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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Apr 12, 2009

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

© All photos by Harvey Schwartz

HOT ROD TO HELL By Harvey Schwartz

The 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 is not for the faint at heart. It is a bold, powerful sport utility vehicle that will solidly plant you into your seatback and will make you pay for the fun and excitement of driving it since it only achieves 11mpg/city and 14mpg/highway. Today's driving thrills don't come cheap, so it is a factor that you will have to make before purchasing the vehicle. On the plus side, with a base price of just $42,500, it is much less expensive than the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S listed for $124,000, or the Supercharged Range Rover listed for $95,000 - both of which get about the same gas mileage.

Chrysler Street and Racing Technology (SRT) has demonstrated that it knows no boundaries when it created the first four-wheel-drive SRT vehicle in 2006. It is the quickest, most powerful Jeep vehicle ever, offering astonishing on-road and all-weather ability and power. With a 0-60 mph time under 5 seconds - in wet or dry conditions - it is just as fast as the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S or the Supercharged Range Rover. Powered by a 6.1 liter HEMI V8 producing 420 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 delivers a complete performance package with exceptional ride and handling, world-class braking, race-inspired interior appointments and functional-oriented exterior enhancements. Upgrades to the 2009 model include a rear-window opening button on the key fob, Performance Pages reconfigurable display with readouts including longitudinal and lateral g-force, 0-60 mph acceleration time, 1/8-mile and 1/4-mile acceleration time and speed and braking distance, a new nine-inch rear DVD pull-down viewing screen, leather added to the upper front and rear door bolsters and armrest, leather-wrapped cluster brow on the instrument panel, and a new shift knob cap with 'Jeep' name. Uniquely styled, the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8's bold exterior design makes it stand out in a crowd of lesser sport utilities. The bold front fascia not only looks good, but provides aerodynamic benefits by reducing lift and drag, while providing sufficient air flow to cool the 6.1-liter HEMI V8 engine. Quad lamps with halogen bulbs light up the road at night while powerful round fog lamps on the sides of the front bumper also come standard. The front fascia also helps increase brake system cooling through integrated air ducts.

From the side you'll notice a sweepback windshield, deep side extensions and a flat roof to help it more easily cut through the air and provide added down force. The flared fenders are stuffed with unique Alcoa forged aluminum wheels, 20X9 up front and 20X10 in the rear. These stunning wheels are wrapped with Goodyear 255/45R20 front and 285/40R20 rear Eagle RS-A run-flat performance tires for added grip and traction. The rear fascia incorporates an aggressive a unique center cutout to accommodate dual four-inch exhaust tips and a flip-out tinted rear glass hatch to make loading or unloading small cargo items easy. The roomy cabin features the SRT signature race-inspired interior. Race-inspired seats with added bolstering and a performance fabric insert to keep all occupants firmly in place during spirited driving times. A dark slate gray interior color, accent stitching on the seats and a unique SRT-designed leather-wrapped/tilting/telescoping steering wheel, bright aluminum foot pedals, full instrumentation with the signature SRT logo is trimmed with a unique blue accent, chrome-ringed shifter gate, leather-wrapped parking brake lever, a center console with dual cupholders, storage slots, storage bin, tasteful chrome accents on all of the easy-to-reach dials, switches and buttons, carbon-fiber technical finish on the leather-wrapped steering wheel, instrument panel brow, and shift knob, together with the refined aluminum finish on the center stack, shifter and door-switch bezels all give the interior a more luxurious feel and shows how well Jeep is paying attention to detail and craftsmanship. For rear-seat passenger comfort and convenience, the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 continues to offer the optional SIRIUS BackSeat TV that features three channels of respected children's TV featuring many of the most well-known kids' programming. The rear also features air ducts behind the center console to more directly channel air into the rear, a pull-down armrest with storage, pull-out dual cupholders, and grab handles with reading lamps.

SRT engineers created the first SRT vehicle with full-time four-wheel-drive by creating a new transfer case. They used the front half of a Jeep transfer case, chose for its capability and light weight, and mated it to the rear half of a heavier-duty case, chose for its ruggedness and ability to house electronic full-time, four-wheel-drive system components. Under normal driving conditions, five-to-ten percent of torque is directed to the front wheels, but as much of the 6.1 liter HEMI V8's torque that's needed can be directed forward when additional traction or stability is required. Remaining torque is sent via a heavy-duty driveshaft to a Dana 44 rear axle. Providing horsepower and torque to the unique SRT four-wheel-drive system is a specially tuned version of the 6.1 liter SRT HEMI V8 engine, which was developed by adding more displacement, increasing the compression ratio and redesigning the cylinder heads, intake and exhaust systems for better flow and increased engine speed. Power from the SRT 6.1 liter HEMI is sent through a special torque converter to an SRT-upgraded, five-speed automatic transmission with specially calibrated driver-selectable Auto Stick, which offers full automatic or manual shifting. The frame is a high-strength steel unibody construction for extra strength and torsional stiffness. The chassis setup for the vehicle employs front SLA (Short/Long Arms), SRT-tuned Bilstein coil over monotube dampers, unique sway bars and specially tailored coil spring rates and suspension bushings. Front suspension knuckles were redesigned to accommodate high-performance braking and steering systems. A 1in. tubular strut tower brace across the top of the engine enhances front rigidity and gives the truck ultra-quick response to your inputs. The rear setup features a live axle, link coil with track bar, gas-charged Bilstein shocks and a stabilizer bar that keeps the wide tire patch fully flat on the road surface and keeps body lean to a minimum. The ride height of the vehicle is one inch lower than the regular Jeep Grand Cherokee, which lowers aerodynamic drag as well as the center of gravity, and contributes to the vehicle's stability and aggressive stance.

The world-class braking system features four-piston performance brake calipers developed by Brembo, finished in red. These calipers work with 14.2-inch front and 13.8-inch rear vented rotors to quickly and safely slow the vehicle down from speed. Standard ABS and Brake Assist further enhance control and braking power. Piloting the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 is fun, exciting and easy thanks to the performance gear that is added to the power-assisted rack & pinion steering system. It gives you a better feel for the road with excellent on-center feel and very quick response to your inputs. With four-wheel traction you feel as if you are riding on rails. Standard equipment in every SRT8 Grand Cherokee includes leather-trimmed seats with eight-way power adjustable driver seat and four-way adjustable front-passenger seat, AC, cruise control, variable intermittent wipers/washers/rear washer/wiper, power windows with front express up/down, leather-wrapped steering wheel with steering wheel mounted audio controls, AM-FM stereo radio with in-dash six-CD/DVD/MP3 player, Boston Acoustics sound system with 6-speakers, auto dimming rearview mirror, power-remote/heated sideview mirrors, dual map lamps, sunglass holder, trip computer, thick-cut pile carpeting with front/rear floor mats, under-floor rear cargo storage, remote keyless entry, dashboard mounted ignition, and power-adjustable foot pedals. My Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 came fully loaded with SRT's High-Performance Audio and Navigation system that includes 11 Kicker SRT high-performance speakers, 200-watt Kicker SRT subwoofer, 276-watt Kicker SRT amp, Hard Disc Drive, ParkView rear backup camera, touch screen display monitor, SIRIUS satellite radio, front seat memory for two drivers, heated front seats, rear heated seats, AC with dual-zone control, self-dimming sideview mirrors, rain sensitive wipers, cargo cover, HID headlamps, 115-volt auxiliary power plug, rear entertainment system DVD/SIRIUS backseat TV, a power sunroof and HomeLink universal home security system transceiver.

Standard safety features include active turn signals, multi-stage front airbags, LATCH system for child seats, digressive load-limiting seat belt retractors, three-point safety belts for all seating positions, electronic roll mitigation, electronic stability program, all-wheel traction control, energy-absorbing steering wheel and column, enhanced accident response system, head restraints in all outboard seating positions, interior head support protection, knee bolsters, seatbelt pretensioners, Sentry Key engine immobilizer, side-curtain airbags with roll detection system, tire pressure monitoring with warning indicator. From the moment you turn over the engine and hear the beautiful rumble of the HEMI engine, to when you are pushed hard back into your seat, to when you turn the steering wheel and the vehicle immediately follows your commands, to the quick, short and controlled stopping ability, to the beautifully appointed sporty and comfortable interior, to the large cargo space, you know that you are driving a very exceptional sport utility vehicle. The 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 has it all for just $50,670 fully loaded, saving you tens of thousands of dollars compared to the competition from Porsche, BMW, and Land Rover. If you are looking for a sport utility that features super high performance you owe it to yourself to check out the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8.

© Words and pictures by Harvey Schwartz For more information about Jeep products, go to More photos from Harvey Schwartz can be found at SUMMARY JUDGMENT The Grand Cherokee SRT8 is a helluva performer, but it has the utility and creature comforts to match. Dana Andrews would have loved this hot rod.

SPECIFICATIONS Name: 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 Price: $42,500.00 base/$50,670.00 as tested Horsepower: 420 at 6,200 rpm Torque: 420 at 4,800 rpm EPA mileage: 11mpg/city, 14mpg/highway Drive configuration: Front engine/all-wheel-drive Transmission type: 5-speed automatic OD with AutoStick sequential shifting Front suspension: Independent, SLA, monotube gas-charged Bilstein shocks over coil springs, upper/lower control arms, stabilizer bar, tuned by SRT Rear suspension: Live axle, link coil with track bar, Bilstein gas-charged monotube shocks, stabilizer bar, tuned by SRT Wheels/tires: Front: 20X9 forged Alcoa machine aluminum wheels/255/45R20 Goodyear RSA tires Rear: 20X10 forged Alcoa machined chrome aluminum wheels/285/40R20 Goodyear RSA tires Brakes: Front: 14.2 in. vented discs/4-piston Brembo calipers Rear: 13.8 in. vented discs/4-piston Brembo calipers ABS Total length: 195.1 in. Total width: 84.3 in. Total height: 66.7 in. Curb weight: 4,819 lbs.

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