So, you’re in the market for a new car. The wife wants an SUV or crossover for wintertime driving and cargo capacity, but you crave a sports car that you always wanted and saved for. Why not compromise and check out the 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT (Street & Racing Technology) with new 8-speed automatic transmission.
This 5,150-pound 4WD SUV is totally unique in that it’s essentially track ready. What? Yup. With 470-hp and 465 lb/ft of torque pent up in the Hemi V8 sitting under the hood, the Grand Cherokee SRT has been referred to an aspiring Viper. It even has a Launch Control button for head jerking, jackrabbit explosive starts.
Sure, pressing and holding the brake pedal and revving the rpm’s then releasing the brake can accomplish the same. But launch control does it quicker and more efficiently by altering a number of vehicle settings for 0-60 times in the mid-4-second range. Here’s what it does:
It turns the traction control off; sets the suspension to full firm so there’s no suspension sag; sets transfer case torque split to 40 front, 60 rear; enables an rpm limit of 2,000 rpm with the driver’s foot flat to the floor; and enables performance shift algorithm’s in the transmission.
To use it you merely, straighten the steering wheel; press and hold the brake pedal firmly; press Launch Control button; and once the LED on the button turns solid (the LED will flash if enable conditions are not met), push the accelerator to the floor and release the brake. If drag racing, the system will allow nudging up to the staging area lights but it has to be done quickly since launch control will automatically cancel if the revs are held at 2,000 rpm longer than five seconds.
Back in my drag racing days of the 60s and 70s, we’d use the line lock or brake torqueing technique when starting from the timing lights. Similar scenario as launch control, but we were able increase rpm’s to whatever we wanted, however, it was hard on the auto trans and brakes.
The 4WD Select-Track system in the SRT differs somewhat from the standard Grand Cherokee in that it has Track mode whereby torque is diverted 30/70 to the front/back wheels; Sport (35/65; Auto (40/60); Snow and Tow (50/50).
Speaking of towing, the SRT’s towing capacity has increased to 7,200 pounds from the 2013 SRT8’s limit of 5,000 pounds. So the SRT makes an impressive trailer towing vehicle as well as a racecar.
Aside from Grand Cherokee’s dazzling exterior with LED lights rimming the headlights for a neat bright white glow, Jeep did a terrific job on the SRT’s posh interior. Its seats are swathed in smooth leather on high wearing points with sueded leather inserts and stitched seams.
The front buckets are Recaro like but better. They’re not as confining and offer ample lateral support with a firm softness. The back seats can sit three abreast but two adults are the norm. And the doors and dash sport trim that looks like carbon fiber.
A new 7-inch TFT instrument panel is supplemented by a huge 8.4-inch LCD screen that displays Chrysler’s UConnect touchscreen system for GPS nav, rearview camera, apps and more. Both screens display several performance specs including cornering “g” and lap times. There are also paddle shifters for self-shifting.
Back in the cargo area, there’s 68.7 cubic feet that can hold lots of grocery bags and gear. But more meaningful, the area measures 38.5 inches deep, 46 wide, 31 high or 70.5 deep with the rear seats folded. Which, by the way, the rear seat headrests automatically flip forward when folding the seats. Load height is 31 inches while step-in is low 19.5.
While there’s no question the SRT is a performance SUV, it’s the 8-speed automatic trans that helps register EPA fuel economy estimates of 13 city, 19-highway mpg. There’s also the ECO mode that aids the cause through cylinder deactivation when at steady cruise speeds.
Ride and handling on 20-inch Pirelli’s is taut, planted with virtually no body lean. Hey, it’s a race car.
SRT’s standard list is very long, so to summarize, there’s loads of goodies plus numerous safety features like forward collision warning, blind spot and rear cross path detection, limited slip rear and more. On the options side, there’s the towing group ($995), Harmon Kardon audio ($1,995), dual pane sunroof ($1,595), three season tires ($895) and delivery ($995) that brought SRT’s base price of $62,995 up to $69,665. Yes that’s a lot of coin, but SRT is essentially two fabulous cars in one. It’s the most exciting SUV you’ll likely ever drive.
SRT received five government safety star ratings for front/rear side crash and four for rollover. That, and Jeep offers a 5/100K powertrain warranty.
To check out an SRT, stop by Rothrock Motors on 15th Street in Allentown or Brown Daub in Bath. And to automatically receive auto news and reviews from Nick Hromiak, click on the “Subscribe” notation on this page.