At the 2011 New York Auto Show, we asked Joseph Grace, vehicle line executive for the SRT line, about the specs on the new 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 – specifically, why didn't they make it... more. The previous Grand Cherokee SRT8 was said to reach 60 miles per hour "in under five seconds" while the new one is pegged at 4.8 seconds. While that's an improvement of, at most, one-nineteenth of a second, it puts it right about square with the Mercedes ML63 AMG and at least three-tenths of a second adrift of the BMW X5 M.
But Grace said that wasn't really the point. "The major issues customers had that we wanted to address," he said, "were the ride, the exhaust, and fuel economy and range." This wasn't about making a faster SUV, it was about filling in the gaps of the previous model.
The center-mounted exhaust was swapped for dual pipes at the corners. The engine technologies - "it's the first time we've coupled all-out performance with cylinder deactivation and active exhaust," Grace said - have yielded better gas mileage and longer range.
The adaptive ride suspension developed in conjunction with Bilstein addresses the handling issues with five settings. On the matter of having a Track setting in such serious tonnage, Grace said "It was an application we had available with the adaptive damping." It shunts a little more torque to the rear wheels, going to a 60/40 front-to-rear split instead of 65/35, but Grace says "The track setting will keep the tires on the ground and makes [the ride] stiff but it can still be used on the road."