The Truth About Cars » grand cherokee http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 04 Dec 2014 19:13:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » grand cherokee http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Grand Cherokee, Durango Going Grayscale Until February 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/grand-cherokee-durango-going-grayscale-february-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/grand-cherokee-durango-going-grayscale-february-2015/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 14:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=949153 Were you hoping to have a red Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT or Dodge Durango Ron Burgundy Edition in your driveway in time for Christmas? You may have to try your luck on the lot, as new orders will be painted black, white, gray and silver all over for the next few months. Automotive News reports […]

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2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-004

Were you hoping to have a red Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT or Dodge Durango Ron Burgundy Edition in your driveway in time for Christmas? You may have to try your luck on the lot, as new orders will be painted black, white, gray and silver all over for the next few months.

Automotive News reports the grayscale look will be in until at least next February due to upgrades at Chrysler Group’s Jefferson North Assembly’s paint shop in Detroit. The upgrades would allow the shop to paint vehicles with more complex colors than it could prior to the changeover.

The changeover, which follows those at the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ subsidary’s Warren Truck and Sterling Heights facilities, will also shut production down for three weeks beginning December 22, the first time the plant has been shut down for that long in several years.

Until then, shoppers can comb through the lot to find a red or maximum steel SUV of their dreams: around 19 percent of 24,500 unsold 2015 Grand Cherokees and 8 percent of 719 unsold Dodge Durangos come in colors outside of the grayscale range.

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FCA CEO Ordered To Give Deposition In Jeep-Related Lawsuit http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/fca-ceo-ordered-give-deposition-jeep-related-lawsuit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/fca-ceo-ordered-give-deposition-jeep-related-lawsuit/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=946210 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne has been ordered by a Georgia judge to give a deposition as part of a lawsuit made against his company by a family whose son was killed in a rear-end crash involving a Jeep. Bloomberg reports the Walden family is suing FCA, stating the fiery accident that took the […]

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sergio-marchionne

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne has been ordered by a Georgia judge to give a deposition as part of a lawsuit made against his company by a family whose son was killed in a rear-end crash involving a Jeep.

Bloomberg reports the Walden family is suing FCA, stating the fiery accident that took the life of their four-year-old son, Remington Cole, was the result of a safety hazard involving the placement of the fuel tank in their 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The judge asked the automaker to make its CEO available for a videotape deposition at a time agreed upon by both involved parties, per a decision on the case made last month.

FCA’s Chrysler Group stated said Jeep wasn’t defective, and that it met or exceeded safety standards that were in place when the vehicle left the assembly line. The automaker did offer its sympathy to the family, however:

Chrysler Group expresses its most profound sympathy to those affected by this tragedy, which resulted from a collision with a pickup truck driven in a manner police described as “erratic, reckless, careless (and) negligent.”

The statement follows a similar response made to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in June 2013, when the agency requested the automaker recall 2.7 million Grand Cherokees and Libertys over the vehicles’ fuel tanks, which posed a fire risk due to their location between the rear bumper and axle. FCA later applied a fix for 1.56 million affected units — the installation or repair of a trailer hitch to help minimize the effects of a low-speed crash — but not for the 1999 Grand Cherokee like the one cited in the lawsuit.

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My Last Free Mercedes-Benz http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/last-free-mercedes-benz/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/last-free-mercedes-benz/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 14:10:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=922041 Everyone please welcome Steve Lynch, author of “Arrogance and Accords“, as our newest contributor! Yesterday I was working for the greatest automobile company in the world. Today I am working for the greatest automotive blog in the world. Yesterday I was working for the Germans. Today I am working for a 25-year-old Canadian kid who […]

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2015 ML350

Everyone please welcome Steve Lynch, author of “Arrogance and Accords“, as our newest contributor!

Yesterday I was working for the greatest automobile company in the world.

Today I am working for the greatest automotive blog in the world.

Yesterday I was working for the Germans.

Today I am working for a 25-year-old Canadian kid who loves rap music.

I am one lucky sumbitch.

I elected to take early retirement after 17 years at Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. The hardest part about leaving the OEM auto business is giving up the free company car. The 2015 ML350 you see above was my last ride and is currently for sale at Mercedes-Benz of Tucson (Low Miles! Illuminated Grill Star! Celebrity Owned!). God, it hurts…

An old retail automobile business adage says that the only things car salesmen need are the “3 Ds” – a desk, a drink and a demo. For me, that first demonstrator was a used 1981 Rosewood Brown Buick Regal that I drove while working at Spires-Douglas Buick in San Antonio.  I clearly remember driving  it off the lot after my first day on the job and thinking, “I like this business!” The days of salespeople getting free rides are long gone at most dealerships, no doubt a factor in attempting to draw new talent into the retail industry now.

The scores of Honda (all stick shifts by the way) and Mercedes-Benz vehicles parked in my garage over the years were nice but my favorite ride was a 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited High Output V8 I drove during the year I was sentenced to work on the Chrysler Financial side of our company. I was our auction rep in Arizona, selling repossessed Neons and off-lease Jeeps, and the GC could flat-out fly over the whoops on the rugged Apache Trail outside of Phoenix.

Jeep_Grand_Cherokee_WJ_34h courtesy wikipedia.org

Stories of wrecked demos are commonplace as there can be a certain “it’s not my car” mentality to driving one, as illustrated in this funny company car features page. In my own case, I tell people my last accident was in 1977 because I don’t count the night in Dallas in 1988 while coming home from Adair’s Saloon that I discovered that the counter rotation of the wheels on a 4-Wheel Steering Prelude negated my ability to execute a perfect bootlegger’s turn. I slid sideways hard into a curb and destroyed the suspension but somehow limped her home, dragging one tire all the way. Thank God it was during the corrupt days at American Honda: I traded a load of Accords to a dealer in return for him replacing the Prelude and making the wrecked one disappear.  I think that night was the end of my drinking and driving days and I have never put more than a scratch on a demo after that. Besides, get in an accident or get pinched for DUI in a OEM car and you could lose your job or, if you are lucky, keep your job but have to buy your own car.

I can take solace in the fact that I will driving the occasional press car for test drive purposes. You may wonder if I will be biased in favor of Honda and Mercedes-Benz. Of course I will. But I told Derek those are the last two brands I want to write about. I will pen a few stories about my days working for those corporations but I owe it to you to explore and write about all brands and all automotive companies. Besides, I already know how most of you feel about Mercedes-Benz vehicles…

I am thrilled to be reporting to you from the Tucson TTAC Tower and can promise you only one thing: the truth.

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Chrysler Recalls 349K MY 2008 Units Over Ignition Issues http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/chrysler-recalls-349k-2008-units-ignition-issues/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/chrysler-recalls-349k-2008-units-ignition-issues/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 10:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=920002 Owners of a handful of MY 2008 DaimlerChrysler products now have one thing in common with those who own certain General Motors models: An ignition-related recall. Chrysler Group says 349,442 MY 2008 vehicles have ignitions where the switch remains stuck between the “ON” and “START” positions, or slips into “ACCESSORY” or “OFF”; the latter scenario […]

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2008 Chrysler 300 LX With A Hint Of Pimp

Owners of a handful of MY 2008 DaimlerChrysler products now have one thing in common with those who own certain General Motors models: An ignition-related recall.

Chrysler Group says 349,442 MY 2008 vehicles have ignitions where the switch remains stuck between the “ON” and “START” positions, or slips into “ACCESSORY” or “OFF”; the latter scenario cuts power to the engine, steering and air bags.

The affected were assembled before May 12, 2008, and consist of the following:

  • Dodge: Charger, Magnum
  • Chrysler: 300
  • Jeep: Commander, Grand Cherokee

The recall covers 292,224 units in the United States, 18,976 in Canada, 4,947 in Mexico and 33,295 around the globe. Chrysler recommends removing everything from the ignition key, as well as confirming the switch is in the “ON” position after starting their vehicles, until affected owners are able to bring in their vehicle for free servicing.

A similar recall issued earlier this year affected 890,000 vehicles made between January 2007 and June 2010, where the switches also could slip from “ON” to “ACCESSORY.”

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Chrysler Group Asks For Hitch Production Boost Amid NHTSA Inquiry http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/chrysler-group-asks-for-hitch-production-boost-amid-nhtsa-inquiry/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/chrysler-group-asks-for-hitch-production-boost-amid-nhtsa-inquiry/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=870010 A day after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked what was taking so long for a supplier to make enough hitches to cover 2.5 million recalled vehicles, Chrysler Group ordered its supplier to boost production. Automotive News reports the inquiry, sent July 2, noted that it would take five years for Chrysler to repair […]

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2002-2004_Jeep_Liberty_Sport

A day after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked what was taking so long for a supplier to make enough hitches to cover 2.5 million recalled vehicles, Chrysler Group ordered its supplier to boost production.

Automotive News reports the inquiry, sent July 2, noted that it would take five years for Chrysler to repair all 2.5 million 1993 – 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokees and 2002 – 2007 Libertys with trailer hitches meant to minimize the potential for fuel tank ruptures and fires in low-speed rear-end accidents. In turn, Chrysler told supplier Northern Stamping Inc. to raise its daily production rate from 2,205 to 3,511 hitches.

The affected vehicles will be able to be equipped with the hitches beginning August 1, with the last ones to receive theirs by March of 2015.

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NHTSA Investigates Chrysler Group Air Bag, Ignition Issues http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/nhtsa-investigates-chrysler-group-air-bag-ignition-issues/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/nhtsa-investigates-chrysler-group-air-bag-ignition-issues/#comments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 11:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=846881 General Motors no longer has the monopoly on ignition and air bag problems, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Chrysler Group over those very issues. Detroit Free Press reports the agency has opened two investigations into 1.2 million vehicles as follows: 2005 – 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee; 2006 […]

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2010-dodge-grand-caravan

General Motors no longer has the monopoly on ignition and air bag problems, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Chrysler Group over those very issues.

Detroit Free Press reports the agency has opened two investigations into 1.2 million vehicles as follows:

  • 2005 – 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee; 2006 – 2007 Jeep Commander: Faulty air bags; 700,000 under preliminary investigation
  • 2008 – 2010 Dodge Journey; 2010 Chrysler Town & Country; 2010 Dodge Grand Caravan: Ignition switches shifting out of “on” position; 525,000 under recall query

The NHTSA received 23 complaints over air bags problems, though none involved non-deployment, and 32 complaints about the ignition switch. Both parties are working to find any links to the problems, though no more information has been made available thus far.

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Review: 2014 Dodge Durango Limited V8 (with Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/review-2014-dodge-durango-limited-v8-with-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/review-2014-dodge-durango-limited-v8-with-video/#comments Thu, 16 Jan 2014 15:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=695921 Car shopping used to be so simple: you could buy a truck or a car. Then came the wagon, minivan, sport utility and the latest craze: the crossover. There’s just one problem with the crossover for me however: it’s not a crossover. With a name like that you’d assume that a modern crossover blended the […]

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2014 Dodge Durango Exterior-002

Car shopping used to be so simple: you could buy a truck or a car. Then came the wagon, minivan, sport utility and the latest craze: the crossover. There’s just one problem with the crossover for me however: it’s not a crossover. With a name like that you’d assume that a modern crossover blended the lines between a truck/SUV with a car/minivan. The reality of course is that the modern three-row crossover is just a front-driving minivan that doesn’t handle as well or haul as much stuff. In this sea of transverse minivans in SUV clothing lies just one mass-market vehicle that I can honestly call a three-row crossover: the Dodge Durango. Instead of a car that’s been turned into an AWD minivan with a longer hood, the Dodge uses drivetrains out of the RAM 1500 combined with a car-like unibody. While rumors swirled that the Durango would be canceled in favor of a 7-seat Jeep, Dodge was working a substantial makeover for 2014.

Click here to view the embedded video.

So what is the Durango? Is it an SUV? Is it a crossover? In my mind, both. If a Grand Cherokee can be a unibody SUV and not a crossover, the Durango must be an SUV. But if a crossover is a hybrid between a car and a truck, then the Durango is one as well. While the first and second generation Durangos were body-on-frame SUVs based on the Dakota pickup, this Durango is a three-row Grand Cherokee, which is a two-row Jeep version of the three-row Mercedes ML which is quasi related to the Mercedes E-Class, which is quasi related to the Chrysler 300. Lost yet?

Exterior

2014 brings few changes to the outside of the Durango. The design first released in 2011 still looks fresh to my eye but that could be because I don’t see many on the road. Up front we get a tweaked corporate grille and new lamps while out back we get “race track” inspired light pipes circling the rump. Aside from a lowered right height on certain models and new wheels, little has changed for the Durango’s slab-sided profile, which I think is one of the Dodge’s best features. No, I’m not talking about the plain-Jane acres of sheet metal, I’m talking about RWD proportions. Bucking the trend, this three-row sports a long (and tall) hood, blunt nose, short front overhang and high belt-line.

To create the Durango from the Grand Cherokee, Chrysler stretched the Jeep’s wheelbase by 5-inches to 119.8 inches and added three inches to the body. The result is four-inches longer than an Explorer but two inches shorter than the Traverse, Acadia and Enclave triplets. Thanks to the Durango’s short front overhand, the Dodge has the longest wheelbase by a long way, beating even the full-size Chevy Tahoe. Speaking of the body-on-frame competition, the Durango may have been a size too small in the past, but this generation is just 8/10ths of an inch shorter than that Tahoe.

DG014_043DU

Interior

Body-on-frame SUVs have a practicality problem when it comes to space efficiency. Because the frame sits between the body and the road, they tend to be taller than unibody crossovers despite having less interior volume. Like the rest of the crossover crowd, this allows the Durango to have a spacious interior with a comparatively low entry height. 2014 brings a raft of much-needed interior updates to the cabin including a new soft touch dashboard, Chrysler’s latest corporate steering wheel with shift paddles, revised climate controls, Chrysler’s latest uConnect 2 infotainment system and a standard 7-inch LCD instrument cluster. Like the other Chrysler products with this LCD, the screen is flanked by a traditional tachometer, fuel and temperature gauge. Oddly enough, the standard infotainment screen is a smallish (in comparison) 5-inches.

Front seat comfort proves excellent in the Durango which was something of a relief, as the last few Chrysler products I have driven had form and oddly shaped seat bottom cushions that make me feel as if I was “sitting on and not in the seat.” As with all three-row vehicles, the accommodations get less comfortable as you move toward the back. By default all Durango trims are 7-passenger vehicles with a three-across second row. For $895 Dodge will delete the middle seat and insert a pair of more comfortable captain’s chairs and a center console with cup holders and a storage compartment. The third row is a strictly two-person affair and, like most crossovers, is best left to children and your mother in law. Those who do find themselves in “the way back” will be comforted by above average headroom and soft touch plastic arm rests. With large exterior proportions you’d expect a big cargo hold like in the cavernous Traverse, alas the RWD layout that makes the Durango so unique renders the interior less practical. With more of the body used up for “hood,” we get just 17 cubes of space behind the third row. That’s three less than an Explorer, seven less than GM’s Lambda triplets and about the same as a Honda Pilot. On the bright side this is more than you will find in a Highlander or Sorento and shockingly enough, more than in the Tahoe as well.

DG014_030DU

Infotainment

uConnect 2 is the first major update to Chrysler’s 8.4-inch touchscreen system that launched in 2011 and the first version of this system the Durango has ever had. Based on a QNX UNIX operating system, the system features well polished graphics, snappy screen changes and a large, bright display. For the second edition of uConnect, Chrysler smoothed out the few rough edges in the first generation of this system and added a boat-load of trendy tech features you may or may not care about. In addition to improved voice commands for USB/iDevice control, uConnect 2 offers smartphone integration allowing you to stream audio from Pandora, iHeart Radio or Slacker Radio. You can have text messages read to you and dictate replies (if your phone supports it) and search for restaurants and businesses via Yelp. In addition to all the smartphone-tied features, uConnect 2 integrates a CDMA modem on the Sprint network into the unit for over-the-air software updates and access to the new “App Store” where you will be able to buy apps for your car. Since there’s a cell modem onboard, uConnect can be configured to act as a WiFi hot spot for your tablets and game devices as well. Keep in mind speeds are 3G, not Sprint’s WiMAX or LTE network.

Completing the information assault is SiriusXM’s assortment of satellite data services which include traffic, movie times, sports scores, fuel prices and weather reports. As with uConnect data services, there’s a fee associated after the first few months so keep that in mind. 2014 also brings uConnect Access which is Chrysler’s answer to GM’s OnStar providing 911 assistance, crash notification and vehicle health reports. Garmin’s navigation software is still available as a $500 add-on (standard on Summit) and it still looks like someone cut a hole in the screen and stuck a hand-held Garmin unit in the dash. The interface is easy to use but notably less snazzy than the rest of the system’s graphics. If the bevy of USB ports has you confused, you can rock your Cat Stevens CD by paying $190 for a single-slot disc player jammed into the center armrest.

2014 Dodge Durango 5.7L HEMI V8 Engine-001Drivetrain

Dodge shoppers will find two of the Grand Cherokee’s four engines under the hood. First up we have a 290HP/260lb-ft 3.6L V6 (295HP in certain trims) standard in all trims except the R/T. R/T models get a standard 360HP/390lb-ft 5.7L HEMI V8 which can be added to the other trims for $2,795. 2014 brings a beefed up cooling system and a number of minor tweaks in the name of fuel economy. Sadly Chrysler has decided to keep the V6 EcoDiesel engine and 6.4L SRT V8 Grand Cherokee only options, so if you hoped to sip diesel or burn rubber in your three row crossover, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Both engines are mated to a ZF-designed 8-speed automatic. V6 models use the low torque variety made by Chrysler while V8 models use a heavy-duty 8HP70 made in a ZF factory. If you’re up to date on Euro inbreeding, you know this is the same transmission used by BMW, Audi, Jaguar, Land Rover and Rolls Royce. To say this is a step up from the vilified Mercedes 5-speed or the Chrysler 6 speed (the 65RFE featured some of the strangest ratio spacing ever) is putting it mildly. Fuel economy jumps 9% in the V6, 10% in the V8. No small feat in a 4,835lb SUV (as tested). All Durangos start out as rear wheel drive vehicles but you can add a two-speed four-wheel-drive system for $2,400. Although Dodge bills this as AWD, it is the same transfer case that Jeep calls 4×4 in Selec-Trac II equipped Grand Cherokees. Thanks to the heavy-duty drivetrain towing rings in at 6,200lbs for the V6 and 7,400lbs for the V8. Like the Jeeps the Durango has moved to more car-like 5-lug wheels which should widen after-market selection.

2014 Dodge Durango Exterior

Drive

The engineers took the refresh opportunity to tweak the Durango toward the sportier side of the segment with stiffer springs and beefier sway bars. While far from a night-and-day transformation, the difference is noticeable and appreciated out on the roads. While never harsh, it is obvious the Durango is tuned towards the firm side of this segment. Thanks to the long wheelbase the Durango feels well composed on the highway or on broken pavement.

With a nearly 50/50 weight balance, wide 265-width tires, and a lower center of gravity than a “traditional SUV”, the Durango is easily the handling and road feeling champion. That’s not to say the Durango is some sort of sports car in disguise, but when you compare a well balanced 360 horsepower rear wheel drive elephant to a slightly lighter but much less balanced front driving elephant on skinny rubber, it’s easy to see which is more exciting. Thanks to the Mercedes roots there’s even a whiff of feedback in the steering, more than you can say for the average crossover. Despite the long wheelbase and wide tires, the Durango still cuts a fairly respectable 37-foot turning circle.

Those statement may have you scratching your head if you recall what I said about Jeep on which the Durango is based, I must admit I scratched my head as well. Although the Dodge and the Jeep share suspension design elements and a limited number of components, the tuning is quite different. The Grand Cherokee Summit rides 3.1-inchs higher and was equipped with the off-road oriented air suspension.

2014 Dodge Durango Exterior-005

When it comes to performance, the new 8-speed automatic makes a night and day difference shaving a whopping 1.4 seconds off the 0-60 time versus the last V8 Durango we tested. The reason is all in the gear ratios. While the 545RFE and 65RFE transmissions suffered from some truly odd ratios, the ZF unit’s ratios are more evenly spread and dig deeper in the low gears. The result is a 6.0 second sprint to highway speeds which finally nips on the tails of the Explorer Sport which we’re told will do the same in 5.9-6.0 (TTAC hasn’t tested one yet). This proves what extra gears can do for you because the Explorer is 200lbs lighter and has a far more advantageous torque curve thanks to the twin turbos.

You can also thank the ZF transmission for the Durango’s robust towing numbers. V6 models are now rated for 6,200lbs while the V8 can haul up to 7,400lbs when properly equipped. That’s nearly 50% more than you can tow in any of the crossover competition and just 1,000 lbs shy of the average full-size body-on-frame hauler.

The transmission is also responsible for a whopping 20% increase in fuel economy. The last V8 Durango I tested eked out a combined 14.8 MPG over a week while the 2014 managed 18.0 MPG. While 18 MPG isn’t impressive in wider terms, it is 1/2 an MPG better than GM’s Lambda crossovers or the Ford Explorer on my commute cycle. The V6 yields improved fuel economy at the expense of thrust, but you should know that although the acceleration provided by the V6 is competitive with the V6 three-row competition, the 20 MPG average falls short of the new Highlander, Pathfinder and the rest of the FWD eco-minded competition.

After a week with the Durango I was no closer to answering the biggest question car buffs have: is this Dodge a crossover or an SUV? One thing is sure however, the Durango is likely the most fun you can have with 6 of your friends for under $50,000.

 

Chrysler provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested:

0-30: 2.4

0-60: 6.0

1/4 Mile: 14.6 Seconds @ 96 MPH

Cabin noise at 50 MPH: 69dB @ 50 MPH

Average observed fuel economy: 18 MPG over 811 miles

 

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Review: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/review-2014-jeep-grand-cherokee-srt-with-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/review-2014-jeep-grand-cherokee-srt-with-video/#comments Thu, 05 Dec 2013 13:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=666978 If you want a high performance SUV today, you’re left with relatively little choice. GM hasn’t dabbled in the market since their Trailblazer SS / Saab 9-7 Aero and Ford never even gave it a try with the old Explorer. That means your only options for ridiculously fast boxes on wheels come from BMW, Porsche, […]

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2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-004

If you want a high performance SUV today, you’re left with relatively little choice. GM hasn’t dabbled in the market since their Trailblazer SS / Saab 9-7 Aero and Ford never even gave it a try with the old Explorer. That means your only options for ridiculously fast boxes on wheels come from BMW, Porsche, Mercedes… and Jeep. Is it possible that the “bat-shit-crazy” Chrysler that I remember and love is back?

Click here to view the embedded video.

Exterior

This isn’t the first Grand Cherokee with sporting pretensions, as 1998 Grand Cherokee 5.9 Limited was arguably the first fast Grand Cherokee. Despite the RWD layout making a performance version “easy to do” (in a relative sense), we wouldn’t see another until the third generation “WK” SRT8 in 2006. With a 425 horsepower 6.1L engine, it was the most powerful Jeep ever built. Sadly, a Cerberus-era interior kept it off my wanted list. After a hiatus, another SRT landed in 2012, this time with 470 horses under the hood. Although improved, the interior still underwhelmed and the Mercedes sourced 5-speed transmission was hardly a team player.

While the basic vehicle remains unchanged, 2014 brings more changes than your typical refresh. Up front we have a new nose featuring LED daytime running lamps, headlamp washers and standard HID headlamps.  Out back we get a refreshed rump with twin exhaust tips, which are far more practical than the central tips on first Jeep SRT,e because it allows a standard hitch receiver to be mounted behind a trim panel in the bumper. It’s worth noting that Chrysler rates the Grand Cherokee SRT for 7,200lbs of towing.

Now it’s time to talk about competition. When it comes to high horsepower SUVs, you don’t have many options. Sure, we have that new Porsche Macan, but it’s smaller than the Jeep and less powerful. When you do the numbers, the only 470+ horsepower beasts on the market are the closely related Mercedes ML63 AMG, the new supercharged Range Rovers, the Porsche Cayenne Turbo/Turbo S. And… That’s it. BMW has taken a break from X5M for 2014, likely to return as a 2015 model. Audi Q7? Too wimpy. Acura MDX? Weaksauce. That means that while the Grand Cherokee plays with the Explorer, GMC Terrain, Toyota 4Runner, VW Touareg and others, the Grand Cherokee SRT appeals to two different sorts of buyers. The performance enthusiast that wants an AWD Chrysler 300 SRT, and the luxury SUV shopper on a value hunt.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-002

Interior

As with the exterior, 2014 brings more interior changes than your typical refresh. The Jeep gets Chrysler’s chunky new SRT steering wheel complete with metal shift paddles, a heated soft leather rim, a flat bottom, and more buttons than Apollo mission control. The refresh also brings an entirely new stitched leather dashboard, leather coated doors, carbon fiber trim, and improved plastics all around. Below the carbon fiber, little has changed. This means we still have hard plastics which belie the SRT’s luxury credentials.

Dominating the dash is the latest 8.4-inch uConnect infotainment system joined by a 7-inch LCD disco dash.  The LCD gauges put the Jeep well ahead of BMW and Mercedes and, interestingly, only a notch below the full 11-inch LCD used in Range Rovers. Finishing the transformation is an Audi-like shifter in the center console. Sadly the SRT doesn’t get the Alcantara headliner that the Grand Cherokee Summit gets. Combined with the easily scratched plastic shifter surround, the SRT is obviously not running with the luxury pack but it is a notch above the crossover rabble and feels  worth the $63,995 base price. More on that later.

The  front seats are modified versions of regular Jeep thrones with more bolstering and are available in your choice of “baseball glove” brown or black with Alcantara inserts. (The full-leather seats will run you $1,995 more.) Although the seats are less comfortable than those found in the Merc, Rover or Bimmer, I had no problem finding a comfortable position on multi-hour drives. Unlike less expensive versions of the Grand Cherokee, the SRT’s seats seem to be designed for you to sit “in” the seat rather than “on” the seat, something that I was pleased to note.  Rear seat passengers will have little to complain about with reclining rear seat backs, air vents and the same soft-touch leather door treatment as the front. New for 2014 are two high-current USB power ports in the center console so your kids can charge their iWidget without cigarette adapters.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-005Infotainment

In addition to improved voice commands for USB/iDevice control, uConnect 2 offers smartphone integration allowing you to stream audio from Pandora, iHeart Radio or Slacker Radio. You can have text messages read to you and dictate replies (if your phone supports it) and search for restaurants and businesses via Yelp. In addition to all the smartphone-tied features, uConnect 2 integrates a CDMA modem on the Sprint network into the unit for over-the-air software updates and access to the new Chrysler “App Store” where you will be able to buy apps for your car. Since there’s a cell modem onboard, uConnect can be configured to act as a WiFi hot spot for your tablets and game devices as well. Keep in mind speeds are 3G, not Sprint’s WiMAX or LTE network.

Completing the information assault is SiriusXM’s assortment of satellite data services which include traffic, movie times, sports scores, fuel prices and weather reports. As with uConnect data services, there’s a fee associated after the first few months so keep that in mind. 2014 also brings uConnect Access which is Chrysler’s answer to GM’s OnStar providing 911 assistance, crash notification and vehicle health reports. The navigation interface is easy to use, but notably less snazzy than the rest of the system’s graphics. The SRT trim gets Chrysler’s home brew 9-speaker sound system with a 506-watt amplifier. The sound is acceptable for the price tag but I’d buy the 19-speaker, $1,995 Harmon Kardon Logic7 system if I were you. Quite similar in timbre to the Logic7 systems BMW uses, the system holds its own compared to the up-level audio packages in the luxury set. Because BMW’s X5M is on hiatus, the infotainment win in this segment has to go to the SRT. COMAND is well past its prime and Porsche and Land Rover’s infotainment systems are unintuitive and lag in terms of feature functionality.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee 6.4L HEMI V8 Engine-001

Drivetrain

The first Jeep to wear the SRT badge used a 6.1L V8 that was accused of having a narrow power band, a “peaky” torque curve and poor fuel economy. To address this, Chrysler released a new 6.4L V8 in 2012. Instead of revising the 6.1, the engineers went back to the drawing board and created a new engine based off the second-generation 5.7L Hemi. This means that unlike the luxury competition, you won’t find overhead cams, direct injection or 32 valves. Don’t let Top Gear or the iron block fool you, this engine is a modern design with some tricks up its sleeve. Despite the push rods, Chrysler managed to fit variable valve timing, a variable length intake manifold, cylinder deactivation, alloy pistons and 16 spark plugs. The combination is good for 470HP and 465 lb-ft of torque.

Thanks to the “Mercedes years”, Chrysler was still using a Mercedes 5-speed transmission behind the 3.6L V6 and the 6.4L V8 in 2012 and 2013. While not a bad transmission, the 5-speed’s ratios were not well mated to the 6.4L V8. In order to get SRT levels of performance, a different final drive was fitted making the engine spin over 2,400RPM at 70 MPH. The new ZF 8-speed automatic allows a lower effective first gear, a more balanced ratio spread and a taller final gear so the engine can at 1,900 RPM at 70. Directing power to all four wheels is an MP 3010 electronic proportioning transfer case. The driver can select from five drive modes that control the torque split, shift pattern and the dynamic suspension system. Auto gives the softest suspension, slowest shifts and sends 40% of the engine power to the front for balanced handling. Sport stiffens and makes the shifts crisper, while sending only 35% of the power to the front for more rear bias. Track provides the stiffest dampening and sends 70% of the power to the rear for even more of a RWD feel (2012 and 2013 models topped out at a 35/65 split). Should you like things 50/50, Sport and Tow modes provide balanced power front and rear. One thing you still won’t find however is a torque vectoring rear axle, Jeep retains the electronic limited slip unit found in other Grand Cherokee models.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-016Drive

The Grand Cherokee SRT has all the right numbers for bat-shit-crazy status, but can it deliver? In a word: Yes. Backing that answer up is a blistering 4.1 second run to 60 and an eye-popping 1.37 second 0-30 time. But can it truly compete with the Germans? Despite the new interior and 8-speed automatic (basically the same transmission Porsche, BMW and Range Rover use) the SRT isn’t as refined, inside or on the road. Driven back to back with the competition, the SRT feels more like the Range Rover or the Mercedes than the tighter BMW or Porsche. The Merc comparisons are especially interesting since the ML and the Grand Cherokee share plenty of design DNA.

Although Mercedes has fitted a more powerful twin-turbo V8 (515 HP / 516 lb0-ft or 550 HP / 560 lb-ft), the Merc feels less connected to the road than the Jeep. Part of this is due top the air ride suspension Mercedes uses and part of it is due to the narrow 265 width standard tires. While you can get 295s all the way around, it’ll cost you dearly as the ML63 is easy to option over $100,000. Factor in the dated COMAND system and the 7-speed auto that is 1 gear shy of everyone else and the ML comes in last.

Land Rover’s Ranger Rover Sport continues to march to a different drummer. Although the 5.0L V8 produces 510 HP and 461 lb-ft of twist, the Rover’s mission is more luxury than sport. The English mountain climber retains all the off road hardware of the lesser models, all season tires and a high ground clearance. Thanks to the supercharged engine’s lack of torque compared to the rest, the Range Rover is also the slowest to highway speeds. While the Range Rover would be my choice if I had the cash, the fact that it isn’t really the same kind of animal puts it in fourth place.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-008

Porsche’s Cayenne is, without question, a beast. With sharp handling, an excellent weight balance and a well-trimmed interior you’d logically expect the Touareg’s rich cousin to take top billing. However, there’s a big value problem. In order to get 4-second 0-60 performance like the rest, you have to throw down at least $146,000 for the Turbo S model and getting crazy with the option sheet can bump your out the door by more than $25,000 without trying very hard.

BMW’s X5M would take top billing if it was still made, but, for the moment at least, there is no X5M for shoppers to contemplate. The outgoing X5M model’s torque vectoring axle, insanely wide tires, low stance and underrated twin-turbo V8 are a lethal combination. The fact that the outgoing X5M was also cheaper than the ML63 and the Cayenne certainly helps the value proposition as well. That is, if you can call a six figure vehicle a “value.”

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-015

That means that the $70,135 Jeep (as tested) is my pick for 2014. And now let’s talk about why. The fact that you could literally get two for the price of a Cayenne is huge, and that’s because I’m all about value. Value isn’t being the cheapest (although the Jeep wins that award by over $30,000 in this mash-up) it’s about delivering the same or similar experience for less, and that’s something the SRT has down. But there’s also something rough and rugged about the Jeep that elicits more charm. The Jeep’s interior is more utilitarian, the throttle blips on down shift lack the fanfare and overrun “pops” you get with the competition and there’s still that Jeep logo on the hood. More skill is required to pilot the SRT around a canyon road making it more engaging than the Teutonic competition. (It isn’t just the product that’s a little crazy, Chrysler allowed folks to drive the Jeep on Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, other manufacturers kept their toys out of harm’s way.)

The lack of a torque vectoring rear axle means you have to be in control of the Jeep, while more refined nannies and vectoring systems in the Porsche and BMW can make anyone feel like a pro. The Cayenne and X5M are also better balanced than the Jeep which wears 54% of its weight up front thanks to that cast iron engine, but when pressed hard the Jeep gives up little to the Germans. Even in a straight line the Jeep’s numbers stack up well. Thanks to the 8-speed auto in the Jeep, and the old 6-speed ZF unit in the 2013 X5M we tested, the Jeep’s power deficit resulted in a scant 1/100th 0-30 penalty, 1/10th 0-60 penalty and by the 1/4 mile the Jeep was still neck and neck at 1/10th and 6 MPH slower.

After a week with the Grand Cherokee SRT I was sad to see it go, even after I noted my 15.5 MPG fuel economy average. Perhaps it is because I recently bought a Saab 9-7 Aer0 with GM’s 390 horse LS2, so I seem to be the target market for a value performance SUV. Perhaps it is because I’ll nver be able to afford the SRT’s German competition but the Jeep is within reach if I sell a kidney. Or, perhaps the real reason is that a 5,150lb Jeep with a 6.4L push-rod V8 engine making 470 horsepower that ticks off a 0-30 time faster than a BMW M6 rain or shine is bat-shit-crazy. Anyone know the going rate for a kidney?

Chrysler provides the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review. Chrysler provided an SRT Grand Cherokee at a Mazda Raceway event for local press.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 1.37 Seconds

0-60: 4.1 Seconds

0-100: 11.33 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 12.7 Seconds @ 107 MPH

Average observed fuel economy: 15.5 over 989 miles

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee 6.4L HEMI V8 Engine 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee 6.4L HEMI V8 Engine-001 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee 6.4L HEMI V8 Engine-002 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee 6.4L HEMI V8 Engine-003 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-001 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-002 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-003 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-004 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-005 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-006 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-007 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-008 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-009 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-010 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-011 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-012 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-013 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-014 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-015 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-016 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior-017 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-001 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-002 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-003 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-004 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-005 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-006 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-007 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-008 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-009 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-010 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-011 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-012 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior-013 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee LCD Instrument Cluster

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Jeep Grand Comanche Episode 2: We Jack ‘Em Up In The Yard http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/jeep-grand-comanche-episiode-2-we-jack-em-up-in-the-yard/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/jeep-grand-comanche-episiode-2-we-jack-em-up-in-the-yard/#comments Thu, 07 Nov 2013 23:24:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=644274 If you haven’t heard by now, there’s a new project car in TTAC’s “garage,” a 2000 Grand Cherokee Limited. I of course use the term garage simply because “gravel driveway” fails to have the same ring. Why a car guy doesn’t have a garage is a story for a different time. All I will say […]

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2000 Jeep Grand Comance Project Car

If you haven’t heard by now, there’s a new project car in TTAC’s “garage,” a 2000 Grand Cherokee Limited. I of course use the term garage simply because “gravel driveway” fails to have the same ring. Why a car guy doesn’t have a garage is a story for a different time. All I will say on the matter is that I was promised a garage with a 2-post lift and I am still waiting…  Back to the car. Before we chop the lid off the WJ Grand Cherokee to convert it into a two door, two seat Grand Comanche we needed to tackle a few projects. We need a lift kit, off-road rubber, then we need to ditch the interior and take care of some general housekeeping items.

Iron Rock Off Road 3-inch lift kit

The whole point of this project car is for the Jeep to act as a farm utility vehicle. Since this 2000 Limited model was equipped with the “Up Country” suspension package it had a factory lift of one inch to 10.3 inches of ground clearance. If that sounds better than a John Deere Gator’s 8.5 inches, remember that the farm utility vehicle has a really short wheelbase. Translating that up to the project car meant adding three inches. (Keep in mind that since our Jeep had the factory one inch lift, the three-inch lift kits increase the height by only two inches since their base number uses the stock 4×4 ground clearance. )

After a an intense Googling session, I settled on the $499 Iron Rock Off Road lift kit. My logic was simple: it was the cheapest three-inch lift kit I could find. Why not four? According to the Jeep experts I asked, a four-inch lift would have required more complicated modifications including lowering the transfer case. I fell for the suggestion to toss in a $70 shock upgrade and my out-the-door was $633.98 after shipping.

Lift Kit In Progress

The kit arrived on time and in two large and heavy boxes. Everything was well packaged but the instructions could have been a bit better. While I pride myself as an above average DIY-wrencher, I would have liked some more detailed instructions simply as a safety margin. If you’re not comfortable disassembling your suspension, you’ll be paying hundred for the installation.

Because I’m a moron with a desire to live, when one of my spring compressors gave up on me, I decided instead of compressing the spring on side (and making it look like a big banana) I would just unbolt the suspension from the body so it would be low enough to install the springs without the compressor. This meant jacking the Jeep up one side at a time (two jacks would cost money and I’m cheap), placing a large concrete paver on the gravel to support a jack stand and then raising the other side in the same way. Right about the time I was breaking suspension bolts loose with a 24-inch breaker bar and making the Jeep sway on my dollar-store jack stands I realized this was stupid. Yet I continued.

With the lift kit installed after about 6 hours total I was able to bolt on the next item.

ProCom 16 inch steel wheels

Pro Comp 16-inch steel wheels

No project Jeep would ever be complete without steel rims. Black steel rims. Since I didn’t want to go crazy big and I wanted a large aspect ratio tire, I stick with a 16-inch wheel diameter and jumped up to an 8-inch wide wheel. Cost: $377.88 delivered. Yeehaw.

Pro Comp Xtreme MT2

Pro Comp Xtreme MT2 265/75R16

When it came to the tires my choice was limited. Because I opted for just a three inch body lift, I knew I couldn’t go too crazy on the rubber. I trolled all the Jeep forums I could find and my 30 second research indicated that a 265/75R16 would be the biggest thing I could stuff in there without pushing the wheel outside the body or sawzalling the body to pieces. After 30 seconds of online comparison I found a deal on Pro Comp Xtreme MT2 tires in just the right size for a grant total of $1,007 at my door. In hind sight a 4-inch lift kit would have helped me out here and something around 6 inches would have allowed me to get more serious 33-inch tires, but I was committed at this point.

Because I have a few connections in the fleet world, I was able to snag some time in the mechanic’s bay of a local company with a service vehicle fleet. Being the cheap bastard I am, I mounted and balanced the tires myself for free. This is also why one wheel has about 7 wheel weights on it, although I seem to have balanced them fairly well as there isn’t even a faint vibration on the highway. Score one for the cheap dudes.

Although there are more aggressive tires out there, I decided that it would be handy to be able to drive the Grand Comanche to the feed store directly. The alternative would be to drive something else to the feed store, pick up hay, straw, feed, etc, then swap it into the cut-up-hoopty for delivery. Even so the on-road toll is obvious with the tires being significantly louder than all terrains.

Jeep on alignment rack

Oops

This brings our total to $2,018.86 in parts followed by a $79 four-wheel alignment which is required after you disassemble this much of any car.  Since the car was gifted to the project, I considered this good value thus far. Then I decided to cross the creek and drive through the woods. More on that later.

 

This project is obviously for entertainment value only. My entertainment value primarily, but if you find it interesting to watch then we’re on to something. This means that comments like “why don’t you sell it and buy a X instead?” are pointless. Also obvious is the fact that I’ve never done anything like this before so it is incredibly likely that I’ll be doing stupid things, getting things wrong and generally making an ass of myself. That’s just par for this course. While I may mention specific products, I’m not endorsing anything and no person or company has given this project any free stuff. (This makes me very sad.) Lastly, if you have any suggestions, know of any sources for parts, or are in the area and want to check the disaster out, let us know.

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Pre-Production Review: 2014 Toyota 4Runner (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/pre-production-review-2014-toyota-4runner-with-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/pre-production-review-2014-toyota-4runner-with-video/#comments Fri, 13 Sep 2013 18:01:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=516081 I would normally start a car review with an item of trivia or history about the vehicle under review, or about the segment in general. This time I’m going to start by talking about the elephant in the room: the 2014 4Runner SR5/Trail front end. Yikes! I know that beauty is in the eye of […]

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2014 Toyota 4Runner Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

I would normally start a car review with an item of trivia or history about the vehicle under review, or about the segment in general. This time I’m going to start by talking about the elephant in the room: the 2014 4Runner SR5/Trail front end. Yikes! I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but when the attractive new 2014 Tundra pulled away revealing the 2014 4Runner, I was reminded of a woman I worked with in 1998. Drawn in by the promise of eternal good looks, she had her eyebrows surgically removed and lines tattooed on her face. The only problem was the tattoo artist (accidentally?) gave her a permanently surprised “eyebrows”. Oops. Perhaps the 4Runner also regrets going under the knife and that’s why the fog lamp slits make it look like it’s crying. What say the best and brightest? Click through the jump and sound off in the comment section.

2014 Toyota 4Runner Limited, Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Toyota

Exterior

Are you relieved by this picture? I was. Things change if you’re willing to pony up $41,365 for the Limited model which adds chrome to break up the frowning grille and deletes whatever is going on around the SR5/Trail foglights. While I still think the headlamps are a little odd, the 4Runner Limited’s nose is attractive overall but it makes me ask: why do you have to pay more for the good-looking nose. Never mind, I answered my own question.

Aside from the new schnozz and some clear tail lamp lenses, little has changed for the Toyota’s mid-sized go-anywhere SUV. That means the 4Runner’s body still sits on a frame. That also means the 4Runner, Nissan Xterra and Jeep Wrangler Unlimited are the only mid-sized non-luxury body on frame SUVs left in America. (And I’m not sure I’d even call the smallish Wrangler a mid-size SUV.) Since I currently own two GMT360 SUVs, I “get” the BOF argument in many ways. Aside from the SR5’s nose, which is still giving me nightmares, there is something decidedly attractive about the proportions and profile of a body on frame rock crawler. Of course I can’t go further without mentioning the 4Runner’s modern nemesis: the decidedly unibody Jeep Grand Cherokee. The big Jeep isn’t just the current darling of the press, TTAC included, it’s also one of the most attractive SUVs for sale right now.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Interior

2014 brings a gentle refresh to the interior consisting of a new steering wheel, radio head units, gauge cluster, seat fabrics and plastic color choices. The new steering wheel is essentially shared with the 2014 Tundra and features a thick rim, well places sport grips, soft leather and well placed radio buttons. While Toyota claims that the front seats are unchanged from 2013, they seemed softer and more comfortable than the 2013 model made available for comparison. This could be down to the new fabric choices, but I think some foam was changed as well.

Ergonomics in the 4Runner have always been secondary to the off-road mission, and because little substance has changed for 2014 that remains. Window switches have gained an Auto feature but are still in an awkward and high place on the door, possibly to keep then out of the water should you stall in a stream. Radio knobs and switches and the 4WD shift level all require a decent reach for the average driver. Unlike the Grand Cherokee you can still get a 7-seat version of the 4Runner in SR5 and Limited trim, Trail remains 5-seat only. The extra two seats are an interesting option because the Nissan Xterra and Grand Cherokee, the only two rugged off-roaders left, are strict 5-seaters.

Toyota re-jiggered the features lists and the Trail model now gets heated SofTex faux leather seats with an 8-way power frame for the driver and 4-way power for the front passenger. You also get an integrated 120V inverter, auto-dimming mirror and programmable homelink transmitter. This placed the Trail model firmly between the SR5 and Limited in the lineup.

2014 Toyota 4Runner Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Infotainment

Like the new Tundra, the 4Runner gets Toyota’s latest infotainment head units. All models come standard with the 6.1-inch touchscreen unit with iDevice/USB integration with voice commands, XM satellite radio, Bluetooth speakerphone integration and smartphone apps. Toyota has “changed their Entune” lately and made the service free, however you need to sign up for an online account to make things work. SR5/Trail  Premium and Limited models add navigation software and improved voice commands with text messaging support to the same screen. Limited models upgrade the speakers from 8 Toyota branded blasters to 15 with JBL logos. If you want the detailed look, check out the video.

Drivetrain

Anyone hoping for a resurrected V8 4Runner needs to head to the Jeep dealer, engineers I spoke with indicated the V8 will never return. Unless you need to tow with your mid-sized SUV (like I do) this isn’t much of a problem since the V8 model existed primarily to bolster the 4Runner’s towing numbers and consume more fuel. Instead, the same 270HP 4.0L V6 as last year soldiers on cranking out a respectable 278 lb-ft of torque across a broad RPM range. For off-road duty the V6 is perfect as it’s lighter than the V8 and with the right gearing you don’t need more power. About that gearing. Toyota continues to use their old 5-speed auto in the 4Runner and that’s my only beef. The 5-speed unit has a fairly tall 1st gear with an overall effective gear ratio of 12:1, notably higher than something like a Wrangler. SR5 and Trail models feature a 2-speed transfer case bumping that to 31:1, still taller than the Wrangler’s insane 73.3:1 ratio. If you opt for the Limited model the 2-speed transfer case is replaced with a Torsen center differential for full-time four wheel drive with better on-road manners.

Keeping with the 4Runner’s mud-coated mission, the rear axle is still solid, features a mechanical locker and skid plates are still standard. The Trail model still uses an open front differential, but like the Jeep Patriot uses the ABS brakes to imitate a limited slip unit. Toyota claims this keeps weight down and improves grip on certain surfaces. Toyota’s Multi-Terrain Select, active traction control and crawl speed controls continue for 2014. It’s worth noting here that the Wrangler still has a solid front axle.

2014 Toyota 4Runner Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Drive

Out on the road the 4Runner’s manners are defined by the high profile (70-series) rubber and body-on-frame design. Toss the 4Runner into a corner and the high profile tires cause a “delay” in responsiveness that you don’t find in modern CUVs with their 35-series rubber. In terms of grip, the wise 265/70R17 tires on SR5 and Trail models help the 4Runner stay competitive with mainstream crossovers. The Limited model gets reduced grip but improved turn in and feel with its 245/60R20 rubber. Going lower profile but reducing width at the same time seems like an odd choice, but it helps the heavier Limited model with full-time AWD get the same 17/22/19 MPG (City/Highway/Combined) as the part-time SR5/Trail models.

Soft springs and trail tuned dampers mean the SR5 tips, dives and rolls like a traditional SUV, which makes sense as it is a traditional SUV. These road manners have caused a number of reviewers out there to call the 4Runner “conflicted,” “confused” or “compromised.” Clearly these guys don’t live in the country and have never been off-road. The 4Runner is quite possibly the last utility vehicle with a singular mission: retain off-road ability.

2014 Toyota 4Runner Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Yes, Toyota continues to add creature comforts, and I’m sure they will sell plenty of the RWD Limited model in suburbia, but at its heart the 4Runner is an off-road SUV. This is quite different from the Jeep Grand Cherokee which has been on a constant march toward the mainstream. (Albeit with an eye toward off-roading.) This is obvious when you look at Jeep’s switch to fully independent air suspension, constant size increases, a plethora of engine options and curb weight gone out of control. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Grand Cherokee, but if you want to climb rocks, it’s not the best choice. Meanwhile, Toyota has in many ways re-focused on off-roading. The 4Runner offers a myriad of off-road software aids and the retention of a mechanically locking solid rear axle and rugged frame. In this light, keeping the old drivetrain makes sense: it’s tried and true and there are plenty of aftermarket accessories designed with it in mind.

The 4Runner may be a go-anywhere SUV, but it’s not a tow-anything SUV. The V6 and 5-speed combo limit the 4Runner to 4,700lbs, down from the 7,300lbs the defunct V8 model could shift. That’s thousands of pounds less than the Grand Cherokee and even 300lbs less than the Ford Explorer crossover. However, even this can be seen as a refocusing on the 4Runner’s core mission. As I’ve noted before, nobody seems to tow with their mid-size SUV except me, and off-roaders prefer the lower weight and better balance of the V6 for true off-road duty.

With Toyota canning the slow selling FJ Cruiser at some point soon, the 4Runner will soldier on as one of the last rugged SUVs. For a model that helped ignite the SUV/CUV explosion, it’s refreshing that the 4Runner has stayed true to its roots: providing a daily driver capable off-road machine. The Wrangler Unlimited is a better rock crawler with solid axles front and rear, better approach/departure/breakover angles, better ground clearance and a lower range gearbox, but the Wrangler is too off-road dedicated for the school run. If you’re one of the few that drops the kids off and heads over to the off-road park on your way to Costco, the 4Runner is for you. If you’re the majority of SUV shoppers, there are more “conflicted” “compromised” options out there that will fit your lifestyle better. Jeep will be happy to sell you one.

 

Toyota provided the 4Runner for a few hours at the Tundra launch event. Food and flights were covered by Toyota.

 

2014 Toyota 4Runner Exterior 2014 Toyota 4Runner Exterior, Rear, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Toyota 4Runner Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Toyota 4Runner Exterior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Toyota 4Runner Interior 2014 Toyota 4Runner Interior-001 2014 Toyota 4Runner Interior-002 2014 Toyota 4Runner Interior-003 2014 Toyota 4Runner Interior, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2014 Toyota 4Runner Interior-005

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Vellum Venom Vignette: Less is More…Enlightening? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/vellum-venom-vignette-less-is-more-enlightening/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/vellum-venom-vignette-less-is-more-enlightening/#comments Sat, 09 Mar 2013 11:11:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=480559 Mark writes: Sajeev, We can’t let Jeep get away with what they have done to the (redesigned Jeep) Grand Cherokee’s face. This square-peg-in-a-round-hole approach just looks half-baked, lazy, and cheap. Even the choice of filler material used to fill the void is wrong in material, color and pattern. In short, Jeep’s design team needs to […]

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Mark writes:

Sajeev,

We can’t let Jeep get away with what they have done to the (redesigned Jeep) Grand Cherokee’s face. This square-peg-in-a-round-hole approach just looks half-baked, lazy, and cheap. Even the choice of filler material used to fill the void is wrong in material, color and pattern.

In short, Jeep’s design team needs to be raked across the coals for destroying what was Chrysler’s best-looking vehicle on the market, and I think you are the man to do the raking.

Sajeev answers:

I’m honored you think I’m worthy of Raking the Design Muck, especially since your concise assessment is spot on: every element presented here is a big car design FAIL.

It leaves very little for me to prove. So let’s dig deeper. Change for the sake of change to a well-received design (i.e. not the Pontiac Aztek) isn’t normally a good thing: be it as eye-gouging as the Ferrari Testarossa turning into the hideous 512M or as minor as a Headlight Fail on the redesigned Grand Cherokee, this change uses R&D money to make something different at the expense of good taste.  Which is sad.

And inexcusable…but far from uncommon.  For example, the 2013 Toyota Tacoma work truck.

Is anyone fooled into thinking those are real fog lights?  Just make a blank panel for the fleet model instead…please! The previous model was far less offensive, even the goofy grilles of the fleet-spec Ford Ranger are better. While the Ranger is an outdated design, time has been the little Ford’s friend. Remember that “change for the sake of change” thing? It leads to the conclusion.

 And now for the key takeaway:  be it in the world of Automotive Accounting, Engineering or Industrial Design, the concept of “Less is More” is true.  Don’t waste money making parts that fight with a design (Grand Cherokee) or make it look cheaper than necessary (Tacoma). So design it right from the start.  Easier said than done, as I’ve heard (horror?) stories of designers working with engineers to get the proper end result.

So do the right thing because people are watching. Off to you, Best and Brightest.

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NAIAS 2013: LEAKED – Jeep Grand Cherokee Gets First Diesel Since Dr. Z Era http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/naias-2013-leaked-jeep-grand-cherokee-gets-first-diesel-since-dr-z-era/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/01/naias-2013-leaked-jeep-grand-cherokee-gets-first-diesel-since-dr-z-era/#comments Mon, 14 Jan 2013 14:09:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=473640 The big news to come out of Jeep today: DIESEL. And we aren’t talking about some HD truck diesel from a Ram pick-up. No, a proper fuel-sipping one, in the form of a 3.0L V6, will be available on the Grand Cherokee starting in the 2014 model year. Whoa, I think I just experienced the […]

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The big news to come out of Jeep today: DIESEL. And we aren’t talking about some HD truck diesel from a Ram pick-up. No, a proper fuel-sipping one, in the form of a 3.0L V6, will be available on the Grand Cherokee starting in the 2014 model year.

Whoa, I think I just experienced the weirdest deja vu…

Oh, right…remember when the Germans kinda sorta owned Jeep and they used one of their executives as a pitchman? He was old, had a moustache that would be a great supporting actor on Magnum P.I., and he tried to hock Jeeps to children?

Click here to view the embedded video.

Anyway, back to the new Grand Cherokee.

After receiving a bit of a refresh, some higher-end models will be offered with the new-fangled 8-speed automatic from ZF – the same transmission that allows the Ram 1500 to get better fuel economy than a Caravan. Will it be mated with the new diesel? We’re not sure. Maybe Sergio will tell us during the official reveal later in the week.

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Review: 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/review-2013-jeep-grand-cherokee-overland-summit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/review-2013-jeep-grand-cherokee-overland-summit/#comments Sat, 29 Sep 2012 13:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=460597 So, you really want a Range Rover but your trust fund hasn’t recovered from the “bankocalypse?” What’s a guy to do? Well, you could take advantage of the British brand’s cliff-face depreciation curve and buy an off-lease Rover, but do you really want to test your reliability-fate with used wares from Old Blighty? The answer […]

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So, you really want a Range Rover but your trust fund hasn’t recovered from the “bankocalypse?” What’s a guy to do? Well, you could take advantage of the British brand’s cliff-face depreciation curve and buy an off-lease Rover, but do you really want to test your reliability-fate with used wares from Old Blighty? The answer comes from the only other brand that has “off-road” coded into its near-luxury DNA: Jeep. Gasp! A Chrysler product you say? While Chrysler would not say the phrase “American Range Rover,” they did throw us the keys to the top-of-the-line Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit 4×4 so see what a refresh and stitched leather goodness could do for our soul.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The Grand Cherokee started life in 1993 as a mid-sized SUV attempting to slot between the full-size Grand Wagoneer and the smaller Cherokee. Since that time, like many cars in America, the Jeep has been getting bigger. Unlike many cars, the Grand Cherokee has been something of a social climber receiving newer trim levels with luxury features hitherto unseen in a Chrysler product. Now in its fourth generation the Grand Cherokee has grown by a foot in length, six inches in width and gained nearly a ton in curb weight. Despise the “Americansizing,” the Grand Cherokee’s exterior is well proportioned and elegant thanks to a redesign in 2011 that replaced the cartoonish front with a more attractive and elegant design. Further upping the luxury ante, Jeep bedazzled the Overland edition with chrome, even slathering the tow hooks in bling.

Interior

I have come to the decision that adding stitched leather to anything is a recipe for success. If you don’t believe me, hop in a Laredo trim Grand Cherokee then step inside an Overland. Even though Jeep improved the plastics in the 2011 refresh, the plebeian models receive a rubbery dashboard that collects dust and is difficult to clean. Meanwhile the Overland gets one of the best stitched dashboards I have had the pleasure to fondle see. Seriously, the quality of the stitch-work is second to none in the luxury industry and the contrasting piping on the seats screams Range Rover. This is a good thing. The Range Rover parallel continues with an interior color palate that runs from black-on-black to a series of contrasting leather combinations culminating in the striking “new saddle”  leather interior our model wore. Jeep has tossed plenty of real wood in for good measure and topped everything off with tasteful matte and shiny chrome trim. As you would expect from the “budget” Range Rover, all the creature comforts you could ask for are available including: radar cruise control with pre-collision warning to a heated steering wheel, cooled seats, automatic high beams and keyless go.

A common complaint with the first two generations of the Grand Cherokee was rear seat legroom. While the Grand Cherokee will never be mistaken for a limousine, rear leg room has improved and is no longer a problem point for most passengers. This increase in leg room came with a general increase in the Grand Cherokee’s dimensions. While this increase makes the SUV a bit less capable off-road in some ways, it pays dividends in passenger  comfort, cargo room, and, my personal favorite: lumber capacity. If you own a WJ series Grand Cherokee you’ve probably noticed that it’s hard to get 8-foot long items in the vehicle, this is not a problem with the WK’s increased dimensions. While the Jeep still can’t swallow a 4×8 sheet of plywood, four-foot wide items will fit in the cargo area easily. As before, the rear tailgate features a glass section that opens independently allowing longer items to hang out the rear, this is a feature that is notably absent in the competition.

Infotainment

The positive impression of the Overland’s interior is tarnished once you get settled and reach for the infotainment system. Because Chrysler’s finances were in the toilet when the Grand Cherokee was refreshed in 2011, the infotainment systems from the previous generation remain with essentially no change. All but the base model of the Grand Cherokee get the same 6.5-inch touch-screen interface with the more expensive trims getting more software options in the system. At the top of the food chain, Overland models get “everything” which includes: Bluetooth, iDevice/USB integration, Sirius Satellite Radio and a backup cam. While the feature set is competitive, the system’s graphics are old school, the software operation is far from intuitive, voice commands are few and far between, call quality is mediocre and the system is sluggish. Expect this to change for 2014 as we’re told Jeep is jamming the snazzy new 8.4-inch uConnect system into the dash. If you’re a gadget hound, wait for the upgrade. On the bright side, the Jeep’s English competition has an infotainment system that is just as lackluster, just as ancient and just as infuriating.

Drivetrain

As a nod to those interested in fuel economy, premium interior trappings no longer come bundled with a larger engine. As with all Grand Cherokee models, the Overland starts with the 3.6L V6 which produces 290HP at 6,400RPM and a respectable 260lb-ft of torque at 4,800RPM. Jumping up to the 5.7L V8 gets you 360HP at 5,150RPM and 390lb-ft at 4,250RPM. Attending the V8 party takes a toll on your fuel economy, dropping from 16/23 to 13/20 (City/Highway.) Compared to the Range Rover Sport’s 5.0L naturally aspirated engine, the Jeep delivers 15lb-ft more torque at the expense of 15HP and 2MPGs on the highway (13/18 MPG.)

The rumor mill tells us to expect both engines to get Chrysler’s  ZF-designed Chrysler-built 8-speed automatic for the 2014 model year. Until then, the V6 is paired with a Mercedes 5-speed while the V8 gets Chrysler’s in-house designed 65RFE 6-speed transmission. Our Overland also had the optional Quadra-Trac II AWD system which uses a 2-speed transfer case to split power 50:50 during normal driving situations and provides a 2.72:1 low range for off road use. Four-wheel-drive Overlands also get Jeep’s variable height air-suspension dubbed “Quadra-Lift.” Jeep claims the system is one of the fastest acting in the industry and compared to the Range Rover and Range Rover Sport I’m inclined to agree. Going from the low ride height of 6.6 inches to the 10.7 inch “rock climbing” height takes around 30 seconds while lowering the Jeep takes a similar amount of time.

Drive

Out on the road the Jeep’s hard-core roots are obvious. In a sea of sharp-handling FWD crossovers, the Grand Cherokee sticks out as a marshmallowy soft traditional SUV with standard RWD, a longitudinal mount engine, and a stout 7,200lb towing capacity. This means that despite wide 265-width rubber, the Grand Cherokee will only carve corners in the off-road-incapable SRT8 variety. Still, that’s not this Jeep’s mission. Much like a Range Rover, the Overland’s raison d’être is to drive like a Barcalounger regardless of the road surface. Mission accomplished.

With 360HP and nearly 400lb-ft of twist on hand, you would think the Overland 4X4 V8 would be fast. You would be wrong, our Overland took 7.3 seconds to hit 60 putting it firmly in the “average” category. The first impediment to forward progress is the mass of the Overland which rings in at 5,264lbs (V8 4X4) without a driver. The second is the Chrysler 65RFE transmission under the hood. Compared to GM, Ford and ZF’s 6-speed units, the shifts are slow and soft, first gear isn’t as low as the Mercedes 5-speed the V6 uses and the ratios are somewhat oddly spaced for normal driving. While I expect the new 8-speed unit to deliver better acceleration for the V8 with its low 4.69:1 first gear, don’t expect 2014 to improve HEMI fiel economy by much as the 65RFE’s 6th gear is already a tall .67:1, the same as the Chrysler/ZF 8-speed’s final gear. While we were unable to 0-60 test a V6 Overland, the V6 doesn’t feel that much slower than the V8 and it saves 351lbs of curb weight. The transmission’s ratios and shifting are likely the reason the Range Rover Sport (which manages to be even heavier) is 4/10ths faster to 60 despite the similar power numbers from the engines.

The high curb weight of the Overland causes a few problems off-road for the big-boy Jeep limiting the amount of fun you can have at the off road park. If you see that Grand Cherokee Laredo in front of you barely making it through the mud, just turn around, he’s 632lbs lighter than you. If you see a Patriot playing in the soft-stuff, it’s 2,000lbs lighter. Still, this isn’t likely to be a huge problem for you as I have yet to see a new Grand Cherokee let alone an Overland at my local SVRA. That being said, like the Range Rover, the Grand Cherokee provides all the off-road hardware you’d need to tackle the Rubicon. On our short course at Hollister Hills the Jeep proved that it still has a serious off-road setup that never flinched regardless of which wheel we had up in the air. There is a great deal of debate about whether Jeep’s move to a four-wheel independent suspension in the Grand Cherokee was the right move or not and I must throw my $0.02 in the ring. It doesn’t matter but Jeep made the right business decision. I appreciate both sides of the argument but since most Grand Cherokee buyers think of their gravel driveway as “off-road,” Jeep’s focus on asphalt manners is the way to go.

Branding is important to many shoppers, but just how important is that Range Rover brand to you? If the answer isn’t $16,195, then the $51,500 (as tested) Overland Summit is your “frugal” alternative. Not only does the Overland deliver an honest-to-goodness similar experience for considerably less, it is a viable option for those that simply prefer buying an American brand, or those living in Middle America where you can’t find a Range Rover dealer. Like the Range Rover, the Grand Cherokee Overland is all kinds of crazy, it’s big, brash and heavy but coddles the driver in a leather cocoon. Like the Range Rover, nobody “needs” an Overland, yet I secretly want one.

 

Jeep provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 2.9 Seconds

60: 7.22 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 15.64 Seconds at 87 MPH

Average Fuel Economy: 15.2 MPG over 819 miles

 

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-001 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-002 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-003 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-004 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-005 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-006 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-007 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-008 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-009 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-010 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-011 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-012 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-013 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-014 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-015 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-016 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-017 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-018 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit-019 IMG_0555 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit, Interior, stitched leather dash, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit, Interior, stitched leather dash, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit, Interior, instrument cluster, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit, Interior, instrument cluster, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

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Piston Slap: Keep the Jeep, Change your Name? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/piston-slap-keep-the-jeep-change-your-name/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/piston-slap-keep-the-jeep-change-your-name/#comments Mon, 02 Jul 2012 10:43:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=450948   John writes: What sort of upgrades would you recommend for a 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited? I bought it to replace my 300CE, which was the feature of a previous Piston Slap. I am planning on keeping this one for the foreseeable future. The only problems with it right now are broken fog lights, the […]

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John writes:

What sort of upgrades would you recommend for a 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited? I bought it to replace my 300CE, which was the feature of a previous Piston Slap. I am planning on keeping this one for the foreseeable future. The only problems with it right now are broken fog lights, the rear window wiper is frozen, and God-awful gas mileage. Aside from the wiper and the fog lights, is there anything you would recommend?

Sajeev answers:

I need more info.  What do you want to do with this Jeep?  What engine, mileage, etc information should we know about it?

John answers:

Actually, it’s probably going to be my DD for the conceivable future. I don’t have a whole hell of a lot of disposable cash at the moment to buy something better for what I’m going to need it for. I’m going to have a nice 52 mile each way commute to college come September, and despite the high miles (220k) it was well taken care of for most of its life. Also, I can usually fix anything major myself. I am kind of concerned about everything wearing out all at once and putting it out of commission either before I can fix it or before I can afford something else to take me back and forth. Perhaps I should change the question: should I save up as much as I can (which, frankly, would not be a whole hell of a lot. Probably no more than $2,500) and buy something hopefully a little better on gas and hopefully with a little less mileage or just invest everything back into the Jeep and keep it going for probably a couple more years? It is a 1995 ZJ Limited with the 5.2, insanely comfortable leather seats, a lovely slow oil leak from the rear main seal that I have been meaning to fix for quite some time now, a new rattle developing every week, and my complete and utter affection despite its many faults.

Also, I should have mentioned that there is practically no rust, and the only off-roading I do is the occasional light trail work. And here is a picture of the Jeep in question:

Sajeev concludes:

You went from a 300E to a Jeep ZJ. But I must be losing my marbles, as I previously called you “Fabio” but am now speaking to someone named John.  I think Fabio is a good name for that Benz, John is good for the Jeep.  I need to get you in a Grand Marquis, then change your name to Mildred.  Perhaps next time, that.

Almost any time someone with limited financial funds (and a non-European vehicle) such as yourself writes in, I say you need to stick with the problems you currently have.  It could be a lot worse. Do not save your money for another hooptie, this Jeep sounds pretty much okay. Save your money far beyond your college tenure, for when you will have a better job and enough income to actually afford a good, late-model car.

Fix all the little things as needed.  Buy the factory shop manuals and read up on the forums.  Tackle small projects between classes, studying, work, etc.  I know this plan is good, I did this for years with my 1988 Mercury Cougar during my BBA, my 1995 Lincoln Mark VIII during my MBA.  Hey, I’ve seen dumber things!

With any luck, the Jeep will make that time go by very fast. And then you can dump these old cars and get something decent, trouble-free and somewhat entertaining.  Or, when that time comes, get something very cheap and keep your old clunkers just for funzies.  That’s how I roll and I’ve yet to regret it.

Keep the Jeep, but I like “Fabio” better.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry.

 

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New or Used: A Truck For My Love http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/new-or-used-a-truck-for-my-love/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/new-or-used-a-truck-for-my-love/#comments Fri, 26 Aug 2011 19:43:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=408485     Matt writes: Sajeev and Steve, I think it’s time to replace my wife’s 2005 Honda Odyssey EX-L. It’s got 48,000 on the clock and has developed a few problems over the years. Power side doors that get wonky on really cold days, a slow leak in the AC system, a leak somewhere around […]

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(www.sogeshirts.com)

 

Matt writes:

Sajeev and Steve,

I think it’s time to replace my wife’s 2005 Honda Odyssey EX-L. It’s got 48,000 on the clock and has developed a few problems over the years. Power side doors that get wonky on really cold days, a slow leak in the AC system, a leak somewhere around the windshield, and an intermittent airbag light most recently, to name a few. None of these things is that big a deal, but considering that my wife has held a grudge against me for convincing her to buy a minivan in the first place, they are just mounting evidence in her case to replace the Ody.

Don’t get me wrong, we both admire the van. It’s a good highway cruiser, gets OK gas mileage, and can haul massive amounts of stuff. But we have no passion for it, and we’ve decided that we’re secure enough to get a vehicle that we really WANT, not just tolerate. I’m normally the type to hang on to a car for at least 100K miles, but I’ve had to hear complaints for 6 years, and I’m ready to give in. Besides, I still use my 2001 Accord as my daily commuter to the train station and back, and since I just dropped $2,000 on all the 100K service items, I intend to hang on to it. Besides, I like it. But back to the van…

The replacement probably has to be new. Wifey hates used cars…something about having to deal with other people’s problems and dirt. She claims she’s open to the CPO route, but usually she finds something wrong. Seems like many of these off-lease cars were formerly smokers’ cars, and she’s insanely sensitive to any odors, even after intensive detailing. Fortunately, she’s not affected by the toxic gasses leeching out of the plastic on brand-new vehicles. But I digress.

90% of the time she’s using it for normal soccer mom duties, hauling our little ones aged 5 and 7. It has to be an SUV/CUV. My love has always wanted a truck and has been denied her whole life, so the idea of a jacked-up station wagon appeals to her very much. And please, 4WD/AWD only—apparently it’s necessary for all those 2-3 in snowfalls Chicago is famous for. Towing isn’t much of an issue, since there are no 10,000 pound boats to tow in my future, for now.

Three rows of seating would be nice, but we’re on the fence. Honestly, we only use the third row 5-10 times a year. But when we do, it is nice to have. Built-in navigation is a must (tired of the Tom Tom falling off the windshield unexpectedly and scaring the bejeezus out of me), and I’m kind of a gadget guy, so I’d like something with all the latest cool bells and whistles. Even though I know that it just ups the chance of something breaking.

Oh, and it has to be somewhat truck-like. My lovely bride isn’t fooled by a Forester, so there’s no need to even go there. If it doesn’t look like a truck, it won’t make the cut. I figure I’m not going to get out of this without spending $35-45K, and have promised her that she gets to make the decision, as long as she keeps it reasonable. No Audi Q7s or ‘Slades in her future, then.

The candidates:

  • 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee – Probably tops on the list right now. If we go this route, it’s got to be a Hemi. It’s my money, and if I want to be stupid with it and get gas mileage in the teens, then so be it. It would just be too hard to pass up the chance for a big-a** V8. It does OK on the gadget test, but without three rows, we get a bit nervous. We’d have to go for Limited or Overland trim.
  • 2011 Dodge Durango – I thought it would be a good candidate as a pseudo-Jeep Grand Cherokee with a third row, but my partner didn’t think it was truck-enough.
  • 2011 Ford Explorer – Scores high on the bells-and-whistles test, but my wife thinks it’s ugly on the outside. The usable third row would be a plus, though.
  • Honda Pilot – A strong contender until the latest crop of competitors came out. Besides, we’re sort of over the Honda thing. We’ve been driving them for 15 years, and frankly, their quality has gone down. I think my ’01 Accord is a better car than the Ody in many ways – except for the 2 failed transmissions, which I’ll save for a future Piston Slap question.
  • Acura MDX – Wife has always liked this, though it starts to get a little pricey as you option it up. Regarding quality, see “Honda Pilot above.”
  • Toyota Highlander – She thinks it looks “kind of luxurious” on the inside but I think Toyotas are bland. It is nice that you can get a third row.
  • Toyota 4-Runner – She likes it because it looks tough. She hasn’t driven it though, so I’m thinking that she might change her tune after some extended time with it.
  • GMC Yukon – This is truckish, all right. Saw it at the auto show and my wife loved it. Cons: third row is kind of a joke, and it scores low on the gadget department.

So, what do you think guys?

Steve Answers:

You need to figure out if this is the time to be a ‘keeper’. My brother’s family is going through one kid who is college bound and two others who will be of driving age in the next four years.

They no longer need the ‘BIG’ vehicle as a long-term keeper. You may be in the same boat as time goes on.

If we’re talking about the ‘thou shalt’ of making your wife happy, for now, I would look at the Highlander and Yukon. They are both well-designed vehicles and should keep her happy… until your needs change. Or until gas prices potentially zoom up to the ionosphere.

You know me by now. I love safety, and don’t believe for a minute that bulk and bloat equate to it. A front wheel drive midsize to full-sized cars would be a far better long-term value for you. However I’m not married to your wife.

If she’s stubborn then just make her happy. Or for a nominal fee, I can ask some old friends of mine from Jersey to help do some ‘traditional’ persuading.

Good luck!

Sajeev answers:

Not that it’s a problem per se, but the crux of your quandary is your wife’s perception of trucky-ness. It’s all good, as I have a rather severe distain for the automotive buffalo butt. As such, I suspect a look at all large crossovers on any one of the automotive shopping websites will help narrow down the choices. An Acura MDX should hit all the size/tech requirements, except Acura doesn’t make anything even remotely truck like. I will second the Toyota 4Runner, even if its not the most efficient package on the market. That said, go all out and grab a Ford Expedition: with SYNC+Navigation and an unbelievably well executed third row (folded or in use) you may never care about the “shamefuel” mileage. (snort)

Or just screw it and get a Lincoln Town Car with winter tires. Solid axle, BOF construction and stupid-durable suspension makes it more of a truck than most of these limp wristed pansies, that’s for sure.

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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Carquestions: Where Is The Jeep Grand Cherokee’s Battery Charge Monitor? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/carquestions-where-is-the-jeep-grand-cherokees-battery-charge-monitor/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/carquestions-where-is-the-jeep-grand-cherokees-battery-charge-monitor/#comments Wed, 10 Aug 2011 17:35:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=406584 Our buddy Mark Whinton from Carquestions, who always manages to find the obscure problems with today’s complex automobiles, wonders: why can’t the new Jeep Grand Cherokee tell if it’s battery isn’t being charged? As he points out, this omission could leave drivers stranded if their accessory belt were to break, without ever warning them of […]

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Our buddy Mark Whinton from Carquestions, who always manages to find the obscure problems with today’s complex automobiles, wonders: why can’t the new Jeep Grand Cherokee tell if it’s battery isn’t being charged? As he points out, this omission could leave drivers stranded if their accessory belt were to break, without ever warning them of the problem. Is Mark nit-picking? Possibly, but in this business, one lesson gets learned again and again: you gotta sweat the details. In light of Mark’s research we’re as curious as he is: did Chrysler simply overlook this, or is this a case of conscious decontenting? Over to you, ChryCo…

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Chrysler Sends The Cherokees To Japan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/chrysler-sends-the-cherokees-to-japan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/chrysler-sends-the-cherokees-to-japan/#comments Sat, 24 Jul 2010 07:41:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=361509 Chrysler is taking a page out of Ford’s playbook and will surprise and delight Japan with their  “latest version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee sport utility vehicle, which features Chrysler’s new Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 engine,” if The Nikkei [sub] is not mistaken. Chrysler Japan has hopes  for the new Grand Cherokee that was just release […]

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Chrysler is taking a page out of Ford’s playbook and will surprise and delight Japan with their  “latest version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee sport utility vehicle, which features Chrysler’s new Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 engine,” if The Nikkei [sub] is not mistaken.

Chrysler Japan has hopes  for the new Grand Cherokee that was just release in the U.S. As a nod to the thrifty and CO2 conscious Japanese, Chrysler points out that the Pentastar V6, gives the Grand Cherokee boasts 30 percent better fuel economy than the existing Grand Cherokee with a 4.7-liter V-8 engine. Overabundant horsepower will be sacrificed.

According to the Nikkei, “Chrysler Group plans to switch to the new engine in other models that now use other V-6 engines, and Chrysler Japan will release these vehicles here as they become available.”

Chrysler Japan has boutique status in Japan. Their sales in 2009 were around 1,800. Says the Nikkei: “By emphasizing the Jeep brand, Chrysler Japan aims to boost overall sales to the 5,000-unit level in 2014.” Audacious plans.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Don’t Call It A Rebadge Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-dont-call-it-a-rebadge-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-dont-call-it-a-rebadge-edition/#comments Thu, 22 Jul 2010 17:22:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=361390 Via Twitter comes this, the first shot yet of the Dodge version of the new Jeep Grand Cherokee. Dodge won’t confirm whether the badly battered Durango name will grace its version of the JGC, but at least it’s clear that the brand is getting away from its truck-alike styling dependence. But with the new Grand […]

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Via Twitter comes this, the first shot yet of the Dodge version of the new Jeep Grand Cherokee. Dodge won’t confirm whether the badly battered Durango name will grace its version of the JGC, but at least it’s clear that the brand is getting away from its truck-alike styling dependence. But with the new Grand Cherokee earning strong reviews, will Dodge’s (likely) decontented version be a letdown? It had better not be, because another big name from the SUV era is going to stake a claim in the mid-full CUV segment starting on Monday: Ford’s 2011 Explorer.

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Review: 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/review-2010-jeep-grand-cherokee-srt-8/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/review-2010-jeep-grand-cherokee-srt-8/#comments Mon, 05 Jul 2010 15:05:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=360242 Behold the mighty off-road prowess of the Grand Cherokee SRT-8! Yes, my ratty-looking lawn is about as far off-road as most JGCs ever go. The 2011 Grand Cherokee even offers a couple of optimized drivetrain-and-suspension setups for those people who, as the nice Jeep PR man said during the introduction, “only go off-road… in their […]

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Behold the mighty off-road prowess of the Grand Cherokee SRT-8! Yes, my ratty-looking lawn is about as far off-road as most JGCs ever go. The 2011 Grand Cherokee even offers a couple of optimized drivetrain-and-suspension setups for those people who, as the nice Jeep PR man said during the introduction, “only go off-road… in their minds.”

The autojourno business is an odd one. Your not-so-humble author was one of the first people to have the chance to drive the 2011 JGC anywhere, and also very possibly the last journo on the planet to obtain a 2010 Grand Cherokee as a press vehicle. I’d like to think that, at the moment I achieved 88 miles per hour in the 2011 truck, I went back in time and successfully snagged a 2010 as a loaner.

There’s no SRT-8 in the 2011 lineup, although I strongly suspect there will be one debuting later on in the year, so if you want the combination of big-cube HEMI and Brembo brakes in your SUV, this is your only choice for now. The question is: with the demonstrated excellence of the new model, is there any reason at all to choose a 2010?

If you’ve just stepped out of the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, stepping into the 2010 will shock you. The ergonomics are all wrong — at least, they are for me at 6’2″, 225lbs, and a 48 Long suit size — and the steering wheel seems to sit in one’s lap. The rear seat is cramped, as was the case in all Grand Cherokees prior to the new model, and the general state of trim quality seems a bit low for a $49,000 vehicle (as tested). I compared this back-to-back with my Ford Flex Limited and Audi S5; the Jeep comes in a distant third for interior ambiance. The dashboard and center stack, in particular, aren’t up to the standards of the class.

The instrument panel itself has a few nice surprises. It’s well-trimmed, with convincing chrome rings and two high-resolution two-line LCD displays. One of those displays can be configured on-the-fly to record g-force in four directions and time to distance for braking and acceleration. Set the display for 0-60, apply the brake, use the throttle to strain the big HEMI against the four big red Brembo brakes to the tune of 2200rpm or so, and release the brake when the light turns green. Instant no-hassle 5.0-second 0-60, with passengers, just about perfect, every time. If that sounds slow by magazine standards, don’t be fooled. Most exotic cars struggle to break five seconds to sixty in the real world, on dirty roads, with a slight curve or hill thrown in. The SRT-8 is extremely quick.

I find the first-to-second shift performed by the Mercedes-sourced WA580 transmission particularly charming. There’s a very brief ignition cutout during the shift, which happens with almost DSG speed, and when the ignition switches back on there’s a wonderful “brap” as the motor re-fires as the new, lower rev level. It’s pretty much the same thing you get with a PDK-equipped Porsche or a Nissan GT-R.

Both of those cars, by the way, will need to stay on their toes around the SRT-8. A normally-aspirated 911 won’t keep up with this truck from a slow roll, and the Grand Cherokee is capable of stealing a car length or two on a GT-R until the turbos really wake up. The 6.1-liter V8 may drink fuel at a rate that seems astonishing by modern standards — I recorded 15.5 average on the freeway and 10-11 during my two-lane commute, about which more in a moment — but it does the business in a straight line.

My current daily commute takes me about 108 miles from my front door to the garage at Switzer Performance. About thirty-five miles of that happens on Ohio two-lanes in “Amish country”. The roads are marked 55 and 65, but the traffic commonly crawls at 35 to 50, slowed down by tanker trucks struggling on hills and the desperate, rural poor in death-rattling old Cavaliers, trying to make it to work or their crystal-meth lab. In these situations, every possible pass has to be made, every time, no exceptions, no waiting. The difference between making every pass and waiting behind traffic is, literally, ninety minutes of commuting time every day.

Not every car is perfectly suited for this. My Boxster S is absolutely lousy, since I can’t see around the pickup trucks and it requires snagging second gear to step out with alacrity from behind the traffic. My S5 is better, since it has torque. A GT-R is better still, since it requires less space. Best of all is the Grand Cherokee SRT-8. The infamous “high and mighty” view, toned-down a touch by the low suspension, allows me to see the pass. The HEMI allows me to make the pass, and the Brembos allow me a solid haul-down back into the traffic line if I can’t snag everybody in one run. No, the Brembos probably aren’t enough for track work, since this truck weighs 5300 pounds, but for wiping off fifty or sixty miles per hour in a single press, they are spectacular.

The only fly in this back-road ointment is, regrettably, the SRT-8’s solid rear axle. Not all SRA cars are terrifying on rough roads — see “Ford Mustang, post-2005″ for an example of one that’s more than okay — but the Jeep’s weight, size, and rollover point combine to obtain one’s full attention when hitting potholes, pavement waves, or uneven patching. At full speed, the back end will step out, and the stability control seems to have little to say about it. After a few all-hands-on-deck episodes, I learned to be very careful about applying full throttle on broken pavement. The new SRT-8, when it arrives, won’t suffer from that problem.

Let’s tally up the pros and cons of buying a 2010 SRT-8. Pros: you can buy one now. You can get a hell of a deal. They retain their value in the used market and are likely to do so. It’s fast. It’s comfy enough for front-seaters. Cons: the new one is better in every single way, it will probably have more power, and your children/parents/other rear-seat denizens will thank you profusely.

Speaking personally, I’d wait for the 2011. If you want a truck now, then the SRT-8 makes a solid case for itself. You won’t go faster for less money in a truck, and you won’t really go much faster for two or three times the price. The mechanicals are well-proven, and you won’t have a hard time selling it. I wouldn’t blame you for pulling the trigger today, but don’t blame me when you see that the next one is far, far better, okay?

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Review: 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/review-2011-jeep-grand-cherokee/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/07/review-2011-jeep-grand-cherokee/#comments Fri, 02 Jul 2010 14:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=359770 Several years ago, I paid heed to my inner child and attended Iron Maiden’s “Aces (Very) High Tour”. During one of the breaks, singer Bruce Dickinson said, “I don’t know what’s going on. We’re still making records, and I think they’re pretty good. But nobody on the radio wants to play them. They don’t play […]

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Several years ago, I paid heed to my inner child and attended Iron Maiden’s “Aces (Very) High Tour”. During one of the breaks, singer Bruce Dickinson said, “I don’t know what’s going on. We’re still making records, and I think they’re pretty good. But nobody on the radio wants to play them. They don’t play that kind of music now. Even if people want to hear it.” Intrigued by his comment, I bought the new Maiden record. He’s right. It’s pretty good, even if the music industry has moved on. It’s also a completely standard, formulaic effort that sounds exactly like every Iron Maiden record after their final burst of creativity, “Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son.”

What if… the new Iron Maiden record had been a double album, with the first disc being an absolutely perfect distillation of every previous record, and the second one being ten jazz standards, all performed to the highest standard of musicianship? Would anybody buy it, or would they still line up for the latest MP3s from the Silversun Pickups? That’s the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee in a nutshell. It’s staggeringly competent off-road, but it’s also an absurdly composed, quiet, and comfortable freeway cruiser. Are you interested, or would you rather have a GMC Acadia?

I’m an absolutely lousy off-road driver. When I’m on my own, I get stuck at least half the time. I require constant hand-holding from spotters and I barely understand the basic concepts involved in clearly obstacles. In other words, I’m the off-road equivalent of the average journalist on-road. The Grand Cherokee, however, was perfectly willing to do all the work for me on a rather technical and difficult sand course at Hollister Hills in NorCal. The new Selec-Terrain rotary controller mimics Land Rover’s “Terrain Response”, and it’s teamed with a first-for-Jeep “Quadra-Lift” air suspension. It can lift the “JGC” to eleven inches off the ground or drop it for passenger loading.

There are two off-road-oriented AWD systems available. Quadra-Trac II has an intelligent center diff and a brake-operated traction control system all the way ’round. Quadra-Drive II adds an electronically-controlled LSD in the rear. Both variants feature a hill descent control that also works in reverse to permit a safe back-out from over-enthusiastic climbing attempts. Using a V-6 powered, Quadra-Lift-and-Quadra-Drive-II Grand Cherokee Overland, I was simply unable to get myself stuck. Even the most rookie moves, like stopping just short of the breakover point on a sand-covered rock, couldn’t faze the Jeep. Applying any amount of throttle simply “tells” the Grand Cherokee to find the wheel with traction and gently feed it through until the obstacle is cleared. It’s the next best thing to the off-road ideal of triple locking diffs… hell, it might be better for those of us who are clueless about how to maintain traction.

You get the idea. Although this is the first Grand Cherokee to have IRS all the way ’round, the off-road ability has been manifestly improved by the additional ground clearance and the available intelligent drive systems. The notion of off-road supremacy is a core part of the Jeep “brand fundamentals”, and it’s present and accounted for here. In the real world, however, these trucks rarely leave the tarmac, and that is why Jeep and Land Rover are not the leading volume nameplates in this segment. Real-world buyers want real-world usability, and that’s where the Grand Cherokee has fallen far behind the car-based competition.

Chrysler’s chosen to address this deficiency in the most aggressive way possible. The new JGC still looks like a Grand Cherokee, but the visual similarity hides larger rear doors, four desperately-needed inches of rear-seat room, and a class-competitive interior package. Interior materials are of similar quality to what you’d find in a Flex, and if the uConnect isn’t even close to SYNC in terms of usability and eye appeal, the Jeep has an Audi-style multicolor display between the tach and speedometer that can be very addicting to use. Active Cruise Control is available and it works better than it does in the competition, permitting a closer gap and “falsing” less often on two-lane roads.

The new Pentastar V-6 is the engine the Grand Cherokee has needed for eighteen years. It’s an oversquare engine, revs with alacrity, and returns 23mpg in RWD variants. It has more than enough power off-road and on fast roads. The only reason to choose the cylinder-deactivating HEMI would be to bump the tow rating from 5000 to 7400 pounds; the Pentastar is that good.

Nor does the chassis let the motor down. It’s possible to have your JGC completely optimized for on-road use; in addition to the RWD model, there’s a no-low-gear, no-touch AWD system available. Either can be had with 20″ wheels and reasonably sticky rubber. The 17″ and 18″-wheeled off-road variants, however, can still hustle on-road. It’s possible to easily double posted corner speeds and tuck into the triple digits between turns on twisty two-lanes. I’ve been on BMWCCA “fast road drives” where this JGC would have been twenty miles ahead by lunchtime. Don’t expect a Chevy Traverse or RX350 to come close to the Grand Cherokee on a twisty road.

If you have a Land Rover LR4 and an Acura MDX in your garage, and you don’t require a third row of seats, you can send them both to the auction and replace them with this Grand Cherokee. It’s that good. There’s just one little issue: this is no longer the vehicle the market seems to want. It’s the perfect Iron Maiden album, delivered a decade too late. The market has clearly indicated its preference for car-based crossovers. The original Grand Cherokee debuted into a market full of truck-framed, molasses-slow, cramped and unwieldy entries. This one arrives in a market where a Camry-platform variant is king. It won’t meet the needs, perceived or actual, of the average buyer. I’d love to own one, but what do I know? I’m still listening to Iron Maiden.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture: Crossing The Rubicon Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-crossing-the-rubicon-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/whats-wrong-with-this-picture-crossing-the-rubicon-edition/#comments Thu, 20 May 2010 16:19:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=357026 Alea Iacta Est!

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Alea Iacta Est!

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Jeep Avoids “i live, i ride, i am” Agency For Grand Cherokee Launch http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/jeep-avoids-i-live-i-ride-i-am-agency-for-grand-cherokee-launch/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/jeep-avoids-i-live-i-ride-i-am-agency-for-grand-cherokee-launch/#comments Thu, 13 May 2010 15:24:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=356405 After a solid six months of cringe-worthy Jeep ads, Chrysler is replacing ad agency Global Hue for the launch of the forthcoming 2011 Grand Cherokee. The Grand Cherokee’s launch materials will be developed by Wieden + Kennedy, which is currently the lead creative agency for the Dodge brand, and recently created the trippy “Alright, Kittens” […]

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After a solid six months of cringe-worthy Jeep ads, Chrysler is replacing ad agency Global Hue for the launch of the forthcoming 2011 Grand Cherokee. The Grand Cherokee’s launch materials will be developed by Wieden + Kennedy, which is currently the lead creative agency for the Dodge brand, and recently created the trippy “Alright, Kittens” spot for the Grand Caravan. According to AgencySpy [via Jalopnik], GlobalHue will continue to be Jeep’s lead agency, despite offering few signs that it actually understands the brand. What do we mean by that? Hit the jump for more.

GH’s “Hair” ad at the top of this post was one of the more controversial Jeep ads, pissing off the hard-core fans by pandering to on-roader fashion girls looking for a new accessory. The ad itself, isn’t that bad though… and subsequent Jeep ads have been both brand-deaf, and tone-deaf. Literally.

This douche-appeal spot “Sun Chasers” is just one of several featuring Jeeps new, annoying synthesizer-heavy jingle. And though almost everything about the spot is objectionable, at least it’s clear who Jeep is going after with it. Which isn not something you can say about other initial Jeep ads from GH, like this one titled “Reality”

You got that? People who buy Jeeps don’t watch television, ergo you, dear consumer, are not a Jeep buyer. Enjoy your evening.

Perhaps the best Jeep ad since the Fiat takeover is this one, titled “Clocks.” The concept is there, elements of the execution are there, but somehow the ad fails to explain what clock-watching has to do with Jeep. Instead the ad posits a “choice”: either you work (i.e. watch the clock, and occasionally your back) or you drive a Jeep. Unless you were born into enough money to support yourself and buy a Jeep, that’s one hell of a confusing “choice.”

And really, “confusion” is the best word to describe Jeep’s advertising since being taken over by GH. Once the Chrysler Group’s strongest brand, Jeep is clearly suffering from lack of what George Bush called “the vision thing.” That’s not all Global Hue’s fault: Jeep brand boss Michael Manley clearly isn’t providing the direction. His three phase Jeep marketing strategy as laid out last fall, during Chrysler’s five year plan presentation looks something like this:



Without a more coherent vision from the top, it’s no wonder Global Hue’s ads have been all over the place. But then, Wieden + Kennedy has done a fairly decent job with some of its Dodge ads, despite even less explicit leadership on the issue of what the hell that brand is supposed to mean anyway. If they don’t knock the Grand Cherokee out of the park, it’s going to be a long year for the Jeep brand.
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2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Priced: 4X2 Starts At $30,995, 4X4 Starts At $32,995 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/2011-jeep-grand-cherokee-priced-4x2-starts-at-30995-4x4-starts-at-32995/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/05/2011-jeep-grand-cherokee-priced-4x2-starts-at-30995-4x4-starts-at-32995/#comments Wed, 12 May 2010 21:33:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=356325 Chrysler has announced pricing for the new Jeep Grand Cherokee, arguably the most important vehicle it will launch this year. The cheapest option, the Laredo 4×2 (which isn’t even mentioned in Chrysler’s release), starts at an MSRP of $30,995 (including destination charge, confirmed via Twitter)… at least until ChryCo rolls out the $5k cash back […]

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Chrysler has announced pricing for the new Jeep Grand Cherokee, arguably the most important vehicle it will launch this year. The cheapest option, the Laredo 4×2 (which isn’t even mentioned in Chrysler’s release), starts at an MSRP of $30,995 (including destination charge, confirmed via Twitter)… at least until ChryCo rolls out the $5k cash back it’s offering on the outgoing model. Hit the jump for trim levels and corresponding pricing.

From Chrysler’s press release:

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4×4
Standard features on the Laredo 4×4 model includes Quadra-Trac I 4×4 system, 3.6-liter V-6 engine, Keyless Enter-N-Go, Electronic Stability Control, Hill Start Assist, Electronic Roll Mitigation, Trailer-Sway Control, front-seat side air bags and side-curtain air bags for front and rear, active head restraints, power 8-way driver seat with power 4-way lumbar adjust, fog lamps, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, SIRIUS Satellite Radio and 17-inch aluminum wheels.

Optional features include a 360-horsepower 5.7-liter V-8 engine and a Trailer Tow Group.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4×4 pricing: $32,995 (including $780 for destination)

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4×4
Limited 4×4 models add features that include Quadra-Trac II® 4×4 system with Selec-Terrain, front and second-row heated leather seats, memory settings, Bi-Xenon High Intensity Discharge auto-leveling headlamps with SmartBeam®, CommandView dual-pane panoramic sun roof, Parkview® rear back-up camera, Parksense® rear park assist, premium audio, automatic temperature control, 18-inch aluminum wheels, Garmin® navigation, rain-sensitive wipers and bright door handles.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4×4 pricing: $39,995 (including $780 for destination)

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4×4
Overland 4×4 models add numerous features including Quadra-Lift air suspension, premium interior with Nappa leather-trimmed and heated seats, vented front seats, wood/leather-wrapped heated steering wheel with memory, power tilt/telescope steering column, wood bezels, leather-stitched instrument panel/doors/center console armrest, power liftgate, and 20-inch aluminum wheels.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4×4 pricing $42,995 (including $780 for destination)

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Jeep Crossing Over To “Broaden Urban Appeal” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/jeep-crossing-over-to-broaden-urban-appeal/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/jeep-crossing-over-to-broaden-urban-appeal/#comments Mon, 01 Feb 2010 18:16:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=343691 Having re-birthed themselves at the taxpayers’ expense, one of Chrysler’s top priorities is restoring the brand equity that has bled out since the Daimler takeover.  First up was the move to spin “Ram” off as its own brand, and now it seems that no-one is safe from “re-birth,” as UPI.com reports that Chrysler are rethinking […]

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Having re-birthed themselves at the taxpayers’ expense, one of Chrysler’s top priorities is restoring the brand equity that has bled out since the Daimler takeover.  First up was the move to spin “Ram” off as its own brand, and now it seems that no-one is safe from “re-birth,” as UPI.com reports that Chrysler are rethinking their strongest brand, Jeep. Unfortunately, one man’s brand rebirth is another man’s brand betrayal. Chrysler want to replace all of Jeep’s products, except for the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee, and the idea is to utilise Fiat’s experience of fuel efficient engines as the basis for it. That means Jeep is likely to become smaller, more fuel-efficient and less off-road capable [rumors of a Fiat Panda 4×4-based Jeep (rendered above) date back to the earliest days of the Fiat-Chrysler alliance]. If you had to boil the proposed shift into a single word, UPI figures it would be “soft.” And the markets have reacted to this news in pretty much the same way you’ve probably just reacted: they think the idea is bad. Very bad.

“Chrysler has to protect the crown jewel,” Aaron Bragman, research analyst with IHS Global Insight, told the newspaper. “When Jeep sticks to its core values it does well. Jeep has always been a trucky off-road brand and whenever they got away from that it did not go well.” Gerald Myers, professor at the University of Michigan and former chairman of Jeep’s former owner, AMC, was a little less subdued in his reaction, “It’s a huge mistake….I couldn’t think of anything worse for the brand.” Mike Manley, head of the Jeep brand said that the brand is capable of broadening its urban appeal and is aware of the risks, “We don’t want to dilute what Jeep means,” he said. Which is probably what Cadillac brand managers said when they introduced the Cimmarron.

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Forbes Lists “America’s Dirtiest Cars” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/forbes-lists-americas-dirtiest-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/forbes-lists-americas-dirtiest-cars/#comments Thu, 12 Nov 2009 17:25:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=335119 There’s all kinds of controversy over what makes a car “green” and what doesn’t. Some point to size and efficiency, crucifying Hummers and full-size trucks as criminals against the planet. Others point to lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions, battery-component mining pollution and other less-obvious measures to excoriate hybrids. In any case, TTAC’s scientific department isn’t well-funded […]

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Take that, Mother Nature!

There’s all kinds of controversy over what makes a car “green” and what doesn’t. Some point to size and efficiency, crucifying Hummers and full-size trucks as criminals against the planet. Others point to lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions, battery-component mining pollution and other less-obvious measures to excoriate hybrids. In any case, TTAC’s scientific department isn’t well-funded enough to issue a comprehensive report on the subject. Forbes may not have tested cars itself, or dug into true “dust-to-dust” footprints, but it’s gone ahead and published a list of “America’s Dirtiest Vehicles” anyway. Let’s take a look, shall we?

The article claims that to search out  “America’s Dirtiest Vehicle” by using air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions data from the EPA. The EPA air pollution data is ranked on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the cleanest, 1 being dirty. “Air pollution” criteria are compounds like unburnt hydrocarbons, NOx fumes, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. And you thought smoking was a dirty habit! Greenhouse gases are done on the same 1 to 10 scale and are evaluated by measuring, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane emissions, which means the car’s fuel economy comes into play here. Less miles, more fuel burnt. More fuel burnt, more greenhouse gases emitted. In the event of a tie, they used combined fuel consumption figures to break the deadlock.

The article then goes on to its small print, namely, the vehicles which were excluded. Vehicles which were classed as “heavy duty” were exempt from this report because these vehicles aren’t subject to federal fuel economy requirements. Also missing were “super cars”; the reason being that they sell in such small volumes, it’s not worth counting them in. Saabs sell in small numbers, but I bet you they got put in this report.

So after setting out the parameters and established who’s being evaluated and who isn’t, what’s the result?

Well, according to Forbes, America’s dirtiest is . . . the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Yes, for once, Chrysler comes top in a survey. It scored 3 out of 10 for air pollution ratings and 2 out of 10 for greenhouse gas emissions. But the report decided to stick the boot in further buy saying “Even had we included those supercars, though, the Jeep Grand Cherokee still would have topped the chart.” Ouch! Not content with giving the Cherokee a battering, the report then deals its killer blow. “The flex-fuel engine—prized because it uses a renewable resource that reduces dependency on traditional gasoline—on the Cherokee was even worse: three out of 10 and one out of 10 for the air pollution and gas emissions, respectively.” That’s gotta hurt!

It then gets even worse for Chrysler, because not only did they secure top spot by a mile (insert your own MPG joke here), they also got a further four places in top ten. The Dodge Durango came in 10th, the Dodge Ram 1500 came in 9th, the Dodge Dakota came in 8th and the Chrysler Aspen came in 7th.

“We continue to drive our fleet average even lower,” Chrysler spokesman Nick Cappa, who was given the unenviable job of putting a positive spin on this report, said. “Chrysler Group products are 99% cleaner than vehicles of 30 years ago and meet or exceed United States federal emission standards, the most stringent in the world.” Reports of whether Mr. Cappa went into another room and burst into tears are unfounded.

The report then goes on to mention the rest of the top ten. “60% of the entries on our list are from domestic automakers. The remainder are German”. The other “dirty domestic” was the Chevrolet Trailblazer, which came in 4th. The list in full can be seen here.

Chrysler can take some heart in the knowledge that at least their electric and hybrid car plans will give them some much needed green credent—oh. Never mind then.

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