Car of the Year 2012: No. 9 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

  • Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
    Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
    The flat-bottom steering wheel contributes to the cabin’s high-performance look. Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
    The SRT8 is powered by a 6.4-liter V-8. Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
    The Brembo brakes enable the Jeep to come to a stop from 60 mph in just 116 feet. Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
  • Photo by Cordero Studios/www.corderostudios.com
  • Robert Ross and Paul Dean

SPORT, UTILITY, AND VALUE  
The Grand Cherokee SRT8 seems poised to intimidate the proliferation of luxury SUVs from Porsche, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Range Rover. At half the price of its competitors, the Jeep is not just a great value but also a marvel of efficient platform engineering. It compromises little and delivers large in terms of power, amenities, and build quality.

While no SUV can claim stunningly good looks (with all due respect to Range Rover, which leads the style brigade), the Jeep is handsome, not ungainly; it appears purposeful. Its interior offers ample room and comfort, and under the hood, all hell breaks loose when drivers tap the full power of the 6.4-liter V-8. —Robert Ross

MORE POWER THAN PRESTIGE
Jeep’s plushest and most powerful SUV has never quite been able to catch its primary rival, the regal Range Rover, or the hard-hauling competition from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Porsche. This fourth-generation Grand Cherokee is certainly big enough to carry five people and their steamer trunks. It holds its own when it comes to horsepower and torque. It does not flinch at wilderness terrain. On-road, it offers sports-sedan acceleration and speed. And at a little more than half the price of the top-end Cayenne and ML63, the Grand Cherokee is a better bargain than a Beverly Hills short sale. But the intangibles are missing. It lacks that European elegance of exterior design and interior comforts; it looks like just another hunk from Detroit, but with touches of Mayfair. There is no hint of heritage, no panache from being the SUV of royalty or the glacier and desert crawler of choice among serious global explorers. This Cherokee is very good, but not grand. —Paul Dean

SPECIFICATIONS Configuration Front-engine, all-wheel-drive SUV Engine 6.4-liter V-8 Transmission 5-speed automatic Power 470 hp at 6,000 rpm Torque 465 ft lbs at 4,300 rpm Curb weight 5,150 pounds Zero to 60 mph 4.8 seconds Top speed 160 mph (limited) Base price $54,000 Jeep, www.jeep.com

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