2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8
4dr Sport Utility Vehicle 4x4
8-cyl. 370cid/420hp SFI HEMI
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With an experienced team and a lot of data.
Formed in 2002, Chrysler’s Street and Racing Technology (SRT) designers were hard at work in the mid-2000s, hopping up nearly everything in the Chrysler catalogue from four-cylinder Neons to large Ram pickups. Even so, the team found the time to develop a high-performance SUV like the Porsche Cayenne Turbo or Mercedes-Benz ML550 AMG. The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 was the result. Bumping the standard Grand Cherokee’s 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 to 6.1 liters produced 420 horsepower with 420 lb-ft of torque for $39,995, less than half the price of the super SUVs from Germany.
SRT designers lowered the Grand Cherokee’s ride height by an inch, upgraded the torque converter and 5-speed automatic transmission and beefed up the transfer case. The Electronic Stability Program was recalibrated, and the lightweight forged alloy wheels were staggered in size to accommodate the rear-biased drivetrain.
Tested at California’s Willow Springs Raceway against the Cayenne, the Uber-Jeep recorded 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds against the Porsche’s 5.1 seconds and the AMG ML550’s 5.3 seconds. At 4788 lb the SRT-8 was still hefty but 400 lb less than the Porsche and a whopping 1400 lb less than the Mercedes. But Jeep had decided to focus on blacktop performance rather than all-around capability, so off-roading was sacrificed thanks to a low front air dam. Other compromises included a minimal towing capacity and a warranty of just years and 36,000 miles.
While the Grand Cherokee interior lacked the private club leather atmosphere of the more expensive SUVs, Jeep still offered plenty of options, including navigation, Sirius satellite radio, driver memory seat, rear DVD player, and sunroof. SRT-8 production was tiny by Jeep standards and peaked in 2007 before declining slowly. Black and silver colors were favored, while red and blue were quite limited.
A new Grand Cherokee SRT-8 debuted in 2011, boasting 50 additional hp, and in 2018 Jeep introduced the bonkers Grand Cherokee Trackhawk with its 707-hp supercharged V-8.