When buying a new vehicle, first impressions still mean something. They, for better or worse, have sway in the long-term decisions of life. They can deceive just as easily as they tell the truth. So what is one to think when meeting the 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT? It has 475 horsepower and produces 470 lb-ft of torque. It can go from 0 to 60 in 4.8 seconds. Hell, it even has a towing capacity of 7,200 lbs. Yet it looks like any other sports vehicle from Jeep’s catalogue. Is this simply too much juice for an SUV?
Arrogance or Adaptability?
At first glance of its specs, putting this much effort into an SUV feels more like the dream-build of a shop with too much money on its hands. But Jeep has a knack for knowing what its audience wants. And according to reports, sales for the Wrangler, Cherokee, and Compass all increased over 20% for November. It is important to note that the Grand Cherokee’s 2018 sales numbers have been similar to 2017. When taking all of this into consideration, the idea that Jeep has oversaturated its own market goes right out the window. Because with that renewal is a more specific direction of the market—that is to say that the SUV is the market. While the FCA catalog continues to crush, competitors like Ford have already notoriously trimmed their selection for the future to accommodate for this trend.
And while money is nice, especially in the wake of rival GM’s woes, it is not everything. People need evidence that the Grand Cherokee SRT can perform in real conditions. Luckily, some diehard enthusiasts have already begun to erect the monument of the SRT.
Greater Power, Greater Responsibility
So by broadening the definition of a sport utility vehicle, demands are clearly being met. But why the bombast? Because the practicality of the vehicle does take a hit when the price tag enters the conversation. The 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT has a base price of $68,145 and that does not account for the trims some deem necessary if investing in this speedy bruiser. A common critique is that in terms of trinketry and interior upgrades, there really aren’t any modifications from the 2018 to the 2019 model. But considering the quality of those pre-existing conditions, it’s hard to question Jeep’s tactics. There are, too, concerns over the SRT’s fuel economy. Testing with Car and Driver for a pedestrian 18 mpg highway (short of Jeep’s initial estimate), it trails competitors by 3 to 5 miles per gallon.
Which begs the question… who is buying this? If you ask Jeep, the SRT is “engineered for those who demand aggressive and authentic performance.” If you ask us, it’s likely enthusiasts who got behind the wheel of the Cherokee Hellcat and thought, do I really need all this? (The answer is yes, always yes.) Looking at the specs for this vehicle without any context, it’s hardly a model of modesty. But for a price tag $20,000 lower than its Hellcat counterpart, the SRT provides many of the same adventurous qualities without the excess extremeness.
What contributes to this adventurous nature is its handling abilities for its size. When equipped with the Brembo brake package, the SRT can go from 70 mph to a complete stop in 168 feet. This is the same as the Trackhawk. Also, standard equipment is unique. That 475-hp 6.4L V8, mated to a paddle-shifted eight-speed automatic transmission and specialized high-performance tuned all-wheel-drive system gives the SRT incredible power. Throwing in launch control gives it track-ready slingshot acceleration. A Selec-Track System uses performance-tuned software to offer five dynamic driving modes, increasing the personalized performance. And the Uconnect touchscreen gives instant power and torque readings, as well as g-force measurements, gauge monitoring, and performance stats, allowing you to easily forget you’re sitting behind the wheel of a 5-seater SUV.
A Name All Its Own
The 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is not a perfect vehicle, but it comes pretty close—which is performance, longevity, and class. A single drive is all it takes to know this statement as true. And with its on-road and off-road capabilities stacking up with just about any other SUV outside the Jeep name, it inspires an almost immediate trust while still holding firm that it is more than just the Trackhawk’s little brother. The “heart on the sleeve” routine is boring when applied elsewhere, but with Jeep it is an introduction to a driver’s life.