Tech Review: 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee
By Doug Newcomb of MSN Autos
With current gas prices hitting record highs and hybrids becoming more popular, now is probably not the best time to drive a 420-horsepower SUV. I must admit I felt a bit self-conscious and indulgent driving a 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 around my eco-friendly town.
And with the hearty rumble of a HEMI emanating from chrome-tipped dual exhausts, an aggressive front and rear fascia, jet-black black paint, sleek silver trim and shiny 20-inch aluminum wheels, it's not like you can fly under the radar in this vehicle.
But as guilty pleasures go, it doesn't get much more fun than this. At least not in a vehicle that can haul five people and a large Home Depot haul in the cargo hold—and can also go off-road. Plus, with a bunch of cool and useful gadgets and a sweet sound system, the 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 may be the most high-powered, high-tech, and high-clearance hot rod around.
Strength and Smarts
But the Grand Cherokee SRT8 has smarts to go along with its strength. The version I tested, with a sticker of $43,695, boasted a bunch of bells and whistles, mostly bundled with the vehicle's SRT Option Group 1 package that adds $2,095 to the price.
For that chunk of change you get quite a few comforts and gadgets. For example, the Grand Cherokee SRT8 exudes a different kind power in the interior—and not just because of the race-inspired deeply bolstered leather and suede front seats with prominent SRT8 badges. Power front seats, power-adjustable pedals and power heated foldaway mirrors—all with memory—are part of the SRT8 option package, as are heated front seats.
The package also includes remote starting, which allows you to fire up the HEMI with a press of a button on the key fob remote and crank up the heat in winter and AC in the summer before climbing in.
Also included with the SRT Option Package is ParkSense Rear Park Assist System, which is vital in a vehicle of this size. A series of LEDs above the rear-hatch window light up in succession to indicate how close you are to an object behind you and an audible tone sounds as well. But in our test vehicle, the audible warning tones never chimed in. The LEDs lit up like a Christmas tree, but were too easy to ignore.
The robust Boston Acoustics Premium Sound System is actually a stock feature and not part of the option package. It consist of six speakers—two 3.5-inch mid-tweeters in the dash, a 6 X 9 woofer in each front door and a 6.5-inch full-range speaker in each rear door—powered by 276 watts. For a rather modest system, the sound is impressive. And even without a subwoofer, the 6 X 9s in the front door did a good job of pumping out low bass. With some of my sound-quality test tracks, however, the subtleties of some the music was lost.
The system's head unit is an AM/FM 6-disc CD changer that also has SIRIUS Satellite Radio and RDS (Radio Data System). Chrysler's head units are a bit bland but easy enough to use. And I really like Chrysler's steering-wheel audio controls—toggle switches located on the backside of the steering wheel at the 3 and 9 o'clock positions that your fingers naturally rest on, making it very easy to adjust the volume and skip up and down through CD tracks or radio-station frequencies.
One thing I don't like, however, is that on most Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles you have to push the INFO button to access the artist and track-name when listening to SIRIUS. The SIRIUS signal also cuts off frequently for a few seconds for no apparent reason, which I haven't experienced in other satellite radio-equipped cars. The system will also play MP3 CDs, but the vehicle doesn't have an aux input for an iPod or MP3 player.
Like No Other
Doug Newcomb has been writing about car electronics since 1988, as editor of Car Audio and Electronics, Car Stereo Review, Mobile Entertainment, Road & Track Road Gear and as a freelance writer. His new book, Car Audio for Dummies, is available from Wiley Publications. He lives in Hood River, Oregon.