2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Brendan McAleer

Here’s how I’d like to think Chrysler builds the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. First, they pluck a mild-mannered Pentastar-V6-powered machine from their production line and plonk it down in a lead-lined chamber. Everyone leaves the room as quickly as possible.

Next, part of the chamber slides open slowly, revealing a chunk of faintly glowing, highly radioactive material, bathing the entire room in massive quantities of gamma radiation. After a great deal of this treatment, the door slides shut again, the room is sterilized, and a white-coated junior technician comes in with a clipboard.

He then proceeds to make a series of personal remarks about the Grand Cherokee’s mother until the truck gets VERY ANGRY INDEED. There is something of a fracas.

Later, they paint over its green, hulked-out surface, sweep what remains of the techie up with a very small dustpan, install a decent stereo and sell it to the public with reasonable financing rates and a five-year powertrain warranty.

Basically, if ever a car was the Incredible Hulk, this is it. Let’s go smash something.

You used to be able to buy this thing as an SRT8, indicating an eight-cylinder engine shared with the Challenger, Charger and 300C. The SRT’s still got a Hemi in it, but where the muscle cars make do with a five-speed automatic, the Grand Cherokee variant has an eight-speed transmission, as well as standard all-wheel drive.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. Click image to enlarge

That makes it, to my mind at least, not a horrible choice for a short-distance road trip. You wouldn’t want to go too far, not with 6.4L of American thunder to feed and water, but it’s a hilariously burly machine, and demands to be taken out on the open road. There’s a fairly new automobile museum down the road in Olympia, Washington, and it sounds like it has a pretty great collection. Destination set.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. Click image to enlarge

My co-pilot for this trip is my old college friend John. We’ve known each other since 1996 and, as he has three kids and I one, we see each other about once a year. We both lead busy lives – he’s one of his school district’s youngest vice principals – we’re there when the kids need us, we help out around the house, we do dishes and dig flowerbeds and assemble furniture and do late-night-feedings and coach soccer games and change diapers and do all the other tasks required of modern fathers and husbands.

We are responsible adults, and grown men – and pretty much by the time the front wheels clear the driveway, all that goes out the window in a 470-hp-propelled cloud of hydrocarbons. What a machine!

Traffic coming out of Langley is pretty bad, so the Jeep just grumbles along on a short leash like a tame but ill-tempered Kodiak, while John cues up a little Temple of the Dog. Between the V8 soundtrack, the crunch of heavily distorted guitars, and the howls of a youthful Chris Cornell, there’s an air of excitement. But we still have to get across the border.

“Afternoon, officer,” I say, with my best winning smile. The border guard takes a good look at two and a half tons of midnight-black, LED-swathed, scooped, ducted and flared malevolence sitting there on dark-chromed 20-inch alloys, and then he looks back at us. I kinda’ look like Tintin.

“Carry on,” he says with a sigh, and the HMS Cocaine sails on into the U S of A, its natural habitat. And speaking of natural habitats, to get on the highway, we have to stop at a light on the on-ramp, requiring a brief burst of acceleration to get up to 70 mph (112 km/h).

Connect with Autos.ca