The flexibility of Jeep’s Grand Cherokee is demonstrated in no small measure by the existence of the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. For those for whom that initialism is new, the letters S-R-T represents the phrase “Street and Racing Technology”, which is the appellation applied to Chrysler’s high performance automotive division.
SRT was recently spun off into a brand unto itself, though its products are derived from each of the brands within the Chrysler fold. The most illustrious member of the SRT fold is of course the SRT Viper; there is also currently the Chrysler 300 SRT, Dodge Charger SRT, and Dodge Challenger SRT. Each of these models represents the highest performing version of the product line it represents.
The history of the SRT group goes all the way back to the 1950’s when a group of Chrysler engineers got together to extract more power from the company’s engines. They came up with a new intake manifold employing long tube intake runners and called it a Ramcharger. Upon the success of the design, they adopted its name for their group, thus becoming the “Ramchargers”.
Upon the introduction of the Viper in 1989, the group responsible for developing it called themselves Team Viper. Meanwhile another group within Chrysler was busy developing the 1993 Plymouth Prowler. In 1997, both of those groups were combined to form Chrysler’s Performance Vehicle Operations or “PVO”.
PVO’s first splash was placing the Viper’s engine in a pickup truck (from which it was derived in the first place). That model was called the Dodge Ram SRT10, which shared the auto show circuit with the Dodge Neon SRT4 and of course the Viper SRT10. In case you’ve haven’t guessed, the number at the end referred to the cylinder count of the model’s engine.
Chrysler renamed the PVO group SRT in 2004, and in 2006, the group introduced the first Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT model, the Grand Cherokee SRT8. Boasting 420 horsepower from a 6.1-liter V8, the all-wheel drive stormer used a five-speed automatic transmission and was capable of accelerating to 60 in under five seconds. With its lowered ride height, 20-inch wheels, Brembo brakes, and driver selectable ESC settings, the 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 was quite the formidable performer.
Flash forward eight years, the SRT group is now offering another iteration of the Grand Cherokee; this one even more formidable.