If the words "160-mph Jeep" don't raise a few hairs on the back of your neck we suggest you have your hair-raising reflexes checked. Because anyone who has driven a Jeep in the last 50 years recognizes that the brand isn't known for building vehicles that thrive at triple-digit velocities.
Although we didn't witness the full 160-mph capability of the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, we did experience the insane SUV at full crack on Willow Springs Raceway, where we were able to corner the beast at more than 100 mph. And based on that quite dynamic experience, we find it likely that the new Jeep is a snoozer at 160 mph while traveling straight.
This, then, hardly seems like a Jeep at all.
Hauls the Mail After all, what other Jeep have you cornered at 100 or so mph and — dare we say it — felt comfortable? The answer, for us at least, is none. Sure, the first-generation Grand Cherokee SRT8 was a serious machine. It made no apologies for being what it was — loud, fast, brash and, well, stiff as hell.
And this truck is also stiff. Even in Auto mode, where its adjustable suspension can choose its softest settings, it will, occasionally, rattle your fillings. But overall, the ride is compliant enough for daily use — even for our mother.
Yet here, in Turn 8 on Willow Springs Raceway, this thing is confident. Sure, it took us a few laps to adjust to the Jeep's height, which inevitably produces more pitch and yaw than a car, but we rapidly calibrated to its body movement and discovered that this beast sticks with pit bull determination.
The trick is to use the throttle at unorthodox times. This is not a textbook handler. Despite, or perhaps because of, the fact that 65 percent of the available torque is going to the rear wheels in "Track" mode, the Jeep encourages midcorner adjustments with the throttle. And, near as we can tell, it won't make you pay with any unpleasant surprises. It's as stable as it is stubborn.
If there's anything that should shake our confidence it's bending a near 70-inch-tall, 5,150-pound SUV into a corner at more than 100 mph, but after a few laps it's just routine — almost as if this is an act physics can accept.
Target: Germany Talk to Jeff Roselli, the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8's lead development engineer, and it doesn't take long to figure out why the hairs on the back of your neck are standing proud. Among the litany of obscure facts Roselli offers are these: Its from-the-factory alignment includes 1.6 degrees of negative camber up front and 1.3 degrees out back. Its brakes, 15-inch rotors and six-piston Brembo calipers up front are the biggest in the SRT lineup — including those on the out-of-production Viper. Also, its steering ratio, at 17.5:1, is considerably quicker than that of a standard Grand Cherokee (variable, 18.9:1 on center).
It's almost as if the use of Chrysler's new 6.4-liter V8 is anticlimactic. Trust us, it is not. Although this is the same mill you'll find in every current SRT product, the 470 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque it porks out is not to be overlooked. Those figures are 50 hp and 45 lb-ft better than the 6.1-liter V8 it replaces. Chrysler's five-speed automatic transmission is still used and is still merely adequate at best.
And perhaps not so surprising is that the SRT team benchmarked BMW's X5 M as well as the outgoing Grand Cherokee SRT8 in the development of this SUV. Roselli says the Grand Cherokee platform is, in his opinion, a better starting point for a performance SUV than the X5. "It's an incredibly stiff platform," Roselli says. With 146 percent more torsional stiffness than the outgoing model, Roselli's team didn't need to add any additional bracing for the SRT version.
He acknowledges that the X5 M is a faster vehicle in a straight line because of its power advantage but, says Roselli, "The WK [Grand Cherokee] is a better-handling car than the X5 M. The Grand Cherokee — because it's an SRT product — can have its stability control fully defeated, which gives it a significant handling advantage." Also, he adds, "We've got more low-end torque. The WK will whip the X5 M through a slalom or in an autocross." Excellent news for those of you planning to autocross your 2.5-ton SUV.
"The Grand Cherokee is more brash, more involving," according to Roselli. "You can run it more out of shape and it doesn't mind."
Serious Driving In the end, we discovered, Roselli is right. We've tested BMW's X5 M and X6 M twins and found their nondefeat stability control systems to be truly invasive when driving hard. And the Grand Cherokee, with its sophisticated torque split — 100 percent of the drive torque can be sent to one rear wheel — is superior in the dry. Although we didn't experience it, we'd wager — and Roselli confirms — that in limited-grip driving there is no contest.
Partially, this is because the X5 M comes with standard three-season tires and the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 comes with all-season Pirelli Scorpion Verde rubber. Three-season Pirelli P Zeros are optional. Both are sized 295/45ZR20.
Its five-mode Selec-Track system (not to be confused with the SelecTrac four-wheel-drive system used in the Liberty) integrates with all systems that can affect performance — stability control, suspension damping, shift logic, torque split, rear LSD operation and more. Largely, its management of torque split and suspension damping yield the biggest influence in control.
Still, if you plan to stomp this Jeep around your back roads or a racetrack you'll find some shortcomings. First, its gear spacing is too wide. Chrysler's five-speed is aging, and even when backed by an engine with this much torque, the gaps between its gear ratios are too big. We found ourselves wishing for a ratio between 2nd and 3rd gears as well as 3rd and 4th gears, both on the street and on the track. The eight-speed automatic Chrysler will begin using in other vehicles this fall will solve the problem if it can be made to accommodate this much torque.
Furthermore, the five-speed box doesn't rev-match downshifts in Manual mode. Sure, there's a downshift paddle on the steering wheel, but request a downshift while under heavy braking and you'll find yourself with unneeded engine braking as the transmission attempts to make the engine speed match the wheel speed. It's as mechanically unappealing as it is dynamically disruptive.
This, according to Roselli, is a "Chrysler Safety Office" item. Translation? Blame the lawyers. Chrysler's policy is to refuse to open the electronic throttle unless a request for more torque has been made by the driver. Enthusiast driving be damned.
Reality Check But let's get real. This isn't a vehicle most owners are going to take to the track. Heck, it's probably not one most are going to drive hard on their local twisty roads. This is a toy for hauling the family but one that is as engaging to drive as many sports cars. It's an all-wheel-drive sedan on a double dip of amphetamine with trucklike visibility and a 5,000-pound tow rating.
And there's not much that can beat it across an intersection. Jeep claims a 0-60 time of 4.8 seconds, a quarter-mile time in the mid-13-second range, 0.90g on the skid pad and 60 to zero in 116 feet. We ran an impromptu test on the media drive without the benefit of our usual test facility and discovered that, in fact, this Grand Cherokee might be slightly slower than its predecessor. Under less-than-ideal conditions and on a non-standard surface, our acceleration times were off the pace set by the old Grand Cherokee SRT8. According to Roselli, the two should run neck and neck. We'll wait for a full instrumented test at our usual location before leveling a verdict.
But when it comes to fuel economy, well, the verdict is in. This Jeep is no Prius. Even though there's a new active exhaust valve that allows cylinder deactivation over a wider range (a 13 percent fuel economy improvement on the highway), the EPA says the new Jeep is good for only 12 city and 18 highway mpg.
Final Details At the end of the day it's not just stomping the gas that makes the new 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 special. Its interior is a combination of leather and suede, with deeply bolstered heated and ventilated seats and a meaty steering wheel. Interior quality is a notch behind its German competition, but its MSRP, at $54,470, is nearly $32,000 south of the X5 M and about $52,000 less costly than the Porsche Cayenne Turbo. And that counts for something.
Four options are available: The Luxury Group adds a leather dash, power liftgate and adaptive cruise control. Three-season tires and a sunroof can be had separately. Also, there's an 825-watt Harman Kardon audio system with 19 speakers that sounds better than, well, the last chichi audio system we heard, which featured only 630 watts and 14 speakers.
We'll admit that a 160-mph Jeep capable of out-autocrossing German competitors costing 60 percent more might not be on the top of your need-to-have list. But any Jeep capable of bristling your neck hairs like this will, we guarantee, be on the top of your want-to-have list.
It's now on ours.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored press event to facilitate this report.
2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overview
The 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee is offered in the following submodels: SRT8, SUV. Available styles include Laredo 4dr SUV 4WD (3.6L 6cyl 5A), Overland 4dr SUV 4WD (3.6L 6cyl 5A), and Laredo 4dr SUV (3.6L 6cyl 5A). Grand Cherokee models are available with a 3.6 l-liter flex-fuel (FFV) engine, with output up to 290 hp, depending on engine type. The 2012 Grand Cherokee comes with four wheel drive or rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed shiftable automatic. The 2012 Grand Cherokee comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 100000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a used 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee?
Save up to $300 on one of 191 used 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokees for sale at dealerships within 25 miles of Ashburn, Virginia with prices as low as $13995 as of Dec 11, 2017, based on data from 18 dealers and 166 consumer-driven dealer ratings ranging from 1 to 5 out of 5 stars.
Price comparisons for used 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee trim styles:
The 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland is priced around $20309 with average odometer reading of 77737 miles.
The 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 is priced around $31832 with average odometer reading of 86330 miles.
The 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited is priced around $17557 with average odometer reading of 85597 miles.
The 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo is priced around $16929 with average odometer reading of 81848 miles.
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Is the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2012 Grand Cherokee featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
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How do people like the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2012 Grand Cherokee 3.7 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2012 Grand Cherokee.
Vehicle Laredo 4dr SUV 4WD (3.6L 6cyl 5A)
Review After driving a Hummer H2 for several years, it was time for something new. I wanted a V8 4x4 SUV, and debated between a Tahoe and a Grand Cherokee. I am certain I made the right choice with the Jeep. I used to think the h2 was nice to drive, but the Jeep is a whole new experience. Much more comfortable, it has all the options (plus more) that the hummer did, and it is a little easier on gas. I have a fully loaded Laredo (Black on Black), and I could not be happier with the vehicle. It drives exceptionally well, has plenty of power, and looks sharp. It has had a few recalls..no big deal. Take it to the Jeep store and they are happy to take care of it. No major issues at 60k miles.
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What options are available on the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee?
Available Jeep Grand Cherokee 2012 Submodel Types: SUV, SRT, SRT8, SRT-8
Available Trims: Summit, Altitude, Laredo, Trailhawk, Overland, SRT, Sterling Edition, Limited, High Altitude, SRT8, SRT-8, Sport, 75th Anniversary, Limited 75th Anniversary, Special Edition, Laredo 75th Anniversary
Exterior Colors: Bright White Clear Coat, Granite Crystal Metallic Clear Coat, Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl Coat, Diamond Black Crystal Pearl Coat, Billet Silver Metallic Clear Coat, Velvet Red Pearl Coat, True Blue Pearl Coat, Maximum Steel Metallic Clear Coat, Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl Coat, Rhino Clear Coat, Brilliant Black Crystal Pearlcoat, Black Clearcoat, Ivory 3 Coat, Walnut Brown Metallic Clear Coat, Light Graystone Pearlcoat, Black Forest Green Pearl Coat, Inferno Red Crystal Pearlcoat, Mineral Gray Metallic Clearcoat, Cashmere Pearl Coat, Dark Charcoal Pearlcoat, Jeep Green Metallic Clearcoat, Red Rock Crystal Pearlcoat, Blackberry Pearlcoat, Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearlcoat, Bright Silver Metallic Clearcoat, Dark Khaki Pearlcoat, Midnight Blue Pearlcoat, Steel Blue Metallic Clearcoat, Bright White Clearcoat, Stone White Clearcoat, Luxury Brown Pearl Coat, Black Forest Green Pearlcoat, Graphite Metallic Clearcoat, Light Khaki Metallic Clearcoat, Redline 2 Pearl Coat, Steel Blue Pearlcoat, True Blue Pearlcoat, Light Pewter Metallic Clearcoat, Maximum Steel Metallic Clearcoat, Deep Beryl Green Pearlcoat, Deep Auburn Pearl Coat, Modern Blue Pearlcoat, Inferno Red Tinted Pearlcoat, Steel Blue Pearl Coat, Winter Chill Pearlcoat, Olive Green Metallic Clearcoat, Onyx Green Pearlcoat, Patriot Blue Pearlcoat, Natural Green Pearlcoat, Onyx Green Pearl Coat, Recon Green Clear Coat, Rugged Brown Pearlcoat, Stone White, White Gold Clearcoat , Dark Garnet Red Pearl Coat, Moss Green, Silverstone Metallic Clearcoat, Woodland Brown SG, Bright Platinum Metallic Clearcoat, Champagne PC, Char Gold 2 Satin Glow, Deep Lava Red Metallic, Flame Red Clearcoat, Forest Green Pearlcoat, Inferno Red Tinted Pearl Coat, Patriot Blue Pearl Coat, Shale Green Met Clearcoat, Taupe Frost Clearcoat Metallic, Taupe Frost Metallic Clearcoat, Woodland Brown Satin Glow
Interior Colors: Black cloth, Medium Slate Gray cloth, Brown/Light Frost premium leather, Dark Slate Gray cloth, Black leather/sueded microfiber, Black premium leather, Black/Ruby Red leather/sueded microfiber, Dark Graystone/Medium Graystone cloth, Black alcantara, Black/Light Frost Beige leather, Brown premium leather, Dark Slate Gray, Dark Sienna Brown/Black leather, Khaki cloth, Medium Slate Gray, Dark Graystone/Medium Graystone premium leather, Dark Khaki/Light Graystone leather, New Saddle/Black leather, Black/Light Frost Beige cloth, Brown leather, Dark Slate Gray/Light Graystone premium leather, Khaki, Indigo Blue/Brown premium leather, Taupe, Dark Khaki/Light Graystone, Black leather/suede, Dark Frost Beige/Light Frost Beige leather, New Saddle/Black premium leather, Agate, Black/Light Grey leather, Black/Light Frost Beige premium leather, Black/Ruby Red leather, New Saddle/Black Interior leather, Black leather, Dark Frost Beige/Light Frost Beige premium leather, Dark Khaki/Light Graystone premium leather, Sandstone, Black/Dark Olive premium leather, Black/Sepia leather/sueded microfiber, Dark/Light Slate Gray, Medium Slate Gray leather/suede
Popular Features: Keyless Entry/Start, Mobile Internet, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Electronic Folding Mirrors, Pre-collision safety system, Lane Departure Warning, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Aux Audio Inputs, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Post-collision safety system, Power Driver Seat, Rear Bench Seats, Stability Control, Tire Pressure Warning, Trip Computer, AWD/4WD, Bluetooth, USB Inputs, Remote Start, Alarm, Sunroof/Moonroof, Auto Climate Control, Back-up camera, Heated seats, Parking sensors, Navigation, Leather Seats, 5000lb Towing Capacity, Upgraded Headlights, Towing Hitch, Power Liftgate/Trunk, 6000lb Towing Capacity, Cooled Seats, Upgraded Engine, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitoring, 3500lb Towing Capacity, Automatic Emergency Braking, Upgraded Stereo, Rear Entertainment System