2014 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE SRT REVIEW
Vehicle Style: High performance SUV
Price: $77,000 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 344kW/624Nm V8 petrol | 8spd auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 14.0 l/100km | tested: 17.3 l/100km
There’s a simple and well-proven formula for developing an automobile legend: take a run-of-the-mill body... and shoehorn the biggest possible engine into its chest.
That’s how cars like Jeep’s Grand Cherokee SRT come to life. And what a life it is.
Sure, at a glance you could nearly mistake the SRT for a standard Grand Cherokee: it’s still family friendly and still just as versatile, but big red Brembos, a vented bonnet and big-bore tailpipes tell a different story.
Quality: Thanks to the 2013 update, the Grand Cherokee now comes with a simplified dash layout and large touchscreen that tidies things up nicely. There’s also a new SRT-specific steering wheel, as befits a performance hero.
The stitched dash top looks the business, as do the wing-backed nappa leather and perforated suede seats. But there’s still some low quality plastics in use on the lower dash, and the silver centre console is also a bit low-rent.
The biggest issue lies with the optional panoramic sunroof of the car we tested, with creaks, groans and rattles aplenty from the roof mechanism and retractable blind.
Comfort: Thanks to its mammoth dimensions, there’s no shortage of space inside the Grand Cherokee. The sporty front seats are huge, so there’s more spare room than snug fit.
All outboard seating positions enjoy heated seats, the front seats add ventilation and power adjustment. In the rear the seatback reclines and there’s more than enough space to pile three into the rear.
Equipment: There’s little to want for in the SRT. As the flagship Grand Cherokee it comes bursting with the aforementioned seating, plus heated and leather-bound multifunction, power adjustable steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, auto dimming and power folding mirrors.
There's also dusk sensing Xenon headlamps with auto high-beam, proximity key with push-button start, front and rear park sensors, powered tailgate, reverse camera and 20-inch alloy wheels with run-flat tyres and a space-saver spare wheel.
The extensive multi function trip computer displayed on the instrument cluster features in-car telemetry measuring power and torque outputs, G-force meter, acceleration timer plus comprehensive instrumentation monitoring every engine and transmission vital statistic.
Infotainment in displayed on the centre console touch screen with navigation, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, radio, CD and MP3 playback and USB and Aux-inputs. Output is via nine speakers or an optional 19 speaker Harman Kardon system.
Storage: Boot space measures 782 litres with rear seatbacks in place and upright, fold the 60:40 split bench and there’s 1554 litres of flat-floor space available.
In the cabin both the glovebox and centre console are small, cupholders will hold a can or average size bottle, but there is a handy lidded iPod pocket at the bottom of the centre stack where the input connections are housed.
ON THE ROAD
Driveability: If you think this behemoth should be heralded by rock anthems wherever it may roam, you’re not far wrong.
That 6.4 Litre Hemi is the largest V8 engine currently available in Australia, and its performance is just as colossal as it’s displacement.
There’s 344kW of power at 6250rpm and 624Nm of pavement-pounding torque at 4100rpm, although the bulk of that twisting force comes into play early in the rev range.
It is still possible to slink around the suburbs, but the SRT will take the lead with just a slight flex of the right ankle. Add some steering lock to your standing starts and the ESP light will strobe as the traction control struggles to contain the SRT’s power.
For those game (or crazy enough), the SRT’s launch control makes it a cinch to run off repeated sprints to 100km/h in a claimed 4.8 seconds. For something that weighs almost 2.3 tonnes, that’s bloody impressive.
And thirst? Probably as you expect it to be. We recorded 17.3l/100km but two thirds of that was highway cruising. City work will see the trip computer nudging mid 20s so be prepared.
Refinement: That monster V8 is actually pretty civil. It rocks a little at idle, but stays relatively calm when pedalled with vigour.
The biggest giveaway to its potential comes from the heat-haze rising from the vented bonnet.
Unfortunately, after a brief bark at start-up the engine sounds drummy and drones at idle, it does the same again when the fuel-saving cylinder deactivation kicks in at speed. Not a great indicator of the available performance and at times irritating.
On some rural roads the clash of tyre rumble was too prevalent as well, despite being an otherwise relaxed cruiser the rest of the time
Ride and Handling: Its big and tall, so you’d expect plenty of body roll, but despite its SUV shape, the SRT holds the road more like a wagon. There’s a bit of lean, but not nearly what you’d expect.
The ride is settled across most surfaces, but sharp bumps, potholes and choppy tarmac will send a rude crunch though the interior. Scroll the Selec-trac dial through Sport and Track settings and the adaptive dampers get even firmer.
The SRT also misses out on driver-adjustable ride height, and without a low range transfer case this one goes no further than mildly challenging gravel tracks. A real missed opportunity in these eyes.
Braking: Those big red Brembo calipers don’t just talk the talk. Six-piston front calipers and four-piston rears clamp ventilated rotors all-round.
The pedal keeps a long-stroke similar to the regular Grand Cherokee range, but Jeep claims it’ll haul down from 100km to 0 in just 35 meters. There’s no doubt about its eye-popping braking ability, and we couldn’t get the brakes to fade out on a spirited country run.
ANCAP rating: 4/5 Stars - LHD diesel versions of the Grand Cherokee, tested by Euro NCAP scored 29.95 out of 37.
Safety features: Dual front airbags, side airbags, curtain airbags and a drivers knee airbag, Electronic Stability Control, trailer sway control, rollover mitigation and ABS brakes with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and rough road detection, Active front head restraints, height adjustable pretensioning front seat belts, rear adjustable head restraints and tyre pressure sensors.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: three years, 100,000km
Service costs: Jeep does not offer fixed price servicing. Service costs may vary, so consult your dealer.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
HSV Clubsport R8 Tourer SV ($79,285) - It's no SUV, but like the SRT, Holden’s Clubsport Tourer stands out as a unique performance wagon. And with the SV enhanced package, it almost matches the Jeep’s power output.
There’s a gear-toting tail if you’re so inclined, and the lower stance of the HSV makes it the superior handler. Holden’s excellent VF interior also stands out. (see HSV reviews)
Volkswagen Touareg R-Line 4.2 TDI ($112,990) - With a menacing style not unlike that of the SRT, Volkswagen’s Toureg is something of a sleeper, but with 250kW and 800Nm from its diesel V8, performance is anything but sleepy.
Inside the interior takes the prize over the Jeep, but there’s still only five seats. The cost of entry is considerably more, as is the towing capacity, however fuel consumption is considerably less. (see Toureg reviews)
Audi SQ5 TDI ($89,400) - Unlike a BMW X5 M or Mercedes-Benz ML 63 AMG, the SQ5 is a little closer on price, but also a size category smaller. Like the Touareg, motivation comes from a diesel, this time a 230kW/ 650Nm V6.
Claimed acceleration is a whisker slower at 5.1 seconds (but still ahead of the VW) but sophistication and handling are well ahead of the game. Not as much metal for your money, but still plenty of bang for your buck. (see Q5 reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
For the very impressive performance the Grand Cherokee SRT offers, Jeep isn’t asking for big dollars. This heavyweight champion does things a 2.3 tonne SUV simply shouldn’t do, and it does them well.
Debits? The creaky sunroof was one drawback, and you may notice the condensation in the headlamps - glitches that simply shouldn’t be in any car asking $77,000.
But big room for five people, a bigger boot than any sedan could ever offer and a big shove in the back every time you thumb the launch control button make the Jeep GC SRT a unique beast.