In review: Jeep Grand Cherokee STR8

30 October 2015

Words: Mishae Ramouthar | Photos: Courtesy of Jeep South Africa

Behold Jeep's latest offering: the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, which is said to be the most powerful and technologically advanced Jeep vehicle ever built.


For reasons unknown, Jeep’s seven-slot grille was modified in 2014, making the new grille smaller and more slender, with body-colour strips replacing the chrome bars that isolated every opening. It is hard to understand why Jeep has gone for such a modest representation of a feature that generally leans towards flash.

Other points of interest are the side view, which reminds me somewhat of the BMW X5 or VW Touareg. However, the LED taillights have more nibble now, while the fang-like chrome inserts on the deep air dam below the number plate, wider wheel arches that accommodate the 20-inch wheels (dressed in 295/45 ZR20 Pirelli Scorpion Verde tyres) and double exhaust pipes at the rear complement the little roof spoiler, all leave no doubt about its performance potential.

The new-sewed leather dash and signature LED lighting give the top trim levels a glamourous feel and look, while the three-spoke steering wheel bears a conveniently masterminded pile of controls topped with innocuous metallic-plastic trim and a five-inch LCD touchscreen for sound. On Limiteds, Overlands, and Summits, Jeep applies beautiful, genuine wood trim to the dash, doors and steering wheel. The SRT model also includes a Red Vapor bundle, with one-of-a kind inside trim, an illuminated steering wheel insignia, Radar Red inside accents and dark chrome 20-inch wheels.


Presently riding on a 114.8-inch wheelbase, the Grand Cherokee offers a smoother ride than its predecessor and has more leg room in the front and back. And even with a sunroof, there is a few inches of headroom for six-footers. The back is equally spacious and comfortable enough for three grown-ups, which wasn't the case in the last model.

In the front, comfortable, wide sport seats provide the necessary support. The seats also lean back and tilt 12 degrees for even greater comfort. This Jeep doesn't have a third-column seat alternative. For that, you'll need to change to the Dodge Durango, which shares the Grand Cherokee's structural engineering. You can also flip down the back seats with a single lever, and on a few versions the front passenger seat folds flat too. All makes of the Grand Cherokee offer 36.3 cubic feet of space in the boot behind the back seats.

The bigger doors also open up 78 degrees, making entry and exit less demanding than at any other time in recent memory.

Trim quality has never been exceptional in the Grand Cherokee, but the new Summit edition’s finishes and colour are taken from nature, using natural tones like copper and green combined with open-grain, matte-complete wood. All things considered, the Grand Cherokee is the best vehicle Chrysler makes, as far as quality and class go.

A console bin in front of the shift lever contains all the sound ports, which are ringed in a delicate light. However, there's barely enough space for a small cell phone. The two-level console bin and bottle pockets on the doors are useful for storage, but the bins I love the most are the removable double bins found under the load floor at the back, which fit around the extra tyre.

The flip up glass at the back has been removed, but you can raise the whole lift back by force on all versions (standard from Limited on up). While on the luxurious versions, the payload territory gets fine cushioning and trim bars.


Chrysler's 5.7-litre HEMI V-8 has the snort and draw of a Dodge Charger with the same engine and the sweet, musical V-8 motor sound to go with the torque. It's audibly superior to most other cars you would pull up to at a set of traffic lights, however the HEMI's not such a big change in regular driving that it's fundamentally justified, regardless of the mileage punishment. Towing is up to 7,400 pounds and on account of the eight-speed automatic, cylinder deactivation, and an ‘air’ mode on the accessible air suspension, gas mileage is 20 (AWD) or 22 (RWD) mpg on the highway cycle.

A brilliant eight-speed ZF AUTOMATIC is standard over the lineup and matched with paddle-shift controls. The paddles are more like short stubs, which are above the volume buttons mounted on the steering wheel’s back. The gearbox offers more smoothness over the old five-and six-speed units, and it plays in the lower rpm numbers before changing gears, thus turning the car into more of a luxury SUV than a sports model.

The present Grand Cherokee is firmly identified with the Mercedes M-Class, a consequence of designing during the old DaimlerChrysler tie-up. The relationship appears from multiple points of view, all of which make this the best-performing Grand Cherokee ever. The body is stiffer and sounder than at any time in recent memory and this empowers the directing and autonomous steel or electronic air suspensions to carry out their duties better. The Grand Cherokee's suspension just gels with bumps, which make everyday street use a pleasure and without the bouncy ride you get with most other sport SUVs.

With the Limited, Overland, and Summit versions, there's an accessible Quadra-Lift air suspension that can raise the Grand Cherokee from 6.4 inches to 11.3 inches off the ground through five modes, which are fantastic for going dirt-road romping, while considerably more settled on-street. The air suspension can also drop the Jeep, making entry and exit much easier. In addition, when parked, it drops the car to enhance it streamlined features.

Most Grand Cherokees come standard with rear wheel drive, despite there being lots of choices for the individuals who wants some or the greater part of the rough-terrain capacity option that Jeep is well known for. It can be requested with one of three all-or four-wheel-drive frameworks.

The fundamental Quadra-Trac I has a securing differential in the centre, with a force split 50:50 front to back, yet no low range. Quadra-Trac II can split torque variably from front to back, as acceleration disperses at either end, up to 100 percent in principle. Quadra-Drive II also includes an electronic constrained slip differential over the back hub so that the Grand Cherokee can react brilliantly to any slipping and sliding. The base setup is lightweight, basic and provides great footing control for hybrid SUV drivers.

The Grand Cherokee is one of only a handful couple of vehicles that can be fitted with in-your-face rough terrain ability. Jeep joins a Selec-Terrain framework to both of the "II" frameworks. Selec-Terrain gives you a chance to pick one of five footing control modes as indicated by driving conditions: Auto, Sand, Mud, Snow, and Rock. A few variants gain the Trail Rated assignment - those with Selec-Terrain and a rough terrain bundle. I've seen how they do this; by scrambling up 200-foot, 55-degree slants with a Selec-Speed framework that exerts a huge amount of power into the drivetrain, and controls it in 1-kilometer-per-hour increases. It's brainless driving through rough terrain, all allowed by shrewd gadgets and automated stopping device.

The Grand Cherokee SRT is a SUV that compares favourably to that of the ML63 and Cayenne, yet at a major rebate. The 6.4-litre V-8 shunts 470 torque to each of the four wheels through an eight-velocity oar-moved programmed. Chrysler cases an exciting 0-100 kph time of 4.8 seconds, and incorporates dispatch control so you can see those numbers, repeatable, on the SRT's Performance Pages screen. That isn't the only standout number though. The quarter-mile pegged in the mid-13s, top rate hits 255 kph, and 100-0 kph braking stops it in only 116 feet. It's actual execution workmanship, and extreme in ways you may never associate with the Jeep name.

The Grand Cherokee SRT takes the knowledge and all-wheel-drive wizardry and points it at the asphalt. With its own particular tuning, versatile air suspension and a "Selec-Track" powertrain-control framework, it welds all that capacity into an execution bundle that compares to the best Euro-utes. It listens to a large number of sensors and inputs and tailors the transmission, all-wheel drive, motor and suspension, utilising five unmistakable modes: programmed, Sport, Tow, Track, and Snow.

At the same time, the SRT is also living up to expectations working together with Quadra-Trac to ship torque around - all to one back wheel if need be - to offset footing on the 20-inch, 45-arrangement Pirelli all-season run-flats or discretionary P Zero summer tyres. The SRT can tow 7,200 pounds, yet it can turn in around 0.90g of grip, similar to the Porsche Cayenne Turbo, a Mercedes ML63 or a BMW X5 M. It's level, sharp and just brimming with unruly engine rumbles.


In the 2015, Grand Cherokee SRT included another "Track" mode to its Selec-Track all-wheel drive framework of standard settings, which include Auto, Snow, Tow, and Terrain. Click the wheel over into track and the GC SRT routes 70 percent of its torque to the back wheels for, as Jeep puts it, "A more declared back wheel-drive experience."

To keep the Goliath wheels planted in hard cornering, Jeep included short-and long-arm (SLA) autonomous front suspension with loop springs, Bilstein versatile damping suspension (ADS), upper-and lower-control arms and a stabiliser bar. The back suspension is a multi-connection outline with loop spring, Bilstein ADS, aluminum lower control arm and free upper connections (pressure and camber), in addition to a different toe connection and stabiliser bar.


While these words and acronyms sound great, the GC SRT's enormous weight can still overpower them. Hit a knock or experience a height change and the suspension delays for a minute, leaving you to wonder how it's going to respond. Jeep has demonstrated that it can make the GC SRT go quickly in a straight line. However, its architects still haven't conquered the handling physics of a high-riding three-ton truck. The effectively overpowered suspension isn't the Grand Cherokee SRT's only issue, I'm afraid.

The Brembo brakes may have the capacity to stop the car staggeringly rapidly, yet they won't have the capacity to do it often once it starts wearing down. With any kind of performance driving, the brakes overheat immediately and become a rough, smoking mush.

And then there’s the cost. The Grand Cherokee SRT will comes in at R1 099 990.00, which is similarly priced to the Porsche Cayenne S that is slower to 100 kph by 0.4 seconds. In any case, 0 to 100 kph can't be the main consideration though. But the Porsche is better constructed, as its headlights won't be loaded with condensation. And while the Jeep is a huge brute and muscle SUV, the Cayenne S will have you looking like a sophisticated gentleman.

So in case you're in the market for a performance SUV, I say get the Audi SQ5 as it can do 0 to 100 in around 5.0 seconds and has an effectively overpowered suspension. Unlike the Jeep, the Audi’s price tag will see you in for around R884 500.

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