All talk of fuel efficiency goes out the door once the driver starts tinkering with Jeep's new Selec-Track system and selects Track mode -- that's where the real fun begins. Selec-Track transforms the Cherokee to a high-performance track machine by adjusting various parameters such as transmission shifts, the Electronic Limited Slip Differential, and the fully independent adaptive-damping suspension. The Sport setting is less aggressive than the full Track setting, while Auto mode is used for everyday driving. Selec-Track also offers two conservative settings that assist in taming the Hemi and ride control during snow or towing situations.
Adding to the healthy list of high-tech handling gadgetry is a transfer case that proportions and optimizes torque between the front and rear axles. The Jeep will ride on 20-inch forged aluminum wheels with Pirelli PZero run-flat tires. Brembo brake calipers (painted red) make an encore appearance, though the front calipers get a bump up to six pistons (previous SRT8 had four), while the rears remain at four. Not surprisingly, Jeep claims an impressive stopping distance of 116 feet from 60 to 0 mph.
Subtlety was a secret weapon of the previous Cherokee SRT8. At first glance, the 4,800-pound SUV appeared to be another average grocery-getter to unsuspecting drivers in Porsche Cayennes and BMW X5s. But a closer look revealed bigger, wider tires and dual center-mounted exhaust pipes. The new Jeep also benefits from tasteful upgrades including LED running lamps, a body-colored grille, and a liftgate spoiler. The dual exhaust pipes are no longer mounted together in the center. They have been pulled apart to the lower edge of the rear bumper, making towing more of a reality than on the first-generation model. The sculpted hood is perhaps the most dramatic styling feature on the new Grand Cherokee SRT8, which now sports functional dual black heat extractors. Barely noticeable from most outside angles, the tear-shaped extractors are impossible to miss if you're sitting in the front seat and serve as a not-so-subtle reminder of the 465 horsepower Hemi beast lurking beneath the hood.