Re-imagined for the 2011 model year, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is an entirely different vehicle from those that came before it: more luxurious, more refined, and more efficient. Yet it still retains Jeep's proven off-road ability despite improving its on-road and day-to-day manners.
With a bluff nose, a dynamic windshield rake, and high, sculpted sides, the Jeep Grand Cherokee cuts an instantly recognizable figure--even before you get to the classic Jeep upright-bar grille. Inside, the Grand Cherokee moves significantly up-market, with excellent materials, chunky, tough design themes, and very good fit and finish.
As for powertrains, the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee keeps things pretty simple: there are just three versions. The Pentastar V-6 engine in standard models offers 290 horsepower and slightly improved gas mileage for 2012, up 1 city mpg to 17/23 mpg in rear-drive models, and up 1 highway mpg in four-wheel driver versions to 16/23 mpg. For those with a bit of towing in mind (up to 7,400 pounds), the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine packs 360 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque along with cylinder deactivation tech to improve gas mileage. Both models offer a standard automatic transmission.
Chrysler's high-performance SRT also makes a version of the Grand Cherokee, the SRT8. Powered by a new 6.4-liter HEMI engine rated at 470 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque, the SRT8 is very quick, getting to 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds. It also gives up a bit of its off-road capability in favor of on-road performance, though it's still well-suited to all-weather use and less demanding off-road work.
Jeep offers three different levels of four-wheel drive systems with its Grand Cherokee, from the base Quadra-Trac I, to Quadra-Trac II, and Quadra Drive II. Each enhances the ability of the four-wheel drive system with the addition of progressively more technology and equipment. A Selec-Terrain system that allows the driver to dial in powertrain settings to suit the surface (including sand/mid, snow, rock, and sport modes) is also available, along with a Quadra-Lift air suspension system for variable ride height and ground clearance.
With such an array of available 4x4 equipment and its stylish new looks, the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee is every bit the modern multi-purpose SUV, and in higher trim levels, flirts with legitimate luxury status. It's a comfortable, convenient, go-anywhere vehicle, even if it is likely overkill for the average run to the weekend soccer game.
Safety is one area where the Grand Cherokee comes up a bit short, though to be fair, it's a problem endemic to much of the SUV class. The NHTSA rates the Grand Cherokee at four stars out of five in overal crash-worthiness, with two-wheel drive models scoring just three stars in rollover resistance (compared to four stars for 4WD models). The IIHS, on the other hand, gives the 2012 Grand Cherokee a Top Safety Pick rating and top marks of "good" in all categories--perhaps better reflecting its status as compared to other SUVs.
For the full details on the Jeep Grand Cherokee, visit The Car Connection