We, automotive writers and journalists, love getting asked consumer questions. For example: If it were our money, what would we get for a certain vehicle class you're considering? We don’t mind at all…though our perspective would be somewhat different than the average consumer. Then again, we could be wrong completely…
The subject of this "Your Turn" piece is a friend of mine in Grand Forks, North Dakota – Chester Beltowski. He is a photographer and a student at the University of North Dakota. Chester and his partner recently took delivery of a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 – one of the hottest vehicles on the market lately.
The story is not about the fact that they got the new hot Grand, but rather the process of getting there.
I knew both Chester and his partner for years and, in turn, they were aware that I am an automotive writer. Because of this vocation and art, the questions began as to what vehicle they should buy for a SUV/crossover that would have a level of luxury they enjoy. According to Chester, they were looking at various options and were ready to settle for a BMW X5 or a Mercedes-Benz GLK, until they saw a neighbor with a 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. Just so happens that Chester also owns a 2010 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara, therefore the idea of the Jeep SRT8 was firmly planted in both of their heads.
The story continues when the new Grand Cherokee came out. Chester's partner messaged me to find out whether I knew anything about a SRT8 version of the new Grand. I had a hunch it would happen, but no solid information available to confirm it. This went on through the 2011 New York Auto Show, when the SRT8 was unveiled. Chester contacted his local dealer in Grand Forks until it was time to place their order.
They took delivery on November 22, 2011. Since then, they put on 1,400 miles. Chester reported that he loved the performance of the SRT8. I can attest to the immediacy of the throttle as Chester recorded an average of 5.0 seconds from 0 to 60MPH. That throttle response knocked me back a few feet. Chester appreciated the level of luxury inside the SRT8's cabin. Chrysler's interiors had been just simply top notch quality-wise of late and the GC SRT8 was no exception.
Yet, there are a few complaints. Chester reported that the audio system in the Grand SRT was "horrid" due to a lack of bass "punch" and the lack of a balanced midrange. He also found the satellite navigation system's menus to be "clunky" and the UConnect Voice Command system semi-responsive, the Snow mode on the driving dynamics selector "useless," and a transmission response lag when switching from the brake pedal to the accelerator while coasting in traffic.
Although the SRT8 isn't perfect, Chester states that he feels "great" when he drives it. Earlier in the week, Chester's partner messaged me to state how protective he was of the car. For the money the SRT8 commanded, I fully understand both their feelings about their high performance SUV!
There are additional images on Chester's Flickr page – Cubcake Photography – dating to when he took delivery of the Grand SRT. You may want to look at his work photography work…because he's pretty damn good at what he does with his subject matter!
My sincerest thanks to Chester for letting me experience the Grand Cherokee SRT8 – from the passenger seat. Believe me, it is one of the best seats in the house.
Chester Beltowski is a photographer and a student at the University of North Dakota. He lives in Grand Forks.
Photos by Randy Stern