2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

If you’re the kind of car shopper who makes their purchasing decisions from here instead of here, well then something this crazy isn’t going to make any sense.  It’s the all-new 2014, 470-horsepower Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT.

If you’re perplexed as to why such a Jeep would ever be built, well, your brain likely isn’t wired to appreciate absurd creations.  The car nut in me just loves it when companies build machines designed to arouse passion and for the handful who will kick logic to the curb and alleviate their back accounts of $64,000, I’m proud of you.  And your reward will be paid in sound, speed and style.

So what takes a Grand Cherokee to SRT levels?  It starts with the company’s biggest HEMI motor.  Unlike its German competitors who use turbocharging to boost output, Jeep applies the KISS principal to go faster and pumps 470 horsepower and 465 pound feet of torque from an enlarged 6.4-liter V8.  And just what SRT enthusiasts have been waiting for, an 8-speed automatic makes its debut for 2014 aiding in smoothness, acceleration and fuel economy. It also greatly ratchets up the Grand Cherokee’s towing capacity from 5,000 to 7,200 pounds.  Though the electronic T-handle shifter is cumbersome to quickly place in the desired gear, there are meaty paddle shifters tucked behind the thick-rimmed steering wheel which fire off lighting quick gear changes.  It also possesses a sport mode that’ll handle the chore for you.  And just behind it is a new button, which sets you up for straight-line success.

To get your best 0-to-60mph time just use launch control.  The button is just to the left of this rotary knob here.  You press it, put your foot on the brake, give it some gas and off you go.

This crafting of a textbook take-off resulted in times generally in the mid 4’s, though my best run was a stunning 4.4 seconds, making this American made SUV faster than all of its high-priced rivals, with the exception of the $150,000 Porsche Cayenne Turbo S.

But with this SRT Jeep, it’s more than just speed.  It’s about a Grand Cherokee with a retuned Selec-Track system, now with 5 settings including a Track Mode which proportions 70% of the all-wheel drive split to the rear wheels for improved cornering feel, an adaptive damping suspension featuring Bilstein shocks which embolden the already strong body producing a very taut ride, a set of 20” ultra-wide Pirelli Scorpion Verde all-season run flats, 6-piston Brembo front brakes grabbing 15” discs for outstanding stopping force, and SRT-tuned steering.  And that’s on the mechanical side.  Its menacing looks alone are enough to make mere sports cars quiver with a new front-end appearance highlighted by bi-xenon headlamps surrounded by LEDs and massive dual exhaust outlets.  All the changes SRT made are spot on and led a number of people to tell me this week that this is the best looking Jeep they’ve ever seen.

And the accolades continue inside where high tech intersects with sport luxury.

The Grand Cherokee’s cabin features the best infotainment unit in the industry as well as the sharpest looking and easiest to configure digital gauge cluster.

The IT alone in here is jaw dropping enough, with this UConnect unit making all others seem like yesterday’s news.  Easy to see and use, the visuals are spectacular and items like the Performance Pages are just too cool.  The seats are deeply bolstered and appropriately firm like the vehicle itself while added goodies like the dual pane panoramic sunroof and 825 watt 19-speaker surround sound complete this very comprehensive package, replete with all of the modern luxury, convenience and safety features being offered today.

A new Eco mode might help get you better than the 15mpg I saw this week…and that’s on premium, please.  And in the higher gears, the exhaust note can drone.  But the biggest wish for me would be to eliminate some of the slop from the steering because for as well as this Jeep hustles, it can’t match the control given to the driver of a Cayenne with its sports-car like agility.

An as tested MSRP just south of $70,000 is actually a bargain in this hyper-fast SUV class.  The new 2014 SRT Jeep is addictively good in a preposterous way.

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