Still quick, but a few tenths slower than the previous GC SRT8, despite 50 extra hp from its 6.4-liter V8. An extra 500 pounds really hurts it. Abrupt-shifting 5-speed automatic has paddle shifters, but no throttle blipping. 12.2 mpg average.
Adaptive dampers help the GC SRT8 handle more like a sports car than an SUV. Intuitive, well-weighted steering and minimal body roll. Excellent panic braking abilities due to huge brakes and sticky tires, but pedal feel is a little mushy.
Adaptive suspension allows a more comfortable ride than the old, jarring GC SRT8. But make no mistake, even in full soft this is still a pretty stiff ride. SRT sport seats are comfy for all-day driving and have plenty of lateral support.
That big, lumbering V8 is definitely on the noisy side of the spectrum at idle and full throttle, but goes into fuel-saver 4-cyl. mode on the highway. Some wind noise around the sunroof, and the performance-oriented tires add some hum.
The speedometer's numerals are too close together. Also, occasional sun glare from the plastic IP cover. Climate control is a straightforward knob/button affair. Love the ventilated seats. Touchscreen audio/nav system a bit confusing.
Large B-pillars give a cumbersome rear 3/4 blindspot, hindering lane changes, although our test vehicle had optional Blind Spot Monitoring. The D-pillars are also quite thick. Luckily a backup camera comes standard.
Seat Access & Space
Even though the GC SRT8 is a sporting SUV, you still have to climb up into it. Once in, front headroom is about average, a little above average in the rear. Rear seatbacks recline, a nice bonus, and the rear armrest is plush.
Cargo & Storage
Center armrest bin is spacious and door pockets are deep, but barely wide enough to get your hand in there. No front storage bin. Cupholders illuminate at night, have anti-tip knobs. Very large luggage capacity and fold-flat rear seats.
Interior is much improved qualitywise over last Grand Cherokee. More soft-touch pieces, nice leather stitching, real carbon-fiber trim. Quality still needs to be improved to compete with the class leader, for instance the chintzy HVAC controls.
We didn't tow with the GC SRT8, but it's rated to haul 5,000 pounds, which isn't too shabby for a performance SUV. This new 2012 GC SRT8 has a more traditional exhaust, versus the previous central system, making for easier hitch installation.
The GC SRT8 isn't trail-rated, but we took it to a dry lake bed and can attest that it loves doing all-wheel-drive slides in the dirt. But between its three-season performance tires and lack of a low-range, it really is a soft-roader.
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