Exterior & Styling
It’s hard to make what is essentially an enormous box look sexy. You can’t play much with shapes or sheet metal, but Jeep’s stylists have done a decent job of turning the rugged, sleek, functional Grand Cherokee into a passable approximation of a muscle car.
The flared fenders, scoops on the bumper, bulges in the hood and dark glossy wheels with thin rubber all suggest this is not a rock-crawling Jeep, but something far more sinister. LED running lamps and taillights are standard, as are bi-xenon high-intensity-discharge headlights with headlamp washers. Dual exhaust advertises the power under the hood and completes the whole package. If there’s any complaint, it’s that the changes are just a little too subtle: Despite the flared fenders, it looks a lot like other top-trim Grand Cherokees.
How It Drives
It’s a beast of a machine, no doubt, but it never feels harsh, unrefined or coarse in its moves.
We’ve been fans of the Grand Cherokee’s interior since its last update; we rated its luxurious feel as one of its best features in our 2013 comparison test.
There’s a good reason for this: According to Jeep, the Grand Cherokee often shares garage space with luxury-brand vehicles, as many shoppers consider it a premium vehicle. The SRT trim amps things up to even more luxurious standards: My test vehicle came with an optional Laguna Leather Package, which uses beautiful premium cowhide on the seats, doors, dash and other surfaces that occupants touch.
The seats themselves are big, heavily bolstered and very comfortable. They are rather bulky, however, and eat into backseat legroom and knee room a bit. The front seats are heated and ventilated, and the rear outboard seats are heated. Outward visibility is only fair; it’s compromised somewhat by thick A-pillars that can obscure the road ahead when negotiating fast, sweeping corners. Things are plenty airy inside the cabin, though, if you add an optional dual-pane, panoramic moonroof, which lets light into both rows of seats.
Ergonomics & Electronics
The SRT’s new gauge cluster has rearranged things like the tachometer and speedometer, but it’s still one of the most highly configurable gauge clusters in the business. It looks pretty slick.
There’s also an updated version of Fiat Chrysler’s Uconnect touch-screen, which works even better than before. It remains one of the easiest multimedia systems to use, with clean design and quick functionality, and now it’s configurable, as well. Using a drag-and-drop icon tray, you can rearrange it for faster access to things you use more frequently.
The rest of the buttons and switches inside the Grand Cherokee are high-quality, logically placed and easy to find on the fly. The updated Performance Pages app is also a lot of fun, providing all kinds of timers, supplementary gauges, meters and adjustable controls for people looking to use their SRT for more than just getting groceries.
Cargo & Storage
The Grand Cherokee has never been the biggest midsize SUV, but this latest version scores mid-pack in terms of cargo room. There’s adequate room in the cargo area: 36.3 cubic feet, expandable to 68.3 cubic feet with the backseat folded. In contrast, the Mercedes-Benz GLE has 38.2/80.3 cubic feet, while the BMW X5 offers up 35.8/76.7 cubic feet. The Porsche Cayenne is a bit smaller, with only 23.7/60.2 cubic feet, due in part to a swoopy roofline over the cargo area.
The SRT has not been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but the basic 2016 Grand Cherokee has. It was rated five stars in front- and side-impact testing, but only four stars in rollover protection. Its overall rating is five out of five stars. The Grand Cherokee scored a rating of good in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s various crash tests, with one exception: It was rated marginal in the small overlap front test. See all its safety test results here.
The latest Grand Cherokee offers most of the top electronic safety systems you could possibly need. The SRT includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, a backup camera, blind spot and cross-traffic alerts, and front and rear parking sensors — all standard. Surprisingly, there is no lane departure warning or lane departure prevention system offered, though there is a trailer sway control feature as part of the stability control system. See all the Grand Cherokee SRT’s standard safety features here.
Value in Its Class
Compared with competing high-performance SUVs, the Grand Cherokee SRT is a relative bargain. It starts at just $66,690 including destination and comes fully equipped with just about everything that’s optional in lower-trim Grand Cherokees. You can fancy it up even more by adding the Laguna Leather Package, a rear seat entertainment system, a trailer tow group, a high-performance Harman Kardon 19-speaker audio system, a dual-pane panoramic moonroof and 20-inch black chrome wheels. My test car had all of them, pushing its sticker price to $76,260. Tick every option box by adding special paint, a performance brake package, an SRT Night appearance package and more, and you can top out just north of $81,000.
Competitors are more expensive and only slightly more capable than the SRT. The Mercedes-Benz GLE63 AMG (formerly known as the ML63) starts at $100,875. That’s nearly 50 percent more than the Grand Cherokee SRT, but you don’t get much more power or capability for the extra cash. You do get standard lane departure warning in the Benz, but the other safety features standard on the SRT – including adaptive cruise control, blind spot warning, and cross traffic alert – are optional on the GLE63.
The Grand Cherokee SRT also represents a much better performance bargain than the BMW X5 M, which starts at $99,795 and, like the Benz, doesn’t include much in the way of standard electronic safety features.
The Porsche Cayenne, meanwhile, can be had for less than the Grand Cherokee SRT: Its starting price is $59,350, but that’s for a base Cayenne with a 300-hp V-6. A GTS model with a 440-hp, twin-turbo V-6 runs $96,550. To match V-8 versus V-8, you’ll have to spring for the Cayenne Turbo, for $115,750. And at that price you won’t even get a standard backup camera. Compare the Grand Cherokee SRT with its competition here.