It’s an unlikely comparison, this 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 vs 2013 Infiniti FX50S Mashup Review. Who cross-shops 5,150 pounds of pent-up aggression against 4,557 pounds of beauty and grace? Being a chaos-loving American, I instinctively favored the former. The end result, however, was something I would never have expected.
From the outside, the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 suggests mayhem is on tap, in a Jersey Shore kind of way. Attracting members of the opposite sex was disturbingly simple, what with its menacing grin and muscular shape. The 2013 Infiniti FX50S looks more confused, like the offspring of Snooki and a puffer fish. I spent far too much time analyzing its odd angles and misshapen mug, which turned quite a few heads as well, but not in a good way.
Inside, the story changes, where the FX feels like a gentleman’s penthouse and the SRT8 a bachelor pad. Rich wood and quilted leather envelop the Infiniti’s interior, coddling its occupants with sumptuous furnishings. The Jeep’s alcantara-trimmed front buckets are heavenly, but a sea of cheap materials kills the mood.
Under the hood, the SRT8’s 470-HP 6.4-L Hemi should easily have trumped the Infiniti’s 390-HP 5.0-L VK. Although the Jeep was fast and sounded fantastic, it lacked that last bit of “oomph” I was expecting for such a powerhouse. The Infiniti was a pleasant surprise, on the other hand, its violent bursts of acceleration provoking multiple belly laughs.
Putting power to the ground couldn’t have been, or felt, any more different. While the Grand Cherokee SRT8’s adaptive AWD typically splits power 35%/65% front/rear, the FX50S’ ATTESA E-TS system channels 100% to the rear, unless it detects slippage. Slam the gas in either one around a corner, and the rear tires will light up – It’s just much easier to do very bad things in the Infiniti.
Ride and handling are composed in the Jeep, although the suspension’s harshness is a constant reminder of the car’s bulk. The Infiniti’s continuous damping control does a far better job of quelling small impacts and vibrations, although the undulating ride in “comfort” mode is nauseating. Stick with “sport,” which also firms up steering response, and you won’t be disappointed.
In terms of utility, the Jeep unapologetically yanks back the throne. Fold the rear seats down, and you’re treated to a cavernous 68.7 cubic feet, with minimal wheel well intrusion. It’s still a good ol’ SUV at heart, and it pays off with added versatility. The voluptuous Infiniti, whose space is inhibited by its sloping roof line and odd proportions, maintains a more humble 62 cubic feet.
Swinging back in the Infiniti’s favor, the FX50S averaged 17.8 MPG during its week with me, in mixed city and highway driving. The Jeep, on similar driving loops, gulped the juice at an eye-popping rate of 13.8 MPG. This translated to more than $150 spent on 500 miles of travel in the SRT8, given today’s exorbitant fuel prices.
When it comes to value, neither the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 nor the Infiniti FX50S is particularly cheap. The Jeep, at $65,275 as-tested, tries a bit too hard to overcome its workaday SUV roots. The Infiniti, at exactly $67,000 as-tested, fits more naturally within a high-end performance luxury persona.
Full disclosure: I began this test jonesing for the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. In the end, however, I knew my money would be best spent on the Infiniti FX50S. The nearly flawless combination of performance, handling, and technology easily overcame questionable styling to reign supreme over pure American muscle.
On the TFLcar.com recommendation scale of:
– Buy it
– Lease it
– Rent it, or
– Forget it
I give the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 a RENT IT!
Everyone should have the opportunity to drive this thing just once in their life. Still, I’d rather have the lighter, less expensive first-gen model. This one feels great, but just can’t match the overall dynamic of its predecessor.
I give the 2013 Infiniti FX50S a LEASE IT!
Against formidable competition from BMW (X6), Acura (ZDX), and others, the FX is packed full of techno goodies and presents good value. I just wouldn’t want to fix any of this stuff out of warranty.
Daniel Buxbaum has had a life-long passion for all things automotive. His background as a Porsche, Audi and BMW service advisor brings a more technical approach to his writing. Dan’s passion for automotive journalism secured him a position as regional manager and contributing writer for Parts & People, a multi-region automotive trade publication. Dan is also an active member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP) and Motor Press Guild (MPG).