In Praise of the True Performance SUV
When performance marques started seriously producing sports utility vehicles, there was a collective sense of wonder among enthusiasts. What was a four-door Porsche doing on the road, let alone a raised platform, high-cargo Porsche? Had Alfa Romeo gotten lost on their trip to the track? Was Maserati simply putting bigger tires on their classic design?
The range of how capable these luxury SUVs are truly are does vary. The Maserati Levante, for example, comes equipped with a staggering 590 horsepower from a V8 engine, allowing this beast of a machine to do 0-60 in just 3.9 seconds. But for Maserati, that’s just more of the same. The true test of talent does not come with performance, but with the sport utility of the vehicle, and that question gets a little more challenging to answer.
Yes, the Levante comes equipped with an active air suspension for off-road capability, but is it truly off-road capable? Is the Porsche Cayenne the right vehicle for towing a trailer or boat? How does the Alfa Romeo Stelvio manage rough, wet or icy terrain? And, perhaps the most important question of them all, will any of us be taking our $70,000, $90,000, $120,000 or $170,000 SUVs off-road?
Which begs the question then, how do we truly create a performance SUV that can be used–especially one that can be used by the masses? Perhaps the answer lies in which direction companies cross over. Instead of bringing SUV to performance, bring a little performance to the SUV.
That’s what Jeep has done with their 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
There is no doubt that the 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a capable vehicle. To start, the Jeep name brings a pedigree of decades worth of off-road strength and reliability–one this vehicle delivers upon in spades. With 4x4 systems designed for any weather or road surface and a traction management system for whatever the trails ahead may hold, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is ready.
But its power doesn’t stop when you head off the beaten path. This 6,500-pound beast can more than hold its own on the track too. Engine options like the 6.4L V8 and the Supercharged 6.2L V8 make for a power output up to 707 horsepower and 645 pounds-feet of torque. That means 0-60 in just 3.5 seconds and a quarter mile time of 11.6 seconds. That’s a faster 0-60 time than the Maserati Levante. And, it can also tow more than 7,000 pounds. You know, if that’s your idea of a good time.
The stickler, when it comes to this powerful performance SUV, is that you can drive it home today without much fanfare. This vehicle starts at just $31,000. That’s less than half the cost of the performance SUVs listed above.
Of course, the Maserati, the Porsche, the Alfa Romeo, they have their own purposes. They are incredibly capable vehicles that truly can go off-road. To some extent.
But when it comes to a vehicle that isn’t just able but willing to take on both the roughest off-roads and the toughest tracks, it has to be the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Don’t put the utility in performance. Put the performance in utility. And then put them both to the test.