From an evolutionary standpoint, the duckbilled platypus is a walking, swimming contradiction of terms. It’s a mammal, but it lays eggs and has a venomous spur on its hind foot. It’s fur-covered, and it locates its prey by detecting electrical fields emitted by muscular contractions.
Imagine that you were the first trained biologist to encounter a duckbilled platypus. How would you describe it? How would you even begin to classify it, at least in terms of known and familiar animals?
Such is the case with Jeep’s Grand Cherokee SRT-8, too. It’s an SUV, but it lacks ground clearance. It’s got a sport-tuned suspension, but its high center of gravity means that you don’t want to toss it too hard into a corner.
It’s got all-wheel-drive for sure-footed traction, but that AWD also has to cope with 470 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. Combined with wide tires on all four corners, that works well enough on dry pavement, but snow and ice require a bit of caution (and dedicated winter tires).
In short, the Grand Cherokee SRT-8, like the duckbilled platypus, is a contradiction of terms. It shouldn’t work, but it does, across a wide variety of environments. It shouldn’t be amusing, but it is, almost frighteningly so.
We love the Grand Cherokee SRT-8 simply because it is (“because muscle SUV”), and we were damn glad to see Chrysler bring it back for 2012.
So was John George, an SRT fan who opted for the Grand Cherokee SRT-8 over comparable vehicles like the Porsche Cayenne Turbo or the BMW X5 M. Although George had never driven one, he was among the first to put money down on a 2012 SRT-8.
As luck would have it, George was selected to tour Chrysler’s Jefferson North Assembly plant, documented in the video from DriveSRT above. The soon-to-be-SRT-8-owner got the chance to see Durangos, Grand Cherokees and Grand Cherokee SRT-8s in various stages of production, and his tour was capped with the delivery of his very own Jeep.
While all this made for good PR and an impressive video, there’s far more to Chrysler’s SRT group than just hype. SRT owners are a tight-knit group, and there’s more a of “family” atmosphere among brand loyalists than with nearly any other marque.
We’re glad that SRT is its own division these days, and even happier that Ralph Giles is in charge. The 2012 Grand Cherokee SRT8 is indeed something special, and like Mr. George, we’d be proud to park one in our own garage.