September 9, 2011 , New York, NY – Fashionistas, tastemakers, shoppers and car enthusiasts crowded the Gucci store on Fifth Avenue to witness the U.S. debut of the 2012 Fiat 500 by Gucci. The limited-edition model represents the perfect combination of craftsmanship and style and brings together two of Italy’s most respected brands. In the year that sees the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy and Gucci’s 90th anniversary, these special editions of the iconic Fiat 500 and 500 Cabrio were customized by Gucci Creative Director Frida Giannini in partnership with FIAT’s Centro Stile.
“In the ‘50s, the Fiat 500 created a style revolution when it first hit the road. It quickly became the must-have car of its time. Travelling in style has also been at the heart of Gucci ever since Guccio Gucci founded his company as a producer of leather trunks, suitcases and handbags in 1921. So, when Lapo Elkann suggested the idea of this collaboration, it struck me as a perfect opportunity to create a new, modern travel statement in Gucci’s 90th anniversary year,” said Frida Giannini.
“With Gucci as our design partner, we’ve amplified the Italian style of our Fiat 500 with unique exterior and interior looks that will make the car truly unique on the road,” said Laura Soave, Head of FIAT Brand North America. “This special edition adds dimension to the Fiat 500 portfolio and will appeal to North American customers who appreciate Italian style just as much as modern technology, value and fuel efficiency.”
Inspired by neo-classical black-and-white films, the new Black and White Fiat 500 and 500c by Gucci models are finished in unique eye-catching pearl-gloss paint. The Black model, with detailing in polished chrome paired with an interior that contrasts sharp black against white, presents a contemporary and racy attitude. The White model, with satin chrome detailing and an ivory and black interior palette, offers a softer, sophisticated look.
The 2012 Fiat 500 by Gucci models will be available exclusively at FIAT Studios nationwide as of December 2011. For more information, visit www.fiatusa.com/gucci.
Completing the customization is the exclusive “500 by Gucci” collection, including travel and fashion accessories, apparel and small leather goods, available in select Gucci stores and online at www.gucci.com.
About the FIAT Brand
The FIAT brand stands for discovery through passionate self-expression. It encourages people to be in charge of their lives, live confidently and celebrate the smallest of things with infectious excitement. That philosophy is embodied by the North American introduction of the iconic Fiat 500 or Cinquecento – a small car that lives big. Italian at heart and rooted in a rich heritage, the 500 is synonymous with modern simple design blending form, function and a pride of ownership that is genuine.
Reminiscent of the original Cinquecento, the 2012 Fiat 500 and Fiat 500c (Cabrio) build on the vehicle’s global popularity. Since its initial launch in 2007, more than 500,000 Fiat 500 vehicles have been sold in more than 80 countries around the world. The model’s unquestionable popularity is the result of the Fiat 500’s great ability to deliver unmatched personalization options with advanced solutions in terms of quality, engine and passenger comfort. In addition to success on the sales front, the Fiat 500 has earned more than 60 international awards, including being named the 2008 European Car of the Year, 2009 World Car Design of the Year and Best New Engine of 2010 (FIAT MultiAir® Turbo).
That’s how we locals know it. But if you want to research it, you need to look up the National Muscle Car Association. (NMCA) They bring their drag racing challenges around the country offering big money prizes.
At this year’s show, in Milan, Michigan, the “Modern Muscle Shootout” was in full force, along with vintage Mopar drag cars and a few “run what ya brung” backyard racers. Big name teams like Tasca Ford and Roush technologies were also on hand.
The Milan event is well organized with all day competition on the drag strip, a local car show with a DJ spinning tunes. A vendors midway gave attendees the opportunity to shop for performance goodies, or learn about new technology.
Among the vendors showcasing Modern Mopar was the Petty Legacy Garage and their Dodge Challenger. Modern Muscle X performance parts showed off their Challenger, Mustang and Camaro, that are used in their magazine ads.
Modern Muscle X is the sponsor of the Modern Muscle shootout. Owners of the current generation pony car (Mustang, Camaro and Challenger) are invited to compete for as much as $10,000 in prize money. At Milan, the threat of rain dampened the enthusiasm of many potential competitors, and in the end, only 9 racers were out on the track for a shot at the big purse.
I caught up with 2 new Challenger owners competing in the stock shoot out. Dan White, from Roseville Michigan was on hand with his Inferno Red 2011 392 SRT8. His Challenger is decked out with metallic silver racing stripes from front to rear and makes a distinctly fast look going down the strip. He mentioned the ease of shifting the ’slap stick’ option. He also told me, his softer race tires were really getting grip on the hot, sun soaked pavement.
Shawn Hibbs from Ontario, Canada, crossed the boarder in his nearly race ready 2009 B5 Blue SRT 8. He was listed as the fastest stock Mopar of the day, and told me his only modification was softer compound racing Mickey Thompsons on winter rims. Shawn’s time in the 1/4 mile was 13.3 seconds at 105.22 MPH! Finishing third in the shootout and winning One Thousand Dollars prize money. Entrants for the shoot out applied via the Modern Muscle website with photos and videos of their modern muscle (Camaro, Mustang or Challenger).
The show and racing was largely dominated by cookie cutter looking Cobra Jet Mustangs. The real treat though, was wandering among the “pit areas” and enjoying the view of the sculpted 1960’s vintage Dodge and Plymouth race cars. I did not see any Challenger, Barracudas or Roadrunners of the 1970’s, outside of the car show, competing in the racing. I saw that as tribute to the durability and legacy of the Mopar hey day of drag racing machines.
Whenever you create something new, no matter how great the idea (and we think we have a gem here), getting started and creating a following can be a challenge. We have been blessed with a wonderful grassroots team and some equally enthusiastic companies to help get this big ball rolling.
We want to take a moment and say a special Thank You to some companies who have supported us with either their advertising dollars, marketing partnership or product for review and write-up. In alphabetical order we appreciate the following:
Challenger Club of America
Mopar (Chrysler Group LLC)
If you are interested in joining our fine advertisers, please review our advertising packages here, or contact us via email@example.com or 855-MOPR-MAG.
Today Dodge and Mopar announced six all-new quality-tested and factory-installed police-equipment packages for the high-performance 2012 Dodge Charger Pursuit. Vehicles are ready-for-duty right from the manufacturer.
“Mopar is adding even more value to our all-new 2012 Dodge Charger Pursuit,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “We are adding proven, quality-tested tactical equipment to this pursuit vehicle and creating a one-stop shop for police customers. With six quick-order packages, police departments have the ability to customize their vehicles to exact specifications.”
To enhance Dodge Charger Pursuit’s world-class levels of technology, safety, handling and efficient power, Mopar teamed up with industry-equipment leader Crown North America to develop six police packages that are designed to provide law-enforcement officers with the best combination of tactical equipment and performance. These police-equipment packages feature emergency lighting, audible warning, communications and safety equipment. Industry-leading suppliers involved in the development include Whelen Engineering, Setina Manufacturing and Havis, Inc.
“With rear-wheel-drive, best-in-class V-8 power, seven air bags and up to 27 miles per gallon during highway cruising, the Dodge Charger Pursuit is an excellent police car on its own merits,” said Reid Bigland, President and CEO – Dodge Brand. “Our partnership with Mopar to produce these six police packages takes the car to the next level by allowing our customers to customize their cruisers to meet their specific needs.”
Mopar conducted extensive testing to ensure that its police upfit equipment met and exceeded the heavy-duty durability-cycle tests requirements of the new 2012 Dodge Charger Pursuit.
“Our new packages simplify the police-vehicle order and upfit process,” said Peter Grady, Chrysler Group LLC’s Vice President of Network Development and Fleet. “With Mopar police equipment, we can deliver quality turn-key police vehicles in a predictable order-to-delivery time.”
The base police prep package for the 2012 Dodge Charger Pursuit includes the following:
Emergency Equipment Electrical System Wire Harness: Capable of providing the appropriate power, ground, and fusing for a variety LED, lighting, siren, computer, modem, radar or camera systems. The wire harness integrates with both the Vehicle Systems Interference Module (VSIM) 24-way connector and the 12-pin connector that Chrysler Group provides at the console.
Power Distribution Center (PDC): Contains the fusing and relays for circuits contained in the wire harness. The PDC is supplied from the battery with two 100-amp main fuses. These fuses are separated in order to accommodate departments that wish to control some circuits with a timing device. For installers who want to use timer systems in order to prevent power drains on the battery, the PDC will accept the device’s output and channel it to the usual elements controlled by timers, including camera, computer, modem and printer systems.
Slide-out Trunk Tray: Provides a stable, easily accessible platform from which the installer can position and install electrical equipment. The trunk tray provides a 37.5-inch by 19-inch mounting surface for electrical and communications gear. Locking slides provide the movement, allowing a technician easier access to equipment mounted to the tray. An industry-first integral ground buss bar helps eliminate poor grounding, the most common equipment issue. The tray is adjustable and allows for a variety of equipment heights and needs.
Trunk Air-circulation Fan: Stabilizes trunk temperature in a relatively short period of time, helping all trunk-mounted electronic equipment to function properly by circulating heated or cooled air from the driver’s compartment into the trunk area.
Siren Speaker: Provides a 100-watt siren driver that is certified to meet SAE Class A and California Title XIII requirements when matched with an appropriate siren amplifier. Given that the system is mounted behind the grille, the look of the vehicle remains clean, while the siren location does not impact engine cooling.
The 2012 Dodge Charger Pursuit’s available police-equipment packages include six quick-order package options:
Base Prep Police Package (AYE): includes front and rear wire harness, power distribution center, siren speaker with bracket, trunk tray and trunk cooling fan
Patrol Package 1 (AYF): includes police floor console, front-corner LED lamps, rear-corner LED lamps, front and rear wire harness, power-distribution center, siren speaker with bracket, trunk tray and trunk cooling fan
Patrol Package 2 (AYH): includes police floor console, push bumper, front and rear wire harness, power-distribution center, siren speaker and bracket, trunk tray and trunk cooling fan
Patrol Package 3 (AYM): includes push bumper, police floor console, front corner LED lamps, rear corner LED lamps, front and rear wire harness, power distribution center, siren speaker with bracket, trunk tray and trunk accessory cooling fan
Slick Top Police Package 1 (AYN): includes police floor console, front and rear wire harness, power-distribution center, siren speaker with bracket, trunk tray and trunk cooling fan
Slick Top Police Package 2 (AYP): includes front-corner LED lamps, rear-corner LED lamps, front and rear wire harness, power distribution center, siren speaker with bracket, trunk tray and trunk cooling fan
The new 2012 Dodge Charger Pursuit equipped with Mopar’s police equipment packages is now available for ordering through Chrysler Group LLC’s fleet operations. The 2012 Dodge Charger Pursuit is manufactured at Chrysler Group’s Brampton Assembly Plant in Brampton, Ontario. Police equipment installation is completed at the Crown North American upfit center in St. Thomas, Ontario. For more information, visit www.fleet.chrysler.com.
In addition to the six packages, 24 Mopar parts may be ordered separately:
Siren Speaker and Bracket
Front Corner LED Lights
Rear Corner LED Lights
Overhead Light Bar- Full Feature
Overhead Light Bar – Limited Feature
Rear Deck Lights, Full Width
Rear Deck Lights
Police Floor Console
Can-Com Siren System
All-weather Floor Mats
Trunk Cooling Fan
Spare-Tire Relocation Bracket
Front Wire Harness
Rear Wire Harness
Power Distribution Center
Front Splash Guards
Rear Splash Guards
7-Way Trailer-Tow Harness with 4-pin Adapter
About the 2012 Dodge Charger Pursuit
America’s high-performance police vehicle — the 2012 Dodge Charger Pursuit —provides law-enforcement with the best combination of tactical technology, safety, power, efficiency and an iconic design.
The Dodge Charger features two uncompromised, high-performance engines that deliver world-class levels of power, refinement, technology and fuel efficiency.
Engineered to perform, the aluminum 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine delivers 292 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, offers E-85 flex-fuel capability and up to 27 highway mpg. For best-in-class power, the Charger Pursuit’s legendary 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine with Fuel Saver Technology delivers 370 horsepower, 390 lb.-ft. of torque and up to 25 highway mpg.
With superior ride and handling, the Dodge Charger Pursuit features Chrysler Group’s second-generation large car rear-wheel-drive architecture with performance-tuned suspension, load-leveling Nivomat shocks, heavy-duty anti-lock vented-disc brakes (ABS), front- and rear-stabilizer bars, 18-inch performance tires on steel wheels and two-mode police-specific Electronic Stability Control (ESC).
Developed with the guidance of the brand’s Police Advisory Board, the Dodge Charger Pursuit features a mobile-command interior with unique features, including a Vehicle Systems Interface Module for easy equipment integration, heavy-duty police-duty front seats and column-mounted shifter with Auto Stick.
In addition to its Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) “Top Safety Pick,” the Dodge Charger Pursuit surrounds the heroic men and women who protect with uncompromising safety and security equipment, including standard advanced multi-stage driver and front-passenger air bags, seat-mounted side-thorax air bags, supplemental side-curtain air bags for front and rear outboard passengers and driver’s knee bag.
Defending three-time RallyAmerica Central Region Group 2 Champion Chris Greenhouse is going to New York later this month to compete at Black River Stages. The event, sanctioned by NASA RallySport, will be held in Harrisville, NY on September 23-24. Joining Chris in the codriver seat will be veteran codriver Brian Johnson.
“This will be a good opportunity for Brian and I to get ‘synced’ again. We haven’t competed together since Rally in the 100 Acre Wood in February, and this will be a good event to help us ‘shakedown’ before the important Regional Rally Cup event at Lake Superior Performance Rally in October. Although Brian has competed here before, this is my first time at Black River, so I know that I need to get up to speed quickly on these stages to make up for my lack of experience at this event. Brian’s experience here will be a big help.”
Chris is coming off an incredibly successful event at Susquehannock Trail in June. He scored a triple victory by winning Group 2 in both Regional Rallies, and also winning the 2WD National event. “At STPR, we were all but written off at the end of Day 1 after a very costly puncture on SS3, but we stayed in the fight and didn’t give up.”
“Our plan is to go flat out at Black River Stages. I am going for the [Open 2WD Light] Class win, period. I don’t expect anyone to just let me walk off with a 1st place trophy, though. There are some good teams out there that can give us some trouble, and there are a few teams that we haven’t competed against, so there are a lot of unknowns, too. But we are going to push the EBC Brakes Plymouth Neon as hard as we usually do, and I want the win.”
Chris, Brian and the Weasel RallySport Team, would like to thank EBC Brakes, Angry Sheep Motorsports, Silco Fire Protection, and EZAutoaccessories.com for their continued support.
Try to expand your vision of the future for just a bit. Imagine a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by warfare where buildings lie in ruin and vegetation has begun to spread wildly.
Streets and highways are riddled with abandoned vehicles vacated by their passengers in an escape from sheer terror. Something very bad happened here.
You ignored the evacuation warnings and sought refuge deep within the bowels of your home. You would have fled with your neighbors, but they were stricken with a virus that turned them into zombies. They’re out there now. Waiting to eat you alive. And due to depleted resources, the time has come for you to make your escape.
It won’t be easy. You know you can’t outrun them for long on foot, so you’d better get to some wheels quickly.
But not just any vehicle will do the job. You need something special. It has to be of considerable size to accommodate yourself and other survivors. You’ll require space for weapons and food; the ability to tow something; and enough traction to pull you through the decaying landscape that you’re certain to face once mobile.
Not to mention, this thing better haul major ass! And it must be able to meander through tight turns all while stopping on a dime.
This is a tough resume for any vehicle to fill. But, hey, this is a tough world.
Then it dawns on you; there’s that local Jeep dealership a half mile up the road that might still have what you need. It’s a risky proposition, but you’re out of options.
Armed with nothing more than the shoes on your feet and an ironclad will to live, you kick open the front door of your house and make a run for it. Sprinting like Carl Lewis, you miraculously avoid the people-eaters and arrive at the Jeep store in record time.
Once inside, you locate their key closet and blast through the door with the force of an NFL linebacker. Your sense of urgency has paid off.
And almost as if divine intervention has taken hold of the moment, a pair of keys, labeled “SRT”, conveniently dangle from the wall.
You were a car guy before Armageddon, and you still are now, damn it! Seeing those three letters provides for the first real sense of hope since all Hell broke loose in the world.
With two clicks of the remote start button, you hear the mighty 6.4L HEMI V8 come to life in the showroom. A Grand Cherokee SRT8 awaits your arrival; full of fuel and ready for battle.
You jump in the driver seat, grip the steering wheel with white knuckles, and mash the accelerator to hear the beast roar. A smile gleams across your face as pure V8 bliss washes away the dread of this new world. Things are going to be alright.
Crashing through the glass doors of the dealership, you blast off into the abyss of destruction on a mission to save those that remain. And at the helm of this Jeep, you’ll stand a fighting chance.
Back to Reality
In my eyes, the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 is indeed the perfect vehicle for a post-apocalyptic world. But thankfully, for our test purposes, we were able to avoid the zombies and societal carnage.
I spent a full week with it, having logged nearly 600 miles behind the wheel. I drove it everywhere I went and the experience was beyond gratifying. You’d be a fool to feel otherwise.
This thing is all about excess. Everything in and around it screams over the top. I mean, just think about it – a two-and-a-half-ton-plus SUV with 470 horsepower and 465 lb/ft of torque! Massive high performance Brembo brakes sitting behind even more massive 20 inch wheels and tires. There’s an astonishing amount of body work at all ends that makes onlookers stare in amazement. The interior is lavishly outfitted with top notch materials and an incredible attention to detail. And a stereo lurks inside that will surely leave your ear drums with something to remember. I just don’t know where to end, or to begin for that matter.
She’s Got The Look
The exterior of the Grand Cherokee SRT8 is nothing short of stunning. Derived from the mainstream bloodlines of the Laredo, Limited, and Overland models, this version takes it to an entirely new level.
The SRT8 appears positively militant, sitting an inch lower than its lesser models, complemented by a full onslaught of changes to the body and shoes. If this was the apocalypse, anything evil would be deathly afraid to even approach this truck.
The already-brawny wheel arches are further accented by new body-color moldings that give all four corners an even bulkier look. Undoubtedly a necessary change to create balance with the monstrous 20 inch wheels and tires.
The wheels have been a lightning rod for criticism amongst SRT fans, but if you ask me, they look incredible. They’re far more intricate than the traditional 5-spokes of old thanks to machined voids of space in all 10 legs of the wheel. These babies must be expensive to make (and replace, God forbid).
Out back, the signature center-mounted exhaust pipes from the last generation have been moved out to their conventional corners to accommodate owners who want to tow. Buyers with active lifestyles (road racers, jet skiers, dirt bikers, etc.) will love to know that they can pull a full 5,000 lbs. behind this Jeep. Towing was largely impractical in the last gen.
Other notable changes to the body include a liftgate-mounted spoiler (pictured above) that reduces drag and improves downforce, as well as side sill cladding.
But there’s zero doubt that designers spent most of their efforts up front at the business end of the vehicle. Sure, the signature 7-slot Jeep grille remains, but that’s about it.
The surrounding front fascia has been fitted with functional brake ducts to cool the gigantic 15 inch rotors up front (the largest brakes in SRT’s entire fleet). Up above the ducts lie individual LED strips that are, on one hand, elegant, and on the other hand, intimidating. Be it in broad day light or in the pitch black of night, the LEDs provide for one hell of a presence creeping up behind you in traffic. People will know when you’re there.
If the LEDs aren’t imposing enough, the sinister hood should do the trick.
Sculptors carved two massive scoops out of the aluminum hood that would surely make any box of Raisin Bran cereal become insanely jealous (Get it? Two Scoops – HAHA!). SRT says the scoops are functional heat extractors. I look at them more as soul catchers of the drivers you’ll end up passing. It’s the baddest looking hood on any vehicle since the last-generation Viper.
Collectively, this Grand Cherokee makes peoples’ heads turn on a swivel. You can’t help but be mesmerized by it at all angles. SUVs should not look like this, but thankfully this one does.
While I was driving on Interstate-696, a police car transporting a prisoner passed me on the right hand side to take a closer look. At first, both cops in the front set their eyes on the Jeep. Then, as they continued to pass, the prisoner handcuffed in the back contorted his body to get a look as well. He seemed more concerned with the SRT8 than he did his own freedom. True story!
Superior Interior With All The Trimmings
Make no mistake about it; this is an SUV aiming at competitors way above its price class. And nowhere else on the vehicle is that more evident than the interior.
The entire Grand Cherokee line has been widely praised for its robust interior. Fit and finish, materials used, ergonomics, and overall appearance are arguably at the top of its class already. The SRT8, however, ups the ante considerably. One look inside and you will know what I’m talking about.
The highly-bolstered seats are covered in rich leather that feel wonderfully soft to the touch and even smell good. High class French-style stitching borders the leather seams to provide a really stellar look.
That leather and stitching continue on to the center armrest, upper portions of the doors, and even the dashboard which further oozes of luxury. Everywhere you touch is supple and upscale. Even genuine carbon fiber accents adorn the dash and doors to let you know this is high-end stuff. What a stark contrast to the Chrysler interiors of old that had been de-contented and clad in tupperware during the Daimler era. A welcome change, no doubt.
The seats are both heated and ventilated, which will resonate really well with buyers that see all four seasons in a year. You can keep your butt and back warm in the winter, all while keeping your nether regions nice and cool during the scorching summer months – a feature that male buyers will appreciate most.
You can even keep your hands warm too, thanks to the new heated steering wheel that now has a flat bottom design. It feels so thick in your hands that grip is never a concern. The steering column both tilts and telescopes electronically, so getting the perfect position is no problem.
Also connected to the backside of the wheel are standard audio controls and all new paddle shifters. The shifters are great for grabbing and holding gears without having to remove your hands from the wheel – a feature that allows you to keep that big HEMI breathing fire up in the top of the rev band.
Beyond all that, my loaner came chock-full of options including a power liftgate, blind spot monitoring and rear cross path detection, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and a dual-pane panoramic sunroof. Not to mention, a 6.5-inch touch screen radio with Bluetooth communication and Garmin-based Navigation. There is some serious technology going on inside here.
But in a stroke of sheer genius, SRT now offers a sound system that is sure to rattle your cages. If you thought the Kicker Surround Sound system in the last Grand Cherokee SRT8 was good, think again. The new hardware provides for a night and day difference (read on to the next section if you’re interested in hearing more).
Bottom line: this is the best interior of any vehicle in Chrysler’s entire lineup. The feel and appearance of the materials used here rival those of any other SUV at any price. It is that good.
If there was anything to desire, it would be the 8.4-inch touchscreen found in the new Charger and 300. That head unit alone would make the center stack absolutely perfect. All in due time, though, as I am quite sure it’s on the way soon.
The Stereo. My GAWD, The Stereo!
Let’s get something straight right away. The phrase, “good for a factory stereo system”, simply does not apply here.
It is all too often that a stock stereo will falter at or near the peak of its volume band. Tweeters start to distort and get scratchy, while subwoofers reverberate and make for muddy bass notes. No such luck here.
Count them with me, folks. 19. Yes, 19 speakers are strategically planted within the cabin of the Grand Cherokee SRT8 to provide for what I can personally guarantee you is the most crushing sound experience you have ever laid ear-witness to in a factory built vehicle (see image below). At full volume, 825 watts of pure power surge through the interior with such a ferocious tone that most of you reading this sentence probably wouldn’t be able to tolerate it.
Every layer of recorded sound tears through your ear canals with unprecedented clarity and force. This system, supplied by Harman Kardon, absolutely thrives at the top of the volume band. Crank it up all the way and you will be floored by what you hear.
I threw everything I could at these speakers. Even the most punishing, sadistic tracks of thrash metal that will render most stereos helpless at only half volume. The Grand Cherokee handled it with ease. It felt more like being in the front row of a metal concert instead of sitting in a car. I should have probably been wearing earplugs, yet it was pure symphony.
Driving the Grand Cherokee SRT8 provides for an experience that defies conventional logic. At 5,150 lbs. of curb weight, sitting fairly high up off the ground, this hulk of an SUV exhibits movements that it simply should not be capable of. Yes, the feel of sheer mass is undeniable, but it never feels out of shape. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Think of familiar roadways that you frequent each day. Imagine those tight turns or long, sweeping approaches at freeway interchanges marred by pesky warnings of maximum speed. If it says 45 mph, it feels like you can comfortably double it behind the wheel of the SRT8. And it does so in remarkably linear fashion.
If you’re looking to push it even further, simply turn the Select Track dial to Sport or Track Mode, and the vehicle stiffens up even more. Heightened levels of dampening and compression make sure that the big Jeep sticks to the ground like glue (as if it didn’t already before). You feel the additional stiffness instantly as your head begins to bounce a bit more.
Overall, I would describe the Jeep as feeling like a two-and-a-half-ton bicep. And it’s constantly flexing in a show of strength. The wheels and tires feel inextricably linked to the unibody and suspension like connective tissue. There is absolutely no disconnect from the steering wheel to the drive wheels. It will amaze you.
And while the road feel could certainly be described as “very firm”, it doesn’t sacrifice comfort. Perhaps you’ll feel bumps and potholes a bit more than usual, but it is never jarring. In fact, it’s a pleasure to drive.
The Power To Move You And Stop You
Engine and brakes. The two most important parts of any performance vehicle.
The Grand Cherokee SRT8 comes ready for battle at both ends.
Underneath that menacing hood lies one of the single greatest naturally aspirated V8s on the market today. The 6.4L HEMI is one seriously potent powerplant capable of incredible outputs. At 470 hp and 465 lb/ft of torque, that’s a gain of 50 hp and 45 lb/ft over the outgoing 6.1L HEMI V8.
The power gains are certainly impressive, but it’s where this new engine makes its power that shines most. Thanks to variable valve timing and an active intake manifold, 90% of the HEMI’s peak torque is available all the way from 2,800 RPM up to 6,000 RPM. The manifold, now with long and short runners, ensures that the engine never starves for air. The swell of power that results is simply phenomenal.
You can ease into the throttle or hammer it as you ride a tidal wave of torque and horsepower through the entire rev band. It’s never coarse or biting. Instead, it is refined and flowing with grace as that All-American V8 growl emanates through the exhaust system. You’ll be addicted just as I was; incessantly exploring the range of massive grunt at your right foot.
Chrysler claims a 0-to-60 time of 4.8 seconds and a top speed of 160mph. Those are earth shattering numbers in any vehicle, especially an SUV of this size.
In an effort to quench the HEMI’s thirst though, engineers have utilized Fuel Saver Technology this time around (formerly known as MDS, or Multi Displacement System). It will cease fuel supply to four of the eight cylinders during light acceleration and cruising speeds, which Chrysler says yielded a 13% gain in highway fuel economy.
The EPA rates this SRT8 at 12 MPG in the city and 18 MPG on the highway. I averaged 13.7 MPG during my week with the truck – right around where I expected to be. It may not be the 40 or 50 MPG so many buyers are looking for these days, but you gotta pay to play in the performance game. And my, my can this thing play.
But the most awe-inspiring performance feature of this vehicle is unquestionably the brakes.
Four-piston Brembos sit around 13.8-inch rotors in the rear; returning hardware from the last generation. Up front, however, things have changed dramatically. Enormous 15-inch rotors are squeezed by all-new 6-piston Brembos (pictured below) that bring this SUV down in a hurry.
The extreme mass of the Grand Cherokee is no match for the front brakes. They lock down with such incredible force that you can’t believe how fast they can stop this thing. There’s virtually zero fade and they never once complained with heavy inputs. According to Chrysler, 60-to-0 comes in just 116 feet. That may be a conservative estimate.
Regardless, both the engine and brakes work harmoniously at providing the speed and stopping force that buyers want. It is staggering how well they execute.
At The Drag Strip
Unfortunately, much to my chagrin, we couldn’t get to a road course. So we had to settle for the strip – a vital test that all performance cars must go through.
SRT claims this Jeep will run mid-13’s. And under the right conditions, I know it’s more than doable and repeatable.
The 85 degree heat, however, had us locked in the high 13’s. Couple the heat with 5,150 lbs. of curb weight (5,350 with me in the car), and you’re fighting a lot of mass too. We tried every plausible configuration with the Select Track System. Auto Mode, Sport Mode, then Track Mode. We alternated between simply keeping it in DRIVE, and using the new paddle shifters.
Our best time was firstname.lastname@example.org using Track Mode and just letting the transmission work on its own. I did use the shifters twice in Track Mode and ran both 13.73 and 13.74 consecutively. You gotta be quick, making sure not to let the HEMI smack the rev limiter in first gear. If that happens, your time is toast. I’d say your best bet is to leave it in DRIVE and punch it. The paddles will help more on a road course when you need to keep the revs up in turns or in moments of rapid deceleration.
There’s not much magic to launching the Jeep. No burnouts or brake torquing needed. Just wait for the green and go! The AWD system managing torque underneath provides for some of the most tenacious grip of any vehicle on earth. You’ll feel the truck kick up a bit off the line, then the front tires claw into the ground like a savage animal.
Just for good measure, here’s a video of me running 13.81@101 mph.
This Jeep is not your ordinary Grand Cherokee capable of slow and deliberate movements over rocks and tree stumps, or through a river stream. No, no. The SRT8 belongs exclusively on concrete and asphalt.
Don’t get the idea of heading back into the woods to carve up some timber for the fire. Stick to carving up your favorite twisty roads and blasting on to the highway at warp speed. Better yet, get this bad boy to a race track. That’s where it begs to be put through the motions.
Taking On The World’s Best
The high performance SUV/CUV market is fairly limited. Battling this Jeep will be Germany’s finest including the BMW X5M and X6M, Mercedes Benz ML63 AMG, and Porsche Cayenne Turbo. And while all four of them do hold marginal power advantages over the Jeep SRT8, you will pay considerably more cash to man their ships.
Starting prices for the competitors list out as follows…
BMW X5M – $86,400
BMW X6M – $89,500
Mercedes Benz ML63 AMG – $93,465
Porsche Cayenne Turbo – $107,100
The Jeep SRT8 begins at $55,295 (including destination). If my math serves me correctly, that’s a starting price of $30,000 less than the next closest competitor. Staggering, don’t you think?
Granted, the one I tested priced out at $60,480. But that still seems to be the steal of the century if a hyper-SUV is what your heart desires. And, in all honesty, I’d say the Jeep beats all of them in the looks department, hands down!
Come With Me If You Want To Live
I began this review by painting a not-so pretty picture of the future, where this heroic SUV is your vessel to salvation. A bit extreme? Well, perhaps the zombie and Armageddon-like references were a stretch. But think of it more as a microcosm of what vehicles in this realm face today.
The shift in the market is clear. People are becoming more and more focused on the missionary role of transportation that a vehicle provides. Point A to Point B. That is it! That is what people are having and choosing to settle for. Cars have become almost sterile. It’s an apocalypse in and of itself.
But there remains a significant portion of car buyers out there that will not lie down and die. I’m talking to all you gear heads, car guys, and automotive enthusiasts out there. You know who you are. There’s still hope in this world. I implore you to stand up and be counted!
SRT is a standalone brand now, making it clear that the resistance has formed for good. The Grand Cherokee sits proudly alongside its other SRT brethren; the Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger, and Chrysler 300C. Soon, they will be joined by the car that started it all – the Dodge Viper. From there, who knows what other SRT variants will arise. One thing’s for sure though; this is a lineup poised to take on the world’s best performance cars at a fraction of the cost.
So while the world may not be ending just yet, rest assured that SRT has you covered until that time comes. And if there is any doubt as to whether or not they plan on sticking around, just have a chat with the guys who build them. They’re the ones with their arms folded in the picture below.
*Check out the SRT brand website at www.DRIVESRT.com*
**Special thanks to Heather Heughens and Brian Urban for help during testing**
The Jeep® brand and Activision Publishing, Inc. today announced that Jeep has been named exclusive automotive partner of Call of Duty®: Modern Warfare 3®, the year’s most anticipated entertainment launch, which will be released on November 8. This marks a second chapter in a joint promotion that Jeep and Activision began last year.
As part of these efforts, Jeep also announced that it will produce the 2012 Jeep Wrangler Call of Duty: MW3 Special Edition. Available in Jeep showrooms this November, the new limited-edition Jeep Wrangler will be available in both two-door and four-door (Jeep Wrangler Unlimited) models.
“The Jeep brand’s partnership with Activision allows us to combine our new, more powerful, more exciting and more fuel-efficient Jeep Wrangler with the latest version of one of the most popular gaming experiences in the world,” said Mike Manley, President and CEO – Jeep Brand, Chrysler Group LLC. “This opportunity enables us to demonstrate Jeep Wrangler’s unique combination of fun, capability and performance to a broad and growing group of consumers.”
The presence of a Jeep Wrangler in the game is a natural fit, including an in-game integration into the epic single-player storyline of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3,” a Spec-Ops level and the title’s much anticipated multiplayer experience.
“We are very excited to extend our partnership with Jeep, which not only marries two of the world’s most iconic brands – Jeep Wrangler and Call of Duty – but also creates a number of unique consumer touch points,” said Tim Ellis, Chief Marketing Officer for Activision. “The Jeep Wrangler perfectly embodies the authenticity and dynamic energy of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, and our teams have worked hard to create an integrated partnership that enhances both brands.”
2012 Jeep Wrangler Call of Duty: MW3 Special Edition
The 2012 Jeep Wrangler and Wrangler Unlimited Call of Duty: MW3 Special Edition is based on the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon model and features Rubicon wheels finished in semi-gloss black. Available in Black or Bright Silver, the exterior features “Call of Duty: MW3 Special Edition” graphics on the front fenders and spare tire cover.
The vehicle also features a unique “power-dome” hood, along with such Mopar® accessories as a winch-ready front bumper, rear bumper, rock rails, taillamp guards and a fuel-filler door. Inspired by the most recent version of Activision’s popular “Call of Duty” games, the new limited-edition Wrangler delivers legendary Jeep capability, aggressive 32-inch off-road tires, live axles with locking differentials in the front and rear, and a two-speed transfer case.
Available dealer-installed Mopar performance parts include a Warn winch, 2-inch lift kit and classic five-spoke wheels.
Interior appointments include model-specific black seats with accent stitching and Call of Duty logos, unique gauge cluster graphics, dashboard serialized plaque, dashboard grab handle with logo, accent stitching on arm rest, console lid, and steering wheel, Mopar Slush Mats with logo, and rear cargo mat with logo (Unlimited only).
After a brief hiatus the Dodge Viper will return in 2012 as a 2013 Model. Little is known about the 2013 Dodge Viper, but we do know that the V10 engine is here to stay! An interior spy shot leaked showing steering wheel controls; rumor has it they could be for cruise control (a first for the Viper) or, controls for the Electronic Stability Control (another first for the Viper). The ESC is rumored to have an “off” button, so don’t worry too much.
In September 2010, a prototype 2013 Dodge Viper was driven into the Chrysler Dealer Meeting. According to those who saw it, it is a big change from the previous generation, and offers a more “luxurious” feel. None the less it was applauded by all those who saw it. One person even said it was “dramatic and awesome”. The grille will remain basically the same, but using the new corporate grille with the black center surrounded by chrome. It also appears that the 2013 Viper will be slightly wider.
Some people are worried that the 2013 Viper will be a copy of a Maserati or Ferrari, it has been confirmed that the Viper will use “weight lightening expertise” from them but no parts. It is expected to use a retuned version of the 8.4L V10 always used in the Viper. Other rumors have circulated saying that a V10 version of the Pentastar V6 or HEMI V8 will be used. That is highly unlikely due to the costs to engineer it, unless Ferrari or Maserati used it also.
Look for the 2013 Dodge Viper to debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2012, with a sales launch in Spring 2012.
When you hear the term “Mopar Club”, many vehicles come to mind as the most popular nameplates celebrated by enthusiasts. Certainly vehicles like the Challenger, Charger, Viper, Wrangler, and ‘Cuda come to mind as some of the more widely regarded Mopars in history. Heck, even cars like the Prowler and PT Cruiser have a distinct club following. Be it big or small, there’s a group out there for just about every Chrysler vehicle in existence.
So let it be known; there is a club for all you Durango owners out there too!
The Durango Owners Club was established in 1998 and boasts over 2,000 members worldwide; 300 of which are actively driving their Durangos today.
This past weekend’s Woodward Dream Cruise attracted several club members from various parts of the country including New Jersey, Connecticut, Texas, and Massachusetts. But it wasn’t just all about the cruise.
Chrysler’s Jefferson North Assembly Plant (JNAP) cordially opened up their doors to the crew on Friday morning for a chance to see where the new Durango is built. The club was joined by not only plant workers, but also members of Chrysler’s PR, Marketing, and Engineering teams eager to meet the dedicated Durango-ites. Jack Dolan (Durango Chief Engineer), Richard Cox (Dodge Marketing), and Kristin Starnes (Dodge PR) were amongst those in attendance.
Rob McBride (owner of a 2000 SLT) said they felt like rockstars. “They gave us VIP treatment from the second we got there,” he stated. “To have Corporate involved was really special. They even let us bring our cameras inside to snap pictures on the tour!”
The permission to take pictures was a very pleasant surprise to the group who were expecting to be banned from capturing any images at all. “Many of us, myself included, used to tour the Newark, Delaware Plant (former home of the Durango) every year and we were never allowed to photograph anything. What a privilege it was here at JNAP,” McBride added. “They told us we were the first consumer-based group to ever tour the plant.”
McBride’s Durango boasts a squeaky clean engine compartment housing the coveted 5.9L Magnum V8 that is powder-coated in blue throughout (shown below). He describes it as a “factory freak” now with over 231,000 miles on the odometer. “The engine’s never been cracked open except for when I put the Mopar valve covers on it. It’s been extremely reliable.”
Modern Mopar Magazine joined the crew for dinner in Auburn Hills, MI after the owners had visited the Walter P. Chrysler Museum (group shots shown below).
Steve Smits (owner of a 2001 SLT Plus) says the Durango Club is like a family to him. “If I need someone to help me out, I’ve got a number of people I can call to lend a hand. We all pay it forward,” he exclaimed. “We have members from not only America, but all across the world,” he told me. According to Smits, owners can be found in Russia, Iceland, Estonia, France, and even Germany. “We even have a member that travels to Chernobyl in his Durango to perform radioactivity measurements,” he added.
Smits’ Durango, approriately called the “Bronze Beast” (shown below), sports a cornucopia of custom parts including front and rear bumpers, hood, light bars, spare tire carrier, and stereo. It’s one of the more decked out Durangos I have seen in my time.
Other members on hand included Dave Danek, Dwayne Messerschmidt, and Jim Showalter (shown in succession below), as well as Tom Kopec who now drives a 2007 HEMI Jeep Grand Cherokee. Kopec is a former owner of two Durangos.
But certainly the most extroverted Durango of the group came courtesy of Dave Schulz in his 2000 SLT clad in orange, yellow, and red flames. The flames are a good indication of the 800 horsepower supercharged Mopar V8 breathing fire underneath the hood. This bad boy (shown below) sports a full roll cage and four custom racing seats with 5-point harnesses to keep passengers strapped in tight. Dave says his Durango is capable of 10-second 1/4 mile passes when it’s running properly. I believe him.
As our meet came to a close, the club presented me with a commemorative coin (shown below) that they had specially made for the weekend festivities. “We make these to give out at every plant tour we go on. Every person we met at the plant today received one,” McBride added. The club also made a $700 donation to the UAW Charity Fund.
But for those of you reading this article who are interested in becoming members of the club, you must beware of those commemorative coins for they are both a blessing and a curse. “We give those coins to everyone who joins the club and they should be carried with pride,” Smits explained. “But once you have the coin, you are required to have it on your person whenever a group of us get together.”
So what’s the curse of the coin you ask? It’s simple. Show up to a meeting without your coin, and you just bought a round of drinks for the entire group. It can be an expensive mistake if you’re not careful.
If you think you can adhere to the coin rules, then we encourage you to join up with the Durango Owners Club at www.durangoclub.com. “It’s free to play,” Smits noted. “The camaraderie within the group is awesome. Everybody gets along. And if your Durango ever breaks down, we will help you fix it. No questions asked.”
We here at Modern Mopar want to thank the Durango Owners for their time and tremendous dedication to the cause. We get the feeling that the club will start to see more and more new members as the Durango continues to gain popularity. Best of luck to you all!
**On a side note, the owners we spoke with said they peppered Dodge with questions about an SRT version of the Durango. McBride said that their official response was, “We will definitely be building a Durango SRT8 soon………………maybe.”
As part of Chrysler Group’s Woodward Dream Cruise festivities, Dodge invited members of the Dodge Durango Owners’ Clubs from various states to the home of the current Dodge Durango — our Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit.
Members came from as far away as Texas, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey for the special visit. After the personalized plant tour, members paraded their vehicles from JNAP toward Woodward Avenue for the 2011 Woodward Dream Cruise.