2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 Quick Drive

Jeep's resident knuckle dragger is big, brash, and unapologetic

Quick, name three SUVs that can do 0-60 mph in less than five seconds. The Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, BMW X5 M, and Porsche Cayenne Turbo S are all acceptable answers. Besides being quick from a standstill to 60 mph, all three aforementioned SUVs cost more than $88,000. Now meet the 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. It too can get up and go from 0-60 mph in under five seconds, but costs almost $20,000 less than the X5 M, $26,000 less than the ML63 AMG, and a mind-altering $70,000 less than the Cayenne Turbo S, all while offering the day-to-day utility of any midsize five-passenger family hauler. It explains why Chrysler Group's Street and Racing Technology brand has such a cult following, and why we spent a week with SRT's knuckle dragger to find out what the hype was all about. Here's what we found.

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Model and Price

With every single feature and option accounted for, our 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 would set you back a cool $69,365 including a $995 destination charge. However, if you skimped out on the options, you could get out of the dealership for $60,295. Our tester's price floated right below $70,000 thanks to a Customer Preferred Package 29V ($2,495), which features mainly smoked out exterior features, a rear DVD entertainment center ($2,450), a 19-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system ($1,995), a full-size spare tire ($150), and all-season tires ($895). Now we know what you may be thinking; "who would pay $60,000 for a Jeep Grand Cherokee?!" Surprisingly, to those asking anyway, SRT has found over 11,000 homes for its Jeep creation since the behemoth sauntered out on stage back at the 2005 New York International Auto Show.

Safety and Key Features

In the event of an accident, the 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8's interior does its best Michelin man impression, with advanced multistage front airbags, supplemental side-curtain front and side airbags, and front seat-mounted side airbags. Other standard safety features include anti-lock brakes, LATCH points, stability and traction control, a back-up camera, blind spot and cross path detection, and forward collision warning. All 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee models cruised through the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's crash testing earning a score of "good," the highest rating possible, in all categories on its way to being named a 2013 IIHS Top Safety Pick.

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Family Friendliness and Utility

Even though SRT poured all of its resources into this Grand Cherokee variant, it can still haul a week's load of groceries in the cargo area with ease. If your significant other is down with you owning a street-legal version of Batman's Tumbler (question your relationship if the answer's "no"), they can rest even easier knowing that the child's seat can be strapped into the 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 with ease. If you need to haul something bigger than the cargo area behind the rear seat will allow, simply fold the seats down with the click of a latch. It's no secret that the Grand Cherokee SRT8 is tailored to go fast, and Chrysler didn't even try to hide that, but it's still a Jeep, and storage space was plentiful in the center console, doors, and rear cargo area side pockets.

Comfort and Quality

Inside, SRT's oversized brute offers up heaps of luxury with a touch or track-inspired performance. Up front, leather-trimmed seats with preferred suede hold you in place when the 6.4-liter V-8 Hemi engine decides to act up and push you around. The front seats are both heated and ventilated and even the rear seats are heated. The center console and instrument panel are slathered in leather and a strip of carbon fiber run along the middle of the door panels and glovebox. A 6.5-inch touchscreen sits at the top of the center stack, but it will be replaced with Chrysler's 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment screen for the 2014 model year.

How it Drives

The SRT8 variant is more similar to its less potent mainstream siblings than you may realize. Only a few parts were swapped out, including the suspension system being tweaked to favor high speeds, the loss of the off-road gear to reduce weight, and high rate active shock absorbers. Despite all the weight it's carrying, the 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 feels light on its feet at both highway and city speeds. Performance-tuned steering makes it possible to push the boisterous Grand Cherokee around with ease. Underneath the hood is SRT's usual weapon of choice: a 6.4-liter V-8 Hemi engine, rated at 470-horsepower and mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. The transmission is the weakest point in the car; it feels clunky no matter the speed, reluctant to downshift, and slapping you in the back on upshifts. In a way, it only adds to the authority of the Grand Cherokee SRT8, but we're looking forward to the new eight-speed automatic transmission that comes into service with the 2014 model year.

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Summary

If money isn't an issue, and you feel like your garage is missing an unruly SUV that's made in and screams "AMERICA" at the top of its figurative lungs, then the 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 should receive your undivided attention. However, if you want a Jeep that does what it's best known for, then perhaps you should look at the more tranquil Grand Cherokee that hasn't received the SRT treatment. Unfortunately, you can only get the 6.4-liter V-8 Hemi engine, by far the most intoxicating mill available within Chrysler Group, with the SRT variant. Does it offer the excessive level of refinement that's found in its German competition? No, it doesn't, but that's what makes the 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 what it is: unforgiving and presumptuous. Even though this Jeep costs close to $70,000, it's a steal when compared to the X5 M, ML63 AMG, and Cayenne Turbo S.

Spec Box

Price-as-tested: $69,365
Fuel Economy
EPA City: 12 mpg
EPA Highway: 18 mpg
EPA Combined: 14 mpg
Cargo Space: 20 "grocery bags" fit in the cargo area
Child Seat Fitment, Second Row: Good
Child Seat Fitment, Third Row (if applicable): Not Applicable
Estimated Combined Range: 344.4 miles
Intellichoice Cost of Ownership: Low

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