BoldDrive: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT
Breaking the laws of physics is serious fun
Welcome to our ‘BoldDrive’ (review) of the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT! We rate each car from 1-100% based on five factors: performance, interior, exterior, practicality and of course, fun. We average the score and get our ranking for each new car we review, making it easier for our readers to get a feel for how the car really is. So, sit back, relax and enjoy the drive! Something this large should not be capable of such feats. That is the only way one can grapple with the logic of the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. The performance SUV thing has become a giant middle finger to physics, and I’m worried that one day the ghost of Sir Isaac Newton will smite these poor SRT engineers for routinely defying his most basic laws. Most owners of the 6.4-liter V8-powered family, hauling, ass-hauling, everything-hauling SUV will have to worry more about breaking local traffic laws, as it is nearly impossible to drive the SRT Jeep at the speed limit. Performance: 95%
The behemoth 6.4-liter V8 is a thing of beauty. Classic American pushrod goodness meets the latest fuel induction and efficiency technologies. This combination makes a gut-sucking 470 horsepower and 465 pound feet of torque. Power it channeled through a new 8-speed ZF automatic transmission. Pulling back on the shifter when in drive activates Sport shifting mode, which raises shift points. If the shift points of Sport is not to your liking, you can take to the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The response is quick, but in serious downshifting requires double-and-triple shifts, due to the many gears. We suspect when a 10-speed transmission rolls out, Sport mode shifting will actually run every other gear.
On the Austin’s Circuit of the Americas, all of these systems conspire to deceive you of the notion that you are driving a car is over 5,000 pounds. The SRT will take corners with more composure and exit them faster than performance sedans from years past. Given its weight, trail braking is probably not the best tactic, but it will not spell your demise. Take the turn with a little extra oomph, and the speed is bled off by a brief, controlled four-wheel slide. The AWD and electronic limited slip differential systems kick in and rights your way, as you slide your way to a seriously fun track experience.
We’ve said this about the new JGC before– the headlight update was a little funky, but not terrible…just different. The new LEDs are worn better on the SRT, which also gets an aerodynamic lower front fascia, 20-inch wheels, and a blacked out grille. It certainly looks the part. The folks at SRT don’t know the meaning of the word subtle; they never bothered to learn it while they were busy being awesome.
Fun fact: In developing the rear spoiler of the SRT, Chrysler found it was so effective, that they brought it over to the standard Grand Cherokee.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is meant to do many things very well. It can haul your family, your gear, and town more than seven grand. It can drive in the snow and ice, and remain composed. Most importantly, it can make every commute a hell of a lot more fun, and that’s not something you can say about 98% of SUVs or crossovers.
Now, the practicality of owning a vehicle capable of all these things is a question of a different manner. While some may think of practicality from a “When am I really going to need this power/handling?” angle, we’ll stick with the “I have no idea when I may need the power/handling of this thing, I need it at all times,” standpoint.
Really? Do I have to explain this? The Grand Cherokee SRT was put on this planet for the sole purpose of the driver’s enjoyment. Forget track-capability; this car will produce smiles departing from every stop sign and traffic light. On more than one occasion driving to the track, we missed our turn, and making a quick three point turn as traffic approached was exhilarating in that you knew you’d be long gone the moment the car was in drive.
Oh, and it is setup for a tow hook now. You can bring along a boat, or ATV or snowmobile. You’d have to be a medieval douchebag not to have fun in the Grand Cherokee SRT.