|Grand Cherokee SRT coming soon?|
Autoweek.com has an article saying that Jeep may be considering high-horsepower, non-trailrated Jeeps.
Next year Chevrolet will pump up the TrailBlazer with a high-horsepower 6.0-liter V8 and a suspension tweaked at an unlikely location - Germany's famed Nurburgring track.
Meanwhile, Jeep is considering an SUV that would be at home on a racetrack, too. And it definitely wouldn't be "trail rated."
SUVs with big engines and suspension tweaks aren't new. Both Mercedes-Benz and Porsche AG have such vehicles. But it is not yet clear whether nonluxury brands can successfully compete for high-performance bragging rights.
Sales of the TrailBlazer SS will begin in fall 2005, she says. All-wheel drive will be optional. Jeep touts its SUVs as "trail rated" and points to their off-road capability. Yet Jeep is considering a Grand Cherokee SRT.
SRT is the Chrysler group's performance unit, which created vehicles such as the Dodge Viper SRT-10 and Ram SRT-10 pickup. Vehicles developed by the group feature horsepower, braking and handling enhancements.
"There is room for SRT in Jeep," says Joe Eberhardt, the Chrysler group's executive vice president of global sales, marketing and service.
While not confirming that a Grand Cherokee SRT will be produced, Eberhardt says, "I won't think that a couple of thousand SRT Jeeps will destroy the overall imagery and trail-rated capability of the Jeep brand."
But a Jeep aimed at performance enthusiasts would have to be re-engineered. The center of gravity would have to be lowered, which would affect the vehicle's off-road capability, Eberhardt says.
"We cannot lower the suspension of the vehicle enough to get high speed, highly capable handling and then have the articulation you need" to go off road," he says. "It doesn't work."
"I don't think people would expect a racing inspired, street-legal, high-performance Jeep to be at the same time off-road capable. That's the tradeoff."
Here's the entire story.