Joel Helmes road tests and reviews the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 is a big, bold, beautiful and rather thirsty beast.
If you’re reading this you are probably a fan, you might even be considering buying one, if that’s the case I guess the only thing you need to consider is how you would use it.
Make no mistake, if the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 was a pizza it would be a family-sized BBQ meat lovers!
Now that might be nice on a Friday night but you probably wouldn’t want to have it for dinner every night.
Around town, with a very sensible right foot, you can expect to use about 17.5L/100 of premium unleaded, that’s really thirsty.
Of course you have to expect worse than Prius like economy in a vehicle like this, but sadly being that thirsty it simply won’t be a practical option for many SUV buyers, thus the SRT8 is almost in the “enthusiasts only” category.
But really aside from the thirst, Jeep has done a tremendous job with the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8.
The acceleration and shear grunt of the 6.4 litre V8 engine is in one word “ridiculous”.
344kW and 624Nm in a vehicle even this size and weight is impressive to say the least. It takes a moment to wind-up but once that brute force kicks in…wow!
Surprisingly the five speed auto plays along nicely despite being a couple of ratios short on what you might expect in a car with this amount of power and torque.
Another thing I found a little surprising is how quiet the engine is, there’s literally no engine noise inside the cabin, all you hear instead is the deep tones of a well baffled exhaust.
As impressive as the roar power is, it’s how nicely the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 handles the corners that impresses the most. It’s unbelievably sure footed in the corners – top marks Jeep.
It comes with 20” alloys and 295/45 series tyres all round, that is some serious rubber. The huge brake discs and front six spot callipers also impress both visually and in operation.
The low-profile tyres and sports suspension do however impact on ride and comfort levels, low speeding steering effort is a bit heavy no-doubt due to the monster like rubber on the road.
Aside from the great performance and the “in your face” styling the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 delivers just about every luxury you could imagine including tremendous fabric and leather covered seats, the front seats are heated and ventilated, in the back passengers can also warm their derrières in the cold weather.
To match the brilliant seats there’s a really nicely designed steering wheel with alloy like inserts.
You also get as standard an electrically adjustable steering column, Bluetooth, GPS, reversing camera, bi-xenon headlights, and an electronic tail-gate to name but a few luxuries.
My test vehicle was fitted with the optional dual pane panoramic sunroof and 19 Speaker stereo system package ($3900), as you can imagine the audio quality is brilliant.
There are two other optional extra’s you can tack onto the SRT-8 - a rear DVD system ($3,250) and/or the 19 speaker high performance stereo ($1200).
Fit and finish around the cabin is good with some nice chrome work and leather touches making the SRT8 a great mix of sport and comfort.
On the downside there are two issues common across the Jeep Grand Cherokee range which I find frustrating; firstly the foot operated parking brake steals some leg and foot room for the driver, secondly the huge ‘A’ pillars really do impact on visibility from the driver’s seat.
You could probably also say that for a vehicle this size, cabin storage areas are also a touch on the small side.
I’m pleased to report that for all the wildness of the SRT8 it’s absolutely packed with safety features and while it hasn’t yet been ANCAP tested it would most likely score top marks.
Summing it up the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 is well equipped, safe, well priced, and oozes personality and fun.
The excessive fuel consumption however lets down the overall package.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 6.4 litre V8 petrol delivering 334kW and 624Nm
Transmission: Five-speed auto
Safety: Not tested
Price: From $75,000.