By on April 20, 2014


You’ll search long and hard to find someone else as firmly committed to the removal of the SUV from the American road as your humble author believes himself to be. Although I drove four different Land Rovers during the company’s BMW and Ford periods (a ’97 five-speed Disco, a ’99 Rangie 4.0S that I talked my father into buying, an ’00 Freelander, and an ’03 Discovery 4.6) I had what I felt to be a valid excuse: a BMX and mountain bike hobby that found me on dirt roads and fire trails nearly every weekend. As soon as my knees fired me from those sports, I fired the Rovers and got a Phaeton like decent people do.

The bulk of SUVs foisted on the American public have been irredeemable pieces of garbage, misshapen and deeply offensive embarrassments, gravid with the moist spawn of limitless profit yet crawling with the maggots of brand destruction, long-term customer disappointment, and, occasionally, violent death at the hands of a collapsing roof. You could be forgiven for thinking that the Jeep Grand Cherokee is nothing but another such triumph of cynicism and Barnum-esque contempt for the motoring public, but you would be wrong.

I come to praise the JGC, not to bury it, but there are a few things that must be said before we drive the Ford Edge from the arena. To begin, the rear seat and cargo area in the Jeep aren’t as good as what you find in the Ford. I found riding in the back to be actively painful and so did my passenger. In the interest of fairness, I have to point out that we were both recently struck by a Hyundai Sonata directly in the pelvis; in the interest of accuracy, I have to point that shortly before being passengers in this car we were in a new Viper running hard laps around a California racetrack and were both perfectly comfortable.

Luckily, we were able to distract ourselves with the dual USB power ports and the AC-115 outlet in the rear console. This is such a fantastic idea, and so intimately familiar to Ohio white trash like myself who have Southwest A-List Preferred status and therefore are well-acquainted with the company’s dual-charge airport-lounge seats, that one wonders it wasn’t implemented by someone else years before. Not to worry, it’s here now.

Still, it’s worth noting that the car that a well-respected American autojournalist and club racer called “the American Range Rover” in an email I recently received doesn’t come anywhere near the English Range Rover when it comes to rear-seat accommodations. Even Dad’s ’99 4.0S was far superior to this brand-new Jeep, and the newest Rangies are light-years ahead. In the area of ride, as well, the Indians Brits have the advantage and have long had it. My Discoveries rode better than either the Jeep or the Ford. In this test, however, the Jeep has the clear advantage because the Edge has a weird secondary-ride characteristic that makes every road feel paved with thick gravel. There’s a kind of urrrrrrrrrggggggh that communicates itself along with the copious road noise to all seats in the Edge. It’s tiring and aggravating in equal measure. The Jeep’s no Range Rover but it’s on par with a Camry, ride-wise.

Our Limited didn’t have the boxy LED running lights, by the way. Which means that all the Jeeps you do see with them are Summits or Overlands or the BigTruck-approved JGC SRT-8. Think about that. The roads in the Midwest and East Coast are thick with those LED squares. I wonder what the model mix is for the Grand Cherokee? Betcha it’s heavily biased towards the big-money models.

Which explains why our forty-thousand-dollar Limited tester had the miniature uConnect screen. You need to give the punters a reason to step up to the high-end models, and fitting the Limited with the cheapo screen helps. Incidentally, my father and I went around and around about this when he bought his: he just wanted to spring for the bigger uConnect package, while I thought it was critical that he spring for an Overland or Summit, just so my friends would be impressed when he picked me up from school. It was his money, so he did it his way. Still, when I bought my Accord I briefly considered the JGC and I guarantee you that the Overland was my minimum entry point.

Not that the Limited doesn’t give a solid account of itself in all the touch points. This is where the surprise-and-delight comes in; everything you touch in this car feels pretty first-rate. Even the cheapo uConnect, sitting forlornly and miniscule in its monstrous double-DIN sized cavity like the rebound boyfriend of someone recently dumped by Kobe Bryant, feels reasonably upscale to operate. Even the secret volume-and-channel buttons that arrived in the original uConnect-equipped Chryslers have been upgraded with a smooth finish and a more dignified “click”. Someone’s sweated the details on this car again and again. In this respect, Jeep is more than well-positioned against the rest of the $40,000 brigade. The people who do Cadillac interiors should be locked inside this Jeep and denied food and water until they’ve learned how to make center-stack buttons feel like something other than the power switch on a knockoff Walkman radio.

For the two of us lucky enough to be in the front seat at any given time, then, the Jeep was a brilliant place in which to spend a nine-hour drive. The stereo was better than adequate, although again the rear-seat passengers were victimized, this time by an unpleasant sub-200Hz resonance in the cargo compartment during tracks as diverse as “How Ya Like Me Now” and “Night Passage”. Given that said cargo compartment was stuffed to the roof, one wonders how bad it would have been otherwise.

The HVAC was adequate for all four corners, although neither car could summon a genuine freezing blast of cold air such as what you’d get from a modern S-Class or a classic Fleetwood Brougham. Power, on the other hand, was better than adequate, aided by the 8-speed transmission. No, it’s not GT-R fast, but it’s faster than its V-8 powered predecessors and it returns a reported 25mpg on the freeway. (Incidentally, in response to the “what was your average speed” question in yesterday’s test, the answer is “we had little to no traffic both ways and rarely dipped beneath 75, never exceeding 90.) This powertrain makes the HEMI irrelevant to all but the most acceleration-obsessed and it reinforces my personal conviction that the Pentastar is one of the world’s best engines, initial quality misses be damned.

Unlike the Edge, the Jeep usually required a little correction after rapid lane changes or highway-object avoidance, but who suffers from that? You guessed it — the back-seat passengers, who get head-tossed as a consequence. Starting to see a pattern here?

As fate would have it, your humble author and his companion found themselves in the back of a loaded pre-facelift Lincoln MKX halfway through the show, courtesy of a friend who ordered an Uber ride to get us away from his party before my falling-down-drunk slightly inebriated lady friend harassed poor Travis Okulski any more. (“YOU! YOU’RE TRAVIS! YOU WERE CRYING DURING THAT YOUTUBE VIDEO! YOU’RE GREAT! HEY, EVERYBODY, IT’S TRAVIS!”) Twenty minutes in the back of that MKX, even over miserable roads, reinforced the Edge platform’s potential to serve the back-seat crowd much better than the Jeep can manage.

Oh, well. The era where well-dressed couples double-dated to society balls and country-club parties in deVille coupes or Holiday 98s is long gone, if it ever existed. Most of the time, these suburban warriors will find themselves with one trophy wife in front and one child, approximately the size of a roast turkey, in the back. So as long as you’re driving, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is our undisputed champion, and recommended without reservation.

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61 Comments on “Rental Grinders Of The Road: First Place...”

  • avatar

    Most important, delighted to hear you’re both up and around.

  • avatar

    You can get the big uConnect screen for a $495 option on the Laredo E or Limited. It is standard on the Altitude.

    I really like the 5.7, but it’s a pricey upgrade and the Durango is a better towing platform anyway. The diesel is like $1300 above the V8. That’s probably where I’d go if I wanted to go beyond the V6.

  • avatar

    “You’ll search long and hard to find someone else as firmly committed to the removal of the SUV from the American road as your humble author believes himself to be. … I fired the Rovers and got a Phaeton like decent people do.”

    I’d have to search longer & harder to find someone who owns a Phaeton than someone who whats SUVs removed (so much so that they approve physical violence as necessary).

  • avatar

    I love my JGCSRT14′.
    Probably the best product to ever roll out of Chrysler’s factories. But I prefer to drive my 300.

  • avatar
    Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

    I had a ’99 GC Limited, one of my favorite cars ever, aside from the drivers’ seat that was too fragile for the rigors of supporting my massive frame (and needed replacing under warranty). It was my first new car, though I had to surrender it about 6 months before my lease was up due to a move that drove my insurance from $3600/yr to $7600/yr. I replaced it with a 300SDL w/325,000mi on it, drove that another 100k miles before I got my first Volt, 10 years later.

    Speaking of AC, I thought the very same thing about my Volt, it should have a 120V AC socket in it, and frankly it should be able to put out a full 20A. One nice thing about the Benz was that it had a cigarette lighter in each of the rear passenger doors, so in theory you could have a driver and 3 people with plugged-in laptops, and with a diesel’s battery and a good alternator they should be fully-powerable.

    (If/when I get another legacy internal-combustion vehicle, it’ll be a beater pickup or van to backup a Model X, a motorcycle, or a Promaster-diesel-based RV)

    • 0 avatar

      “Legacy internal-combustion vehicle”

      I love it! Makes everything else sound like they have serial ports and manual jumpers to set instead of USB!

      Except yours is wired, and ours are wireless.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        Mine may be wired, but yours is hosed.

        I see gas is getting back up to the $4/gal area, while electricity still costs me (at most) about 4 cents per mile.

        • 0 avatar

          Electricity will follow. Just wait until the aged nuke plants start going offline and their owners pawn off the decommissioning costs on the ratepayers/state pucs/feds. I could actually see a specific electric vehicle registration tax come out to support these efforts.

          • 0 avatar

            In reality, nuclear decommissioning funds have been set aside over the life of the nuclear plant and should be 100% funded for any plant that is still operating or operational. You might argue that actual decommissioning costs will exceed the amount set aside, and that may be true eventually, but if any utility is raising rates under the pretense of decommissioning a nuke, they are simply ripping you off.

          • 0 avatar
            Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

            If the US average for power goes up past 40 cents/kWh you’ll see a lot more pain than $9/gal gas, especially in the south and southwest. That ranch stuff in NV will be small potatoes.

            In any event, at say 25 cents/kWh home solar is a pretty solid choice. If I thought power costs were going to explode by multiples, I’d pull the trigger pretty soon on 8-10kW, and given how cheap money still is I may do so sooner rather than later.

          • 0 avatar

            There just aren’t enough nuke plants to make turning them off such a big problem. Trying to replace coal is another problem. The other big thing is that it is far, far, easier to build a natural gas plant than it is to switch your car to natural gas (and find CNG stations). [If you believe that any “set aside funds” are still there while a politician still has a pet project, I have a bridge to sell you].

            I’d worry more about too many electrical cars trying to draw too much power out of the local grids. At some point you might have trouble finding chargers that work during the daytime.

          • 0 avatar

            Look at the cost of natural gas power and wind power. Both are still very low and apt to stay that way. Oil is a very easily transportable commodity that has a ready world market. Natural gas is much harder to transport, though hopefully we’ll be able to send some to Europe to help them get off of Russia’s gas. Wind is pretty much staying put.

            Provided we do our vehicle charging overnight, I’m not much worried about the state of the grid.

    • 0 avatar

      $3,600/year for automobile insurance?!?!?!?! My blood pressure just jumped. In Ohio a new $35,000 car will run you $30-$35/month for $100/$300 coverage. Why Why Why.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    The comparison between the Grand and the Edge is quite interesting. This whole debate is. They are two different vehicles designed for two different purposes. I was in a conundrum on whether to buy a SUV or a CUV. They are different vehicles.

    Prior to me buying a pickup I was toying with the idea of another SUV to replace my 2004 Kia Sorento. This Kia did exceptionally well. It was not great at anything, but it was good at everything. Except FE.

    But the 2004 Sorento I keep until Jan 12, the longest I’ve owned a vehicle.

    I looked at the 3 litre V6 diesel Disco, then disregarded due to the price. It didn’t represent value, only perceived prestige. Sure it is a great off roader. It was nice to drive, beautiful for such a tall and heavy vehicle. This had me looking at the Grand Cherokee with the 3 litre VM diesel.

    My past experience with a 95 Cherokee Sports and the less than spectacular build quality of the 2012 Grand Cherokee brought back those terrible memories of my 95 Cherokee. This is a problem still afflicting Chrysler, flashbacks.

    I considered a 2.2 diesel 2012 Kia Sorento Platinum, I don’t know if you receive this model in the US. The US Sorento’s are made in one of the Carolina’s and our come from Korea, I don’t know the difference in build quality. But the one I looked at was very well put together, but I was a AWD CUV, not a 4×4. I tried to think of reason to own it over a 4×4, but it wouldn’t work for me.

    I needed (read want) a 4×4 with a high and low range, not a CUV. There is a distinct difference between a SUV and a CUV.

    The Grand Cherokee is a SUV (or was designed to be) a CUV is an AWD (or designed to be).

    The chassis are generally stronger on a SUV, hence the earlier SUV’s that Jack spoke of had poor roll over statistics for fatalities. Because underneath required strength, so most US SUVs are pickup truck wagons.

    I ended up buying a Mazda BT50GT, fully blinged and leathered for roughly the same price as the Kia Sorento Platinum, half the price of a Land Rover, better build quality and $15k cheaper than the Jeep and with a proper 4×4 system.

    The Grand Cherokee to be such a better vehicle to drive really shows how poor the Ford is. The Ford’s chassis/suspension should be better.

    What’s scary is the Edge is earmarked to replace our Ford Territory CUV.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      The Australian “Sorento Platinum” trim looks pretty close to the “Sorento SX” here in the States, so we probably do have it. Generally, SX is the highest trim for Kia products, with a bit of nicer cladding and extra sporty styling, but Kia did recently add the range-topping SX-L trim for the Optima. Also, Hyundai and Kia’s U.S. operations seem to build the vehicles as well as the Koreans themselves do, in my experience.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Kyree S. Williams
        As you can see I’m one of many who ended up with a pickup instead of a SUV/CUV.

        The Jeep Grand Cherokee has turned out to be quite a reasonable vehicle with very good off road attributes. All Chrysler has to do is improve it’s build quality to match the Japanese/German’s and even the Korean’s.

        The Grand Cherokee does give you a lot of bling for your dollar, like the Koreans. But it would be nice to see the US sell a vehicle for the vehicle not the added BS.

        The new Kia Sorento would have sufficed for 95% of what I do. I do think it would be a better vehicle than the Edge.

        The Disco, well, I really wanted one. I remember as a teenager in the 70s watching the 3.5 litre V8 Rangies, I thought they were cool.

        LR reliability has improved since the British don’t run the show now.

        My Mazda BT50 (which is really a Ford) surprised me. The refinement that has taken over the newer midsizers is simply amazing.

        I do see the lighter suspended Colorado’s doing well in the US, especially the diesels. Many stated that diesels in pickups wouldn’t work in the US. But so far the VM powered Ram seems to be a hit.

        All we need now is for some Korean pickups from Hyundai/Kia, that will sure liven up the Japanese (& US) manufacturers.

        • 0 avatar

          @BAFO – what are your complaints about the JGC build quality? Do you have any specific examples of things you consider to be poor quality?

          I don’t personally own a JGC as I don’t need something that big as my personal vehicle, but I have taken several on long trips over varied terrain and have been generally impressed with the build quality. I certainly think they are more solid and better built than my Japanese built 2013 Forester – as they should be, since they are a considerably more expensive vehicle than the Subaru.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @PQ Boi (work that one out, maybe Johannes can, he’s French)
            Looking at the style and way you are writing you have to be one of the PUTC SmAllpar losers. I’ve ‘spoken’ to you many times on PUTC.

            Can’t use you real name?? I know you will deny.

            Anyway onto your question;
            I found the interior quality not up to speed for a vehicle touted as a prestige vehicle. I the cheapest Korean vehicles we are getting do have a better quality of fit and in some areas choice of material.

            Externally, there were only a few areas that can improve. Panel fit is one area. Again this vehicle is touted as a Prestige vehicle.

            Maybe if this is compared to one of your pickups it might appear to have a high quality. But it is touted as a prestige vehicle.

            But, it isn’t. I does have a good chassis, along with two good engine choices the Pentastar and VM. The Hemi should be dropped and made only available in the SRT.

            I do give US vehicle credit overall for their attempts to improve vehicle quality. But as they improve so are everyone else.

            To you guys in the US receiving quality US made Big 2 and Fiat vehicles is relatively new. Imports caused this, ie, competition.

            I do think Fiat will keep on improving the quality of it sub brand of Chrysler products.

            It has to, as I feel Jeep will be one of Fiats big money spinners.

          • 0 avatar

            @Big Al from Oz

            Thanks for your reply. While the rapid improvement of Korean vehicles is as impressive as the rapid improvement in American vehicles, I’m not sure I’d agree that the fit and finish of the cheapest Korean vehicles is better than a current JGC, but at least I know where you stand.

            “@PQ Boi (work that one out, maybe Johannes can, he’s French)”

            My earlier post was made from the touchscreen of a phone, so I took the liberty of shortening your handle, and didn’t mean any offence in doing so.

            “Looking at the style and way you are writing you have to be one of the PUTC SmAllpar losers. I’ve ‘spoken’ to you many times on PUTC.”

            I’ve never posted on Allpar, or spent time on their forums, but I have read some of their articles. Up until now, the only PUTC I was familiar with was the “putc()” C Library function – but after some googling I guess you mean “”. I’ve never visited that site or until today, or spoken to you there.

            I don’t currently own a Mopar of any kind, and it has been well over 10 years since I have, but I *am* cheering for their success because I like a good turnaround story.

            I’ve rented a fair number of vehicles over the past five years, and without a doubt the worst of those was the 2009 – 2010 Sebring. I also rented a 2010 JGC, and while was capable and surefooted on a steep, wet, unpaved access road the interior materials and fit and finish were definitely sub par. I was very impressed with the improvement in the 2011 JGC I rented shortly thereafter.

            “To you guys in the US receiving quality US made Big 2 and Fiat vehicles is relatively new.”

            I’m in Canada, not the US, but our vehicles are similar enough to US vehicles that I’ll let that one go. I’ve never been to Australia, so I can’t comment on the quality of vehicles sold there – but I have spent enough time in Western Europe over the years to be reasonably familiar with the fit and finish of vehicles sold in that market.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Penquin or PenguinBoy,
            Thank you for acknowledging my name.

            The Jeep Grand Cherokee is being ‘pushed’ by Jeep as a prestige vehicle. It isn’t.

            It has the underlying heritage of a quality prestige vehicle. This is evident by the way it’s chassis performs.

            I have driven them on and off road.

            But, here it is competing against vehicles you don’t get in the US. The German SUVs made in the US are comparable to the Japanese ones we are getting. Maybe Jeep should use BMW or Mercedes as a benchmark for quality.

            It would be a better and more achievable goal than ‘One Ford’.

            As I’ve stated somewhere else, it will take time for Jeep to get the trust of many people who had previous Jeep products here in Australia.

            Comparing a Grand Cherokee SUV to a CUV like a Forester is tantamount to making a comparison of a muscle car against a Corolla. Then stating the muscle can out accelerate the Corolla.

            Two different vehicles for two different uses. We have Foresters here, and they are nowhere’s near anything that could be deemed off road. Dirt road, yes.

            As far as Chrysler and Jeep products go in Australia, they need to improve overall build quality.

            Chrysler are trying to address this. But as Chrysler improves, so does everyone round them, maybe except GM.

            The Colorado here is not up to speed. But GM being financial challenged at the time could only invest 2/3s of what their competitors had invested in their mid size pickups. But that’s another story.

          • 0 avatar

            My only takeaway is Canadians are nicer than we are. :)

    • 0 avatar

      >The Grand Cherokee is a SUV (or was designed to be) a CUV is an AWD (or designed to be).

      What? So what are you trying to say? This is meaningless gobbledeygook.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz


        No, in this article they are assessing two completely different vehicles. Similar for intended use up to a point, but different.

        A comparison between a SUV and a pickup would be equivalent.

        But, what’s amazing is the article indicates that the Jeep has a far superior chassis. It does show how good the Grand Cherokee chassis is.

        Like I stated I was after a SUV and ended up with a 4×4 pickup. I even considered a CUV, but it didn’t have the required capability I was after. The same could occur if someone wanted a CUV, they could very well end up with a SUV.

        Just look at the difference.

        But Mercedes are reknown for having a better chassis than a Ford, look at how well an AMG C63 does compared to any Mustang.

        Sort of like this comparison, chalk and cheese.

        I’m not a Fiat/Chrysler fan either, but I like the Grand Cherokee (in diesel) and that little turbo Alfa 4C.

        They would do well in my driveway better than an Edge and some Mustang.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not sure you can call the JGC a true SUV. It might actually be a crossover/CUV/tallcar. It definitely is not body-on-frame – it is currently unibody (and has been since the beginning, I think). It is built on a platform that is at least derived from (if not the same as) the Mercedes-Benz ML. It also has 4 wheel independent suspension (wishbone up front and rear multilink). I believe the engine is longitudinally mounted, but I am not positive, nor do I know whether that is even relevant to deciding whether a vehicle is a CUV or an SUV. I thought the main criterion was unibody or body-on-frame and if this is true, there is no question that the Jeep Grand Cherokee is actually a CUV.

  • avatar

    IMO the best jeep grand cherokees are the zjs (as pictured) and the wjs that succeeded them. Solid front and rear axles, extremely duravle, great engine options and interior packages and options and very capable offroad.

    • 0 avatar

      Ah yes. My wife picked up a 97 ZJ (for when she’s not driving her 560SL). It’s pretty damned nice, easy forget that it’s a solid axle.

      But given the choice I always take my ’89 Wrangler.

    • 0 avatar

      Completely agree. I picked up one a few years ago (subject of a Piston Slap, no less) and drove it happily until I moved from rural Virgina to Seattle. It is the perfect wagon: it will haul you, a few other people, and whatever you need through about any conditions you might encounter.

    • 0 avatar
      Car Ramrod

      Loved my ’98 ZJ. The full time 4wd system and the A/C were not cheap to keep up in the later years, but it was a solid vehicle, and I loved the look of it.

      I typical Chrysler fashion, some of the parts needed to repair all the electric gizmos were unavailable by the time it was 3 years old.

  • avatar

    If I ever actually thought I needed an SUV/CUV (for the intended purposes of said vehicles where AWD/4X4 is a necessity, extra ground clearance, towing…) the Grand Cherokee and Durango would be at the top of my list.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @Principal Dan
      I needed a 4×4 for height and traction. The BT50 has 800mm of wading depth. Better than most any other 4×4 without a snorkel.

      A road/highway where I live.

      An example of a flood crossing which we have for several months of the year during the wet. I hope it works.

      During the dry and you have to contend with these. You can see why a 79 Series or a pickup is a better option.

  • avatar

    “As soon as my knees fired me from those sports, I fired the Rovers and got a Phaeton like decent people do.”

    Doesn’t have to work like that. I was at one Jeep offroading event where one of the participants was an elderly woman who walked with a cane — but when it came to pushing her TJ Wrangler through swamps and over rocks, she rode with the best of ’em.

    I’m only 64, but hopefully I can do the same.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      You make a fair point, but for me the off-roading was incidental to the bike thing. So once I couldn’t compete on a bike any more, I really wanted to have a car :)

    • 0 avatar

      The Phaeton and other flagships just got another nail in the coffin with this year’s release of the Range Rover LWB. I sat inside one this weekend, and couldn’t even kick the back of the front seats. This car has the potential of becoming a game changer that starts the arms race to build extended wheelbase luxury SUV’s, and further diminish the market share for full size flagship sedans.

      • 0 avatar

        “arms race to build extended wheelbase”

        Keep dreaming, almost everything but the biggest SUVs has inadequate or barely adequate rear passenger room including cars. I’m skeptical of the industry finally saying “what we’ve been doing is stupid lets add 12in to the platform before the wheelbase and offer real rear leg room”.

        • 0 avatar

          We’ll see. My money is on seeing the Bentley and Rolls Royce SUV’s being eventually offered with at least 42″ of rear legroom to cater to the chauffeur markets. I can see the Q7 and X8 also doing the same. The problem with existing full size SUV’s is that their rear seats actually aren’t that comfortable. Flagships for now still own the niche of wonderfully contoured, supportive, and adjustable rear seating.

          • 0 avatar

            If the product is destined for chauffeur markets I see little point in wanting an SUV over a LWB car in the first place, but I happen to agree with you in this case on the length of a RR or Bentley “SUV”.

  • avatar

    I’m sorry, but a vehicle that weighs 4600 pounds, is not a pickup, and doesn’t have adequate room for two full-size adults in the back seat is just silly. To me your complaint about the back seat is disqualifying.

  • avatar

    I agree. I’ve enjoyed reading your post. Keep it up.

  • avatar

    Would be interesting if you could ride in a ’14 Durango. Supposedly the ride and handling is supposed to be quite a bit better/different compared to the Grand Cherokee. Rental stripper models don’t count, of course.

    As far as the bulk of SUV’s on American roads being junk, I’d agree – to an extent. Mainly it was American SUVs that were garbage, oddly enough. 2nd Gen+ Explorers, Navigators, Expeditions, Trailblazers/Envoys, S10 Blazers, etc… There were a few bright spots: Grand Cherokee/Cherokee, Suburban, 1st gen Explorers and Excursion.

    The Japanese on the other hand always made solid, purposeful SUVs up until recently. The LandCruisers, 4Runners, Monteros, Troopers, and Pathfinders were generally great up until the 2nd half the 2000s

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      I think you’ll find that the Japanese SUVs are actually used around the globe as vehicles for off road use.

      I mean how many US SUVs and pickups do you see on the news, doco’s, etc. You see a lot of Patrols, Landcruisers, etc.

      Plus, most medium to large SUVs globally require diesel, something the US doesn’t do to well.

      Whereas US SUVs are similar to the pickups, Lifestyle vehicles, with some off road capability, considered not durable or capable enough by many.

      The only reason the Jeep Grand Cherokee is decent off road is that it is based on a non American platform.

      Even the new US Colorado is de-tuned in the chassis and suspension department compared to it’s global sister Colorado.

      • 0 avatar

        While I agree with you mostly, the only reason the GC is capable off road, is because Jeep engineers know what they’re doing, and have known for a long time.

        The WK2 Platform was designed mostly in Detroit, and is far more capable with quite different suspension compared to the Mercedes ML.

    • 0 avatar

      The Durango is tuned more for on-road handling, and the longer wheelbase benefits the ride.

      However I can’t agree with your “2nd Gen+ Explorers are garbage” comment. While they are not the most refined SUVs on the road, they were decent for the time. A friend owns two 2000 Mercury Mountaineers, both well equipped 5.0L High Output V8 models. Each has over 160K on it and both have been very reliable, and even get 21-22mpg highway.

  • avatar

    Long live the large SUV! I think that it is a shame that a 3/4 ton Suburban or Excursion are no longer made. How is the average family of 7 plus dog supposed to take their 28′ bunkhouse travel trailer or boat out for family adventuring without the great American full-sized truck based SUV? Please don’t say with a full-sized van. A van can’t plow snow or get off the beaten path.

  • avatar

    I test drove the 2014 JGC and was completely shocked by how well it drove. I also drove all of its competitors, and it wasn’t even a fair fight. The difference between the JGC and the Pilot, ’14 Highlander, and CX-9 was night and day. The only thing that keeps me with Honda/Toyota is reliability.

  • avatar

    Minor quibble, Jack: those “hidden” audio controls date back at least as far as the WJ Grand Cherokees: my ’98 had them. Best remote audio control placement in the industry.

  • avatar

    This the most predictable comparo ever. So you are saying that a JGC is nicer than and Edge, whose platform is 4-5 years older, has two less gears, and costs $5K-$10K less?

    Thats not to say that the JGC isn’t the better vehicle. If it were my money I wouldn’t buy the Edge. But then again, I think the Edge is Ford’s worst product at the moment. The bump in price from the Edge to the Flex/Explorer is money well spent.

  • avatar

    I enjoyed the Hell out of that post and I really have no interest in, or opinion on, the subject matter. It was more the tone and I’m trying to define it. Kind of condescending in an F. Scott Fitzgerald vein perhaps. Really, Jack, one of your best works.

  • avatar

    I’m not sure I but the comparison with the Phaeton, which was what, $85k new? The real comparison is this: You need four doors and room for four and occasionally five. You live in a cold, snowy climate, in a hilly location (New England for me) and AWD is a must. Your roads are little more than small stretches of asphalt between potholes, and even when repaired each summer are never smooth.

    So the answer for those people is a car? The Accord/Camry/Fusion or Kia/Hyundai trumps the JGC/EDGE/Acadia/Pilot/Higlander? You have to compare the SUV/CUV to the actual cars it replaces for most people. When you do, you see why they buy them. Why a Corolla can’t really compete with a RAV4 for most of those people. In the sunbelt or CA, yeah, I don’t see the appeal of these things. But as a car owner in Massachusetts, I sometimes struggle to understand why anyone has a regular car here.

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    “Most of the time, these suburban warriors will find themselves with one trophy wife in front and one child, approximately the size of a roast turkey, in the back.”

    That’s correct, and illustrates why 99% of the buyers of these don’t need them. Glowing reviews like this are hardly the way to “firmly commit to the removal of the SUV from the American road.”

  • avatar

    Jack, I frequently use the “other stories by author” page that one gets to by clicking the red byline, however yours is fucked up and stuck on the Sunday Apr 6th story about the columnar rectal foam recall. Please… rectify.

  • avatar

    “…it reinforces my personal conviction that the Pentastar is one of the world’s best engines…”



    Coming from the guy with an Accord with a J-Series engine… that’s astonishing… really… ?

  • avatar

    The LED running lights are available on the Limited model. They are part of the Luxury package.

    Did you recline the rear seats? They are uncomfortable in their default, almost vertical position, but are much better with a few degrees of rake.

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