Politically Incorrect. That is the label assigned to SUV’s these days. They are BIG in a time when smaller is deemed better. They guzzle gas and make polar bears cry with their profuse climate changing emissions. When fully optioned they are a display of conspicuous consumption in a time of austerity. Jeep has found a way to be even more politically incorrect with its 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT by putting a 470 hp Hemi under the hood. If driving this beast is what Politically Incorrect feels like, I don’t want to be right. So lets get right to the most politically incorrect aspect of the Grand Cherokee SRT, it is a SUV with 470 hp and 465 lb ft of torque that can do 0-60 in 4.8 seconds and run the ¼ mile in the mid 13 second range. For those keeping score that is more horsepower and torque and better acceleration numbers than most of the fondly remembered muscle cars of the 60’s and 70’s and exotic cars from the 80’s and 90’s. The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT has a launch control button with a drag racing staging light graphic on it whose sole purpose is to help at the starting line at the drag strip. The sophisticated and very well sorted Selec-trak vehicle dynamics system includes Sport and Track settings that firm up the suspension, changes the driveline torque distribution, shift schedule, stability control and engine mapping for driving on twisty roads or to handle anything up to fairly fast track day laps. The intent is clear, this is a performance vehicle that Jeep expects to be driven hard and put on the track. That is a tall order for an SUV with 68.7 cubic feet of cargo space and some considerable heft, however the Grand Cherokee SRT represents itself very well. We put it through some very spirited laps around the world class Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca and were amazed at how well it handled and how the prodigious power was put down. Don’t go selling your sports car just yet as there is no mistaking this is an big, heavy SUV, but it handles in a way that no SUV should and will stand up to extra legal speeds and high levels of politically incorrect sporty driving on your favorite twisty back road. Usually all of this handling prowess comes at the price of harsh ride and limited usability, but with a twist of the Selec-Track dail to the Auto, Snow or Tow settings the Grand Cherokee SRT is transformed and can put its big hp and torque numbers to use hauling the family around no matter the road conditions or towing up to 7500 lbs of trailer cargo while giving a luxury sedan smooth ride. All of that power does come at the cost of some upset polar bears however. The 392 cubic inch engine burns through Premium 91 octane gasoline at the rate of 13/19 (city/highway) miles per gallon under the best of conditions while taking advantage of the sophisticated cylinder deactivation system. Those numbers plummet when it’s driven aggressively and it begs to be driven aggressively, angry polar bears not withstanding.
While calculating your soon to be sizable gasoline budget, be sure to remember that all this power, handling, smooth ride, luxury and versatility comes at a price as well. The 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT has a very well appointed base price of $64,380. Add a few options and the price can go north of $70,000 in a hurry. Considering that the base model Jeep Cherokee, without all of the power, handling, luxury or versatility, can be had starting at $22,995 the SRT is not for the austerity minded, but rather for those to whom having the best is not a social faux pas. By owning the 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT you might not win any friends, of the polar bear variety or otherwise, but that will suit some just fine as they ride around in an extremely versatile, solid feeling, sporty, overpowered SUV come Sports/Muscle Car.