Emma Jayne Williams

Jeep’s Grand Cherokee SRT for 2017 is more at home on the track than off

The 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission and a variety of standard and available amenities, including leather seating, four-wheel drive, and driver-selectable drive modes set by a knob to the rear of the gear shifter.
The 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee comes with an eight-speed automatic transmission and a variety of standard and available amenities, including leather seating, four-wheel drive, and driver-selectable drive modes set by a knob to the rear of the gear shifter. Courtesy photo

The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is a high-performance midsize luxury SUV, with first-class accommodations and upscale amenities, a vehicle for the city or the country.

SRT is the top of the Grand Cherokee line, which includes eight other models – with two special 75th anniversary editions – priced from $30,295 to $66,795.

The most-awarded SUV has defined what a premium SUV should be. SRT (base price $66,795) for 2017 features a new, distinctive front fascia, gloss-black grille, and LED fog lights – building on SRT’s exclusive stealth-like appearance – and signature leather interior.

Gloss black also underlines the headlights and taillights, and surrounds the fog lights and twin-flared black exhaust tips. The lower rear bumper – with hitch cover – is also gloss black.

The SRT has best-in-class towing at 7,400 pounds.

It also has new standard 20-inch five-spoke polished forged-aluminum wheels and a new rear spoiler, as well as a 475-horsepower 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 engine with Fuel Saver Technology.

With its eight-speed automatic transmission and paddle manual-shift feature, the SRT is EPA rated at 13 mpg city/19 highway. This is an SUV that can compete with full-size muscle cars.

Even with the top-of-the-line Quadra Trac Active on Demand four-wheel drive, however, SRT doesn’t have Jeep’s renowned off-road prowess. Its suspension is tuned for road and track, as it was designed by Fiat Chrysler’s Street and Racing Technology team.

Two other wheel designs are available – 20-inch forged carbon-black wheels with five stylized triangular spokes for $995, and 20-inch lightweight forged wheels with five slender “Y” spokes, gray pockets and machined face for $1,295, which my SRT had.

My SRT was Redline Pearl (Trailhawk and SRT exclusive), one of eight exterior colors – including Diamond Black Crystal Pearl and Granite Crystal Metallic.

Mine had the Black/Sepia interior, one of two standard leather/perforated suede interiors. Two optional Laguna Leather interiors add $6,990 each, and include leather covered air bags and lower door panels, and bring SRT High Performance Audio (available separately).The interior was trimmed with Silver Anodized accents.

SRT High Performance Audio ($1,995) added 19 Harman Kardon speakers with innovative HK Logic 7 GreenEdge technology for more-intense surround sound, a subwoofer, and an 825-watt amplifier, which uses 55 percent less energy.

Jeep’s best-performing on-road vehicle features eight drive modes, allowing the driver to personalize the driving experience. Pre-configured modes for Auto, Sport, Track, Snow, and Tow control the 4WD system, transmission, paddle shifters, stability control, suspension and steering using a switch on the center console to provide the desired outcome.

Auto is the default mode; Sport increases vehicle performance; Track provides maximum performance on smooth, dry surfaces; Snow optimizes snow and ice performance; and Tow maximizes towing performance. The driver personalizes settings using Custom Mode; Eco maximizes fuel economy (in Auto/Sport/Track modes); and Valet reduces horsepower, up-shifts earlier, and keeps traction, steering and suspension in Auto mode.

My SRT had lots of driver-assistance features, including Parallel and Perpendicular Park Assist to move the car into a parking spot with minimum input from the driver; ParkView backup camera to show objects behind the car during reverse maneuvering, accompanied by Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection; Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop to maintain a safe distance from cars ahead and even bring the car to a complete stop, starting again when traffic moves; Full Speed Forward Collision Warning Plus, to warn the driver of a potential frontal collision, then either provide assistance or full braking by activating Advanced Brake Assist (maximum braking), and/or Ready Alert Braking (pre-braking); LaneSense Lane Departure Warning Plus to alert the driver if the car strays across lane markings without signaling, and gently nudge the car back; Hill Start Assist; and Rain Brake Support to help keep brakes dry. With all this assistance, SRT feels invincible.

Other assistance features included Keyless Enter-N-Go; remote start; a power liftgate; rain-sensing windshield wipers; headlight washers; power front seats with memory for mirrors, seats, and radio; auto high-beam headlight control; instrument cluster with Off-Road Display Pages (shows wheel position, vehicle angle, and more); all-season run-flat tires; universal garage door/gate opener; auto-dimming rearview mirror and outside heated mirrors; SentryKey Theft Deterrent System; and Enhanced Accident Response System, which turns on interior lights, unlocks doors and shuts off fuel when air bags deploy in an accident.

Air bags included a driver’s knee bolster, front and rear side curtain, and front seat-mounted side bags. Crumple zones in front, and side-guard door beams are designed to absorb crash energy and keep it away from passengers.

My SRT had a Rear Seat Dual Screen Blu-Ray/DVD Player option for $1,995, with wireless headphones for watching movies, playing video games or playing music without disturbing others; a Dual-Pane Panoramic Sunroof for $2,095 with suede-like premium headliner; and Trailer Tow Group IV for $995, with a 20-inch aluminum spare wheel with compact tire, seven- and four-pin wiring harness, class IV receiver hitch, and heavy duty engine cooling; and High Performance Brembo (red calipers) Brakes for $1,295.

Although not as off-road capable as some Jeep models, Grand Cherokee has features that would be beneficial in rough conditions. Quadra-Drive II has a rear Electronic Limited-slip Differential for industry-leading traction, detecting tire slips and sending torque to the tires with traction. Selec-Speed Control with Hill-ascent and Hill-descent Control helps control speed both up and down steep grades using the steering wheel paddle shifters without throttle or brake input. Selec-Speed also works in reverse.

Advanced user-friendly technology includes award-wining Uconnect systems with an 8.4-inch touchscreen audio system with integrated climate and infotainment – including navigation – controls, and a seven-inch configurable driver-information display.

My SRT was eye-catching – getting lots of attention – very comfortable, fun to drive, responsive, quick, and agile.

With $9,670 in options and $995 destination charges, the delivered price for my Grand Cherokee was $77,460.

The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at emmajayne1948@gmail.com.