Friends and roamin’ countrymen, lend me your ears! The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk is on the way. It might not be in dealer order books quite yet, but it’s been spotted all over the place. As a business proposition, you can’t beat it; the first Grand Cherokee SRT-8 was a very satisfying automobile, and the current one is even better. Sure, every SRT Grand Cherokee ever built is a kind of ironic statement on the idiocy of the modern consumer, who is willing to pay extra money to get less room and worse handling as long as he can sit six inches higher than his neighbor, but adding the Hellcat engine to it makes it perfectly ironic. It’s the combination of added-then-removed off-road capability and an engine that is simply too powerful to use fully unless you are willing to go full-sociopath on your fellow motorists. Nothing could be more American, nothing could be more THE_CURRENT_YEAR. I accept the existence of the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk and urge you to do the same.
But as long as we’re expanding the availability of what is probably the Greatest American V8 in History, shouldn’t we also take a moment to give it a home that is both appropriate and respectful of Chrysler tradition? That’s right: I’m talkin’ ’bout a 300C Hellcat.
This isn’t the first SRT product to wear the Digestible Collectible title, but it is certainly the oddest. Ever since our news editor Aaron Cole sent this to me earlier this week, I’ve been looking over the ad in bewilderment.
Perhaps that’s the point. I can’t see any other reason why one would take a limited-production, low-slung, high-powered, long-wheelbase pony car and lift it a couple inches other than to make people point and stare. It certainly isn’t going to be of any use off-road beyond well-groomed trails.
To top things off, this 2014 Dodge Challenger SRT8 has been fitted with an Edelbrock supercharger, making this a proto-Hellcat.
A proto-Hellcat with light truck off-road tires.
As I continue the search for the family hauler that is less emasculating than the minivan I currently drive, my eye wanders to hot wagons. Like the Subaru I featured a few weeks ago, a quick wagon looks a bit more “menacing” on the road than a bloated van. It’s likely much more rewarding to drive to boot.
Besides a better drive, other senses can be engaged; for many enthusiasts, a great engine note can trigger primal urges. The sound of a proper #Murican V8 tops the list for many. Personally, I can’t help but turn my head anytime an uncorked HEMI, Coyote, or LS drives by.
That leads us to today’s subject: the 2006 Dodge Magnum SRT8.
If you want a high performance SUV today, you’re left with relatively little choice. GM hasn’t dabbled in the market since their Trailblazer SS / Saab 9-7 Aero and Ford never even gave it a try with the old Explorer. That means your only options for ridiculously fast boxes on wheels come from BMW, Porsche, Mercedes… and Jeep. Is it possible that the “bat-shit-crazy” Chrysler that I remember and love is back?
There’s a “problem” with the modern performance variant: they are too easy to review. You see, dropping a high-horsepower V8 into anything makes it good. Take the last generation Chrysler 300 SRT8. It’s interior was made from plastics rejected by Lego and Rubbermaid and you’d be hard pressed to tell it apart from the $9.99 rent-a-car special. The big difference with the SRT versions was that Chrysler stuffed a 425HP 6.1L V8 under the hood and a set of pipes that made the 300 sound like sex. The uncomfortable seats, crappy dash plastics and 1990s stereo were distant memories. If Chrysler had managed to fit the same V8 into the Sebring, it would have been the best convertible ever. This time is different. Before the 2013 300 SRT8 arrived, I decided I would not be seduced by Chrysler’s larger, meaner, sexier, more powerful 6.4L engine and review it like any other car. Can that be done?
Last time we had a Challenger SRT8 to review, well, we didn’t review it so much as we burnt the rubber off the rear wheels. Sorry Dodge, we couldn’t help it. After a few Facebook requests, we put Dodge’s 470HP retro coupé back on our wish list and someone at Chrysler decided to trust me with their retro cruiser. If you couldn’t afford that Challenger in the poster on your wall when you were in college, click through the jump to find out what Dodge’s 470HP two-door is like to live with for a week before you throw down 45-large on this retro bruiser.
When you’re a 24 Hours of LeMons judge, it’s expected that you’ll roll up to the track in a righteous Judgemobile. Perhaps it’s a fenderless, three-wheeled Amazon, or maybe it’s a woodie Roadmaster… Sometimes, though, you need to call up a car manufacturer’s PR flack and get something new and shiny, then
stand by helplessly as it gets T-boned by some LeMons racer’s runaway Winnebago see how the budget-challenged racer crowd responds to its presence. The ’11 Cadillac Escalade Platinum Hybrid Judgemobile was sort of terrible (though it did have great presence) so this time I decided I’d spend the race weekend with a manly, tire-smokin’ V8-powered vehicle that ought to make heartland American car freaks— for example, the sort we get at the Showroom-Schlock Shootout LeMons in Illinois— start chanting teary-eyed Pledges of Allegiance to a fiery sky full of imaginary F-111s. That would be the Challenger SRT8, of course, in Vanishing Point white. (Read More…)
Behold the mighty off-road prowess of the Grand Cherokee SRT-8! Yes, my ratty-looking lawn is about as far off-road as most JGCs ever go. The 2011 Grand Cherokee even offers a couple of optimized drivetrain-and-suspension setups for those people who, as the nice Jeep PR man said during the introduction, “only go off-road… in their minds.”
The autojourno business is an odd one. Your not-so-humble author was one of the first people to have the chance to drive the 2011 JGC anywhere, and also very possibly the last journo on the planet to obtain a 2010 Grand Cherokee as a press vehicle. I’d like to think that, at the moment I achieved 88 miles per hour in the 2011 truck, I went back in time and successfully snagged a 2010 as a loaner.
There’s no SRT-8 in the 2011 lineup, although I strongly suspect there will be one debuting later on in the year, so if you want the combination of big-cube HEMI and Brembo brakes in your SUV, this is your only choice for now. The question is: with the demonstrated excellence of the new model, is there any reason at all to choose a 2010?