The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee Review

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

  • SEE ALSO: Jeep Specs, Pics and Prices - Jeep Buyers Guide
    By Katrina Ramser


    PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

    Do you want to go really fast in an SUV? Then the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 is your vehicle. Jeep stuck a snarling 6.1-liter V8 HEMI engine under the hood, capable of delivering 420-horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. This engine can also be found in Dodge's attractive little sports car, the Viper.

    Since its 1992 debut, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has proven itself to be an innovator and extremely popular choice where the mid-size sport utility segment is concerned. It is a polished yet comfortable SUV with top-rated off-road, and now racing, capabilities.

    The 5-speed automatic 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 I drove had a long list of standard equipment, including such highlights as leather seats, remote keyless start, SIRIUS radio, and power heated foldaway side mirrors. Optional equipment included the Navigation/Rear Back-Up Camera Group ($1,090), the SRT Option Group I ($1,995) and II ($2,075), and a power sunroof ($800). Total vehicle price came to $47,380.

    There is no mistaking the look of a Jeep with its signature seven-slot grille and dual headlamps. Over the last few years the Cherokee buffed out the exterior by developing a squared back end and a bigger color-coded front fascia or front fender. The taillights have gotten wider for 2008. The 20-inch tires are a standout.

    The interior boasts comfy leather seating and an 8-way power seat for the driver, 4-way for the front passenger, both heated and with overall dual temperature control. Additional standout accents include a leather-covered emergency brake and an aluminum finish on the instrument panel and floor pedals. The interior paneling is especially nice. All controls are within reach.

    Standouts for the SRT Option Group II are its very roomy second-row heated seating and a DVD entertainment system. The SRT Option Group standouts include: power outlets; memory on the power seat for driver; Bluetooth connectivity; rain-sensitive windshield wipers; and a rear park assist system. I especially liked the headlamp options that worked like superhero eyeballs. The SmartBeam headlamps automatically adjust high-beam brightness so as not to blind oncoming drivers, and the High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps have an auto-leveling feature to correct light alignment when carrying heavier loads. In short, the SRT Option Groups create a car that can think and react for you.

    Stylish But Comfortable Results: You can go camping or show up to a wedding in this vehicle. The SR8 and all its Group Options is definitely the nicest way to go. Some reviews found the driver's seat a little low, which can affect proper support, but I felt secure. The mirror on the back liftgate opens with a double-click of the key fob, but not the entire liftgate, meaning groceries or other items need to be lifted up high to fit in the cargo space. There are lots of hidden spots underneath the cargo floor and the cargo sides. In fact, you can turn the cargo paneling upside down to create a box, which I found worked well for transporting plants from the nursery without spilling dirt everywhere. It's not the most cargo space I've seen in this mid-size SUV class, but it's very thought-out.

    Reliability & Safety Factor:
    Reliability for this vehicle has been noted as well below average by Consumer Reports, and the Powertrain Warranty is 36 months/36,000 miles compared to the national average of 93 months/118,210 miles. On a 100-point scale, Consumer Reports gives Chrysler, the Jeep automaker, an overall score of 49, the lowest score of all car manufactures. In 2007, J.D. Power and Associates gave the Jeep brand an average of 2-stars out of 5-stars in all but one of its categories (powertrain quality earned 3-stars). Jeep states breaking from 60-0 mph in this vehicle measures to be 125 ft in distance. Consumer Reports found it took 139 ft to reach a full stop.

    Cost Issues:
    Jeep Grand Cherokees are not cheap vehicles. Base price without the optional equipment for the vehicle I drove started at $40,725. There are a lot of mid-size SUVS in the market about ten grand cheaper, but with a smaller engine. It's the HEMI you are paying for.

    Activity & Performance Ability:
    The engine's ability is downright frightening, and if you have a driving teenager begging for the Cherokee's car keys, I'd be scared for you. Jeep boasts it goes from 0-60 in less than 5 seconds; Consumer Reports clocked 0-60 in 7.6 seconds.

    The Green Concern:
    It's a sad, sad situation with the 6.1-liter V8 HEMI: 11-mpg city and 14-mpg highway driving. But it's the 3.0-liter engine with 17-mpg city and 22-mpg highway driving that is listed as gas hog #4 on the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy's 2008 Meanest Vehicles for the Environment. The most economical option for engines would be the 4.7-liter V8, which is a Fuel Flexible Vehicle and gives customers the ability to use ethanol (E85) fuel. A common rail turbo diesel engine (CRD) is also available and offers up to 30 percent improvement in fuel economy, torque, and towing capacity.

    The reason you buy this vehicle is because you (or your husband) is a die-hard Jeep fan and you (or your husband) cannot stop obsessing about the HEMI engine. If you can withstand the pocketbook and barrels of oil factors, then I suppose you can afford to have a racing heart.

    2008 Katrina Ramser