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Fantasy Branding: How I Would Relaunch the 2nd Gen SRT Jeep

Joshua Is a self-proclaimed Driving God with an almighty Forza Game Rank.

A dream relaunch scenario for the second-generation SRT Jeep.

A dream relaunch scenario for the second-generation SRT Jeep.

Before you can fix a problem, you first need to do two things.

  1. Acknowledge the problem.
  2. Read the backstory on the problem.

1. The Problem

The problem is the main SRT Jeeps get absolutely slaughtered by the competition because they are underpowered. The Trackhawk came too late and is not a permanent solution to this problem.

2. The Backstory

In 2006, Jeep launched the 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. Starting at $39,300 and offering a 420 HP, 6.1L HEMI V-8 with a 5-speed Auto, it was the first performance SUV out of the gate. (I am aware that the GMC Typhoon is a thing, but it didn’t start an actual vehicle category as the Jeep did. And anyone who shouts "SVT Lightning" at me should learn the difference between an SUV & a pickup truck. The only argument I’m willing to hear is about the Porsche Cayenne or the Infiniti FX45.)

Suddenly, after Jeep blessed the world with some good ole American madness, everyone else jumped in or stepped up. Chevrolet Trailblazer SS, Porsche Cayenne Turbo, Land Rover Range Rover Sport Supercharged & Infiniti FX45, all were competitors at the time. Yet in this crowd, the Jeep stood out as having the most bang for the buck.

There were flaws, but what car does not have them. The Jeep was good at doing what it was intended for: obliterating most SUVs in a straight line and on corners. You could have argued that the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S was the end-all, be-all, but at that moment you would be comparing solid affordable performance to a mortgage payment. And yes, even though that Porsche had 520 HP, the Jeep still hanged with the horse from Stuttgart. It was a nice time for Jeep. So where did it go wrong?

In 2010, the world changed. The automotive industry, in particular, caught a bit of a mental craze as this was the year SUVs started pumping out 550+ HP. The Jeep was falling behind. So what does Jeep do?

Well in 2010, the SUV to beat was the BMW X5M with 555 HP. Jeep got to work on the WK2 generation of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and launched it in 2011. At the same time, some new Gen 3 HEMI’s also launched. So in 2012, when the new, sleeker-looking Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 dropped, we expected it to be faster than the old one and compete with the new competition. It did neither. Sure, starting at $54,670, it was cheaper than the competition. And with a new 6.4L HEMI making 470 HP, it was still a fast SUV. But it wasn't German or British fast. And it wasn't Gen 1 SRT fast. All these were painstakingly obvious.

Outside of an ECU change in 2014, boosting power to 475 HP and new 8-speed auto, nothing significant happened for six years until 2017 rolled around and they put the 6.2L supercharged Hellcat engine into the Jeep, making the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, the most powerful and probably the fastest SUV ever. But as I explained in my OP-ED, the “Inertia Report”, the Hellcat engine isn't sticking around.

So when it leaves, we are again left with an underpowered SRT Jeep. I don't like that. So how do you fix this problem? Well, I have a plan...cause I’m a smartass.

The Magic #S: 426

The Magic #S: 426

What the Car Company Should Have Done!

Let's jump back to 2011. SRT is preparing the new Jeep. This is where we start. The main problem is that the Jeep is underpowered. So we can fix this in two ways.

The first way is to make the 392 more powerful. It can be done. In 2005, Chrysler unveiled a version of the 392 with 525 HP.

The second way, the one I like more, is using the 426 crate engine. The 426 Gen 3 can easily put down figures from 550-600 HP or more. And it shouldn't be hard to configure the engine for production use since, as of right now, it's just a crate engine. So we give the 426 all the fuel-saving goods (start-stop, variable valve timing, cylinder deactivation, Eco-mode, etc.). I would also speed up the development of that 8-speed auto.

I’d also have the crew who does the interior work on the Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit do the interior on any SRT Jeep, with the SRT guys giving minor tips on bucket seats. Recaros will be standard.

All this said, we still put the 392 with 470 HP into the Jeep and launch it like normal, except it will be marketed as the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 392. Why? So you offer various versions to appeal to people. Porsche does it with the Cayenne, as you have the GTS, Turbo, Turbo S, and closer to home Dodge currently offers SIXTEEN different versions of the Challenger. And let's not pretend like some of them aren't the same mechanically. And finally, it makes more money for Jeep. So the 470 HP SRT Jeep has a place, notably being the entry-level to what will become an SRT lineup. It would compete with the aforementioned Cayenne GTS.

The next year, we drop the 426 Jeep SRT. Marketed as the 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 426, it launches with the new 8-speed auto, 560 HP, and a vengeance to get America back what was hers. And my boys Ralph Gilles & Tim Kunis can get the job done in that regard. The SRT Alpine & Vapor Trim levels still happen in 2013 but only on the 392. But because the 8-speed is out, the rest of the Grand Cherokee lineup, not just the performance ones, get it too.

2014 comes and with it, the ECU change. In the 392, we see power boost by 15 to get 485 HP (in real life, it only got boosted by 5 to 475 from 470) and in the 426, power also gets boosted by 15, from 560 to 575 HP. Nothing notable happens after that.

2015, the Red Vapor trim still happens, but only on the 392 again. 2016 happens and again, only on the 392 does the SRT Night trim happen.

And then we get to 2017. The Trackhawk still gets launched. Why not, Hellcat EVERYTHING!!!!

Now since we are up to the present day, you'll notice I haven't mentioned a single price for any of the SRT Jeeps. This is because marketing can be done in two ways. The first, risky way, would be to pull a German. Sell them for way more than they need to be and market them as the most prestigious Jeeps to ever exist. With this mindset, you are completely separating the SRT Jeeps from the regular Grand Cherokees and as such, you pay the price.

With this way of thinking, the prices would be as follows:

- 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 392 would launch at around $80K.

- 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 392 Alpine & Vapor would be around $82K.

- 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 426 would be around $106K.

- All 2014 prices remain the same as the previous year

- 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 392 would around $84K

- 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 392 Red Vapor would be around $88K

- 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 426 would be around $110K

- 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 392 is $96K

- 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 426 is $118K. And the

- 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, a whopping $160K.

That said, this way is an option. But not the only option.

The option more likely to happen is the one that will get more feet through the door into dealerships. We still market the SRT lineup as the Luxury Performance Brand. We market them differently than the other Grand Cherokees. The SRTs are special. Yet when the 392 launches in 2012, the price stays the same as it did in 2012, at $54,670. Going on in this order, the prices would be reflected as so:

- 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 392 is 64K (price jump because of the new tranny)

- 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 392 Alpine/Vapor models are $66K

- 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 426 launches at $70K.

- 2014 prices stay the same as the 2013 prices

- 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 392 is still $64K

- 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 392 Red Vapor is offered at $66K.

- 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 426 still starts at $70K

- 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT 392 jumps in price to $66K.

- 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Night is $70K.

- 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT 426 is $75K.

- 2017 prices remain the same

- 2018 prices remain the same except for the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, with a starting price of an even $86K. (I know that's only 100 more than its current 85,900 price tag, but this is because my OCD loves even numbers.)

Problem Solved

The Jeep SRTs are now cheaper, faster, louder, and debatably more luxurious than the competition.

In my hypothetical, even after the Trackhawk leaves in 2019, we are left with the 426, which is more than capable of handling business. In this scenario, the Jeep never stopped being dominant, it just took dominance to a new level. And it made Jeep some more money.

You could apply the lesson here to the new 2018 Dodge Durango SRT too. Boost it to 485 HP like it should and call it the 392. Then drop the 426 into it. Why? Regardless of what Dodge says, it will always come in last to the cars it has to compete with solely based on it being a crossover. The 2018 Land Rover Range Rover SVAutobiography with 550 HP. And the Mercedes-AMG GLS 63 with 577 HP. And with the Range Rover comparison, by default, it kind of competes with the Mercedes-Benz G63/G65 AMG to with 563/621 HP. The Durango will in no shape or form compete with those cars in price, luxury, or pedigree. But Dodge is a performance brand with a “Be Like No One” attitude right? You may lack everything else but at least be faster.

And in the Jeep's case, with some simple changes, we could be living in a different world right now. If only I worked for Jeep/SRT. Tim, my # is *****

Please tell me what you thought in the comments, plus any suggestions for how to make this better or for future article ideas for Fantasy Branding.

© 2017 Joshua Nightshade