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Best of the Best 2012: Sport-Utility Vehicles: Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

Once again a symbol of ascent, upscale SUVs have become the high-performance fashion statement on roads from Malibu to Mongolia. Now America can claim a competitive edge with the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 (www.jeep.com), which is new this year and every bit the luxury high-rider that its competitors from Germany, Britain, and Japan are. Possessing off-road talent that follows the Jeep tradition, this Grand Cherokee can play in the dirt like a Boy Scout. It also can tear up the street, reaching 60 mph from a stop in 4.8 seconds thanks to a 6.4-liter V-8 that produces 470 hp and 465 ft lbs of torque. Drivers with a pulse will relish the Track mode as well as the adaptive suspension and massive Brembo brakes. Passengers will appreciate the amenities, which include a 19-speaker Harman Kardon surround-sound system. Priced from $61,000, this SUV—compared to the Continental offerings—leaves enough change for owners to take advantage of its 5,000-pound towing capacity and hitch something equally fine and fun to the back.

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