Is it really that ridiculous to build a sport-utility vehicle that pushes the 500 horsepower mark? After all, it’s already possible to buy 200-mph plus exotics that can only be driven as their makers intended on a closed race course, but these rare birds don't seem to draw anywhere near the ire that enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts alike love to heap on trucks like the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. Sure, SUVs are heavier, and are burdened with the cornering handicap of a higher center of gravity, but Bentley and Rolls-Royce built two-ton high-speed behemoths for decades with nary a wag of the automotive community's scornful tongue.
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT might seem like an odd duck - a high performance people mover built by a company more known for fording rivers than jumping over them, Dukes of Hazzard style - but it's also an incredibly practical machine that unlike a Ferrari or a Lamborghini doesn't ask its owners to reserve a garage spot for a second ride to take to work during the week. It's also something of a bargain when compared against its competition, checking in at tens of thousands of dollars less than the Mercedes-Benz ML63 and the BMW X5 M without giving up much in terms of absolute thrills.
I had the chance to drive the Grand Cherokee SRT over 1,200 miles from Montreal, Quebec to Bar Harbor, Maine and back, spending a week Downeast to sample the versatility and power of this well-engineered machine. My time with the Jeep left me convinced that there's more method than madness to this hot-rod SUV.