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Tech Talk: 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT arms you with infoThe 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT has a lot of swagger, there’s no doubt about that. It’s a 5,000-lb SUV with four-wheel drive, yet it moves like a sports car. It pounds out 475 horsepower and 470 ft-lbs of torque and handles better on-road than any Jeep has a right to. Its Mopar-tuned exhaust makes all the right snarls and roars. Frankly, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT will embarrass a lot of sports cars that literally weigh a ton less than it does.

You’re finding that hard to believe. Drive one — or read my initial full review of the model here. I’ll wait. But know this going in: Underneath its brash, muscle-headed performance, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT has the ability to indulge your inner stats nerd.

Gauging interest

Truck Tech Talk: 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT arms you with infoOne of the sad things — of many, many sad things — to come out of the great advancements in automotive technology these last couple of decades is the deletion of gauges. You used to get battery voltage, coolant temperature, and oil pressure gauges on most cars and trucks. Nowadays, they’re all replaced with warning lights. Many enthusiasts call them another name: dummy lights.

I guess nobody is interested in knowing what’s really going on under the hood of their appliancemobiles — and who can blame them? Someone who has zero automotive enthusiasm probably drives a beige Toyota Camry and never gives a second thought to oil pressure or coolant temperature.

Truck Tech Talk: 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT arms you with infoBut people who buy loud-talking, ass-stomping Jeep Grand Cherokee SRTs aren’t like those folks. They appreciate what’s going on under the hood — the mechanical symphony emanating from 6.4 liters of HEMI V8 that’ll drink a stream of gasoline as big as your thumb every time you prod the throttle. They get off on things like actual, working oil pressure gauges in their cars.

Enter the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT’s trim-exclusive package of SRT instrumentation.

2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT’s Screen Play

Truck Tech Talk: 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT arms you with infoBy “instrumentation,” I have to list a caveat: These are not physical gauges located in the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT instrument cluster. The gauges are instead shown on the TFT display that comprises much of the instrument cluster, or on the “Performance Pages” of the eight-inch Uconnect head unit in the middle of the dashboard. Or you can do what I liked to do and display performance and diagnostic info on both screens.

In addition to the previously mentioned battery voltage, oil pressure, and coolant temperature gauges, there are gauges for oil temperature, transmission temperature, intake air temperature, engine horsepower and torque output,, individual tire pressure monitors, and a measurement of estimated oil life remaining, as well as performance-recording devices including a top speed recorder, a lap timer, a stopwatch that measures your eight-mile and quarter-mile drag times, a zero-to-60 mph stopwatch, a braking distance measurement tool, and a g-force meter.

Now, I’m not equipped with all the accelerometers and other neat gadgets the magazines use when verifying manufacturer acceleration, top speed, braking, and handling claims. Nor am I close enough to anything remotely resembling a closed-course performance driving environment to truly test most of those at-the-limit parameters. Having said that, the SRT “Performance Pages” allowed me to get a real-world zero-to-60 time of 4.7 seconds on the uninhabited, flat tarmac at my nearest airport. That was very close to the manufacturer’s claimed time of 4.5 seconds, and it was especially impressive given the poor condition of the tarmac, which was full of cracks and filled seams.

Icing on the cake

I’m a bit of a car technology nerd, if you can’t tell. So for me, the SRT telematics suite was incredible fun to mess around with — and would have been even moreso if I had access to a closed-course track to undertake some real performance testing. But on streets and highways in the real world, make no mistake: There’s no place to turn those 475 horses loose for more than a few seconds. Still, it’s exhilarating every time I drop the pedal and hear the exhaust roar in the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was also exhilarating every time I cranked up the 825-watt, 19-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system. I’ve spent a lot of time playing drums in rock ‘n’ roll bands, so I appreciate a sound system that lets me feel every note. This one was superb, matching the staccato output from the dual exhausts in efficacy when I wanted to blow off some steam. The best thing was the sound system was far less likely to result in points on my license than loosing the HEMI’s full wrath.

A nod here for Uconnect, which remains one of the easiest-to-use infotainment setups on the market, in my experience. Pairing my LG K8 smartphone was dead-simple. Bluetooth music streaming worked without a hitch. Voice commands were easily recognized by the vehicle, despite my Tennessee accent — hey, some cars have a real problem with that. Kudos to FCA for all the work that has surely gone into even that one part of Uconnect.

But the real icing on the cake for me, as someone who enjoys a tire-smoking, neighborhood window-rattling performance machine as much as anyone, are those SRT Performance Pages. They serve as a good reminder of what the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is capable of. Even if it never sees a dragstrip, there’s the reminder that this machine is a quarter-mile monster among SUVs. Even if it never sees a circuitous closed-course, the g-meter is there to remind everyone of the Grand Cherokee SRT’s roadholding prowess.

Truck Tech Talk: 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT arms you with infoIn sum, the 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT arms its driver with all the info one might want to know about its performance. For that, and for making an SUV this fast that handles this good, I applaud Jeep.

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