2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 First Drive Page 2

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

Inside, the Jeep has carbon fiber accents, the previously mentioned steering wheel, unique gauges, SRT's Performance Pages (basically, an on-board readout that allows drivers to measure 0-60 times, g-force loads, and other data), bolstered seats (heated and cooled up front) with Nappa leather and suede, a standard power tilt and telescope steering wheel, and SRT logos throughout. Available features include a panoramic sunroof, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, a power liftgate, and blind-spot monitoring. There's also an available uplevel audio system featuring GreenEdge technology, which improves the energy efficiency of speakers and amplifiers.

Price of entry is a cool $54,470, not including destination.

How does it all work on the track? Very well. At the SRT launch at Willow Springs Raceway in Southern California, skilled drivers were keeping close to the Charger SRT8s on hand. True, the higher center of gravity works against the Jeep somewhat, with body roll being at least a little bit noticeable, but otherwise, the SRT8 leaps from corner to corner with authority and acts as a permanent grin generator when cornering. It can get a bit squirrelly with traction control off, but never so bad as to scare the driver. The Brembos do their job nicely at straightaway's end.

On public roads, the V-8 makes a mockery of the passing lane, eating highway miles with ease, and the ride never bothers, despite its stiffness. Only the V-8 rumble reminds you of what lurks beneath, awaiting the command of your right foot.

Take the Jeep to a track day or the kids to soccer practice? Why not both? Sure, this isn't your typical Jeep rock-crawler. No, this is another beast entirely. A pavement-punishing Jeep for the boy racer in all of us. Or at least those with extra disposable income. Unlike the previous generation, this feels like something Jeep and SRT put some serious thought into.

There's no reason for vehicles like this to ever exist. But boy, are we glad they do.

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