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Think about this. The 420-horsepower 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 produces almost as much power as a Porsche Cayenne Turbo for virtually half the cost. Plus, Jeep claims that the SRT-8 can accelerate to 60 mph faster than the top Cayenne, at less than five seconds. In fact, for this hot-rodded Jeep’s base price, you can’t even touch a base 247-horsepower Cayenne V6 with a manual transmission. And the Jeep is clearly the more attractive vehicle. So what, exactly, would you pay a premium for with the Porsche?
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Imagine the look on the face of a Porsche owner that just laid down almost $90K for a new Cayenne Turbo when he gets smoked by a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8. That vision can be a reality thanks to the 420-horsepower, 6.1-liter Hemi V8 residing under the hood of the 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8. Thanks to its 420 lb.-ft. of torque, the Grand Cherokee SRT-8 hits 60 mph in under five seconds.
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Adding the kind of horsepower that Jeep has dropped into the Grand Cherokee SRT-8 requires a set of meatier brakes to bring all of those stampeding horses to a halt. The 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 employs four-piston Brembo brake calipers coated in gloss black paint. Since the front rotors are responsible for most of the braking, the Grand Cherokee SRT-8 gets 14.1 x 1.25-inch ventilated discs up front. Jeep says that the Grand Cherokee SRT-8 can stop from 60 mph in less than 125 feet.
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Creating the 6.1-liter Hemi found in the 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 required a bit of engineering work. To create additional displacement and horsepower, the cylinders were bored out by 3.5mm, compression was raised from 9.6:1 to 10.3:1, and engine breathing was improved through the use of high-flow heads and intake, fresh air induction, and performance-oriented camshaft profiles. Exhaust headers with individual tubes encased in stainless steel route spent gases through four-inch chrome exhaust tips. The Hemi engine is also strengthened with a forged steel crankshaft, high-strength powdered-metal connecting rods, floating pin pistons, and an oil pan designed to improve flow at high engine speeds.
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Power from the 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8’s 6.1-liter Hemi is sent through a specially developed torque converter to an upgraded five-speed automatic transmission. No manual for you old hot rodders, sorry!
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Ride and Handling
The 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 is equipped with SRT-tuned dampers and spring rates, thicker sway bars, and unique suspension bushings. Ride height is one-inch lower than the standard Grand Cherokee, improving aerodynamics and lowering the center of gravity for better handling. The 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 is also equipped with stability control and all-wheel drive. Twenty-inch wheels wrapped with high-performance Goodyear W-rated all-season run-flat tires round out the package. All of these components allow for exceptional handling without creating the harsh ride expected from a vehicle set up for performance
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Don’t worry. If you opt for the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8, and want to ensure everyone will know you are packing serious power under the hood, exterior enhancements will set you apart from the typical Grand Cherokee owner. A new front fascia improves engine cooling and includes ducting that feeds cool air to the Brembo brakes. The rear fascia is also new and comes equipped with a center cutout for the dual four-inch chrome exhaust tips. Additionally, sill extensions add improved downforce, the ride height is lowered one inch from stock, and the 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 rolls on 20-inch alloy wheels with performance tires. Three distinct colors are available: Bright Silver, Brilliant Black and Inferno Red.
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As with other Hemi models under the Chrysler banner, the 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 gets power adjustable, deeply sculpted performance seats covered with Slate colored leather and suede inserts to keep occupants from sliding around under heavy G-forces. Fake carbon fiber trim is added to the leather-wrapped steering wheel, instrument panel brow, and shift knob in addition to aluminum finishes on the center console, shifter and door switch bezels. Instrumentation includes a 180-mph speedometer, tachometer and temperature gauges all trimmed in blue accents and located within a carbon fiber-trimmed binnacle.
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Whether being driven on the road or track, the 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 shines in comparison to other vehicles in its class. We found this Jeep to offer a surprisingly good ride quality as well as impressive handling characteristics. Though it’s more at home on the street than the track, the SRT-8 held its own navigating the high-speed turns at Willow Springs International Raceway. On the twisting roads in the mountains near Los Angeles, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 was able to handle anything that might come its way, and with AWD and stability control, wet spots on the road were of little concern. Panic stops happen right now thanks to the beefy Brembo brakes.
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Here’s what you get for $39,995, including a $675 destination charge: 420 horsepower, 420 lb.-ft. of torque, Brembo brakes, 20-inch alloy wheels, and streetwise styling. Not bad for the performance king of SUVs. The 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 arrives in showrooms in January of 2006.
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You would think that when you buy a top-of-the-line vehicle like the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8, everything would be included. Not so with this Jeep, but that’s because the value is in the hardware. Want a sunroof to let in some fresh air from above? That’ll cost ya. Need rain sensing wipers? Ka-ching! How about heated front seats? You’re catching on. Other options include a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, a navigation system, Sirius satellite radio, and Bluetooth wireless communications technology.
Photos courtesy of DaimlerChrysler
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