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THE LIFE FREE ARTICLE

Test driving the 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

Matt Martel
Fri, 31 Jul 2020

Welcome to a display of unabashed, masculine American power. With its aggressive front styling and massive engine, Jeep’s 2020 Grand Cherokee SRT is a cross between Usain Bolt and an overweight guy in a Hawaiian shirt. Super-fast, but big and brash.

The SRT weighs a smidgen under three tonnes but can get from nought to 100km/h in 4.9 seconds. 

This is thanks to a 6.4-litre Hemi V8 engine being married to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, all-wheel-drive and fantastic brakes to create an SUV performing as a sports car, particularly in a straight line.

The thunderous roar of the V8 makes it exciting and turns heads as quickly as the tachometer heads north. 

Heading up State Highway 1 behind a gentleman driving at 80km/h while towing a trailer who then canes it in the overtaking lanes, I decide to take appropriate action. The spot is safe enough. I indicate and put my foot down. Holy crap. The power of this thing is insane. After about two seconds, I take my foot off the pedal and the guy’s already in my rearview mirror – and I need to take a few deep breaths.

The Detroit-built 344-kilowatt engine provides 624Nm of torque. In English, this means the engine delivers a huge amount of acceleration power. In comparison, the top-of-the-line Toyota Highlander offers 350Nm. It also means the SRT can tow up to 3000kg on a braked trailer.


The ride

With its glass roof and big windows, the SRT is a little like driving a particularly grunty glasshouse. And as with all sunroofs, it is pretty special driving along at night with a clear sky and the Milky Way above. 

There’s plenty of room in the SRT. I had to move a 2.6m-long roller blind and it fitted with no issue alongside three other people and luggage.

In an increasingly common nod to corpulent Americans, stopping the engine causes the steering wheel to lift up and the seat to move back, making it just that little bit easier to remove myself from the driver’s seat. 

On the winding roads of State Highway 16 north of Auckland, the car is a little bouncy, but slipping it into sport mode stiffens the air suspension and improves cornering. In fact, I leave it in sport mode from then on. 

As you’d expect, the SRT deals admirably with New Zealand’s many rutted dirt roads. It rides so well, passengers can’t guess if the road is tarseal or shingle. 

On the downside, the speedo shows 0-300 on its dial, which makes it practically useless for trying to do 30km/h in the city. Handily, you can set the centre screen to show speed in pleasing bold italic typeface.

The technical stuff

Jeep is owned by Chrysler, which invented the Hemi V8 and owns it as a brand. Hemi is short for hemispherical, a design technique that is more efficient and gives greater power. 

As insanely quick as the SRT is, the Trackhawk model has a 6.2-litre supercharged V8 that is insanely-er faster. 

The SRT will reach 100km/h in 4.9 seconds, but the Trackhawk knocks that down to 3.7 seconds. Remember, this is a three-tonne full-size SUV. Like all good sports cars, it has launch control for getting away from the lights super-fast.

The entry-level ‘Limited’ model has to make do with a piddling 3.6-litre V6. But then it is $80,000, as opposed to the $120,000 for the SRT or $170,000 for the Trackhawk. Jeep says the Trackhawk is the “most powerful SUV ever”. 

The SRT sucks a reported 13.5 litres of gas for every 100km you travel, though the BusinessDesk test vehicle seemed to achieve better efficiency than that. It produces 344kW (624Nm) of power (as opposed to the Trackhawk’s 522kW).

The conclusion

Jeep seems to have a little bit of an issue here. No one has been brave enough to tell the SRT that it is not a zippy sports car.

The SRT will handle anything you throw at it, with luxury features such as automatic high-beam activation, auto rear door and a cornucopia of safety features, including a particularly good lane-departure assistant.

This is a roller-coaster ride of a car – a little like strapping yourself to the side of a rocket. The exhilaration of its acceleration is enough to make the kids scream with joy. Or horror. I couldn’t tell as they blacked out. 

And one other conclusion, reached during my drive north: The theory that campervan drivers are so bad because they are foreign tourists with no idea about our roads is wrong. Sorry, folks, but now that the campervans are full of Kiwis, they are being driven just as poorly.

Pricing

You get a new SRT for $120,000. The US version is listed at NZ$103,000, so Kiwis pay a $17,000 premium, which makes sense when you consider market size and overheads per vehicle. Atreco, which imports Jeep into New Zealand, sells about 1000 of them a year, so it is not a particularly mass-market vehicle.
Compare it with:
Mercedes GLS400
BMW X5 or X6

www.jeep.co.nz

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matt Martel
Managing director
+64 27 774 4483
matt@businessdesk.co.nz
Matt spent 10 years in senior positions at Fairfax Media, including as an executive editor in the company’s senior leadership team at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian Financial Review and The Age (Melbourne). In 2017, Matt redesigned Stuff’s suite of newspapers, taking them from broadsheet to compact. He joined BusinessDesk in 2019 and is based in Auckland. Connect with him on Linkedin here.
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Test driving the 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT | BusinessDesk
Subscribe today - find out more
Why you should consider BusinessDesk
THE LIFE FREE ARTICLE

Test driving the 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

Matt Martel
Fri, 31 Jul 2020

Welcome to a display of unabashed, masculine American power. With its aggressive front styling and massive engine, Jeep’s 2020 Grand Cherokee SRT is a cross between Usain Bolt and an overweight guy in a Hawaiian shirt. Super-fast, but big and brash.

The SRT weighs a smidgen under three tonnes but can get from nought to 100km/h in 4.9 seconds. 

This is thanks to a 6.4-litre Hemi V8 engine being married to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, all-wheel-drive and fantastic brakes to create an SUV performing as a sports car, particularly in a straight line.

The thunderous roar of the V8 makes it exciting and turns heads as quickly as the tachometer heads north. 

Heading up State Highway 1 behind a gentleman driving at 80km/h while towing a trailer who then canes it in the overtaking lanes, I decide to take appropriate action. The spot is safe enough. I indicate and put my foot down. Holy crap. The power of this thing is insane. After about two seconds, I take my foot off the pedal and the guy’s already in my rearview mirror – and I need to take a few deep breaths.

The Detroit-built 344-kilowatt engine provides 624Nm of torque. In English, this means the engine delivers a huge amount of acceleration power. In comparison, the top-of-the-line Toyota Highlander offers 350Nm. It also means the SRT can tow up to 3000kg on a braked trailer.


The ride

With its glass roof and big windows, the SRT is a little like driving a particularly grunty glasshouse. And as with all sunroofs, it is pretty special driving along at night with a clear sky and the Milky Way above. 

There’s plenty of room in the SRT. I had to move a 2.6m-long roller blind and it fitted with no issue alongside three other people and luggage.

In an increasingly common nod to corpulent Americans, stopping the engine causes the steering wheel to lift up and the seat to move back, making it just that little bit easier to remove myself from the driver’s seat. 

On the winding roads of State Highway 16 north of Auckland, the car is a little bouncy, but slipping it into sport mode stiffens the air suspension and improves cornering. In fact, I leave it in sport mode from then on. 

As you’d expect, the SRT deals admirably with New Zealand’s many rutted dirt roads. It rides so well, passengers can’t guess if the road is tarseal or shingle. 

On the downside, the speedo shows 0-300 on its dial, which makes it practically useless for trying to do 30km/h in the city. Handily, you can set the centre screen to show speed in pleasing bold italic typeface.

The technical stuff

Jeep is owned by Chrysler, which invented the Hemi V8 and owns it as a brand. Hemi is short for hemispherical, a design technique that is more efficient and gives greater power. 

As insanely quick as the SRT is, the Trackhawk model has a 6.2-litre supercharged V8 that is insanely-er faster. 

The SRT will reach 100km/h in 4.9 seconds, but the Trackhawk knocks that down to 3.7 seconds. Remember, this is a three-tonne full-size SUV. Like all good sports cars, it has launch control for getting away from the lights super-fast.

The entry-level ‘Limited’ model has to make do with a piddling 3.6-litre V6. But then it is $80,000, as opposed to the $120,000 for the SRT or $170,000 for the Trackhawk. Jeep says the Trackhawk is the “most powerful SUV ever”. 

The SRT sucks a reported 13.5 litres of gas for every 100km you travel, though the BusinessDesk test vehicle seemed to achieve better efficiency than that. It produces 344kW (624Nm) of power (as opposed to the Trackhawk’s 522kW).

The conclusion

Jeep seems to have a little bit of an issue here. No one has been brave enough to tell the SRT that it is not a zippy sports car.

The SRT will handle anything you throw at it, with luxury features such as automatic high-beam activation, auto rear door and a cornucopia of safety features, including a particularly good lane-departure assistant.

This is a roller-coaster ride of a car – a little like strapping yourself to the side of a rocket. The exhilaration of its acceleration is enough to make the kids scream with joy. Or horror. I couldn’t tell as they blacked out. 

And one other conclusion, reached during my drive north: The theory that campervan drivers are so bad because they are foreign tourists with no idea about our roads is wrong. Sorry, folks, but now that the campervans are full of Kiwis, they are being driven just as poorly.

Pricing

You get a new SRT for $120,000. The US version is listed at NZ$103,000, so Kiwis pay a $17,000 premium, which makes sense when you consider market size and overheads per vehicle. Atreco, which imports Jeep into New Zealand, sells about 1000 of them a year, so it is not a particularly mass-market vehicle.
Compare it with:
Mercedes GLS400
BMW X5 or X6

www.jeep.co.nz

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matt Martel
Managing director
+64 27 774 4483
matt@businessdesk.co.nz
Matt spent 10 years in senior positions at Fairfax Media, including as an executive editor in the company’s senior leadership team at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian Financial Review and The Age (Melbourne). In 2017, Matt redesigned Stuff’s suite of newspapers, taking them from broadsheet to compact. He joined BusinessDesk in 2019 and is based in Auckland. Connect with him on Linkedin here.
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Ineos hopes to sell 400 vehicles a year with NZ launch
Review: Ford Escape ST-Line X PHEV FWD – a noble charger for the discerning buyer
Review: Ford Ranger FX4 Max – perfect for the rural and city sets, but beware the taxman
Giltrap's Polestar brand plans to rival Tesla
Review: VW Golf 8 GTI – a hot hatch that warms the heart
Sponsored
Decarbonising infrastructure – navigating an abundance of policy and analysis

We have a rare opportunity to align significant public infrastructure investment with urgent climate change reform, but time is short and we all need to act.

Sponsored
Let's not lose sight of the wood for the trees

As much generation will need to be built in the next 14 years as has been built in the last 40+ years for Aotearoa to meet its commitment of achieving net zero emissions by 2050.