However, not everyone wants to go off the beaten track in their Grand Cherokee, preferring to cruise on the black stuff and impress other Jeep owners. Which bring us to the subject of this week’s road test machine – a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Night.
It’s a factory produced special from SRT (Sport and Racing Technology) the high-performance division of Chrysler Jeep. Based on the standard SRT, the Night is priced at $97,000 plus on-road costs.
A major advantage of getting factory fitted parts is that you know you are getting quality extras that are covered by warranty. Some aftermarket components may not be built to Jeep standards, and are unlikely to have as long a warranty.
Really lifting the look of the already-tough standard Grand Cherokee, the SRT Night edition has black 20-inch 10-spoke wheels, blacked out areas of the front grille, black leather interior trim and other dark touches. The red Brembo brakes are really highlighted by the black wheels.
Black Laguna leather interior upholstery has silver accent stitching. Black chromed and anodised silver bezels add to the effect.
A large, darkened, two-pane sunroof lets the sunshine in. The moonlight as well, our road test week coincided with a bright full moon and the effect was excellent.
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT uses the company’s Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen radio with DAB+, Aux, Bluetooth and USB connections. A powerful Harman Kardon 825-Watt, 19-speaker premium audio system is part of the infotainment package.
However, we found ourselves listening far more often to the super-size V8 engine rather than the audio system.
ENGINE / TRANSMISSION
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Night is powered by the company’s big 6.4-litre V8, producing 344 kW and 624 Nm. Drive is, naturally, to all four wheels.
Cherokee SRT Night has a revised instrument cluster, with the tacho in the centre, and the speedo to the left side of the cluster. The speedometer is rather small and hard to read, fortunately it’s backed up by a digital readout low down in the tacho segment.
All Jeep Grand Cherokee models have a five-star safety rating from ANCAP. Secondary safety includes seven airbags (multi-stage driver and front passenger); front seat side airbags; curtain airbags; and a driver’s knee airbag.
Primary safety, the ability to stay out of trouble in any correctly driven performance vehicle is there. Let’s hope that all drivers of this big, quick American 4WD do drive it correctly.
Jeep SRT Performance Pages has a large array of timers and gauge readouts. If you want to get really technical the Custom setting lets you adjust the drive experience to suit.
Multiple drive modes let you control the all-wheel drive system, transmission, paddle shifters, stability control, suspension and steering. They are configured for Auto, Sport, Track, Snow and Tow settings.
A few months back Jeep Australia took us to Western Sydney Motorsport Park at Eastern Creek and let us loose on the dragstrip. We registered a best time of 13.2 seconds for the quarter mile; getting to 100 km/h just 4.6 seconds after the green lights flashed.
Sticky tarmac at the start line gave our SRT Night added traction in the critical first few moments. Normal-road acceleration is likely to be slightly slower.
In normal driving engine acceleration is immediate, showing the advantage of having a big-cube naturally-aspirated V8 instead of a tiny turbo engine that has to adjust the turbocharger revs and the transmission electronically before giving its best. Turbo lag –
we hate it!
Then there’s the sound of a big high-performance Jeep V8 engine, it roars when you really get stuck into it and is guaranteed to produce a smile on any drivers’ face.
Jeep’s eight-speed automatic transmission gets the message quickly and adds to the driving excitement by rapidly slamming down through the gears.
Away from the dragstrip and onto normal roads we found the big Jeep surprisingly comfortable in its ride, though some irregularities in surfaces can make it a bit jiggly at times.
Handling is very good for a heavy, high-riding 4WD but it’s certainly not a sports machine in the twisty stuff. Then again, on the straights bits it’s brilliant. It’s unlikely anyone will get into trouble unless they do something stupid behind the wheel.
The electronic power steering system (EPS) has been nicely tuned really does let you select the correct line and corner with little or no need for corrections.
Fuel consumption? We didn’t check it out during our too-brief on-road test in Sydney following the dragstrip testing. However in real life running of an SRT Night in our home territory for the past week it wasn’t as thirsty as expected. Around town it typically sat in the low to mid teens. On the open road and motorways it was possible to get the big V8 down into single figures.
Okay, so you don’t buy a Grand Cherokee SRT Night to save fuel, but its low numbers indicate the exceptional work done by the Chrysler and Jeep engineers in making their big V8 as efficient as possible.
Like to stand out from the madding crowd? Then the big ‘n’ tough Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Night should sit high on your shopping list.
AT A GLANCE
Grand Cherokee SRT Night Edition 6.4-litre five-door wagon: $97,000 (automatic)
Note: This price does not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Jeep dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Night Edition 6.4-litre five-door wagon)
Capacity: 6.424 litres
Maximum Power: 344 kW @ 6250 rpm
Maximum Torque: 624 Nm @ 4100 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 14.0 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 328 g/km
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4822 mm
Wheelbase: 2915 mm
Width: 1943 mm
Height: 1764 mm
Turning Circle: 11.3 metres
Kerb Mass: 2336 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 91 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Three years / 100,000 km