Jeep’s SRT Night is big and tough
There is no such thing as a shy and retiring owner of a Jeep Grand Cherokee. It’s a big 4WD with tough styling that’s backed up by strong off-road ability.
However, not everyone wants to go off the beaten track in their Grand Cherokee, preferring to cruise on the black stuff and impress other Jeep owners. Which brings us to the subject of this week’s road test machine — a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Night.
It’s a factory-produced special from Sport and Racing Technology the high-performance division of Chrysler Jeep. Based on the standard SRT, the Night is priced at $97,000 plus on-road costs.
A major advantage of getting factory-fitted parts is you’re getting quality extras that are covered by warranty. Some after-market components may not be built to Jeep standards, and are unlikely to have as long a warranty.
Really lifting the look of the already-tough standard Grand Cherokee, the SRT Night edition has black 20-inch 10-spoke wheels, blacked out areas of the front grille, black leather interior trim and other dark touches. The red Brembo brakes are really highlighted by the black wheels.
Black Laguna leather interior upholstery has silver accent stitching. Black chromed and anodised silver bezels add to the effect.
A large, darkened, two-pane sunroof lets the sunshine in. The moonlight as well, our road test week coincided with a bright full moon and the effect was excellent.
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT uses the company’s Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen radio with DAB+, Aux, Bluetooth and USB connections. A powerful Harman Kardon 825-watt, 19-speaker premium audio system is part of the infotainment package.
However, we found ourselves listening far more often to the supersize V8 engine rather than the audio system.
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Night is powered by the company’s big 6.4-litre V8, producing 344kW and 624Nm. Drive is, naturally, to all four wheels.
Cherokee SRT Night has a revised instrument cluster, with the tacho in the centre, and the speedo to the left side of the cluster.
The speedometer is rather small and hard to read. Fortunately, it’s backed up by a digital readout low down in the tacho segment.
All Jeep Grand Cherokee models have a five-star safety rating from ANCAP. Secondary safety features includes seven airbags (multistage driver and front passenger), front seat side airbags, curtain airbags, and a driver’s knee airbag.
Primary safety, the ability to stay out of trouble in any correctly driven performance vehicle is there.
Jeep SRT Performance Pages has a large array of timers and gauge readouts. The Custom setting lets you adjust the drive experience to suit.
Multiple drive modes let you control the all-wheel-drive system, transmission, paddle shifters, stability control, suspension and steering. They are configured for Auto, Sport, Track, Snow and Tow settings.
A few months back Jeep Australia took us to Western Sydney Motorsport Park at Eastern Creek and let us loose on the dragstrip.
We registered a best time of 13.2 seconds for the quarter mile, getting to 100km/h just 4.6 seconds after the green lights flashed.
Sticky tarmac at the start line gave our SRT Night added traction in the critical first few moments.
Normal road acceleration is likely to be slightly slower.
In normal driving, engine acceleration is immediate, showing the advantage of having a big-cube naturally aspirated V8 instead of a tiny turbo engine that has to adjust the turbocharger revs and the transmission electronically before giving its best. Turbo lag — we hate it.
Then there’s the sound of a big high-performance Jeep V8 engine.
It roars when you really get stuck into it.
Jeep’s eight-speed automatic transmission gets the message quickly and adds to the driving excitement by rapidly slamming down through the gears.
Away from the drag strip and on to normal roads we found the big Jeep surprisingly comfortable in its ride, though some irregularities in surfaces can make it a bit jiggly at times.
Handling is very good for a heavy, high-riding 4WD but it’s certainly not a sports machine in the twisty stuff.
Big and bold, there’s nothing quite like US muscle cars — or 4WDs. Take this ultra-hot Jeep SRT Night as a classic example.
The SRT Night edition has black 20-inch 10-spoke wheels.
The Grand Cherokee has black leather interior trim and other dark touches.