2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 - Click above for high-res image gallery In many ways, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the best vehicles in Chrysler's lineup. Along with the Wrangler, it packs real off-road capabilities into an angular, no-nonsense body. It's an authentic Jeep, first and foremost, and makes no excuses for being anything another than a full-fledged SUV. Then there's the SRT8 version. This is what happens when you let the hot-rod mavens at SRT play with time-honored Jeep tradition. Over the last decade, many manufacturers have created high performance SUVs and crossovers, but this beastie is the only one available with a HEMI. The SRT8 is the twisted offspring of the unnatural pairing of a Jeep and a Dodge Viper, and Chrysler was kind enough to loan us its hottest GC for a winter trip to the ski mounds of Northern Michigan. Find out how it behaved after the jump. %Gallery-47809% Photos copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc. The Jeep SRT8 gets visual and functional enhancements inside and out, turning this off-road animal into a true street performance machine. As soon as you lay eyes on the SRT8, it's clear this is no directionless Compass. The body sits one inch closer to the ground with 20-inch forged aluminum wheels at each corner, wrapped in Goodyear Eagle RS-A tires with 255s in front and 285s at the back. Inside those massive hoops are four-pot Brembo calipers grabbing 14.1-inch front- and 13.8 rear rotors, all vented for better cooling. As one would expect of an SRT model, a deep front air dam, rocker panel extensions and rear bumper cover make the Jeep look even closer to the ground. Anyone trying to follow the SRT8 down the road will see a pair of four-inch exhaust pipes that exit from the center of the rear fascia, and those within earshot will here a wonderful bellow from that big V8. Like its SRT8 brethren built on the LX platform, the Grand Cherokee SRT8 gets a heart transplant thanks to the high-output, 6.1-liter HEMI V8. The important number with the HEMI is 420, as in 420 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. This is a classic American muscle-car engine with a throaty growl and gobs of torque anywhere in the rev-range. It's not especially sophisticated by modern standards, with a single cam-shaft sitting in the valley of an iron block. No turbos, no superchargers, not even direct injection – but that's okay. Like the small-block V8 that still serves General Motors' performance products so well, this is a highly developed engine that simply works. Compared to the regular 5.7-liter HEMI, this boasts larger displacement along with a higher compression ratio and redesigned cylinder heads with better flow in and out. The SRT8's considerable twist goes through a beefed-up torque converter to a five-speed automatic transmission and on to all four wheels. While competitors like the Infiniti FX50, Porsche Cayenne and BMW X6 get six- or seven-speed gearboxes, the reality is …
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|MPG||16 City / 21 Hwy|
|Transmission||5-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||210 @ 5200 rpm|
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