The jury is still out, but many auto buffs are labeling the all-new 2012 Grand Cherokee SRT8 as the best Jeep ever.
And it may very well live up to that billing. It is certainly the most powerful, technologically advanced, high-performance Jeep ever put on the road. In essence, it’s a combination of Jeep’s well-known capability and utility merged with the advanced performance engineering from Chrysler Group’s Street and Racing Technology (SRT) team.
Along with all the power, there is some style and beauty. A new sculpted hood with functional dual black heat extractors gives added engine cooling. The integrated lower front grille is painted in gloss black and a newly designed underbody belly pan has integrated brake ducting to improve cooling and fade performance.
A one-piece front fascia holds new LED multi-function daytime running lights and a body-colored upper front grille with a unique black screen background and chrome bezel inserts adds to the aggressive look. New split five-spoke 20-inch forged aluminum wheels ride on P295/45ZR20 Pirelli Scorpion Verde All Season run-flat tires or available Pirelli P Zero Three-season.
Powering the Grand Cherokee SRT8 is Chrysler’s all-new 6.4-liter HEMI V-8 with Fuel Saver Technology that delivers 470 hp and 465 pounds-feet of torque, an improvement of 50 hp and 45 pounds-feet of torque over the 6.1-liter HEMI it replaces.
An active intake manifold and high-lift camshaft with cam phasing delivers maximum low-end torque while optimizing highend power across a wider rpm band. Specifically, 90-percent of peak torque is available between 2,800 and 6,000 rpm, allowing for jack rabbit-quick standing starts and improved straight-line performance.
Standard Fuel Saver Technology and a new active valve exhaust system allow fourcylinder operation to engage over a wider rpm range to deliver both improved fuel efficiency — a 13-percent increase on the highway — and an extended range of 450 miles on a tank of gas.
On the road, the new Grand Cherokee SRT8 delivers positive handling and clocks 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds, 0-100 mph in just over 16 seconds and runs the quarter mile in about 13.5 seconds, with a top speed of 160 mph. It brakes from 60-0 mph in a quick 116 feet.
Standard steering wheel mounted paddle shifters join the standard Auto Stick on the floor. Both are mated to a proven automatic transmission, allowing a choice of shifting on the road and the racetrack. Both methods give the driver the ability to shift while the transmission controller calibration prevents over revving the engine.
Jeep engineers also have improved handling on the Grand Cherokee with a new SRT-tuned adaptive damping suspension managed by the new Jeep Selec-Track system.
Base price on the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 is $54,470.
Ron Beasley is the automotive editor for Miami’s Community Newspapers. He may be contacted by calling 305-662-2277, ext. 261, or by addressing email correspondence to LetsTalkCars@aol.com.