2013 Grand Cherokee SRT8 road test: Muscle, muscle and more muscle

2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

The 2014 model will be on the road in a few weeks, so you just may be thinking that a report on the explosive 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 will not be particularly relevant at this point in time.

But that is not necessarily so.

True, the 2014 model will have an 8-speed transmission (up from 5), somewhat better fuel mileage, towing capacity improved from 5,000 to 7,200 pounds, launch control for maximum acceleration from a stop, some styling changes, interior upgrades, and more.

2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 instruments

2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 instruments

But, the essence of the new vehicle will be unchanged, which is to say that it will retain the 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 engine that churns out an awesome 470 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque.

That means the ground-pounding performance will remain pretty much the same. For the 2013 model that adds up to 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds, 0-100 mph in a little over 16 seconds, and a top speed of 160 mph. Importantly, the big Brembo disc brakes will grind the Grand Cherokee SRT8 to a halt from 60 mph in a mere 116 feet.

For many, the idea of a hot-rod Jeep cannot help but raise questions. Is there any real merit to such a vehicle? Can it be considered sensible or is it just plain senseless?

Obviously, the 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 and its successor defy simple explanation. Let’s try to justify the vehicle, or not.

Sensible?

For starters, at $64,180 the Grand Cherokee SRT8 is a real deal compared with the over-the-top sport utility vehicles from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and others.

A little logo with a powerful message.

A little logo with a powerful message.

It makes a powerful (what else?) statement to high-performance lovers everywhere. Slam the accelerator to the floor and the awesome thrust pushes you into the seatback while the raucous exhaust emits a roar to satisfy a card-carrying NASCAR fan.

In many ways, it is SUV-practical, too. It has all the luggage room expected of a mid-size SUV —  35.1 cubic feet behind the second-row seat and 68.7 cubic seat with rear setbacks folded forward.

It can tow up to 5,000 pounds of boat, or horses, or whatever.

In addition, it has Jeep’s Selec-Track all-wheel-drive system with five settings depending on usage — auto, sport, towing, track and snow. I’m not sure how it goes off-road or in the snow with those huge 20-inch performance tires, but strap on some all-purpose rubber and this Jeep will get you into the outback or off to the ski lodge.