2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Long-Term Road Test

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Towing Ride Explained

April 5, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

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.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Final Towing Trip

April 5, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

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.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Top 3 Reasons To Own One

March 19, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

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.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: 2014 Model Gets Rev-Matched Downshifts

March 05, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

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.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Is There Room for Another "Grand" Jeep?

February 22, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

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

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Smart Place for the Tailgate Switch

February 6, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

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.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Oil Change

February 1, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

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

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Auto High-Beams Work Great

January 10, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

The adaptive high-beams on our long-term 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 were by far my favorite feature during my holiday road trip to Colorado.

It certainly helps that the Jeep's bi-xenon headlights throw plenty of light on the road to begin with — the low-beams were perfectly adequate to begin with. But when traveling on poorly lit ranch roads near Brighton, Colorado, and on dark stretches of Utah's U.S. 191 and Arizona's I-40 at night, the high-beams were helpful, especially when it started snowing.

I know it's not that hard to click the high-beams on and off, but I enjoyed the convenience of letting the Jeep handle that. Occasionally, on the ranch roads, which were narrow with lots of dips and turns, it would dim the lights a little late when opposing traffic approached. On the highway, though, its timing was generally spot-on. Really, this setup works just as well as the auto high-beam feature available on the current BMWs, and it's one more little thing to help justify our Grand Cherokee SRT8's $62,880 price tag.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Wheelin'

January 9, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

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

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: We Finally Drove It In Snow

January 7, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

Improved ride quality was our main justification for switching to all-season tires on our long-term 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. But the other big reason was the upcoming winter driving season. See, the weather in Southern California is just too mild to warrant a full-on set of snow tires, but road conditions change drastically when you head some place like Lake Tahoe or Aspen. And we didn't want to be driving around on our SRT8 Jeep's original equipment summer run-flat tires.

We hit a couple of snowstorms on my recent Colorado road trip. Mind you, they weren't yet the mega-blizzards they'd later become as they moved across the Midwest, dropping only 2-3 inches in most cases. Plus, Colorado's department of transportation has the snow plows out early and often — quite a contrast to the Missouri-Arkansas region where I came of age and learned to drive. You'll wait days for a plow there.

Not surprisingly, the Grand Cherokee SRT8 had no trouble getting around on unplowed streets in suburban Denver on Christmas morning. (No, that's not suburban Denver in my lead photo, but isn't Monument Valley beautiful in the winter?) I turned its selector dial to Snow, which provides a 50/50 front/rear torque split, when I remembered, but the Jeep managed fine in Auto mode, too (it resets to Auto every time you shut off the vehicle). Later in the day, we happened upon a large, empty, unplowed parking lot and you can imagine what happened there.

Temperatures dropped to near zero in the days that followed, so there were icy patches here and there on the drive home. Again, this was no problem, because my spouse and I drove alertly and kept our inputs smooth. Based on this experience, I'd say our 20-inch Sumitomos get the job done, but if I owned the Jeep and planned to make this drive in December again, I'd invest in a set of smaller steel wheels and true snow tires.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: 15,000 Miles So Far

December 31, 2012

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

We are nine months into our long-term test of the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 and the SUV just turned 15,000 miles. That puts us right on pace for our goal of 20k in a year.

So far the Jeep is trouble-free. Dealer visits at the prescribed 6,000-mile and 12,000-mile intervals mark the extent of our maintenance history. Fresh oil, tire rotations and routine safety inspections cost us $147.63 and $70.63 for each service, respectively.

Ride quality complaints led us to swap out the stock summer tires for a set of Sumitomo HTR Sport all-season tires. The exchange indeed softened the ride quality. But as we expected, some performance was lost in the shuffle. Still, the Grand Cherokee is mechanically sound and moving along as well as we could hope.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 15,000 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Headlight Logo

December 28, 2012

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

I spent the past two weeks driving our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. I stood outside the Cherokee talking, climbed in and out five to ten times a day and I must have walked past it a hundred times. But it was not until I picked up a sponge to hand wash the SRT8 that I found this detail in the headlight.

Hidden in plain sight is the Jeep grille logo, right there in the headlamp. This is one of those neat touches that, for the most part, only an owner will know about. I've always found this sort of detail appealing in cars. It certainly isn't going to make or break a sale, but in my book, it helps add that unique touch to the ownership experience. I like it.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 14,955 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 : Towing and the Blind Spot Monitoring System

December 18, 2012

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

Over the past two weeks I added over 1,000 miles to our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. Over half of this was done with a trailer in tow. The Blind Spot Management System (BSM) didn't seem to like what I was doing.

Take a look at the photo. The yellow warning light in the side mirrors illuminated at each slight bend in the road. It appeared the trailer behind me was just wide enough that it triggered the BSM warning. It didn't bother me. But I see how somebody could find this to be annoying and want to turn the feature off.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 14,590 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: That Time of Year

December 06, 2012

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So it's that time of year when chatter raises about some guy in a red suit, reindeer and trees inside houses. In the spirit of the season we picked ourselves up a tree and strapped it to the roof of our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I felt a little guilty subjecting the Jeep to such tedium, but it didn't complain.

For those of you wondering, yes, the picture quality does leave something to be desired. It turns out you need light to take a clear picture. There wasn't much of that at the time. And no, the paint was not harmed during transport.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 13,825 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Brake Dust

December 03, 2012

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If brake dust covering your front wheels is on your deal breaker list, then a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 is not your ride. I took these photos after just one week of normal driving. The Jeep's front wheels are already covered in brake dust, which makes them look darker than the vehicle's rear wheels. To illustrate the problem better I ran my finger through the soot and created a clean line.

Remember, this is after just seven days of driving. After another week, the Jeep's front wheels would be almost black.

This is not an issue for many people. The more aggressive brake pads used on the Jeep, as well as all models from BMW, Mercedes, Audi and Porsche, are notorious for this. But their superior performance is considered to be worth the mess by the buyers of those brands.

I'm not saying the brake dust is a deal breaker for me, but having dirty wheels just a few days after a car wash is frustrating. And I think consumers should consider this issue when choosing a new car or truck.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Slightly Sour

November 20, 2012

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After spending some time in the Grand Cherokee SRT8 since the swap from Pirelli P Zeros to these Sumitomo all-seasons, gotta say I'm a little bit soured. We've emasculated the once-all-mighty GC SRT8.

If you want proof of what the tire swap has done to the Jeep's handling, go here. But what's more important is how it performs in the real world. You know, can it still carve up a twisty back road? Do you want to attack that freeway on- or off-ramp?

In a word: Not so much.

I learned quite a bit as I took the sharp three-lane left-hander off my freeway exit. Going the same speed as traffic (meaning pretty slowly), the GC did something I never remembered it doing before: It squealed the tires through the turn.

The next day I was alone through that same turn, got a bit more aggressive with the speed and the Jeep actually started to understeer into the next lane. Steering feel? Hardly any.

Because of this I'm a bit soured on driving the GC SRT8. Sure, it still makes awesome V8 sounds and it goes like stink in a straight line. But I really liked the fact that it was such a ballsy beast. It wasn't for everyone. Most high-performance vehicles aren't. And it had some tenacious stick through turns.

Sure, the ride quality is better, but I personally didn't have a problem with it before, especially since I knew it was that way for a reason. I wasn't the only one, although we were clearly in the small minority.

But it turns out, these Sumitomos aren't all bad news. With so little grip, exit a turn hard on the throttle now and you can actually get some tire slide and coerce the tail into coming out a bit. It was almost impossible to get the thing unstuck with the summer tires.

You can also get a chirp launching from a stoplight and dang, it'll do a four-wheel burnout (if it's been raining and the roads are wet) all the way through first gear.

Hmmm...maybe I'll de-sour on these tires after all, even if it's for reasons I wasn't expecting.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 13,350 miles.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Should I Drive It To Detroit?

November 15, 2012

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Every January my world takes me to Detroit for the North American International Auto Show. But a few years ago I decided flying to the big D was too boring. Too easy. So I drove. I drove our long-term BMW X5 and I had a great time.

Last year I chose our long-term Audi A8 for the round trip. It was another epic run, hitting BBQ heavens in KC, St. Louis and Memphis along the way.

And now I need to choose what I'm doing for 2013. Do I fly to Detroit this coming January or do I drive? And if I drive, what do I drive?

With its new all-season tires I'm seriously considering our long-term Jeep SRT8. Our Jag XF has already been to Alaska, but the Jeep hasn't really ventured too far from home.

What do you think I should do?

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: I Would Own It

November 12, 2012

Jeep-SRT-at-Bridge-1.jpg

This is a fantastic vehicle. It's built like a tank, runs like a muscle car, can embarrass German sport sedans on a mountain road, and after our tire swap, it rides like it should. Plus, I just think it looks tough.

For the past eight months I've been in lust with our Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, but recently that lust has grown into an all out passion for this truck. And now I'm just flat out in love with it.

That's right, I used the L-word.

I've been living in the Jeep for the better part of a week now, and my biggest complaint is that I didn't get the optional sunroof when I ordered the truck. Dumb move on my part. It's been nothing but sun here in So Cal, and the sunroof would really open up the Jeep's interior.

But I could and would own this truck very happily just as it is. If I was in the market for a five-passenger SUV and had a little extra scratch to throw around, this is the one I would buy. It not only does what I need it to as far as family duty, it also makes me smile.

Every time I drive it, it makes me smile. And no other SUV in the SRT's price range can manage that.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 12,797 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Diesel Grand Cherokee In the Cards

November 05, 2012

2012_Jeep_GC_SRT8_fuel_door_diesel_rumor.jpg

Not to get too personal, but the fuel door on our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 is huge, and its utter massiveness reveals something interesting about the near-term future of the Grand Cherokee.

All you need do is open it and take a gander at the extra real estate to the right of the gas cap. There's so much empty space that we can make a pretty good educated guess that it will eventually house ...

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Supple Sumitomos

November 02, 2012

jeep-gc-sumitomos.jpg

So we mounted some new non-run flat tires to make our Jeep ride better, and what do you know, it worked!

Sort of.

Ask anyone who riding in the Jeep for the first time and they'll say it rides like crap. Nothing new there, after all, this is a serious performance machine. Yes, it's a Jeep, and an SUV, but it's a 470-horsepower Jeep SUV. SRT doesn't mess around, so in order to get the performance the engineers wanted they had to crank up the springs and dampers to a point that makes a comfortable ride quality nearly unattainable.

But...to anyone who had seat time before the new tires, e.g. me, there's a definite difference in the ride quality. Yeah, it's still stiff, but the new tires take the edge off the sharp jolts that used to come through the cabin. It's similar to the effect that airing down the original tires had without the loss of performance or wear. Seems like a good move so far.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Crazy Talk

October 30, 2012

JGCSRT8_USA.jpg

C'mon, Mitt. Jeep's never gonna build THIS in China. Come up off the hard cider there, Pops. That's just crazy talk.

Now if they made the Compass disappear over there...

(If you find this post makes no sense, you missed a pearl among the news cycle. Google "Romney Jeep" for more).

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Run-Flat Tires vs. A Spare

October 29, 2012

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Those who abandon run-flat tires and switch to standard tires -- like we just did on our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 -- are typically faced with a problem, and that problem is this: no spare tire.

That's because auto companies typically don't fit run-flats for pure altruistic reasons such as customer saftey and convenience. Instead the decision to use run-flats is usually made in order to ditch the spare altogether in the interest of other goals that fall into two broad categories: packaging and weight reduction.

Mini uses run-flats on the Cooper S because the sytlists wanted center-exit exhaust pipes, but that routing cut straight through the spare tire well. The pre-2008 Dodge Viper used them because there simply wasn't space for what would have been a massive spare indeed.

Others, such as BMW, have gone with run-flats to eliminate the mass of the spare so the vehicle's weight falls into a lower class, which reduces the dyno load on a test car when it's going through the official EPA fuel economy tests, resulting in a tiny MPG improvement on the right-hand side of the decimal point that the customer will likely never notice.

These largely corporate benefits don't do the car owner any favors. Run-flats are very expensive to replace -- on the order of two to three times that of standard tires -- and because their operating range is very limited you may not be able to get the correct replacement quickly if you have you flat outside a major metropolitan area.

But their most obvious liability is ride comfort, which suffers markedly because of the extreme sidewall stiffness that allows them do their thing. I know very few car owners with run-flats who have not complained about their car's ride. I know many that have made the same switch we just did.

Their solution to the no-spare problem is easy, and it cost less than $100. It's called a ContiComfortKit, or Continetal kit for those who like spaces between their words. It's an ironic name because your grandfather's Continental kit had to do with spare tires, too.

His Continental kit was named after the 1939 Lincoln Continental, not the tire company, and consisted of an extended rear bumper and an external spare tire mount that allowed the spare -- usually a white-wall -- to stand up proud behind the trunk in full view. You sometimes see them on questionably-restored '57 Chevys.

This is not that. Continental's Continental kit is compact compressor and tire sealant packed together in one delivery system, and it takes up very little space inside the trunk.

However, having said all that....

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: New Shoes

October 25, 2012

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Our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 has new shoes. Scott already told you why: we've grown tired of the stiff ride; we didn't much like the idea of running the tires 5 psi below the recommended pressure (and it didn't work anyway); winter is coming and folks will want to take it skiing in the local mountains.

On the other hand, winter tires won't do because it'll be relatively warm here in the LA basin during the winter months.

So we went looking for all-season tires that would give us reasonable cold-weather performance that were not run-flats. But 295/45R20 is an uncommon size. We were left with two choices: The Sumitomo HTR Sport H/P tires we bought or the Yokohama Parada Spec-X tires we didn't.

Sumitomo is the parent company of Dunlop, and they design and build the Goodyear tires that are made in Japan and installed on Asian cars built overseas -- they are by no means small potatoes. Besides, we had good luck with another one of their tires on an earlier iteration of project Miata. Also, the well-regarded Yokohamas were back-ordered.

Because we were curious, we weighed the mounted wheel and tire assemblies before and after we made the swap.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: New Tires

October 23, 2012

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We've been living with our long-term Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 for about six months and we've driven it over 11,000 miles. And over that time we've had only one consistent complaint about the high performance crossover, its ride.

For most of us most of the time it's just too stiff. Too uncomfortable. Sure we dig the Jeep's handling capabilities, but the ride is overly compromised. At the recomendation of Ralph Gilles, the CEO of SRT, I've even started running the Jeep's tires at 28 psi (33 psi is spec) to try to smooth things out, but honestly it hasn't really worked.

We're not surprised. The Jeep's stock Pirelli P Zeros are run flats, and we think they are a very large part of the problem.

So we've decided to swap them out. The Jeep's stock tire size is 295/45ZR20. Tirerack.com lists only a few options in that size that are not run flats. We chose a set of the Sumitomo HTR Sport H/P, an all season tire.

We went this way for two reasons, cost and weather. The Sumitomos are cheap ($175 each) and we're curious how they will perform compared to the much more expensive Pirelli's. Also, winter is coming. And we don't want our all-wheel drive Jeep to be unable to navigate the mountains and ski areas of California, which it would be unable to do on its stock summer tires or BFGoodrich KDWs, which were also an option for us.

We plan to get the Sumitomos mounted on the Jeep this week. We'll let you know soon after if this was a great idea or a complete waste of time and money.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Nice Wheels

October 23, 2012

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In the store parking lot, a Cayenne driver jumped out of his Porsche and asked if he could come closer to check out the wheels on the Grand Cherokee SRT8 that I just parked.

"Sure," I told him as I started to head for the Dollar Store.

"Just want to see if they're 20s," he said to another guy still in the Porsche.

"They are," I replied over my shoulder, walking away.

"She knows what size her wheels are?" the driver said to his buddy, looking surprised.

Duh.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Proving Durable

October 15, 2012

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Today marks exactly five months since our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 officially joined our long-term fleet. That's five months and 11,486 miles of driving.

That's an average just shy of 2,300 miles a month. Hard miles. The Jeep hasn't exactly been babied. We've towed with it several times, we've track tested it and as you can see we've exploited its capabilities on a mountain road once or twice. The real abuse, however, has come from our friends and families. Our kids. And our dogs.

But our Jeep has shrugged it all off and keeps asking for more.

So far we have not had a single issue with the Cherokee. Not so much as a loose piece of trim. Nothing.

Later this week it'll hit the dealer for its second scheduled maintenance. But there's nothing else to fix. No other small issues we've been waiting to have the dealer take care of.

Obviously every car and truck should prove so durable, sadly it's not always the case.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 11,486 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: A Look Underneath

September 24, 2012

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This thing is just cool, even underneath.

We finally used our 2-post Rotary Lift to photograph the underthings of our SRT8. Check out the mostly dual exhaust, aluminum suspension bits and the finned differential.

More photos after the jump.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Trailhawk, its Off-Roading Cousin

September 12, 2012

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Our SRT8 long-termer is obviously meant for street-only use. It's the extreme on-road JGC. But if you prefer to have a Grand Cherokee that's highly capable in the dirt, Jeep is bringing out a new special edition JGC for 2013 called the Trailhawk. Jeep showed it in concept form at the Moab Easter Jeep Safari and officially announced it last week.

A couple months ago, I was able to briefly drive a Trailhawk at a Chrysler press event.

The Trailhawk comes with the Grand Cherokee's top off-road equipment, which includes the adjustable air suspension (Quadra-Lift) and four-wheel drive with the two-speed transfer case (Quadra-Track II or Quadra-Drive II (V8 engine)). Unique to the Trailhawk are rock rails (steel bars that run underneath the body/doors to help prevent damage when going off-road), special reinforced tires and different styling details that include black-surround headlamps, a flat-black hood decal, gray-painted wheels and grille, red-painted tow hooks and leather/faux-suede seats.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8: Not So Crazy

September 03, 2012

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The Jeep people brought out some concepts to one of their recent events. The star of the gathering was the Mighty FC, a favorite of Jeep design chief Mark Allen who took everyone for a quick loop. Inspired by the mid-century Forward Control, the MFC is built off a lengthened Wrangler Rubicon and looks like something out of a wayward Soviet military planning meeting. Just the specter of it must make the NHTSA people froth. Damn if it isn't cool to sit in and peer out the glass, though.

And it got me to thinking: If Jeep can roll the dice on a production SRT-8, with the odd and possibly shaky business plan behind it, Jeep could make a case for a minivan. Something with the stout ridges and flares characteristic of all Jeep products and, if not 4WD, then at least all-wheel-drive.

Sacrilege? Maybe. But I think a Jeep van would look better than just about any current production van. I'm kicking around the edges of the minivan market, and I don't like any of them well enough to buy -- or at least feel too enthused about my purchase.

I like sitting inside the Odyssey, but still remember its jerky six-speed. And outside, I can't get past that most of it looks like a swollen Fit, with an unidentifiable back-third graft. The Sienna looks equally bland, but the V6 is sweet. The Quest wins with smooth CVT power, upscale interior, and I even dig the unapologetic Japanese styling. The fold-flat second row for most situations seems ideal.

It's that other 10 percent of the time when you really need a van to be a van that the Quest falls short. I'm sure there's an engineering explanation for the absence of quick-release for the second- and third-row seats, but it's an omission that keeps the Quest out of contention.

The Chrysler twins are nice, but seem to do just enough to hang around the segment they pioneered.

I can hear you already: "You don't look at the car while you're driving it. Why care what it looks like?"

Well, I have to walk up to it every time I drive it. I don't particularly care about what my car conveys about my place in the world, but I do need to like its shape and proportions when I'm ambling around and stepping into it. I think Jeep could deliver on this score.

Unlikely to happen, but nice to dream. In the meantime, it's back to searching last-gen Odysseys.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Easy Choice

August 31, 2012

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Um, I'll take the one on the left. How about you?

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee: Attempting to Sing Its Virtues

August 20, 2012

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I shuttled my family to a friend's house yesterday in the JGC SRT8. My friend's a lawyer and has been thinking about replacing his 2009 Mercedes CLK350, which is coming off lease. Occasionally he asks me what I think about certain cars. I knew crossover SUVs were on his radar (GLK, Q5, X3), but so far all he was talking about were import brands. So I figured I'd show him the SRT8 and wave the American flag a little.

I knew it'd be a long shot, so I figured the best way to stoke the fire would be to show off the SRT8's best attributes. So I took him out, then launched from a stop, ran through a few gears full throttle, then utilized the stout Brembo brakes. See, it's like catapulting and landing your own F-14 on a carrier deck.

My friend liked the fireworks display. Then I showed him the back seat and cargo area once we were back at his house. Plenty of room for the kids and dog, I told him. And we did a tour of the exterior. Understated but aggressive, I said. Perfect for today's man. Even his wife liked the look of it. Bonus.

Then, the $20 question. "How much does it cost?" he asked. Me: "Ummm … about $60 grand … but really, that's not much more than those luxury crossovers you were looking at," I said, looking to soften the blow. Still, I could sense the interest sinking. Then: "What kind of fuel economy does it get?" Oh boy. "Well, we're averaging 13.8 mpg with it right now." Sunk.

It just wasn't his kind of vehicle. (Or maybe I'm just not a good enough salesperson.) But it was fun to show off anyway.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 8,025 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: School Shuttle

August 15, 2012

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Today was the first day of kindergarten for my daughter, and the JGC SRT8 was put to use for drop off and pick up. As you can see in the photo, the parking lot was packed with SUVs and minivans. The Grand Cherokee pretty much fit right in, even if it is the high performance version.

For what it's worth, my daughter much prefers the "black Jeep," as she describes it, saying it's much more fun. I'd agree with that. But the JGC is worlds more practical and easier to use than our Wrangler for daily schlepping duty.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Should Be Louder

August 13, 2012

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Were it up to me, I'd make our Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8's exhaust louder. Yes, by normal measures, its V8 sounds pretty cool. It's the daily-driven state of exhaust tuning that makes sense for Jeep to to offer as stock.

But the SRT8 is anything but normal. Just look at the thing -- it's got the swagger of Schwarzenegger circa 1982. It should sound as outrageous as its personality.

Every time I start it, I want our SRT8 to sound like I've cracked open the throttle to a Can-Am racer. Or a powerboat. Birds should fly up from trees. Soccer moms in their Tahoes should spill their grande Frappuccinos. The USGS should record seismic activity.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 7,749 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Which One Would You Choose?

August 06, 2012

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I don't think it was a coincidence that this Cayenne GTS owner parked right next to me. The parking lot wasn't all that crowded for one, and the similarities between the two were probably just enough for him to pull up to get a closer look.

Shocking how similar the two high-powered, sport utility beasts are when you look closely. The wheels, the spoiler and even the red brake calipers. The Jeep wins the horsepower race in this instance and is about $25,000 cheaper, too.

For me, though, it's the styling that seals the deal. The SRT8 is big, blocky and suitably tough looking while the Porsche is all sorts of awkward. I wonder if its owner was jealous? Dismissive?

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Going Wheelin'

August 02, 2012

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I'll hand it to the SRT guys, they not only blessed this Jeep with some serious brake hardware, they also gave it some serious wheels to match.

Wheels have long been a sore point with the Big Three. In short, they sucked at making any cool ones. Sure, once in awhile they struck gold, but all too often high-performance domestics got stuck with bad chrome wheels with barely any lip on them.

As you can see, these wheels not only have some nice dish to them, they're not chrome. They also have some intricate detailing that makes them unique. Glad to see that someone at SRT is paying attention.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Price Goes Up

August 02, 2012

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A year ago I wrote a full test on the new 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. I wrote this:

"Trouble is, all the added spiff comes at a price. The old Jeep Cherokee SRT8 started at about $41,000. That's nearly $15,000 less than this new version. Then you add the options to our test truck, which include a panoramic sunroof, a 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, a power liftgate, a blind-spot monitoring system and additional leather, and the sticker price climbs to $60,780. Back in 2007 we tested a loaded example that cost about $45,000. Sure, the new one is better than the old one, but $16,000 better?

Apparently we're not the only ones complaining about the price. Ralph V. Gilles, president and CEO of Chrysler's SRT brand, wrote on a recent Web chat that the automaker plans on "decoupling" some of the features to reduce the price on the high-performance SUV.

"Grand Cherokee pricing has been sensitive," Gilles acknowledged. "We understand."

"We will look at decoupling some of the features in the future as the usual new product surge subsides," Gilles wrote. "We will start with immediately decoupling the DVD and sunroof." "

But now Jeep is raising the price. Significantly.

Today Jeep announced that the 2013 Grand Cherokee SRT8 starts at $60,920, including a $925 destination charge, reflecting a $5,625 increase over the 2012 model.

Hmmmm.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8: F-Bomb

July 31, 2012

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Heard this story from someone at the scene. In the final days of the first-gen JGCSRT8's development, then-Chrysler Group President/CEO Dieter Zetsche came in to see a near-finished prototype. Engineers and designers stood around quietly while the boss did a walkaround and then paused to consider the center-exit exhaust.

Dr. Z stood there for a few silent seconds, thumbing the coolest mustache in the automobile business, while one of the designers talked nervously. He assured The 'Stache that the exhaust was just something they wanted to try, something easily changed.

"We just think it says something," the design guy said.

Dr. Z broke a grin from under his considerable caterpillar and, extending a middle finger, remarked, "Yes, it says something. It says 'f********* you!"

Presumably, our JGCSRT8 says something a little different.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Road Respect

July 31, 2012

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The mean streets of Los Angeles are no place to mess about. It's not as bad as Boston, but if you're a passive driver who leaves 15 carlengths between you and the guy ahead of you, expect to get cut off every other second and cause the ire of everyone behind you.

But even if you're not a passive driver, LA can be a tricky place with Porsches and BMWs cutting in and out with wild abandon. Drive around in a normal SUV and it's even worse. The lane splitters and full-throttle mergers see you as an easy get -- unless you're in the Cherokee SRT8. I can't remember the last car I've driven that gets this much respect on the road. Nobody cuts in on it. Nobody tries to pull up in the right-turn lane to get a jump on the green. People just stay clear of the monstrous Jeep even if they don't know cars.

It almost makes up for the sub-12 MPG rating in the city we're getting.

Mike Magrath, Features Editor, Edmunds.com

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Milestone

July 13, 2012

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We're just getting going with our long-term test of the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, and last night we hit the 5,000-mile mark.

So far it's been mostly positive, although a few old fogeys have complained about the GC SRT8's stiff ride, and the lack of rev-matched downshifts annoys as well. And one cutting-edge piece of door/window trim.

But we're digging the monster V8, sharp handling and supportive seats. In sum, there's lots to love here.

Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 5,000 miles.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Rough Patch

July 11, 2012

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I've now scratched my hand a couple times getting stuff out of the backseat of our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 on the driver side. The culprit? A sloppily molded piece of black plastic that caps the strip of brightwork running along the bottom of the driver-side rear window.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Bad Ambulance

June 21, 2012

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If there's one thing our JGCSRT8 is good at, it's going really freaking fast. But there are plenty of other things it does poorly. I found out last night that it makes for a very poor ambulance.

At the end of another night of indoor rock climbing, my girlfriend slipped and twisted her ankle. It was bad enough that I thought it might have been broken. There was no way she was going to be able to drive her car home (manual transmission Genesis Coupe), so I enlisted the help of Kurt Niebuhr to get her car back to Edmunds HQ while I drove the gimped redhead home in the Jeep.

With every dip, rut, pothole and intersection, the stiff SRT8 suspension transmitted the jolts right into the cabin, and, right into her ankle. It's really not all that stiff when you're just driving around, but when you have to drive like there's a bomb on a mercury switch in the back seat, it feels like a skateboard.

In this rare instance, the Explorer, Audi A8, Jag XF and Infiniti JX would have been better, but it was too late to switch cars. I suppose it could have been much worse if I had the Miata or NSX, though.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 3,727 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Battery Sealed And Secured

June 12, 2012

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Here's a close-up shot of the Grand Cherokee's battery tie-down. Someone posted yesterday concerned that the battery, because it was contained in the floor, wasn't properly fixed for autocrossing and aggressive driving. It is. Relax.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Feels Special

June 11, 2012

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I really enjoy having our long-term 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 around as a daily companion. Partly it's the driver seat, which is incredibly well-shaped, comfortable and supportive -- but not so supportive that you feel confined in any way.

The other part of it is the driving experience. I expected to like the Jeep, because I really dug driving the plus-size version, the Dodge Durango, on an inappropriately twisty road a couple years back. But this SRT8 Grand Cherokee version is better still. It steers very nicely and changes direction well. Parking in tight spaces isn't bad at all, and it's pretty engaging during assertive cornering.

Of course, the 6.4-liter V8 is sweet, too. The Jeep jumps off the line if you whack the throttle, but considering how much torque you're dealing with, the throttle calibration isn't that crazy. You can ease it along when the authorities are near -- it's not nearly as abrupt as it could be.

It makes good sounds, too, at least at low speeds. It's grunty and burly and loud enough to advise others that you're up to no good when making moves in city traffic. A friend riding shotgun observed that it's too quiet (and not nearly as exciting) when you plant the throttle on the highway, and that's a fair criticism, but I'm sure the aftermarket has a remedy.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Wheel Curbing Near Miss

June 09, 2012

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That was way too close for comfort. I nearly curbed the right-front wheel on our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8.

I made a quick U-turn to position our GC on the curb behind another for a quick kumbaya photo, but I misjudged the relative position of the curb and the protuberant 295/45R20 rubber -- an occupational hazard when one drives different cars regularly.

A sickening feeling washed over me as the steering wheel tugged ever-so-slighty, a sign that the big Pirelli had just grazed something.

The merest touch is more than enough to permanently wreck the appearance of a wheel if aluminum meets concrete. Had I just become "that guy?"

Expecting the worst, I hopped out to see a pristine wheel. Turns out the tire bead and wheel rim are deeply recessed relative to the sidewall, and the spokes do not protrude beyond the sidewall plane until they're several inches above the asphalt -- well above curb height, in other words.

And so I got away with it. There isn't even much in the way of a sidewall scuff, indicating that it truly was a light touch. A more solid impact may indeed have led to wheel damage.

Still, I can't help thinking that maybe Jeep engineers understand the value of sidewalls when it comes to protecting wheels and such. I think they're hard-wired to get that more than most.

Meanwhile, I've got to stay on my toes.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 3,657 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Kumbaya Plus

June 08, 2012

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Zoinks! I just got back from taking our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 out for a quick spin around the block, expecting nothing. And then fate delivered this "kumbaya" moment on a silver platter.

But this is more than an ordinary kumbaya; it's a chance to compare two generations of Grand Cherokee SRT8. And fate was also mindful of the need to keep the color the same when making styling comparisions. I only wish the tree had cast a big enough shadow to cover them both.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: I'm Split on the Split Exhaust

June 07, 2012

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I'm going to side with many of the commenters here and say that I liked the old center-mounted exhaust pipes on the previous SRT8 better than the split pipes on the new model. They were unique, they could be spotted a block away and they just plain looked mean.

I know why they got rid of them though -- they're a pain. A pain in the shins specifically. You see, when youire unloading something out of a vehicle with the pipes in the middle you're legs are going to get cooked. I know this mainly because my '75 F-250 used to have twin pipes shooting straight out the back. After one too many cooked knees, I had them relocated to the corners.

Then there's the whole towing thing, but that's another story entirely.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: House Hunting

June 04, 2012

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I've lived in the same apartment for eight years, but now I'm on the hunt* for a bigger place with a better parking situation (read: a garage with a door on it, and a personal driveway). I had our Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 with me while looking at a few places over the weekend, and it proved useful for a baseline test of garage usability.

Our Jeep is neither unreasonably large nor super small by SUV standards, and since it has no roof rack, it should be able to fit in any garage that can legitimately be called a garage.

It would have just fit in this garage, but I wouldn't have been able to disembark from the vehicle. At least the JGC SRT8 looks awesome and imposing as it blocks the alley for an unspecified amount of time. This won't do, though. Next!

*And by the way, I'll be sure to update you daily with boring news of my impending move; stay tuned.

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2012 Jeep GC SRT8: Will the Maggie Fit?

May 28, 2012

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Yep. Seat's touching the back of my way-back driver seat, but she was plenty happy riding the pine in the SRT8. Thankfully, as Maggie reaches ~2 years old she seems to be getting over her puppy car sickness, which is good given the SRT8's firm and sometimes jarring ride. More road trips would seem to be in our future. Huzzah!

James Riswick, Automotive Editor

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Not Only Looks Sharp

May 28, 2012

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Our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee looks sharp. I dig the hood vents, the aggressive bumpers and the multi-multi-spoke wheels. It has a lot going for it.

Not only does it look sharp, but it feels sharp. This exterior door trim piece has scratched my finger on two separate occasions now. I know, cut my finger once, shame on Jeep. But twice? It's clearly my fault. It's time to cut back the rough flashing from this molding.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Dressing on the Side

May 24, 2012

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This is the reason I don't ask for tire dressing at the car wash. The Grand Cherokee is perhaps more susceptible to it because of the wide tires and lack of mud flaps.

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 1,819 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Giving In to the Dark Side?

May 18, 2012

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I am not an SUV-type-of-guy. I rarely have the need to haul people or cargo and most SUVs won't fit down the driveway at Casahashi. But this...this is a little different.

Before the JGCSRT8 came along, the only other SUV that did anything for me was the Lamborghini LM002 and LM/A. The Rambo Lambo was developed as a military vehicle, but it never got past the trials stage. Only 300 were built and they sported a V12 Countach engine up front. I was a senior in high school when I first laid eyes on this beast in car magazines and was instantly smitten.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Eye Candy

May 18, 2012

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I didn't just get into my job as an automotive photojournalist to watch sunsets. I got into it because I love cars and the raw emotion a good photo can convey. Kind of like Reese's Peanut Buttercups, they're two great tastes that taste great together.

I came across these shots of a Jeep very similar to ours and I thought they were pretty tough. Enjoy a morning dose of eye after the jump.

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee in WA is:

$180 per month*
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