Jeep SRT-8 Supercharged--Chicago Cars Direct
Test drive of a 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT 8 with a SUPERCHARGED 6.1 Hemi
V8 producing 575 horsepower from Chicago
Without question, the Jeep is the hottest rod here. Although the two have
fairly similar power-to-weight ratios (11.4 pounds per horsepower for the Jeep,
12.3 for the Chevy), the Jeep easily outruns the SS.
This thing explodes when you jump on the gas. The four-wheel-drive system
routes the majority of the engine's power to the rear wheels while
cruising, and a clutch in the center differential can reroute power to the
front wheels if the system detects that the rears are losing traction. Hit
the gas, and after a barely audible chirp from the rear tires, the Jeep
hurtles forward. From rest to 60 mph takes only 4.5 seconds, which is about
as quick as a BMW M3 and a second quicker than the SS. The Jeep passes 100
mph in 12.0 seconds, 2.6 seconds sooner than the Chevy.
Part of the Jeep's acceleration advantage comes from the quick-shifting
transmission. It has a manumatic feature that allows manual gear selection,
but the automatic mode worked so well that we mostly relied on it. Upshifts
and downshifts are quick and much smoother than the Chevy's. As a
smack-you-into-the-seat machine, the Jeep's got a definite edge.
It also handles fairly well. We're talking about a 4794-pound sport-ute
with a decidedly unsportingly high center of gravity, but it's crisper in
the curves than you'd think. On the skidpad, its 0.88 g outperformed the
Chevy's 0.81-g score. The SRT8 would have performed better in the
lane-change test, but its stability-control system can't be completely
disabled. In normal mode, the system clamps down at the slightest slide.
Hitting the "off" button allows a little more sliding, but it still
intervenes enough that it slowed us down in the lane change.
But in the real world, the stability system wasn't a bother. In fact, this
truck is fun in the twisties. Although we didn't put it on the clock as we
zipped around our well-traveled handling loop, the Jeep didn't feel much
slower than the high-powered sports cars we usually pick for this
particular group of back roads. We could carry a lot of speed in the
corners. The Jeep doesn't lean much, but you never lose the feeling that
you're sitting high in the air.
Thankfully, the brakes are terrific. The pedal has a reassuringly firm feel
that's a relief to encounter at the end of a high-speed straight, and the
brakes felt up to the task of repeatedly slowing the nearly 2.5-ton brute.
We liked the steering, too, which has a tight feel to it. After a few miles
of spirited driving, you forget you're in a truck. The responses are
sports-car quick, and you drive this Grand Cherokee like you would any
other performance car. For example, in one tricky corner we used the brakes
to bring the nose down to the corner apex and then squeezed the gas for a
quick shot down the following short straight. The choreography was straight
out of racing school. That handling precision, however, comes with a stiff
ride. The Grand Cherokee swallows large impacts well enough, but humps in
the road set the chassis into a harsh up-and-down motion that could bring
on nausea. Maybe we're getting soft, but it's uncomfortable enough that we
wouldn't want to endure the ride on a daily basis. In the ride category, we
gave the Jeep an eight and the Chevy a nine.
Besides the ride, the Jeep also lost points in the utility department. That
3500-pound towing capacity cost it three points, and there's the interior,
which is small compared with the Chevy's. The back seats are tighter, and
the rear-seat cushion is too low. In rear-seat comfort, the Jeep got four
points to the Chevy's five. Plus, the Jeep can't carry as much stuff. With
the seats folded, the SRT8 offers 67 cubic feet of space versus 80 in the
Those deficiencies cost the Jeep first place, but it lost by only two
measly points. We loved the V-8 rumble and fantastic thrust, but it's still
a truck, and we expect more utility. Sure, it looks great and is loads of
fun, but you can get that with plenty of cars — a Dodge Charger SRT8, for