It’s not cold logic that will bring buyers to the dealerships in search of the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, the brand’s red-hot sport-utility vehicle.
Left-brainers simply will not comprehend the attractiveness of a ground-pounding, gas-guzzling, 470-horsepower SUV that is filled with luxury features and sells for more than $60,000.
I was reminded of this again and again during a week with the SRT8 in which I was confronted by skeptics with strikingly similar questions.
“Why would anyone buy a car like this?’ asked one friend.
“Who would need a car like this?” asked another.
“What’s the point?” a third wondered.
To all of you whose automotive tastes run to the purely practical, there probably is no satisfactory answer. There is no strictly logical reason to buy a rugged, unusually road-worthy sport-utility vehicle that doubles as a premium, high-powered luxury car.
It is sort of like buying a tuxedo to go to a barn dance.
All I could think of to say was, “Well, if you don’t get it, then just don’t get it.”
Of course, I think I do get it.
The Grand Cherokee SRT8 is for the well-to-do car lover who occasionally requires the service of an SUV, but wants one that replaces the ennui of a cheerless driving experience with some of the excitement of a high-performance luxury car.
Here’s some of what the SRT8 can do.
Tramp on the accelerator and the 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 engine’s 470 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque will hurl you from a stop to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds.
Then, slam on the brakes and you will come to a screeching halt in a mere 116 feet.
Now, keep in mind that this happens in a vehicle that weighs 2 1/2 tons.Talk about breaking the laws of inertia . . . !
Totally irrelevant on modern American roads, but interesting to note for the record, the Grand Cherokee SRT8 has a top speed of 160 mph.
In its own way, but not very successfully, the Grand Cherokee SRT8 even tries to save some money on gas. Cruise along on a level highway and the V-8 will automatically ratchet down to four-cylinder operation under light loads.
Sounds good, but the EPA estimates 12 miles per gallon around town and 18 on the highway, I averaged an overall 13.5 miles per gallon and that was with no heavy loads and no hilly or off-road excursions. And, yes, that’s using the recommended premium gasoline.
Unlike some pickup-based SUVs, the SRT8 actually drives more like a car than a truck. With a track-tuned independent suspension, a lot of electronic assistants, accurate and communicative steering, and a set of beefy 20-inch, run-flat, all-season performance tires, this Jeep has a reasonably comfortable and complaint ride over most road surfaces and it won’t let you down when the road snakes along like the letter “S.”