2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

With gas prices continuing to drop across the U.S., perhaps it is time to start thinking about that “impulse” purchase you put off when a gallon of the precious fuel rose to near 4-bucks-per. I recommend Jeep’s new “MUV” or Musclecar Utility Vehicle.

Recently we spent a week in the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, the most powerful production Jeep on the road, period. SRT has released an SRT8 Grand Cherokee previously but for 2012 the hot rod gets the beefier 470hp 6.4-liter V-8 HEMI that also delivers 465 lb. ft. of torque.

And get this – the new Jeep still offers four-wheel drive but for this application makes it one really sick track vehicle thanks to a new Selec-Track system that allows the driver to select one of five driving conditions with the stability control, adaptive damping, transmission shift strategy, transfer case torque proportioning, electronic limited slip differential performance, throttle control, and cylinder de-activation all tailored for each specific setting. The settings are Auto, Sport, Tow, Snow, and (my fave) Track.

Speaking of track, the new Grand Cherokee SRT8 will pull up to .90g on the skid pad thanks to the new SRT adaptive damping suspension system mated to new split 5-spoke 20-inch forged aluminum wheels wearing P295/45ZR20 Pirelli tires. SRT offers owners a choice of all-season fun-flat tires or stickier Pirelli P Zero three-season tires. While tempting this beast to get rolling is an effortless feat, bringing it to a halt is no problem either thanks to high-performance Brembo brakes on vented rotors at each corner.

Setting the SRT8 Grand Cherokee apart from the rest of its factory stablemates is the body-color wheel flares and side sill cladding along with the SRT tuning that lowers the vehicle by an inch thus enhancing its sweet look. The 2012 models get new front and rear fascia with the exhaust tips moving outward of a “Viper-inspired” splitter/air diffuser. The 2012 rigs even get the benefit of enhanced downforce and reduced drag via new liftgate spoiler.

Inside the look and feel is just as dynamic. The new steering wheel feels magical in the hands of the driver and seating is supportive yet comfortable. I especially enjoyed the front seat ventilation as we have already seen temps soaring well into the 90s here lately.

The electronic driver information center provides instant feedback on steering input, horsepower and torque output, 0-60 mph times, braking times, g-forces, and even 1/8- and 1/4-mile run times. It’s like having a dyno at your fingertips.

The 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 features a five-speed automatic transmission and offers steering wheel paddle shifters for full manual control although I found myself needing to use it little when driving in Track mode on the Selec-Track system – the computer does just fine.

Pricing for the new SRT8 family member begins at $54,470 with our loaded tester coming in at more than 65 grand making this the most expensive Jeep as well. Fuel economy, if you must ask, is 12mpg city and 18 mpg highway but nobody; NOBODY buys an SRT vehicle for fuel economy, right?

By David Goodspeed – dgoodspeed@blitzweekly.com

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