The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT adds an American flavour to the fast off-roader market by using a blend of technology and brute force to deliver high-octane thrills and SUV practicality.
Put your foot to the floor and this burble becomes a full-on roar as the engine unleashes all 461bhp. However, while the Grand Cherokee might talk a good game, its ability tells a different tale, even if you switch the rotary controller to Sport or Track.
The 2,418kg Jeep is pretty hefty, and even though it has adjustable suspension the body control isn’t tight enough. In the softer settings the ride is comfortable but the body is never able to settle over undulating surfaces; in Sport, potholes and bumps thump through the chassis, upsetting the SRT’s cornering line.
Add in slow steering and the fact there isn’t much feedback through the wheel, and you have a car that really has to be muscled through bends, which isn’t enjoyable. The noticeable amount of body roll induces a further feeling of insecurity.
However, there’s no denying the effectiveness of the Grand Cherokee’s engine. Our performance tests show it sprinted off the line and on to 60mph in 5.3 seconds.
The gearbox has eight ratios to use, so each one is fairly short, which gives the SRT good in-gear acceleration, even though the box becomes decidedly jerky under such treatment. Still, the upgraded Brembo brakes deliver decent stopping power, even if the pedal feels spongy.
The first thing you notice are the deeper bumpers, flared wheelarches and gaping vents in the bonnet; along with the 20-inch alloy wheels, slim headlamps with LED running lights and Jeep’s trademark seven-slot grille, they give the SRT a menacing appearance. There’s also still a Stateside look to the Jeep thanks to its proportions and square-set stance.
At the back end there’s a pair of tailpipes that hints at the performance on offer. Further neat exterior details include chrome inserts for the front and rear bumpers, and the grille and window line.
There’s no doubt it’s an imposing car on the road, but the SRT’s sporty side is less noticeable from the inside. The basic layout and materials used are similar to those in lesser Grand Cherokees, although there are a few racier touches splashed around the cabin – including some carbon fibre dash inserts.