2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Slightly Sour
November 20, 2012
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.