The Jeep Cherokee has been around in one form or another since 1974. It was the first true mainstream SUV and the vehicle that got Americans hooked on the idea that there were other transportation options then the family station wagon. The big Cherokees of yesteryear roamed the streets until the Wagoneer went out of production in 1991, right around the time the Grand Cherokee came to market. It was smaller, lighter and more in tune with the now growing SUV segment, and since its introduction in 1992 it’s been a runaway hit.
The newest Jeep Grand Cherokee was redesigned in 2011. It sports all new sheet metal, new engines and interior trim levels, and yet has never lost any of the off-roading capabilities that made Jeep famous. The model you see here is a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4×4, and I have to say that it is one beautifully done machine. It used to be that all things produced by Chrysler were a bit on the dodgy side. Exterior panel fitment and paint were substandard, their electronics were crap and as a whole they were a 5-year car at best.
Times however have changed. Chrysler has drastically improved their quality and now build cars and trucks that I’d not only be proud to own, but do own. This new Jeep Grand Cherokee is a perfect example of that. From the moment you step into its cabin you’ll notice an air of quality. Door panels fit together correctly, the materials used (leathers, plastics and metals) are all top notch and throughout my time with this new Jeep never once did I hear a squeak or a rattle, whether on the road or off.
The Jeeps exterior is a wonderful blend of high society styling and 5-day old stubble and it’s just at home with the theater valet as it is slogging through the mud. It’s lines are softly powerful and convey an air of confidence that makes it appealing to both men and women alike.
Climb inside and your greeted with a nice combination of soft touch plastics, leather and advanced electronics. Interior room for both front and rear passengers is liberal, however I did find the center console a little on the large side, which meant my right leg was constantly butting up against it. Not a deal breaker by any means, but something that should be noted for taller drivers. Rear seats possess a decent amount of room and passengers even have the option of reclining if they so choose which is a nice touch on those long trips. Both front and rear seats were comfortable offering ample support with well placed headrests.
Another notable item is that the outward visibility is quite good. Never once did I find myself looking over my shoulder or squatting in my seat to see a stoplight from under the windshield.
Keep in mind that when we get press vehicles we’re generally treated to “loaded” models. For instance, this Grand Cherokee Limited model meant leather seating, rear entertainment system with remote, heated front and rear seats and a touch screen media system that is better then the one in my home. Combine that with the two-tone trim with wood an aluminum accents and the Limited’s interior is very inviting. The navigation unit for example is intuitive and easy to use, as are the audio and climate controls. The center stack in the dash is positioned nicely with everything being in clear view and within reach.
Drop below that and you’ll see the floor console that holds Jeeps Quadra-Trac II 4wd system which lets the driver switch through no less than 5 different settings on the fly (Sport, Snow, Auto, Mud/Sand & Rock) with a low range setting available when the Jeep is stopped and in neutral. Kurt recently reviewed a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland, so check that out if you’re looking for a more upscale version than the Limited.
Out back a large tailgate gives you the option of simply opening the rear window or the full gate if you so choose. Once open the Grand Cherokee provides 35.1 cubic ft with the rear seats up, or a whopping 68.1 with the rears seats folded flat. This is a BIG tailgate, however Jeep has done a nice job of masking its weight thanks to perfectly place grab handles.
An integrated sub-woofer and amp for the 505-watt stereo system are also located in the rear side panel, along with plenty of storage bins throughout the cabin.
These days it seems that all new cars come equipped with push button start, with the Jeep being no exception. To me this is just another step and another piece of equipment that can eventually fail. Me personally, I’ll take a good old fashion key any day of the week. This Grand Cherokee was equipped with Chrysler’s new Pentastar V6 that cranks out 290 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm. Now while these may seem like fair numbers you best keep in mind that the Jeep weighs in at almost 4,700 lbs which is A LOT for a V6 to be hauling around. Around town and for general driving it’s fine, but try and make a pass at 65 + mph and you’ll find out very quickly that there’s not much upstairs.
However keep it around the 65 mph mark and you’ll be rewarded with around 18-20 combined MPG which isn’t bad. Mate that to the standard 24.6 gallon fuel tank and you’re talking about a range of almost 500 miles per tank. If you want more power you can always opt for the 360 hp 5.7-liter V8 or go buck-wild and get the SRT8 with the 6.4-liter HEMI and its 470 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque.
On road driving is about what you’d expect from a full-sized SUV. Soaking up bumps and road imperfections is no problem, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call this thing a handler. Yes, it does have a sport mode, but all that does is firm up the steering a little bit and raise the 5-speed transmissions shift point. It gives the illusion that you’re going faster, but you’re not, so just leave it in AUTO mode and be happy.
The brakes felt fine and according to Edmunds.com a V6 powered 4×4 will stop from 60 mph in 125 feet, which is pretty respectable. Overall this 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4×4 was a very nice ride that I’d recommend to those looking for a full-sized SUV capable of just about anything. It’s got plenty of room, loads of storage space and all the techo-goodies and gadgets one could want. Plus, it’s kind of a looker, so that’s a bonus as well. Price on this V6 4×4 Limited model was $42,080.00. Not cheap by any means, but definitely competitive with SUVs that offer similar performance and options.