2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Long-Term Road Test - Performance

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Long-Term Road Test

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Desert Road Trip

March 22, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

Sometimes, you need to get out of town. Last weekend was one of those times. Our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 shuttled a carload of us to the Calico ghost town outside of Barstow, California. There, the Jeep stood witness to the sort of stuff that happens when a bunch of guys head out to the desert for a weekend.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT: Why the SRT8?

March 20, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

I picked up my friend for a Saturday afternoon excursion and as usual we talked about what I was driving. Then he asked, "Why would anyone need a Jeep like this with the SRT8?"

After looking at him like he was daft for a few minutes, I told him to listen to the sweet sound of the SRT8 engine roaring to life. Then I told him to pay attention to how effortlessly the SRT8 climbed a very steep hill. If you were driving to the mountains to go skiing, for example, this would be a perfect vehicle to carry your passengers, your gear, and still have no problem tackling the steep incline.

At the end of the day he asked, "Why would anyone not buy the Jeep Grand Cherokee with the SRT8 engine."

I had converted him.

Then after dropping him off, I filled up the gas tank and was reminded why not everyone would want to have a full-time SRT8.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Torque And Trans

February 20, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee will be available later this year. New headlights align it with the Chrysler family look and it gets a new eight-speed transmission. But the biggest buzz is a new 3.0-liter diesel V6 option. The new Italian-built diesel makes 420 pound-feet of torque at 2,000 rpm and Jeep says the Grand Cherokee diesel can travel 730 miles and tow up to 7,400 pounds.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Compliance

January 28, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

With its run-flats, the SRT8 drove many on staff, including Editor Oldham who commissioned the switch to Sumitomos, to distraction. For whatever reason, I'm in the minority by never being too bothered by the JGC's prior ride. You wouldn't call it compliant, but I always felt the seats and acceleration made up for it. At $60,000-plus, I can see why you'd want a better ride, but I figure you don't buy a 470-hp Jeep for its compliance. That's why they make ML550s.

My first time back in the JGC after its Sumitomos, I couldn't discern a major difference. But it's been awhile. Maybe my memory of the run-flat ride has sufficiently faded. I think it's quieter. But the suspension seems like the main suspect in any ride quality investigation. Simply rolling over a speed bump at a single-digit speed brought it to the bumpstops. No matter. This is still primetime fun and it's still a head turner. One of my neighbors asked "is that really a Jeep?"

Sure is. A weird one, but a Jeep all the same.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 18,500 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Would I Buy One?

January 25, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

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.

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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: Climbing Vail Pass

January 5, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

I was pretty disappointed when our long-term 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 reached the highest point on Vail Pass — 10,666 feet — and there was only an unassuming green highway sign to mark the milestone. There's not even a wide enough shoulder to pull over safely for a photo. What gives, people of Colorado?

Then, I realized that Vail is only the 14th highest highway pass in Colorado, and that list doesn't even include non-highway mountain passes like Mount Evans and Pikes Peak, which are over 14,000 feet. Meanwhile, crossing California's highest pass, Tioga Pass (9,943 feet) on Highway 120, always feels like a big deal (especially since it coincides with dropping 20 bucks to enter Yosemite's eastern gate) and has a distinctive wooden sign. Eventually, I settled for a photo next to this sign for the town of Vail at just over 8,000 feet.

Eight thousand feet is about where the Jeep's 6.4-liter V8 began to feel the altitude. You'll recall that our monstrously powerful SUV is rated at 470 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 465 pound-feet of torque at 4,300 rpm. In Southern California it spends at least 90 percent of its life loafing, with the other 10 percent spent at or near full throttle, at which point it's just explosive as the torque comes together rapidly... right, that's why we added it to our long-term test fleet.

On the higher-elevation sections of Interstate 70 in Colorado, the V8 has to work harder and doesn't feel like it has nearly as much power to spare. It's certainly not slow, but you start to forget that this is the special, larger-displacement, expensive V8 and wonder if maybe it's the ho-hum 5.7 liter.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: The Ride to Colorado

January 4, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

Our long-term 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 spent the holidays in Denver, and when I pulled into my driveway after a week on the road, we'd racked up 2,458 miles and spent nearly 46 hours in the driver seat. Denver is only about 1,000 miles from Los Angeles, but a detour into Monument Valley via U.S. 191 and 163 on the return leg lengthened our trip. It was worth it, too. Monument Valley is an awesome sight in the winter with a dusting of snow. (You're seeing the valley from the Utah side in the above photo.)

All the hours behind the wheel gave us plenty of time to reflect on the ride quality with the Jeep's recently fitted all-season, non-run-flat 295/45R20 Sumitomo HTR Sport H/P tires. On the highway, the ride is pretty livable with these tires. Interstates 15 and 70 were both in decent condition, and given its aggressive suspension calibration, our Grand Cherokee SRT8 offered reasonable compliance. It wasn't busy or harsh over the small impacts, and we could just kind of settle back and pretend we were in one of the normal Grand Cherokees instead of the crazy SRT8 version. Road noise was minimal.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Towing Impressions

January 2, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

Our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 is equipped with the $995 Trailer Tow Group IV option. Translation: Tow package. According to the manual, its towing capacity is rated at 5,000 pounds. As it turned out, we recently conducted a test requiring several electric cars to be towed around town. Our Cherokee was the most appropriate long-term car for the job.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Holiday in Denver

December 21, 2012

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

It's time to put our long-term 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8's all-wheel-drive system (all-wheel drive in that all four wheels are driven all of the time, plus no low-range) and Sumitomo all-season tires to work: I'm driving it to Denver for the holidays. It'll be my first time on Vail Pass, and there's no better time of the year to do it. I've been looking forward to this road trip for weeks.

There will only be two of us traveling, plus luggage, Christmas presents and trail mix (lots of trail mix), so there's little doubt the Grand Cherokee SRT8 will accommodate us with room to spare. Will those new tires improve the ride quality enough that we won't mind all that time at the wheel, or will the Jeep's limited fuel range drive us nuts... I've already proposed a first-night detour in Monument Valley, Utah.

Surely, you have suggestions for places we should stop along the way or questions about our SRT8 Jeep that only a road trip can answer. Write me at eriches (@) edmunds.com, and I'll tackle your questions in my road trip reports after New Year's.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 15,397 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: Slightly Sour

November 20, 2012

GC SRT8 fence.jpg

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: Decisions, Decisions

November 16, 2012

jeep sp.jpg

Hmm, I dunno. Alright -- think I'll go with Sport. Yeah, Sport -- after all, it's the weekend, right?

For the record, Track is like Sport, only firmer, for optimum performance. And Snow and Tow -- well, those are self-explanatory.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Track Test on Non-Runflat Tires

November 13, 2012


As you know, we ditched our Jeep's punishing runflat tires for an affordable set of Sumitomo HTR Sport tires with none of that runflatness.
We're expecting -- and experiencing -- a big difference in on-road manners, but what about on the track? Well, we took it back to see how it did.

Would you be okay with the trade off?

Mike Magrath, Features Editor

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: I Would Own It

November 12, 2012


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 GC SRT8: Shockingly Improved

November 06, 2012

Jeep New Tires on Crap Pavement.jpg

I was quite vocal in my distaste for the Grand Cherokee SRT8's ride. In short, it crashed over pavement imperfections and its subsequent handling improvements could rarely be enjoyed in the real world to justify the unpleasantness. Personally, I was a little skeptical that switching from the standard run flats to regular all-seasons would make much of a difference.

Well, it does. Big time. I was flat out shocked last night at how much the Jeep's ride had improved. It's still firm, but no longer crashy, and I don't find myself sighing with annoyance and displeasure every time I hit one of the umpteen expansion joints, pot holes and general concrete crapiness along I-10 and my neighborhood surface streets. I could be crazy, but I also think the steering has gotten a bit lighter in effort, which I'm totally fine with.

Frankly, I question why this thing even has the run flats when there's a regular spare lurking in the trunk in the event one of those expansion joints, pot holes and general concrete crapiness blows a regular one up. Sure, our new Sumitomos are only H rated, but I'm more interested in the mighty Jeep's ridiculous acceleration than its ability to go above a buck 35.

This is how the JGC SRT8 should feel all the time.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 12,708 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: New Shoes

October 25, 2012


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: 0-60 MPH

October 19, 2012


Found this photo today in a set of early JGC SRT8 shots. Reminded me how cool it is to have an on-board performance computer. Especially in an SUV.

With a 0-60 mph time like that, I doubt Oldham was driving.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Proving Durable

October 15, 2012


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: Now That's A V8

October 01, 2012

GC SRT8 engine.jpg

Recently I was lucky enough to spend some time in the new BMW M5. Nice car, you'll see more about it on our site soon.

One thing I wasn't a big fan of was the sound of the M5's twin-turbo 4.4-liter V8.

It has an odd, flat note that just didn't do much for me. Some others on staff quite liked it.

My lackluster feelings about the M5's engine tone hit home for me even further as I drove the Grand Cherokee SRT8 this past weekend. Now this thing makes the right sounds, in my opinion. Not obnoxious at low revs, but man does it get burly and kinda angry as the needle climbs up the tach toward redline.


Mike Monticello, Road Test Editor @ 10,677 miles.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Towing Reprised

September 21, 2012


A few months ago I used our longterm 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 to tow my crappy LeMons car to Buttonwillow.

Last weekend I took it on a far longer towing trip -- Los Angeles to Willows, CA (go to Sacramento, then keep going) and back, a 1000-mile round trip.

Previously I'd wondered how the Jeep would fare towing in hot weather. This time I ascended the Grapevine when the thermometer was in the high 80s to low 90s. Not crazy hot, but warmer than last time.

Oil and transmission temps stayed happy. Coolant temp reached 222 degrees F, which sounds high but turns out to be no higher than what this truck runs in routine freeway traffic conditions. So it seems the GC has ample thermal capacity for this load.

The seat is supportive but, man, the butt cushion is unyieldingly firm. Too firm for long hauls. I had dead but within three hours. I was tempted to pull over and grab the memory foam pad from the race car's seat. Maybe at the next stop. Maybe I'd forget. Yep.

More from the trip later.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Running Through The Gears Video

September 11, 2012


It's a rare occasion in Southern California when there's room enough to stomp the Grand Cherokee's throttle wide open and hold there through a few gears, but when it happens it's truly satisfying.

And because everyone should get to hear this thing snorting its way up to freeway speed, I've made a video.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Ride's Not Worth It

September 07, 2012

Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 front.jpg

The Grand Cherokee SRT8 is purposely nutty. A heavy SUV normally intended for off-roading transformed into a warbling track monster that can hit 60 in 4.9 and go through the slalom at a ridiculous 67.1. I get it, it's ironic. This is casting Leslie Nielson and Lloyd Bridges against type in Airplane!, or having David Bowie sing with Bing Crosby. Such decisions are usually quite memorable, and so is the JGC SRT8.

However, I think SRT took the joke too far because the ride is terrible. Yes, it can go through the slalom at basically the same speed as a Charger SRT8, but in the end, I'd rather it not bob and slam over expansion joints. Keep the power by all means, hell give it more. Keep the steering, the brakes, the looks. Yet, there has to be a suspension sweet spot somewhere in between the stock Grand Cherokee and the SRT8. As it is, the adjustable and adaptive suspension just doesn't achieve it, even in its comfiest Auto setting.

I can see lots of people wanting a crazy pants fast Jeep Grand Cherokee. I could see few people wanting to live with the ride.

James Riswick, '80s Male Model @ 8,820 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Engine Makes Everything More Fun

August 22, 2012


The big lump you see pictured here is by far my favorite attribute for our JGC SRT8. Taking the kids to soccer practice? Give the SRT8 a downshift and extra throttle to get their adrenaline going. Slow-going Mercury Sable slowing you down on the freeway? That's nothing 470 horsepower can't fix. Shopping run at Target? It'd be a drag with our Wrangler, but here it's all grins.

I'm finding myself utilizing and enjoying the V8's brawn quite a bit. And I figure you might as well. Otherwise the SRT8 is just a JGC with a barely tolerable ride quality and miserable fuel mileage.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: The Smart Way For Rev-Matched Downshifts

August 16, 2012


No doubt you've seen our previous comments concerning the SRT8's lack of rev-matching ability for downshifts, the result of which is a harsh and chassis-unsettling gear engagement when you're using the shift paddles. And yeah, it doesn't do upshifts all that well, either.

But there is a workaround: blip the throttle yourself. I used to do the same thing on our departed Smart ForTwo because of it's clunky single-clutch automated manual. As soon as you click the SRT8's downshift paddle, blip the throttle, and voila, a much smoother downshift.

To be honest, it only works OK, and at least for me takes too much concentration (the unfamiliarity of trying it on an automatic) for too little reward.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 7,810 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Should Be Louder

August 13, 2012


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: Paddling

July 16, 2012

GC SRT8 paddle.jpg

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.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Using This Truck As A Truck

July 05, 2012


Given that our longterm 2012 Jeep GC SRT8 is hi-po trucky wagon thing and not a draft horse the way a pickup is, it does have a tow hitch and so I have been curious about its ability to tow.

Last weekend's 24 Hours of LeMons race at Buttonwillow Raceway provided just that opportunity.

Buttonwillow is 137 miles away from Los Angeles and comprises a slog through urban freeway traffic, a big grade (the Grapevine) and then a long, boring run through the middle of the desert.

The Jeep's console selector has a tow mode that recalibrates the shift points. Once that was selected, I was underway with my load -- my horrible FrankenMiata race car and a steel trailer, plus sundries in the cabin. This is easily within the capabilities of our GC SRT8, which is equipped with the $995 Trailer Tow Group IV option allowing a towing capacity of 5000 pounds.

Power-wise, this thing has plenty, though it falls off the power noticeably with each upshift due to the 5-speed autobox's wide gear spacing. I definitely appreciated the solid brake pedal - very reassuring and easy to modulate. At no point did the brakes go soft due to heat, but then, I employ engine braking whenever possible no matter what I'm driving.

You'd think the GC's firm ride quality would become more compliant as a result of the trailer's tongue weight. That's what I expected anyway. I expected wrong. The firm ride worsened with the trailer. It could be that there's not much bump travel in the suspension, and that this load was enough to put the GC's suspension on its bump stops. It was a pretty punishing ride; not unsafe, just busy and uncomfortable.

Gotta love the passing power, though. Having a large amount of reserve power while towing makes for terrific peace of mind - it really is a stress reducer. Guys who tow a lot will relate.

To keep tabs on the truck, I cycled frequently through the coolant, oil and transmission temp readouts on the GC's handy display. The trans stayed surprisingly cool, no worries there whatsoever. The oil crept up to 260F on the grade (85F ambient, 55 mph and a/c switched off), which is acceptable, but I do wonder what would have happened to oil temps were I towing the full 5000 lb instead of ~3500 lb, and if the ambient air was truly hot.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Bites

July 04, 2012


Whatever this thing is, it's not a Jeep. Its chrome badges say Jeep sure, although at a distance, a friend mistook the small "Jeep" badge on the liftgate for Audi's four rings. But the JGCSRT8 is a Jeep only because Chrysler says it is, and because there's some concession to all-terrain four-wheel-drive, although the approach and departure angles limit you to maybe a snowy run to the Christmas tree lot or some postcard magic drive along Daytona Beach.

Alright, maybe that's an exaggeration. But the SRT8 offers less approach (18.4 degrees) and departure angle (21.9 degrees) than the standard Grand Cherokee Laredo (26.3; 26.5 degrees, respectively), and 0.3 inches less ground clearance than the Laredo.

No matter. The Grand Cherokee SRT8 is awesome in 17 languages. Its brakes are part of its grandness. The Brembos stop the damn thing from 60 mph in 109 feet. Test driver Walton noted the brakes like some heat for optimal performance, exhibit minimal dive and are essentially fade-free. "Remarkable for a 5,000-plus pound SUV," he added.

My only gripe with the SRT8's brakes is their grabby nature when just navigating around town. Pedal feels fine, but they are quick to clamp and send you surging forward into your belts, just requiring some mental re-calibration if you're carrying wimpy passengers to places where they can spend their money on stuff.

But on the way home, with an open highway lane...payoff.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Feels Special

June 11, 2012


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: Ramp Travel Index

June 07, 2012


Yeah, I know. Among other things, SRT8 is code for "not exactly trail rated." This is kind of silly.

Or is it? How much Jeepiness does a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee actually lose on the way to becoming an SRT8 hot rod?

Our handy-dandy RTI ramp is one way to put a number on that.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 vs. 2010 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Supercharged: Track Tested

June 06, 2012


Edmunds.com tests hundreds of vehicles a year, but not every vehicle gets a full write-up. The numbers still tell a story, though, so we present "IL Track Tested." It's a quick rundown of all the data we collected at the track, along with comments direct from the test drivers. Enjoy.

Despite gas prices, electronic nannies and safety regulations, we're living the glory days, friends. Engines have never been so powerful and so accessible. Take the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, for example. This SUV has a 6.4-liter naturally aspirated pushrod V8 that cranks out 470 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque while meeting strict California emissions standards. And it's not alone in the segment, not by a long shot, and the closest competitor comes from Great Britain in the form of the 2010 Range Rover Sport Supercharged. (The S/C Range Rover Sport lives on today, but we haven't seen one on our track since that model year.)

The Range Rover makes 510 horsepower to the Jeep's 470. It produces 461 pound-feet of torque to the Jeep's 465. The Range has a six-speed automatic; Jeep's only got 5 forward gears.

The Range Rover is also $20,000 more expensive. Does it show its worth at the track?

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: It Don't Match Revs

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

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Brakeasaurus

May 28, 2012


Holy crap does our longterm 2012 Jeep GC SRT8 have huge brakes. They may not look like much in this photo until you realize that's a 20" wheel, and an entire third of the thing is filled with red. Six pistons. Huge. Good, solid pedal feel, too.

The rotor? Fifteen inches. That's an inch larger than one of the stock wheels that came on Project Miata. Like I said, holy crap.

'Course, when you're trying to slow 5,200 pounds with a C-of-G that's waaay up there -- especially when it's been put into motion by the kind of sauce this V8 delivers -- brakes this big are exactly what's needed.

Nice looking wheel, too, doncha think?

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Nailed It

May 24, 2012


While I won't let the cat (entirely) out of the bag with this post, we have tested our new Grand Cherokee SRT8 to see if we got "a good one." We did. Watch this space for the actual track results. While testing the Jeep, I decided to check the on-board performance data acquisition against our mega-buck VBox on the first default run. Hey, lookie there... They match! This is a first in my experience as most on-board systems like this have been historically wildly optimistic. The quarter-mile is very close too, and perhaps the 0.2-sec difference is due to the Jeep automatically subtracting the infamous "1-foot rollout" where our VBox raw data does not. Along with accommodating the ambient conditions, we do that it "post."

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 1,857 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: A Big Deal

May 17, 2012


I'll bet you're waiting to hear all about how our longterm 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 drives, yeah? Well, never mind all that. I'm here to tell you about one of the most exciting changes between the old GC SRT8 and this newfangled one. And it has to do with its... rear bumper?

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: The Flying Brick

May 16, 2012


First impression of our new super Jeep? It's a 470-horsepower vault on four wheels. No, the doors don't close with a deep thud and not every piece of trim is drilled down with three screws, but when you're on the road you feel all two-and-a-half tons of this beast from Detroit.

This is not a bad thing, mind you, especially when you have the big 6.4 Hemi to lean on. Much of the weight melts away when the V8 gets going, so it's a very swift vault.

It's really the suspension and steering that make it feel so solid. This is not just a Jeep with low-profile tires, it's a serious street machine that rides stiff and turns in quick. It takes some getting used to, but after ripping a few freeway off ramps this Jeep starts to feel good. Real good.

Very much looking forward to getting better acquainted over the next 12 months.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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Past Long-Term Road Tests