Building a Super ute has always been not seen in the proper light. Historically, this vehicle was designed for going off-the-road and then evolved into a huge family wagon being used these days. Hence, basing the design of an all-new high performing vehicle from such an evolved machine is not the first choice for many. But from time to time, we have had this notion of ours sent for a toss by the automakers, which seem to have that inbuilt power within them to make any model go quicker and faster, if, provided the chance. The Cherokee was born in 2006 from such an inspired idea and the automobile giants, Chrysler, have deemed it fit to give its best seller SUV such an extreme treatment. This new idea is totally different from the rugged image of the Jeep.
The Cherokee SRT8 super ute has a very limited segment; however there has been increasingly high competition in this segment in the last few years. SUVs from Porsche, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, are packed with such horsepower that they can embarrass supercars, designed just a few years back.
The Jeep Grand 2012 have applied restrain in designing, only making up-gradation to areas that their customers had asked for.
Styling was not an issue with customers of the original SRT8, which sold for four years since its 2006 launch with its brutish, sledgehammer head inspired designed. The new SRT8 has been given softer and smoother lines, thereby losing the original’s cast-iron quality.
A smoother look has not made the vehicle lose its intimidating stature. The front end’s sheer verticality makes it look more like a brick wall, than any other vehicle in its genre. The hood has two air vents, which one is hard pressed to see even when standing on their toes, allows escape of heat from the engine.
The previous generation SRT8 had a rear-mounted central exhaust. Though it looked cool spewing fumes from the rear bumper’s middle, the location of the twin pipes was not practical enough for loading the area for rear cargo. The two pipes have been split up in the new Jeep and a four-inch diameter single outlet has been put on each side.
Other subtle changes include body-coloured door and grille handles, shaving of the roof-rack and even daytime running LED lights at the front. All visible changes point out that this new model has been designed for fast travelling, a fact amplified by its 20” Aluminium wheels and Brembo specified brakes.
The interior is less intimidating, but brings out the aspect of a strong performer that this vehicle wants to be viewed as. Thanks to nice trim works, the interior does not present any gloominess with a ribbon of fibers of carbon across the doors and the dashboard.
However, the passengers in the second row will face some discomfort once the driver decides to flaunt his vehicle’s capabilities. A thick and meaty steering wheel, with palm rests placed at the right points, is a favourite of all drivers. New highly integrated controls like the adaptable cruise-control system, stereo and EVIC have an ease of usage and difficult to accidentally switch on.
Seating on the SRT has always been liked; the new vehicle maintains the tradition with upholstered, leather seats, comfortably designed for long drives. Front seat passengers receive both heat and cooling, whereas the middle seats, being not bolstered enough, means that the passengers would have a difficult time in hanging on, when the vehicle peaks.
The rear passengers get additional leg room in this model, and there has been an increase in cargo capacity as well.
Driving and Handling:
The newer SRT8 is bolstered by an additional 362 pounds (increasing to 5,150 against 4,788) thereby reach 60 mph in 4.8 seconds as claimed by the manufacturers. Though this is impressive speed for the SUV segment, but power wise it still lags behind the German manufacturers’ BMW X5M, Porsche’s Cayenne Turbo and the M63 AMG of Mercedes-Benz.
Though the Jeep cannot be deemed as slow, its manual five-speed transmission is still a couple of notches as compared to its German-manufactured competitors.
Lesser power is often compensated with better handling of the vehicle, but here too the Jeep lags its European rivals, despite the fact that it gives the feeling of being much quicker compared to the previous model. Improved features include the new four-wheel driving system ‘Quadra-Trac’ and the ‘Selec-Trac’ that offers five pre-set modes of driving: Auto, Track, Sport, Snow and Tow.
Another highlight is its Brembo braking system that offers excellent modulation of the pedals, making a clear distinction between stopping and braking. The vehicle can come to a dead halt from a speed of 60 mph in just 116 feet.
Parking the vehicle is a nerve-wrecking exercise as the hood obstructs the front-end corners. A fear of tapping the front or scaring the wheels at curbs is a continuous worry when pulling into some spots or doing the parallel style of parking.
The biggest scoring point of the Jeep against its rivals is the pricing aspect; it has been priced at $60,960 which undercuts its competition price by thousands of dollars. The BMWs standard model costs $86,900; the Mercedes-Benz around $93,000 and the Porsche at $107,100.
The Jeep might not be the quickest or the fastest super ute on the road, but it is by far the cheapest model available.