The aging Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT may be starting to look and feel too old to be a worthy contender in the midsize SUV segment, yet it remains a relatively affordable way to get a fun experience out of a practical vehicle. With specialists in the Grand Cherokee range like the Trackhawk and Trailhawk, the SRT may seem unnecessary but there's no denying that America loves its old-school V8s, and the SRT's 6.4-liter lump is just what the doctor ordered. Producing 475 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, the SRT sends its power to all four wheels with the aid of an eight-speed automatic transmission. With decent off-road ability, it's a more versatile offering than BMW's X5 M50i and Mercedes-AMG's GLE 53.
Despite being on its last legs after originally debuting with the SRT8 badge, the new 2021 Grand Cherokee SRT is unchanged from what came before. Jeep is keeping the SUV on life support only a little longer though, as an all-new model is expected to arrive for the 2022 model year.
6.4L V8 Gas
The regular Jeep Grand Cherokee isn't an ugly thing, nor is it considered beautiful, but with some SRT flavor, its exterior is certainly improved. Gloss black accents give a sporty edge to the front grille while vents in the bumper and a unique set of intake grilles with LED fog lights give the SUV an aggressive demeanor. 20-inch wheels are standard while the rear boasts a subtle roof spoiler and a faux diffuser housing single-exit exhaust tips on either end. The taillights are smoked too, for that menacing look. A dual-pane panoramic sunroof is optional.
The dimensions of the SRT are not much unlike the regular Grand Cherokee variants. Length measures 191.3 inches while the width is rated at 77.1 inches and the wheelbase is 114.8 inches. Height measures 67.9 inches with ground clearance rated at 8.1 inches. Approach, break-over, and departure angles have a rating of 18, 18.4, and 23.1 degrees respectively. Curb weight is unsurprisingly hefty at 5,195 pounds, although this is still more than 150 lbs lighter than the hell-raising Trackhawk.
As is so often the case, there's very little choice when it comes to paint colors that don't cost extra. On the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, the only free hue is Bright White, but fortunately, the charged shades aren't too pricey at $245 each, with the exception of Ivory 3 Coat at $595. The other optional colors are more interesting though, with Diamond Black Crystal Pearl, Granite Crystal Metallic, Sting-Gray, Billet Silver Metallic, Slate Blue Pearl, Velvet Red Pearl, Redline 2 Coat, and Green Metallic. Each has its benefits, but we'd avoid the crimson shades, as these are most often associated with the Trackhawk, and you don't wanna look like a poser.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT may be a middling proposition in the range, but that doesn't mean that performance is tepid. The 6.4-liter V8 does without any forced induction to produce an impressive 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. With a four-wheel-drive system providing traction, the SRT will do the 0-60 mph sprint in just 4.3 seconds. Keep your foot down and you'll manage to cover 1,320 feet from rest in just 12.8 seconds. Find a long enough road and you'll get to a lifted top speed of 160 mph. With big brakes, a sharp gearbox, and a remarkable suspension setup that handles the heft of the SRT well, you can have fun in the corners without going flat-out too. While the SRT badge carries a certain weight of expectation when it comes to being athletic, a Jeep badge carries its own burden and we expect a vehicle with such a brand on it to be great off-road. Fortunately, the SRT doesn't disappoint, and it's pretty handy at lugging heavy machinery like boats too, managing a towing capacity of 7,200 lbs.
Just one drivetrain configuration is available for the new Grand Cherokee SRT. The 6.4-liter V8 is paired with an eight-speed 8HP70 automatic transmission from TorqueFlite, with the engine's 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque being sent to all four corners. Thanks to a lack of forced induction, throttle response on the old-school American V8 is sharp, and there's no hesitation when you put your foot down. The throaty roar accompanying every burst of acceleration is highly addictive too, although it does signal your arrival to all in the immediate vicinity. Not that you'll care, as you'll likely be off in your own world shouting 'Freedom' while overtaking Prius owners with ease. Of course, a powerful, responsive, intoxicating engine is of no use when the gearbox attached to it is a lemon. Fortunately, the eight-speed auto doesn't fall into that category. It kicks down quickly enough when left in its default setting, while Sport mode sharpens things up even more. Naturally, you can grab your own gears with the steering-mounted paddles, and the SRT doesn't take its time to serve up the ratio you're asking for in manual mode either.
With such a sporty engine, the SRT is already doing all that you would traditionally expect of a typical performance-enhanced SUV from the USA. However, the world expects more these days and the SRT delivers. Thanks to Bilstein adaptive dampers as standard with sport-tuned suspension, the SRT handles remarkably well, even though it's getting on a bit. It's not as sharp and accurate as its German rivals, but it's still very good. The steering wheel provides a reassuring feel of weight and communicates a fair amount of feedback from the front tires, but again, it could be better. The downside to making such a heavy monstrosity handle rather well without breaking the bank is that ride quality suffers. Track mode will jar the fillings from your teeth over corrugated surfaces, and more relaxed modes are still a little too much for your backside if you regularly traverse broken pavement. It's not so bad that you wouldn't consider a road trip in this sporty family car, but it is bad enough that you would be selective about where you go. Still, it's brilliant off-road in ways that its German rivals have never been, and with Auto, Sport, Track, Snow, and Tow modes each doing a good job of their respective requirements, it's easy to change things to suit your environment and road surface. Big brakes add security when you need to slow down and are easy to modulate in traffic too.
Good gas mileage and great fuel economy are not terms regularly associated with the likes of SRT, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee is no different. According to the EPA's review of the Grand Cherokee SRT, the SUV will do just 13/19/15 mpg on the agency's city/highway/combined cycles. With a 24.6-gallon gas tank, this equates to a mixed range of around 369 miles. Still, the Trackhawk is even worse, with official figures of 11/17/13 mpg on the same cycles.
The interior of the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT SUV is excellent - if you've just emerged from a time capsule that you entered a decade ago. It's not an offensive place to be though, with plenty of space and comfortable seats clad in leather and perforated faux-suede. There's plenty of standard equipment too, with a Wi-Fi hotspot, heated and ventilated front seats, and heated rear seats. Sure, it looks a little dated and it doesn't feel as spectacularly luxurious as German vehicles in this segment, but it is also far more affordable than those European rivals.
The Grand Cherokee can seat five adults, and there's a fair amount of space in both rows. Six-footers won't be cramped, although three adults alongside each other may raise some complaints. Getting in and out is easy though, and the driver has a good view in most directions. The only negative we have to mention here is that the windshield pillars are a little large. Fortunately, eight-way power-adjustable front seats make it easy for you to find a position that is near perfect.
Leather and perforated suede are standard fare in your choice of either black or sepia. Carbon accents are standard along with a leather steering wheel, and there are aluminum accents all over, including on the pedals. Laguna leather is a premium option, but will cost you an additional $5,295 as part of the Signature Leather-Wrapped Interior package. Red seatbelts are a $95 option.
One of the main reasons to buy an SUV is cargo space, and although the Grand Cherokee is fairly spacious with 36.3 cubic feet of volume - enough for the whole family to take weekend luggage along - some competitors offer more space. For example, the Toyota 4Runner will give you ten cubes more. When the 60/40-split-folding second row is folded, the Grand Cherokee offers 68.3 cubes of space.
In the cabin, the center console offers a pair of cupholders while the rear has another pair. You also get narrow door pockets, center armrest storage, and a space in the center console for your phone.
As standard, the SRT is loaded with features, some of which are optional on more expensive metal. The SRT benefits from the standard inclusion of voice control, automatic high-intensity discharge headlights with LED DRLs, a power liftgate, heated wing mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, remote keyless entry, remote start, rain-sensing wipers, and adaptive cruise control. You also get heated and ventilated power front seats, heated rear seats, parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring, adaptive Bilstein dampers, and forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking. Finally, you get a rearview camera and trailer-sway control. A dual-pane power sunroof is optional.
The SRT's Uconnect 4C infotainment system has been around for a while, but that's not a bad thing in this case. The 8.4-inch touchscreen display is responsive and the interface is easy to understand and navigate. Speaking of navigation, this vehicle has it, along with HD Radio, SiriusXM satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. Media is played through a ten-speaker sound system while a dual-screen rear-seat Blu-Ray entertainment system is an option. Also available is a 19-speaker premium audio system from Harman Kardon.
Thus far, the 2021 SRT has not yet had any recalls. However, the identical 2020 version suffered one recall for a rearview camera image that may remain on the infotainment display, possibly distracting the driver.
If reliability is still a concern for you, a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty helps provide peace of mind while the drivetrain is covered for five years/60,000 miles. Roadside assistance is included for the latter period too.
Thus far, the NHTSA does not yet have a safety rating for the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, although the regular Grand Cherokee attained a full five-star rating, which bodes well for the SRT version. Over at the IIHS, the regular Grand Cherokee achieved middling results, with a Marginal score for the driver's side front overlap and a Poor rating for the passenger side. The best score the headlights could achieve was Acceptable, but all other safety tests returned the best possible result of Good. Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT reviews in terms of safety are therefore anything but stellar.
As standard, the SRT is essentially fully loaded in terms of safety. You get rain-sensing wipers, adaptive cruise control, hill start assist, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision detection with automatic emergency braking, front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, and of course, the usual traction and stability management programs. You also get park assist, rain brake support, and seven airbags, including curtain airbags, frontal airbags, side-impact airbags, and a driver's knee airbag.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is not a perfect vehicle by any stretch of the imagination. It is devoid of the advanced technology found in its German rivals - things like digital driver info displays and adaptive LED headlights - and it's seriously thirsty and may deter some with its mileage estimates. It also doesn't offer all that much cargo space compared to what other family vehicles in this segment offer, and it's not as modern as a 2021 car should be. Nevertheless, its V8 engine has a guttural sound that is tough to ignore and its off-road presence and ability are praiseworthy too. Furthermore - and this is probably the most important feather in its cap - it's far more affordable than any performance-enhanced German SUV of this size. With that in mind, we have to say that the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is still worthy of a test drive at the very least. It puts a smile on your face, makes a relatively small dent in your checkbook, and can do everything from drag racing to off-road family adventures. Let's hope the next one is just as versatile.
The 2021 Grand Cherokee SRT price starts at $69,165 before a destination charge of $1,495. This is an increase in cost compared to the 2020 model that was on sale for $68,395, despite nothing new being offered for 2021. Still, it's far less expensive than performance models from BMW and Mercedes-AMG. With very few options available, a fully loaded Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT will cost less than $85,000.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee range has numerous models, but the SRT variants are considered individually with no variable trim levels. This means that even the Trackhawk is not part of the range and the SRT is a standalone model too. It comes with a 6.4-liter V8 that develops 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. This is controlled by an eight-speed automatic transmission from TorqueFlite that sends power to both axles through a four-wheel-drive system. 20-inch wheels are standard along with leather and faux-suede upholstery. Also included are heated wing mirrors, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, and a dual-zone automatic climate control system. Other features include a power liftgate, remote start, remote keyless entry, rain-sensing wipers, parking sensors in both the front and rear, adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert with automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
If you're going to be lugging a boat to the lake every other weekend, you'll want to equip the Trailer-Tow Group IV package at $995, with upgraded engine cooling and all the necessary accessories that you need for towing. Otherwise, you can avail yourself of the Harman Kardon upgraded sound system with 19 speakers. This costs $2,095 while a dual-screen rear-seat entertainment display will set you back $1,995. A dual-pane panoramic sunroof is $2,095 while upgraded brakes will set you back $1,295.
There's only one variant of the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT on offer to review, but you'll be pleased to know that it is almost fully loaded with specs from the factory. You can still spend some money on upgrades to the audio system or the brakes, while customization of the paint and type of leather can help you make the SUV your own. However, from a practical point of view, there's nothing that we see the need to upgrade. Leaving the SRT as it is in base form will save you money without making you feel like you're in a sub-par vehicle. Unless you absolutely must have a feature that suits your personal preference, we wouldn't waste any money on upgrades.
To be honest, this isn't much of a fair comparison as the X5 M is far more expensive and more powerful than the Jeep. It's got a 4.4-liter twin-turbo V8 that produces 600 horsepower and 553 lb-ft of torque. It also has a much more luxurious cabin that boasts a 12.3-inch digital driver info display alongside a similarly-sized infotainment display. It also has 18-way power seats as standard. In the back, the Jeep wins thanks to a cargo volume of 36.3 cubes versus the Bimmer's 33.9 cubes. However, with the seats folded, the BMW comes out on top again with 72.3 cubes versus the Jeep's 68.3. Overall, these cars are in very different classes. The BMW is the one to buy if you have a penchant for luxury and speed while the Jeep is better off-road and far more affordable. The choice is up to you.
The 2021 Range Rover Sport is another expensive, fast European SUV. However, this one is available in a multitude of variants, and the cheapest version starts at under $70,000. However, this model only produces 355 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque. Still, if you're looking to be a baller on a budget, this can work for you. Much like the Jeep, Range Rover models are all highly capable off-road, but unlike the Jeep, the RR Sport comes with luxury finishes that include wood, genuine leather, and aluminum bezels. You also get ambient lighting, keyless entry, and push-button ignition. Overall, we think that the Jeep is a better buy, as it provides fun and off-road ability for a low price, while the Range Rover Sport requires the addition of expensive options in order to be a good all-rounder.