Car Reviews

2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Review

Alex Rae’s 2017 Jeep grand Cherokee SRT Review with pricing, specs, infotainment, performance, ride, handling, safety, verdict and score. 

In a nutshell: The most performance you can get in a 2 ton SUV for under $100K.

2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Review

Price From $91,000+ORC Warranty five-years, 100,000 kilometres Safety five-star ANCAP Engine 6.4-litre V8 petrol Power 344kW at 6250rpm Torque 624Nm from 4500rpm Transmission eight-speed automatic Drive four-wheel drive Dimensions 4828mm(L); 1943 (W- including mirrors); 1792mm(H); Weight 2289kg Spare full-sized saver Fuel Tank 91 litres Thirst 14L/100km (combined)

FROM ITS AMERICAN ROOTS, the Grand Cherokee has always delivered its blend of premium SUV and offroad credentials in its own flavour… Particularly the performance models.

In 1998 the Grand Cherokee claimed the scalp of the world’s fastest SUV, and it’s come back to snatch the title again with the Trackhawk (that we’ll be getting later this year).

Earlier this year, the the Grand Cherokee received a light freshen up, and although it’s due for a bigger update, it doesn’t mean the SRT doesn’t still offer the sort of brawn that buyers won’t find in rivals.

Jeep Australia invited us to New Zealand to sample the it with some spirited sand driving and a little time on Auckland’s Pukekohe race track.

What is it?

As we outlined in our 2017 Grand Cherokee update, the SRT heads the line-up as the most expensive model on offer from $91,000 (+ORC). Within the Grand Cherokee range, the SRT accounts for about 10 per cent of all sales – the diesel-powered Limited model ($69,000+ORC) is the volume seller.

However, justifying the price premium, the SRT gets plenty of mechanical additions, a bespoke performance oriented interior and a thumping Hemi V8 that promises some pretty quick numbers.

Outside, the cosmetic changes to the 2017 model range is nothing drastic and the SRT still looks every bit as tough. Its front is set off with a unique fascia and bonnet with vents
. The car given to us to test was red and that probably set off the SRT theme that little bit more (and matches optional the Demonic Red interior pack, if that’s your thing).

Underneath the skin, there’s been some mechanical changes and improvements to tech. Specifically, the SRT has a unique chassis with SRT tuned adaptive suspension dampers with custom matched drive modes (Sport, Track), big Brembo brakes and a Hemi engine. The custom drive modes also alter drive-torque split.

The Hemi is a 6.4-litre V8 producing 344kW and 624Nm, and it’s connected to an updated (more durable) 8-speed automatic. Those figures make it the most powerful SUV under $100,000, and it’s good enough to shift the SRT’s hefty 2249kg from 0-100km/h in ‘less than’ 4.9sec. It’s isn’t very frugal, though, and drinks around 14L/100km, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise.

The updated 2017 model also gets better safety technology, such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, blind spot monitoring with cross path detection (option) and forward collision warning.

Across the range there’s updated interior trim bits and some changes to materials, with the SRT receiving a performance oriented trim and an updated infotainment system with apps including ‘performance pages’. That app shows information such as lap times, g-forces and gauges for the engine’s vitals. It also has launch control and a handy valet mode for people you don’t trust.

What’s the interior like?

At close to 5m long and 2m wide, the Grand Cherokee offers an above average amount of space inside. But still in its third generation, the Grand Cherokee is starting to show its age compared to newer rivals. Some of the switches and materials used aren’t as nice to touch, for instance, and the design as a whole is a bit fussy when comparing to European rivals. That said, some of the Grand Cherokee, and in particular the SRT’s, appeal is in its American muscle feel which there’s plenty of.

The SRT model adds SRT specific bits, which include a D shape flat-bottomed steering wheel
, perforated leather and suede seats
 and, as an option, there’s a black and ‘Demonic Red’ themed leather wrapped interior package. Also an option is a 19-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system, which adds clarity and punch to music.

Infotainment

The 2017 Grand Cherokee gets an updated 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment system with a new app menu system for navigating, along with the usual shortcut buttons along the bottom. Four-wheel drive model get an ‘off-road pages’ app which shows things like the locking differential and temperature gauges; the SRT gets ‘performance pages’ instead. This app can show a variety of fluid temps and gauges, along with a lap timer and g-force meter. Unique to the Grand Cherokee is a rear trailer view that uses the reversing camera, for a short period, when driving forwards to show a hitched trailer.

Passenger Space

Up front the seats are slightly firm but with good support and electronic adjustment. There’s a surprising amount of adjustment in the seat and a relatively low seating position with good tilt and reach adjustment allows for a sporty driver’s position. The footwell space is wide and deep for both front passengers although the driver does have a foot parkbrake inside.

Between the front seats is plenty of space for sharing the armrest and there’s two cupholders next to the revised automatic shifter. Up from the centre console is the infotainment and an array of buttons for climate control before some strips of carbon fibre and a red push to start button.

Into the rear and there’s also plenty of room for kids and adults. The legroom benefits from the Grand Cherokee’s long body and there’s plenty of room. As with most cars, three adults across the back pew would be one too many for a long trip, but there’s enough lateral space to keep an airy cabin for three big kids. There’s also some mod cons in the back, such as heated seats, climate vents and USB charging.

Boot Space

The Grand Cherokee capitalises on its long dimensions with a large 782 litre boot which can extend to 1554 with the 60:40 split-fold rear seats folded down. Along with a good amount of space are storage compartments and one 12v outlet, but despite its big space there’s no seven-seat option.

Driving

The SRT can be set to a variety of modes that we tried out over the two day test on a variety of roads (and beaches). Some of the modes behave discernibly different because each one changes settings such as the suspension dampening, stability control and how the transmission shifts.

Here’s an overview of the modes and what they do:

  • Custom — Allows driver to personalise the vehicle’s performance

  • Auto — Activates automatically when starting the vehicle

  • Sport — Delivers increased vehicle performance capability over the Auto Mode

  • Track — Delivers maximum vehicle performance capability on smooth, dry surfaces

  • Snow – Delivers optimised snow and ice performance

  • Tow – Delivers maximum towing performance

  • Eco — Maximises fuel economy with a revised shift schedule, pedal map and second-
gear starts


Our drive leg started on some country back roads from Auckland to the coast and consisted of a variety of highways and narrow bumpy bends. Most notable from the get go is the urgency of acceleration from the Hemi V8 and its tremendous 344kW/624Nm power output. With little more than a quarter throttle input the SRT is willing to move rather quickly – in any drive mode – and thus it feels sharp around town despite its hefty weight of over two tons.

It’s large size also lends well to cruising on the highway where it feels stable and overtakes effortlessly. NVH was a little noticeable, however, and the tyre noise from the large rubber footprint made a fair roar on coarse chip surfaces. Thankfully, the SRT gets active-noise cancellation to help minimise obtrusive exterior noise, but it’s no magic bullet.

For the most part we kept the drive mode in auto, which was effective in figuring out what we wanted, and the only time we really needed to intervene was driving on the beach. For this, we had to de-activate traction control but the SRT still provided composure and stability at higher speeds on firmer packed sand. The return leg involved a slower crawl along some soft and chopped up sand tracks but they never gave the SRT anything to worry about, despite having the lowest ground clearance of all the Grand Cherokee models at 205mm.

Compared to other Grand Cherokee models the ride tends to firm, despite the adjustable dampers, and larger bumps transmit some shock through to the cabin. But the trade off is terrific – for SUV – handling and quick response from the front-end. Something we were able to explore at Pukekohe Park race track near Auckland.

On the track, the SRT was fully unleashed, and with the foot down the acceleration continues to pull strong well past 100km/h. On the back straight we were able to reach over 200km/h before approaching a tight right-hander, but there’s plenty more power left in the tank. Being naturally aspirated, the 6.4-litre Hemi delivers a lovely note and power delivery that’s a little more lively than found in most turbocharged units.

The revised 8-speed automatic gearbox does well to provide sharp and encouraging gear changes, and while reasonably intuitive in fully automatic mode it is best enjoyed manually shifted with the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters.

Thankfully, the six-piston front and four-piston rear Brembo brakes had plenty of life in them – even after numerous laps – and provided plenty of anchor to slow the 2240kg SUV in a short distance. The brake feel was also responsive and provided good control despite the car’s weight.

Alex wore his best, shoot-me-out-of-a-cannon helmet for the occasion.

Turning into corners the SRT provides responsive steering input and some clarity of what’s happening upfront, but ultimately it lacks the deft feel of lighter performance cars… the laws of physics are hard to alter, though.

Overall the SRT provides a surprising amount of performance, especially considering its size and dual purpose as a large urban SUV, and via sheer brute force beats some much smaller sports cars to the ton and around a track.

Safety Features

The Grand Cherokee has been awarded a 5 star ANCAP rating for all V6 equipped models. The V8 equipped SRT has not been individually tested.

Standard safety features include airbags and advanced seatbelt reminders. Additional safety equipment fitted to the SRT model include: adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, forward collision warning and optional blind spot monitoring with cross path detection.

Conclusion

Priced from $91,000 plus on-road costs, the Grand Cherokee SRT is the most powerful SUV you’ll get this side of six figures. At the heart of those figures is a wonderful engine which is supported by competent handling, but there’s also some compromises to get there: the fit and finish isn’t at the same level as premium rivals, and the ride suffers some compliance and NVH for the better handling.

But if you’re looking for out and out performance the SRT delivers a mountain of bragging rights and street cred, along with a spacious cabin for a family and a capable four-wheel drive system for (slowly) exploring scrubby tracks.

Editor's Rating

What's the interior like?
What's the infotainment system like?
What's it like on the road?
What about safety features?
Practical Motoring Says: If you want an SUV but pine for something different with some serious performance the SRT could be it. It won’t be one of the smoothest rides but it will be one of the fastest.

1 Comment

  1. AtomicRobot
    December 20, 2017 at 4:39 pm — Reply

    “it doesn’t mean the SRT doesn’t still offer the sort of brawn that buyers won’t find in rivals.”

    What kind of bullsh!t triple negative statement is that??

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Alex Rae

Alex Rae