5-speed transmission is something of an anachronism. It works quite well in feeling "locked-up" at low revs, but forward thrust falls off noticeably with each full-whack upshift. The corporte 8-speeder's closer gear spacing would provide stronger acceleration (and probably better fuel economy too).
And then there's its lack of rev-matched downshifts which is indeed lame considering a) a vehicle badged as 'SRT8' is by definition a performance thing; b) this SRT8 thing costs a thingload of money; c) it's currently 2012. But collectively those circumstantial factors are not nearly as lame as the lawyerly rationale for the lack of rev-matching capability. Other manufacturers apparently don't have
lawyers running the company issues with allowing their transmissions to match revs, so why does Chrysler/Jeep?
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor
May 31, 2012
Last September I wrote a Full Test of the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. In that test I wrote this:
"Our only real dynamic complaint is the transmission's inability to match revs on the downshifts. Even when you use its well-placed paddle shifters, you get crude old-school downshifts that throw weight forward and shock the Jeep's drivetrain.
We complained about this same shortcoming during our flogging at Willow Springs last month. Jeff Roselli, the Jeep's lead development engineer, told us it is a "Chrysler Safety Office" issue. Apparently Chrysler's policy is to refuse to open the electronic throttle unless a request for more torque has been made by the driver. In other words, the lawyers win again."
This is still a problem. And the President and CEO of SRT Ralph Gilles (@RalphGilles) needs to fix it. Come on Ralph, show those lawyers who's boss.
Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief
May 22, 2012
The Grand Cherokee's heated steering wheel gets nice and hot, and stays that way until you turn it off.
Question is: How cold should it have to be before you can use it?
For me, it was a drop below 70 degrees.
Kelly Toepke, News Editor