Wrap-Up - 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Long-Term Road Test

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Long Term Road Test

  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
  • Road Tests (3)
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  • Long-Term

Read the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 introduction to our long-term fleet.

See all of the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 long-term updates.

What We Got
One year ago a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 cost $54,470 with standard equipment. Some of the frills included were Quadra-Trac all-wheel drive, heated and cooled front seats, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, paddle shifters, hill-start assist, LED daytime running lights, 20-inch wheels and Uconnect.

These are all nice features, but the only standard feature that we really wanted was the 6.4-liter Hemi V8. With 470 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque, it's the most compelling reason to buy the SRT8, and we couldn't resist.

We did add a few options, though. Luxury Group II added $4,495 and bought us a power liftgate, blind spot monitoring, cross-path detection, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control and additional leather-wrapped surfaces. Trailer Tow Group IV put a receiver on the back bumper along with a seven- and four-pin wiring harness. It cost $995. We added the 19-speaker SRT High Performance Audio package for an additional $1,995 because everybody needs tunes.

With a total MSRP of $62,880, our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 was as nice as a Grand Cherokee gets. But was it really worth that kind of money? We got behind the wheel to find out.

Our Impressions

  • "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.... 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." — Ed Hellwig

  • "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? Hoo-wah! Yes, that black goiter on the bumper is hiding a trailer hitch. This is very exciting indeed. For the first time, you can actually use the Jeep GC SRT8 as a truck. The old one had dual exhaust tips where the trailer hitch should have been." — Jason Kavanagh

  • "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 racecar and a steel trailer.... Power-wise, this thing has plenty, though it falls off the power noticeably with each upshift due to the five-speed autobox's wide gear spacing. I definitely appreciated the solid brake pedal. It was very reassuring and easy to modulate.... 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." — Jason Kavanagh

  • "The high-performance SUV is surely stiffly sprung and its ride is on the busy side.... I'm starting to think it's the Cherokee's run-flat tires that are the culprit here and not its suspension. Run-flats are to ride comfort as bad breath is to a love life." — Scott Oldham

  • "I was quite vocal in my distaste for the 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 did. Big time." — James Riswick

  • "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.... 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. And the main reason is that, depending on conditions, tire chains can be mandatory in this part of the country. A full set of chains for a four-wheel-drive vehicle with 20-inch light truck tires is incredibly expensive." — Erin Riches

  • "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." — Scott Oldham

  • "I don't care for the navigation system's rudimentary software. It doesn't automatically zoom in or bring up any kind of inset map to show you exactly where you need to turn. Most other factory systems do this for you now.... Manually zooming in is another option, but I find the small touchscreen a little chaotic and it's not clear to me exactly where to press.... The system provides auxiliary visual prompts for upcoming turns in the trip computer, but depending on which display you're looking at, they don't always come up when I'd expect. And the voice prompts seem to be a little inconsistent in their timing as well. This nav system offers basic functionality, but since it's in a $60K vehicle, it really should offer more than that." — Erin Riches

  • "One of the biggest criticisms of the Jeep Grand Cherokee has always been its lack of passenger space. The driver and front passenger never had much to complain about, but anyone in the second row typically felt like a second-class citizen.... It's still not a cavernous backseat, at least compared to some of the latest midsize crossovers. There is decent knee and toe room, however, and the shoulder and headroom is more than adequate for average-sized adults. Three kids will fit back there with ease and they might not even complain. The worst that can be said about the current second row is that the seats aren't nearly as aggressively bolstered as the awesome chairs up front. Shotgun, anybody?" — Ed Hellwig

  • "There was one aspect of the Jeep that was a pain, the driver seat. After an hour or two on the road, life was good. Anything longer and the firm seat bottom took its toll. I found myself shifting regularly to find a new groove, but never quite finding the sweet spot again. This isn't my favorite seat for the long haul." — Mike Schmidt

  • "The Grand Cherokee accommodates car seats only marginally better than a Mazda 3.... The convertible seat in the foreground fits fine and is easy to install. Both passengers make small comfort compromises.... The massive, rear-facing seat, however, is a different story.... I had to move the driver's seatback forward to get the baby seat fully locked in its carrier.... This is similar to what happens with these seats in the same locations in the Mazda 3." — Josh Jacquot

Maintenance & Repairs
Regular Maintenance:
Jeep recommends routine maintenance on the SRT8 at 6,000-mile intervals. So we visited Buerge Jeep in Santa Monica each time the service warning lit up the instrument cluster. Buerge did not go out of its way to help us, but it did prove competent in its maintenance of the Cherokee. We spent a total of $314 for three standard oil change and tire rotations. That averaged to roughly $105 per instance.

The only other out-of-pocket expenses during our test were associated with the removal and reinstallation of tires. We swapped out the stock Pirellis after a few months with the intention of smoothing ride quality, installing Sumitomo all-season tires. A total of $260 covered all mounting and balancing costs.

Service Campaigns:
No recalls or technical service bulletins were issued during our test.

Fuel Economy and Resale Value

Observed Fuel Economy:
We drove the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 23,336 miles. During this time we averaged 14 mpg with a best single tank of 19 mpg. One primarily highway drive took us 380 miles on a single fill-up.

Our test included more than 2,300 miles of towing also. The Jeep was the designated tow vehicle for our electric car comparison test. And it made multiple trips to the track with Jay Kavanagh's racecar in tow. We averaged 12 mpg when towing.

Resale and Depreciation:
Jeep supplied a $62,880 Grand Cherokee SRT8 to us for the purpose of testing. After one year and 23,336 miles, Edmunds' TMV® Calculator valued it at $49,259. This marks 22 percent depreciation from its original MSRP, based on a private-party sale. In the world of cars, this is about average.

Summing Up

Relentless power in any situation, firm shifts from the transmission, fade-free brakes, very responsive handling for such a big vehicle, can tow a good-sized trailer with little effort, high-quality interior materials.

Ride quality is too firm with run-flat tires, fuel mileage is poor no matter how you drive it, mediocre navigation system.

Bottom Line:
The 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 is a no-nonsense, performance-minded SUV. As long as you aren't expecting much in the way of ride comfort or mpg, you won't be disappointed with its performance or build quality.

Total Body Repair Costs: None
Total Routine Maintenance Costs: $314.28 (over 12 months)
Additional Maintenance Costs: None
Warranty Repairs: None
Non-Warranty Repairs: None
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 3
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: None
Days Out of Service: None
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None
Best Fuel Economy: 19.0 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 10.8 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 14.0 mpg
Average Towing Fuel Economy: 12.2 mpg
True Market Value at service end: $49,259 (private-party sale)
Depreciation: $13,621 (22% of original MSRP)
Final Odometer Reading: 23,336 miles

The manufacturer provided Edmunds this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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