By on July 13, 2012


Luke writes:

Hi Sajeev,

Thank you again for publishing my question on the LR3. While the beautiful white Landy that originally set a hook in me was a possibility up to the very end, ironically the air conditioning stopped working while my wife was test driving it. That told me everything I needed to know. We’ve been doing some hardcore car shopping over the past week. We have decided on a vehicle, but first I’ll tell you about the ones that didn’t make the cut:

Chevy Trailblazer SS – Aside from the LS thrust and muscular styling, these are extremely depressing trucks. We looked at three of them because I was desperately hoping to find a winner here. The interior materials are shockingly cheap feeling, the seats are hard and flat, and they handle like full-sized pickup trucks. I was hoping to be able to overlook their humble origins and lack of a low range transfer case in favor of big power, but I just couldn’t.

Honda Pilot and Ridgeline – The Ridgeline is, on paper, perfect for me. I even read an article that their target market was a “30-something engineer who fixes up his own house and wants to pull a boat.” I AM a 30-something engineer and I DO like to fix my own junk, but learned about the two best days of a boat owner’s life several years ago. What we found here, though, are cheap-feeling plastic interiors and a driving experience that is more minivan than truck or SUV. As practical as each one was, I just could not see myself enjoying one long-term.

VW Touareg – Very, very nice interiors. The V8 engine sounds excellent and most of them were loaded with every possible toy a person could want. The back seats are quite small, though, and there isn’t much cargo room. My wife drove an Audi A4 before the S80 and we don’t completely trust the reliability and longevity of a VAG vehicle. Having paid for some fairly major repairs on the A4 after it went out of warranty, it didn’t feel like I was getting away from the possibility of having my pocket picked when something went wrong.

Volvo XC90 – These are sweet, sweet vehicles. I noticed a comment today about how nice they are with the Yamaha V8, and I couldn’t agree more. Being current Volvo owners we loved and felt at home driving one. From a functionality standpoint, though, there are three big problems: no low range, a front axle-biased “slip & grip” AWD system, and the fact that the AWD disengages at low speed to aid parking and maneuverability. Again, I need real 4 wheel drive.

This leads us to the Jeep dealer, and to the vehicle we ultimately purchased – a 2012 Grand Cherokee Laredo X. The interiors of these trucks are simply beautiful to me, SO much nicer than the previous generation. The 3.6 liter Pentastar has all the power I’ll ever need. They have plenty of room in the back seat and in the cargo area. But the best thing is that you can equip one pretty much to your exact specification. The dealer was able to find one locally that’s the color we wanted with the “Off Road Adventure Package”, which gets you the QuadraTrac II transfer case with low range, the very Rover-like Terrain Select system with hill descent control, and a bevy of skid plates and tow hooks.

I hate taking loans for vehicles, but to blunt my anguish Sergio (and the US Treasury?) have seen fit to offer 36 month 0% interest financing on new Grand Cherokees. If someone will give me the money for free, I’ll take it. So between that and the willingness of the dealer to haggle hard and get the sale, I feel like I did pretty well. We take delivery tonight, and I have yet to feel any twinges of regret.

So, in the end I blew my budget out of the water and bought a new truck, but it has a warranty and it’s something I’ll be able to drive and enjoy for a long, long time.

Thanks again,

Sajeev answers:

I need to stop trusting you Piston Slap contributors. You people give me a certain criteria, but in this case, considering your income level and upscale desires…well, why not get a new vehicle?

The Grand Cherokee seems like a great SUV (haven’t driven it) and it is a good vehicle for your needs. The financing and warranty combine to work well, too. Long term, this was the right move. Especially compared to the LR3.

Oh, and thanks for proving my point about Land Rovers in particular, and–to a lesser extent–most any modern European car out of warranty. Attention whores such as myself need validation on a regular basis.


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24 Comments on “Piston Slap: Um, like, no! (UPDATE)...”

  • avatar

    Fine selection Luke…I have two friends that purchased JGC’s after driving mine (one a Laredo X like yours and the other the loaded Overland). I have been impressed since Day One with mine…enjoy!

  • avatar

    Curious why the Durango and Explorer didnt enter your shopping craze. I think your thoughts of the other vehicles were spot on.

  • avatar

    Solid choice!

    While I don’t need or want an SUV for my personal vehicle, I drive them regularly for work. If I were in the market for an SUV, the JGC would be my first choice – and I say this after driving them through areas where moose are common.

    The Pentastar is a sweet engine – Chrysler arguably has the best 6 cylinder engine now, for the first time since the /6 was current.

  • avatar

    I know a few Range Rover owners and all have needed new engines eventually. They are beautiful vehicles which happen to be the worst vehicle you can possibly own.

    • 0 avatar

      I know that that’s the conventional thinking about Land Rovers. But that hasn’t been my experience with the modern ones… those built after the mid 2000s. I’ve had two, have one now, and three friends have RR’s and LR’s. But you have to be realistic about them, or any luxury car. Don’t plan on keeping it for ten years and spending zero on maintenance. If you want trouble free, get an Accord. A Range Rover is much more complexed and engineered for extreme situations. Although admittedly, few will ever leave the mall parking lot and drive off-road.

      • 0 avatar

        In Old Blighty they sell conversion kits to drop diesels in them,
        but with all the extreme refined accoutrements, i bet everything is routed thru the network of Buckingham Intelligent system,
        u either have to live with many buttons that dont work or pay hefty repairs.

    • 0 avatar

      The Range Rover in our family now hasn’t been babied and has only ever had 2 faults, one cured under warranty (a faulty sensor in the suspension system) and a very minor radiator leak, cured with Radweld 40k miles ago. It’s a 2006 MY Supercharged.
      And it’s the same story with the two before that. Both current generation. One had a one time engine shutoff for no reason, which was traced back to an MAF issue. An MAF produced by BMW. We also had the same problem in the Morgan Aero 8 and BMW X5 4.4i we had at the time.

      However, the 97 MY 4.6 HSE before that….that had some pretty hefty electrical issues. Not to mention the fact that at 60k it seemed to burn as much oil as gas…..

  • avatar

    I’m not sure I understand why having low was such a big factor given where you live. It takes a helluva climb here in the Rockies to ever use 4 wheel low!

    With that said, the GC is nice. And also as another 30 year old engineer, the Ridgeline is definitely unappealing. But my Outback can do everything it can.

  • avatar

    I have a friend who is a retired Ford truck product planner and HE is thinking about buying a Grand Cherokee. Enough said. Great choice. What color did you get? Love the dark brown.

  • avatar

    Guess this question should have fallen under “New or Used?”.

  • avatar

    The Honda Pilot feels like a minivan because it is a minivan. As for the new GCs, they’re super nice trucks and very refined for what they are, but are about 600 pounds overweight.

  • avatar

    Where was Karesh when you needed him? The new JGC has a repair list on True Delta that the Speke-built TR7s would have been proud of.

  • avatar

    Well, I hope you never have to swerve to avoid a moose…

    Just kidding! Congrats on the new vehicle, it sounds perfectly tailored to your needs.

    On a side note, Volvo discontinued the V8 for 2012 didn’t they?

  • avatar

    This was interesting to me. I’ve been shopping for a new ride for the last 2 years, but my wife and I can’t find one that fits the bill yet. My favorite has perpetually been the GC, but the lack of a 3rd row keeps giving my wife reservations. We don’t use it often, but it is nice to have when the occasional carpool duty comes up. She also is used to our Odyssey and all the space in it. The GC does feel a bit smaller inside for her (for me it’s good since I’m used to my car). Durango has been a non-starter–even with the 3rd row.

    I get the feeling that Luke is going to be happy with his new ride. I sure hope we can make a decision soon. We’re at a point where we’re now waiting for 2013s to come out to eval them (Acadia, Pathfinder, etc.).

  • avatar

    I am sure it is an excellent vehicle, I just couldn’t buy an Italian vehicle.

    • 0 avatar

      The Grand Cherokee is as Italian as prickly pear cactus jam. The Ford Taurus is more Swedish than the GC is Italian.

      • 0 avatar

        Well said. But my Taurus is old, she’s an ’04. Congrats to you both on the wedding by the way!

      • 0 avatar

        Thank You.

        Yeah I meant the Volvo derived new Taurus. I’ve driven a few of the old Taurus as fleet vehicles and I’m seriously considering one as a interstate cruiser. Cheap, reliable, reasonably torquey, and decently comfy for four people.

      • 0 avatar

        Which is why it is German- based on the current M-B ML series, Fiat had little to nothing to do with initial design and engineering. I thought also that the Pentastar was a shared M-B design?

  • avatar

    Congratulations, pharmer!

    Welcome to the Jeep Owners Club. Hope it’s as fun for you as our is. (When you hit the trails for the first time, if the JGC had a tail, it would be wagging!)

    We also have the Off-Road-Adventure II. The skid plates turned out to be quite functional, as we found out last month, jacked up to the max ride height on some difficult terrain.

    Our dealer was offering a LIFETIME extended warranty (no mileage limit/as long as we own the car) w/ $100 deductible. We said, “suckers” [quietly] and signed on the line. This may be the last car my wife ever buys. She thinks it will be.

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