First Drive & Ride: Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 & Dodge Challenger SRT8 392
William Maley - Editor/Reporter - CheersandGears.com
August 22, 2011
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8
What happens when you drop a Jeep Grand Cherokee off at Chrysler's Street and Racing Technology workshop and tell the SRT engineers to have at it? You get the dark and monstrous Grand Cherokee SRT8.
On the outside; the Grand Cherokee SRT8 has a lower stance, flared out fenders, a hood with scoops to help cool down the engine, 20 inch wheels wrapped in massive Pirelli PZero tires, and design bits give it an impression of don't mess with me.
Inside the SRT8, its a combination of luxury and sport. Soft leather and swede cover the seats, with a pair of sport bucket seats for the driver and passenger. Real carbon fiber and metal trim compliment the soft touch dash. A new steering wheel with paddles and a new vehicle information system which provides instant data about acceleration, horsepower, torque, wheel angle and other bits finish off the interior.
Powering the Grand Cherokee SRT8 is a monstrous 6.4L HEMI V8 producing 470 HP and 465 lb-ft. torque. Coupled with a 5-speed automatic and AWD system, the Grand Cherokee SRT8 can hit 60 MPH in 4.8 seconds and reach a top speed of 160 MPH. The Grand Cherokee SRT8 also comes with a modified version of the Selec-Track system. With the turn of a knob in car, the system can change the settings of many functions in the vehicle.
Hoping into the Grand Cherokee SRT8 and taking it for a quick spin around Chrysler HQ, the first thing I noticed is how fast it is. Yes, the Grand Cherokee SRT8 weighs 5,150 pounds, but the big V8 and AWD system make the weight unnoticeable. And the Selec-Track system? It makes a notable difference with the behavior of the car. Turn the knob to Auto and car rides like a soft luxury car, ready to take on long distance trips. Turn it again to either Sport or Track and the car takes on a different character ready to attack the road and rulebook of physics.
Stopping a 5,150 beast may seem like an impossible mission, but the set of Brembo brakes can handle the job. Even lightly touching the brake pedal, you can fell the brakes slowing down the vehicle.
The best part of the Grand Cherokee SRT8 is the exhaust note. Every stoplight and stretch of straight road, you just want to hit the accelerator to just to hear the rumble of the V8.
Getting out of the Grand Cherokee SRT8, I realized that SRT engineers had pull off a feat. They took a regular Grand Cherokee which was built to take on Moab and made it into road monster. It's not everyone's cup of tea. But for the select few, it's all you need.
Dodge Challenger SRT8 392
The Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 is a pure muscle car. Compared to the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro; the Challenger might not handle as well or outrun the two, but can best the two on looks and pure fun.
Powering this beast is a 6.4L HEMI V8 pumping out 470 HP and 470 lb-ft. torque. Mated to either a 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic, the SRT8 392 can either become a smoke machine for dance parties or whip off a 0-60 in the 4 second range and reach a top speed of 175 (automatic) or 183 MPH (manual).
Inside, not much has changed design wise except for a new steering wheel. Material wise, Chrysler switched many of the hard plastics the Challenger was known for soft touch materials and makes a big difference (if your an auto writer).
I rode shotgun for a quick drive in the Challenger through Chrysler HQ. Acceleration is very strong through out the RPM band and will cause your head to flop back into the head when you hit the accelerator hard.
The big surprise was the Challenger's adjustable suspension. Driving down the interstate, the Challenger was a comfortable cruiser, soaking up the bumps and ruts as we went along. Then there's "Sport" mode, which tightens up the chassis and lessens the amount of body roll. It doesn't make the Challenger a sports car, but it does help keep the Challenger flat and stable during a turn.
The Challenger SRT8 392 isn't the fastest nor the quickest muscle car. But the Challenger does stay true to its muscle car roots with a big engine and beautiful noises. And with all of the changes with the interior and suspension done by Chrysler and SRT, the Challenger becomes a true contender in the muscle car battle royale.
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