2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Review of: 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4WD 4dr SRT
2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT: Impossible performance
By Matt Bubbers
Sep. 6, 2017
The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT divides opinion like the Trump administration. You’re either a Make Jeep Great Again power-crazed yahoo who goes googly-eyed at the thought of this Hemi V8-powered big rig, or you’re an enlightened progressive disgusted by its Neanderthal-era ideas about masculinity, put off as much by the butch wheel arches as by the horrendous amount of CO2 it’s spewing into the atmosphere.
So the Grand Cherokee SRT is either the best, or the worst. Trying to write a fair review is probably futile. People on both sides will hate it. In fact, The Simpsons basically predicted the SRT with its little ditty about a truck called the Canyonero:
“Can you name the truck with four wheel drive / smells like a steak and seats thirty-five / 12 yards long, 2 lanes wide / 65 tons of American Pride!”
(For the record: the SRT seats five, it’s barely one lane wide, and it’s only 2.5 tons of American Pride.)
But the fact is the SRT sells, and Fiat-Chrysler is in the business of making money, when it can. It’s so popular that the SRT isn’t even the top dog in the super-ute stakes anymore. That honour belongs to the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, a 707-horsepower Hellcat engine in an SUV (because nihilism).
I digress. The Grand Cherokee SRT has been updated for 2017. Here’s what it’s like.
Pros & Cons
- + Acceleration
- + Styling
- + Sharp handling
- - Fuel economy
- - Outdated infotainment
- - Price of options
As is common for any vehicle getting on in years, the Grand Cherokee got itself a facelift. The work is not what you’d call major. An all-new model should be coming before the end of the decade (I’d guess 2019) so this nip/truck is just to tide the GC over until then. But the big Jeep still looks good. I’m not trying to flatter it when I say it didn’t need to get work done.
The signature Jeep front grille is less pronounced, blacked out on the SRT model and wedged between the narrower LED-filled front lights. The bumper has been re-contoured with lower air intakes. There are apparently some new fog lamps but I didn’t notice them. The point is, the SRT still looks like a big old slice of beefcake.
What were you expecting for nearly $100,000? Mercedes-Benz quality? Nope, sorry. The SRT starts at $72,125 but our fully-loaded tester costs $91,235 (including destination). The Jeep’s interior pays homage to its utilitarian roots, which is to say it’s kind of plastic-y.
A big part of the reason for that shocking final price is new-for-2017 dark-red Laguna Leather trim. The Signature Leather-Wrapped Interior Package costs a staggering $6,995. It includes Laguna leather seats, lower dash, door panels and “#7 foam seat cushion.” It’s not even especially supple. There are better things you could spend $7K on.
The dual-pane panoramic roof, which lets passengers watch the sky as it whizzes past, is a more tempting option and only costs $1,695. It does let a lot of light into the cabin.
The big 6.4-litre Hemi V8 engine is this car’s raison d’etre. It’s unchanged for 2017, cranking out 475 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. It runs through an eight-speed automatic. If you want an all-wheel-drive Hemi V8 vehicle, this is your only choice (until the 707-horsepower Trackhawk comes along to make SRT owners feel like garbage).
The engine is honestly the only piece of technology that matters in the SRT. Everything else is superfluous, and not as good. But if you insist on more info, forward collision warning, lane departure and adaptive cruise are nice security-blanket features to have on what I’m sure will be a family vehicle for most buyers.
Our test car had the $1,995 SRT Performance Audio Pack, which means 19 speakers and an 825-watt amp. It gets impressively loud, but can sound muddled at higher volumes.
The infotainment touchscreen is showing its age, taking too long to respond to inputs. This is probably the thing that would annoy you most about actually owning an SRT.
$106. I went through a full tank of gas in the SRT and it cost me $106 to fill. It took 85 litres of premium. Driving mostly in Eco (ha!) mode taking full advantage of the Hemi’s “Fuel Saver Technology” (hahaha!) I saw averages between 15.8 and 16.5 L/100 km according to the car’s onboard computer. The vast majority of that was in stop/go highway traffic, four up with a trunk full of cargo. That’s pretty close to the official fuel economy ratings of 18.3 L/100 km city, 12.6 highway.
The flipside is 0–100 km/h in 4.8 seconds and a quarter-mile time in the mid 13-seconds.
In highway traffic, the vast majority of those 475 horses are put to sleep. There are so few moments you can appreciate a big, fast SUV like this while driving out there in the real world. On a racetrack, it’d be a riot and would certainly raise the blood pressure of many sports car drivers.
But on the road, I don’t see the point. Bragging rights? To prove your masculinity? To really stick it to those mean environmentalists? No matter what driving mode you select, the SRT just isn’t tactile, responsive, or quick-witted enough to be enjoyable at lower speeds on the road.
Find a rare empty on-ramp and the SRT will shock you with the way it puts down power. It can accelerate through corners with the tenacity of a Porsche 911 Turbo, provided you’ve got a lot of clear road ahead to slow down 2,315 kg. Once settled into a turn, you can push this thing harder than you ever imagined you could push an SUV. It’s fast like a runaway train, but it’s kind of a one-trick pony.
For the $100,000 sticker price of our test car you could get yourself a V6 Jeep Cherokee as well as a Mazda Miata, Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86, or used Porsche that’ll be more fun to drive. For $100,000 you could also get a Tesla, and it’d whip the SRT in a sprint race if you’re only after all-out acceleration. There’s really no reason for fuel economy this bad in 2017.
None of those points will sway the people who yearn for a 475-horsepower Jeep.
The people who want the SRT despite all logic will still want the SRT. To them I say: You might as well go full crazy and get the Trackhawk instead.