The 6.1 Hemi may be powerful, but fuel-efficient it's not. Our combined average over a week of admittedly aggressive driving was 11.8 mpg, which is almost as good as the EPA-rated 12 mpg, but this is roughly in line with what we usually get with test vehicles. Rarely are we even able to replicate the EPA city numbers, much less the highway figure. The only problem is the Grand Cherokee's small fuel tank. Unlike a Suburban, which can cruise for a seeming eternity on its 40-gallon tank, the Grand has but a 20-1/2-gallon tank, barely bigger than even a four-cylinder Nissan Altima's. It seems no sooner had we filled up the tank with Premium and given the throttle a few enthusiastic jabs that we were back at the gas station, feeding our addiction to Hemi-powered speed.

The Final Word
A few issues ago, we reviewed the Chevy TrailBlazer SS. It seems comparisons between the 'Blazer and the Jeep are inevitable. Although they're both midsize, musclecar-powered SUVs, the two have distinctly different flavors and missions. Whereas the SS has the highest towing capacity of the TrailBlazer line at 6,800 pounds, the SRT is the wimpiest Grand Cherokee when it comes to towing. It's built to handle a relatively feeble 3,500 pounds. Truth be told, the Chevy is probably a more practical all-around package. But, if you're simply looking for the fastest, kick-butt performance SUV out there for under $50,000, and you couldn't care less about its utilitarian benefits, the Grand Cherokee SRT8 is unequivocally it.

The 411

Year/make/model:
'06 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

Base Price/as tested:
$39,300/$45,630

EPA Fuel Economy:
12 city/15 highway

Observed Fuel Economy:
11.8 mpg

Engine:
6.1L Hemi V-8

Horsepower:
420 horsepower at 6,000 rpm

Torque:
420 lb-ft torque at 4,800 r