It was at the New York auto show six years ago that Jeep introduced the first Grand Cherokee SRT8. When it debuted, any context for the truck was nearly nonexistent—although a bizarrely appropriate challenger appeared at that same show in the form of the Chevrolet TrailBlazer SS. Now, though, with 500-hp SUVs becoming more commonplace, things have changed. As soon as the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee was announced, the question on everybody’s lips was, “Will there be another SRT8?”
Regardless of competitive set, the vehicle still makes almost no sense, but we’re pleased to say that, yes, there will be another SRT8. All the necessary bits—lowered suspension, huge wheels, monochrome exterior, honking Hemi V-8—are in place. Sadly, though, the wonderfully single-minded center-mount exhaust of the first-gen Jeep SRT8 is no more, the tailpipes on the 2012 model being splayed to the edges of the rear end. (The previous exhaust setup was hugely impractical—Jeep had to engineer a custom hitch for people who wanted to tow with their SRT8s, and the truck’s capacity was still only 3500 pounds.)
Don’t let the conventional exhaust get you down, though. The new SRT8’s Hemi has a little more displacement—365 more cubic centimeters, for a total of 6424—and a bit more blat than its predecessor: 465 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque, improvements of 45 in each category. Tied to that engine is the same five-speed automatic that served in the last SRT8, except this time around it gets paddle shifters mounted to the back of the steering wheel. Hopefully, it again is programmed for neck-snapping, nigh-self-destructive shifts. We ran a last-gen truck to 60 mph in just 4.4 seconds and through the quarter in 13.2; the extra power in this one should offset the weight gain—the new truck carries an extra 350 pounds or so—and keep acceleration times about the same.
What won’t remain the same is the truck’s nondescript appearance. While the previous GC SRT8’s body-colored trim and lowered stance lent it some menace, there was nothing outright aggressive about its design. That changes now, as the 2012 Grand Cherokee SRT8 gets a hood with two massive waterfall scoops to increase airflow. Additionally, it gets a body-colored grille and a stretched front fascia that tucks the truck’s nose closer to the pavement. Unique—some might say “busy”—20-inch wheels add additional flair and sit in front of Brembo brake calipers.
With a standard exhaust out back, there’s not much to report on the tail of this Jeep, although a regular hitch is available this time, giving the truck a slightly more acceptable towing capability of 5000 pounds. The SRT8 does get its own spoiler atop the rear glass, as well as a unique rear fascia pocked with that wide-set pair of four-inch exhaust finishers.
Thanks to: Car and Driver