For buyers whose idea of an adventurous afternoon includes track time rather than an off-road trail, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is a high-performance SUV that can do just that. A 6.4-liter V-8 pumps out 475 horsepower while a ripsnorting exhaust note announces the SRT’s arrival and, more dramatically, its departure. While it’s based on the standard Grand Cherokee, the SRT wears more aggressive bodywork and comes standard with a sport-tuned suspension and upgraded brakes. In translation, it loses none of the Grand Cherokee’s practicality or cabin comfort, although the SRT’s ride is far less compliant over potholes. If you’re one for pure excess, Jeep offers the 707-hp Grand Cherokee Trackhawk (reviewed separately), but its even bigger price tag may be a turnoff to some buyers.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The Grand Cherokee SRT first won our hearts with its thunderous Hemi V-8 and impressive performance. Although its naturally aspirated 6.4-liter V-8 is mild compared with the Trackhawk’s 707-hp supercharged V-8, it still has 475 horses and 470 lb-ft of torque. The SRT we tested ripped to 60 mph in only 4.4 seconds—just 0.2 seconds slower than a Dodge Challenger T/A 392. While the pony car was quicker in other acceleration tests, the SRT SUV matched the coupe’s hearty exhaust note and responsive throttle for powerful pulls around town. With a maximum tow rating of 7200 pounds, the SRT can haul more than just ass. This high-powered Jeep has a sport-tuned suspension with adaptive dampers. The setup is stiffer than that of regular Grand Cherokees for improved handling. However, the SRT was comfortable and quiet driving over smoother surfaces. It has standard 20-inch wheels, and our test vehicle wore the optional Pirelli P Zero summer tires versus the standard all-season rubber. While the GC SRT specializes in straight-line speed, it goes around corners surprisingly well given its heft. Its powerful Brembo brakes also helped it stop from 70 mph in 168 feet, which equaled the Trackhawk and was better than rivals such as the Mercedes-AMG GLE43.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Those who care even a little bit about fuel economy should avoid the Grand Cherokee SRT. This gas guzzler has low EPA estimates and some of the worst real-world results among its competitors. Unsurprisingly, the SRT does have better EPA estimates than the 707-hp Trackhawk—but barely. No matter how you slice it, the SRT is one of the least efficient vehicles in this segment. It missed its 19-mpg highway estimate by 1 mpg during our real-world testing, and similar rivals were between 3 and 5 mpg better.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The Grand Cherokee SRT’s interior is dressed up with carbon-fiber trim and stitched together with leather surfaces and faux-suede accents. The cabin has ample passenger room and fancy standard features, but its build quality compares with cheaper Jeep models rather than upscale six-figure competitors. We also wish massaging seats and more personalization options were available on this expensive Grand Cherokee. Underneath its pumped-up appearance, this powerful Grand Cherokee has the same amount of cargo space and number of interior cubbies as its pedestrian counterpart. This means it should hold 11 carry-on bags behind the back seat, and up to 24 with the back seat folded. While it had impressive storage space under its cargo floor, the cabin’s cubbies were otherwise disappointing.