The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT: America's Best Performance SUV Gets Even Better
There really isn’t much competition in the world of ultra high performance sport utility vehicles that can do comparable work to a pickup truck, but the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 was very easily one of the best options on the market. If you take into account that the only real competition for the Grand Cherokee SRT8 is the $110k+ Porsche Cayenne Turbo, it can be said that the 2012 and 2013 was – dollar for dollar – the best high performance SUV sold in America. With that in mind, you would think that the Chrysler Group would be happy to continue into the 2014 model year with the same Jeep Grand Cherokee that pretty much everyone loved in 2012 and 2013. You would be thinking wrong though as SRT didn’t settle for good enough – adding new features inside and a new 8-speed transmission for the 2014 model year that make an already awesome SUV even more impressive.
My 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT carried a base price of $62,995 and while the “base” SRT Jeep is pretty heavily loaded, there are some options that can be chosen. My test vehicle was fitted with the Harmon Kardon 19 speaker premium sound system ($1,995), the Trailer Tow Package ($995), a single disc remote CD player ($195), high performance three season tires ($895) and the striking 20 inch black chrome split spoke rims ($595) so when you add in the $995 destination fee to the base price – you come up with a price as tested of $68,665. That is a whole lot of money but when you consider that the closest competition here in the United States is the $110,000+ Porsche Cayenne Turbo…that price doesn’t seem so bad. For the record, I would consider all of the options added to my test vehicle “must haves” except for the single disc CD player but everything else – from the wheels and tires to the HiFi sound system and the trailer tow package – these are all items that are essential to get the most out of the SRT Jeep.
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT looks just like the 2013 models, but Im not complaining. The big Jeep got a midcycle refresh for the 2013 model year that added the high tech LED trimmed projection headlights set in a gloss black grille. The projection fog lights and LED driving lights mounted in gloss black bezels amidst the front fascia adds an extra element of high tech goodness while also making this SUV look even more aggressive. Along the bottom of the front end is a big, bold grille opening in gloss black with chrome air inlets in the outer edge – a look that was so popular that it has been introduced across the entire Grand Cherokee range. The modern Grand Cherokee looks great in all forms, but the SRT model is the best looking performance sport utility vehicle ever in my opinion. Seriously…I don’t have any idea on how they are going to improve on the look of the 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT down the road.
Along the sides, the 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT has a low, aggressive stance thanks to the SRT specific suspension and the black chrome 20 inch SRT wheels. I absolutely love these black chrome wheels with the bright red Brembo brake calipers tucked neatly behind these optional rollers. The long, flat roofline is stretched by the low profile rear spoiler while the black b and c pillars provide a very fluid side design. If there was ever an SUV that truly looked like an American muscle car – this is it. Out back, the 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT has a set of great looking LED tail lights in a smoked housing under a jet black rear window to create a very sporty rump. Along the bottom of the rear fascia is a gloss black insert with an SRT logo covering the trailer hitch while the throaty dual exhaust system exits through a pair of large openings in the fascia. The rear end isnt as aggressive as the front end, but it is still a fitting finish to a beautifully designed SUV.
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT has a look that just makes my heart melt. It is plush looking and super aggressive – stylish from front to back and every bit as sporty as any SUV sold in America.
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is very similar to the 2013 model year SRT SUV but new for 2014 is a new infotainment system, a new gauge cluster and a new steering wheel that take connectivity and driver information to a whole new level. This is a similar infotainment system to what has been used for a couple years in the Dodge Charger SRT and the Chrysler 300C SRT. This system centers around a huge 8.4 inch touch screen that controls all aspects of the interior from the phone system to the sound system to the HVAC system to the various SRT functions that include performance timers and extra gauges. There are a ton of buttons on the steering wheel along with a small button/knob panel just below that big touch screen but those who like the touchscreen controls will love this infotainment system since nearly everything can be easily controlled via this huge screen. Radio, Media, interior settings, climate control, the navigation system, the phone system and the SRT Apps are all accessed through the touchscreen and this setup is very user friendly. The Harmon Kardon 19 speaker sound system is incredible and worth every cent and the navigation system is among the best I have used, but my favorite feature are the SRT Apps. The SRT screen allows you to select a variety of gauge screens, a G force meter and timers that measure 0-60, 8th mile, quarter mile and braking distance. My favorite screen of all is the basic gauge screen that shows vehicle speed, engine RPM and the levels of horsepower and torque being created at that exact second of driving. This screen reminds you just how much power you are putting to the wheels as you rocket from a stop to 60 miles per hour in the low 4 second range…in a 5,000+ pound SUV.
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT also features a new gauge cluster that has dedicated analog tachometer on the left side, a dedicated temperature gauge/fuel gauge area on the right and a large configurable section in the middle. This center section includes many of the parameters of the performance timing system inside of a digital speedometer, but you can also set up this center portion to display vehicle speed, sound system information, turn by turn navigation, time, outside temperature and a bevy of other informative figures – all with the controls mounted on the steering wheel.
All of this technology is set into a black leather and carbon fiber clad dashboard that looks sport and luxurious with some silver panels in the center stack and chrome trim breaking up all of the black while adding an extra touch of high end luxury. The steering wheel is covered with controls but far more importantly, it has a great driving feel no matter where you prefer to hold the wheel. There is also a new “slap stick” style t-shaped shifter that works in conjunction with the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters – another subtle yet solid change for 2014.
My 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT test vehicle was fitted with the standard leather and suede black race inspired bucket seats up front. These seats look awesome, they are comfortable under normal driving circumstances with both heating and cooling modes, they are deep enough to provide a great grip when hammering the turns and they are adjustable enough to make both very tall and very short riders/drivers feel right at home. Combined with the leather wrapped steering wheel, the leather center arm rest and the leather covered arm rests on the door panels – the cabin of this roomy SUV has a very high end look and feel. It is designed to be as convenient as possible during stints of high performance driving, but it is still super comfortable for a drive across town or across the country. Both the driver and passenger will find ample leg, knee, hip, elbow and head space even if they are both very tall.
The back seats of the SRT Jeep also feature suede centers with leather bolsters with tons of space for people and – unlike many SUVs – there is a fair amount of space in the center seating position. An adult could fit there, but it would definitely cut back on the amount of shoulder, hip and elbow room if seated with two other adults. Regardless of how many people are seated in the back of the 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT, they will all have plenty of leg room even if the front seats are moved way back.
Finally, the SRT Grand Cherokee has the same huge rear cargo area as the rest of the Grand Cherokee model lineup. If you need more space than what is offered in standard formation, you can flip down the back seats and have a cargo area that will rival the bed of many pickup trucks. Also, with the back seats folded down the flat cargo area is big enough to stretch out in so this 470hp SUV could also serve as a really high tech tent for an impromptu camping trip.
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is designed with high performance in mind, but in every way this big SUV is as much of a luxury vehicle as it is a high performance beast. It has tons of seating space in a leather wrapped cabin with a premium sound system that will rival many aftermarket setups and an infotainment system that is one of the best on the market today. This interior is plush and comfortable while also having gadgetry that makes this vehicle even more engaging and entertaining. This is an interior that will rival any SUV sold in America in terms of luxury with performance features that accentuate its high performance roots.
the biggest news for the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT other than the spruced up interior is the introduction of the new 8-speed automatic transmission. This new gearbox replaces the old 5-speed automatic and this is a welcome change that makes the SRT Jeep more efficient while also improving performance. The “extra” gears allows Chrysler to make the lower gears more aggressive for improved acceleration and towing ability with the help of the 470 horsepower Hemi while the 6th, 7th and 8th gear help to make this new Grand Cherokee SRT even more efficient than the previous model. Technically the 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT is only 1 mile per gallon better across the board (now with 13 city, 15 combined, 19 highway) but any improvement in fuel economy is a good thing when a model offers improved performance and towing than the previous model. In my experience with the 2014 Jeep SRT, it is capable of tickling the 20mpg mark over the course of a long highway drive if you can resist the urge to hammer the throttle. I was unable to resist the urge and because of that, I only averaged 18.1mpg while driving the 2014 model but I did see better than 19mpg on a longer highway trip. Realistically, most people who are going to pay over $60k for a 470hp SUV really won’t care about fuel economy so it is a perk more than anything but since performance and towing capabilities improved – the fact that fuel economy is also better is like a cherry on top of a very tasty sundae.
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is powered by the same 6.4L, 392 cubic inch Hemi as the previous model year with 470 horsepower and 470lb-ft of torque but the more aggressive gearing in the new 8-speed transmission allows for a slight improvement in performance. While some private owners have been able to get into the high 12 second quarter mile range with their 2014 SRT Jeep, I was “only” able to register a time of 13.2 per the on board timing system. That is only about a tenth better than my observed times with the 2012 Grand Cherokee SRT8 but drivers with more experience have gotten even better times from this new high performance Jeep. This new transmission features a driver selectable sport model that allows the SRT Jeep to shift even harder on its own, but whether you are in normal drive mode or sport shifting mode – the driver can use the steering wheel mounted paddle shifters for a more engaging driving experience. Even with the Jeep left in normal drive mode and shifting on its own, shifts are super quick whether you are launching from a stop or accelerating quickly to pass someone on the highway. When you select Sport shift mode, the shifts are not only much more direct, but this sport mode also holds the gears longer for improved performance.
Another feature of the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT that makes it even more exciting to drive is the driver selectable drive mode system. While the previous SRT Jeep had a track mode, the 2014 GC SRT has five drive modes – Auto, Sport, Track, Tow and Snow. Each of these drive modes has its own suspension settings and shift tune so enhance performance for the individual situations while also using the intelligent all wheel drive system to adjust torque output. In Auto, the SRT has 40% of the power at the front wheels and 60% out back while Sport sends 35% to the front wheels and 65% to the rear and the Track mode reduces front wheel torque to 30% while rear torque is increased to 70%. In track mode, the SRT Jeep has the hard launching traction advantages of all wheel drive but it offers more rear wheel drive feel under hard cornering and acceleration. Finally the Tow and Snow modes call on 50/50 torque distribution to allow this Jeep to get through the worst road conditions and tow up to 7,200 pounds. That’s right…7,200 pound towing capacity for an SUV that will tickle the 12 second quarter mile barrier. There is even a launch control button on the center console that instructs the driver how to get the best possible launch with the Jeep’s electronic brain altering all sorts of parameters to get you away from a stop as quickly as possible.
The new Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT offers solid handling (amazing handling for an SUV) under normal circumstances but when you select Track mode, the suspension becomes ultra stiff for supreme road handling capabilities. While driving the 2014 SRT Jeep, I tackled many of the same roads where I tested sports cars like the Dodge Challenger SRT or the Ford Mustang GT and the Jeep was able to slam through those same turns as very comparable speeds. This is a high riding, 5,000+ pound SUV that will literally handle as well as some of the best known performance cars sold in America. I had a chance to push this Jeep hard on a pair of race tracks – a road course and a tighter autocross course – and the Grand Cherokee handled both tracks very well with corner hugging ability that rivaled the capabilities of the SRT sedans. While there is technically some body roll when really hitting high speed turns as hard as you can, there is very little understeer and that is amazing in a vehicle of this size. Whether on the tight turns of the autocross course or the long, sweeping turns of the road course – the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT was up to the challenge. Of course, a big part of the SRT’s incredible handling attributes are the huge Brembo brakes that allow this big SUV to stop from 60 in under 120 feet.
More importantly to some, the different drive modes allow this high performance Jeep to offer a smoother ride for daily driving conditions and while even “Auto” mode is stiffer than your average large SUV – the ride quality is very good for a vehicle that is obviously geared towards extreme levels of performance. Truth be told, I spent the vast majority of my drive time in the 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT in Track mode and I had no qualms with the ultra stiff ride even on Detroit’s roughest roads. Even with the stiff suspension, the interior of the 2014 SRT Jeep is whisper quiet around town and when cruising on the highway with very little wind noise or road noise making it into the cabin – even when you are blasting down the road at speeds well above the posted highway speed limit.
Finally, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is capable of towing 7,200 pounds when properly equipped. My test vehicle was properly equipped so I hooked it up to my 5,500lb horse trailer (I didn’t have anything heavier…but this is technically heavier than the previous SRT Jeep would tow) and it really pulled beautifully. It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that with 470hp and 470lb-ft of torque, the Jeep had no problem pulling 5,500 pounds, but unlike some large SUVS that will feel like they are being pushed around by a trailer of this size – the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT confidently pulled my small horse trailer.
When it comes to an actual sport utility vehicle, there isn’t much more to ask for than what is offered by the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. This rig offers acceleration, top speed and handling qualities that allow it to outrun many modern performance cars in a straight line or on a road course. The selectable drive modes allow this Jeep to offer incredible handling when you want that and a smoother ride when that is more important – all while being able to tow as much weight as many half ton trucks. A low 13 second SUV that can tow over 7,000 pounds, handle the road course easily and offer great daily drivability – need I say more?
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is one of the fastest SUVs sold in the US and it is comfortably the fastest sold under $100,000. When you add into that incredible performance the fact that this roomy SUV can comfortably seat 4 adults in the lap of luxury while still having plenty of space for cargo AND it will tow as much as many pickups – the 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT is more than one of the best high performance SUVs in America. The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is one of the best performance vehicles sold in the United States as it will offer you the fun to drive factor of many sports cars but it will also serve as a great daily driver and a powerful tow vehicle. Finally, with the high tech drive mode system, the 2014 SRT Jeep will offer all of these qualities on sunny summer days, snowy winter days, muddy spring days and everything in between.
If you want a roomy SUV that will get through just about any on or off road driving conditions whether it is raining, snowing or sunny with incredible high performance driving attributes and the ability to tow over 7,000 pounds – your first choice should be the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. This SUV has all of the advantages of every Grand Cherokee combined with the high performance features of the Chrysler Street and Racing Technology brand so this is truly a vehicle that you can drive every day and feel just as comfortable in any driving conditions as you are on a road course or drag strip.
If you are in the market for a true sport utility vehicle that can tow, haul and seat the whole family, you should go drive the 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT right away and when you get home with it – drop me an email and thank me for urging you to buy the best true performance SUV in America.