The Grand Cherokee's logbook is becoming less of a mixed bag and more of a praise book, but the five-speed automatic continues to annoy some of us on the freeway, where we are left wishing for another gear to help with passing.
"I understand why Jeep is using this transmission," says senior web editor Phil Floraday. "It's because, after suffering under several bad owners, Chrysler didn't have a modern six-speed automatic in time for the Grand Cherokee's introduction. But if I were a consumer, I wouldn't care about the legacy problems that plague the Chrysler brands, preventing them from having the latest drivetrain components. The reality is, Jeep has to compete with other players that do have more modern equipment, especially at the $45,000-plus price point."
Some staffers are now having issues pairing phones and iPods with the Garmin-based navigation and entertainment system, which fails to recognize some devices. "I spent ten minutes repeatedly trying to pair my BlackBerry," gripes deputy editor Joe DeMatio, "and another five minutes trying with my iPhone, before I finally gave up." We've learned online that other Grand Cherokee owners have had similar problems with the Garmin unit, and it often has to do with software updates on the devices. Update your iPhone, DeMatio, and try again.
As for the wrinkled leather on the dashboard that we complained about last month? Our dealer's service department says it's the first they've seen of it, so they snapped some pictures and sent them off to Chrysler. We haven't heard back from them on that front yet.
These quibbles aside, what has emerged over the past month has been our love for the Grand Cherokee's just-right size. During a weekend trip with family to Chicago, Floraday made full use of the rear cargo space and seating for five.
"I picked up several cases of empty beer bottles so I could bottle a batch of beer this week. I also had a cooler with full bottles of beer, yeast, and hops for another batch, and a variety of household goods my aunt purchased in Chicago over the weekend. We then met the rest of the family for dinner and put five people in the Jeep on the way home, and everyone was comfortable."
Floraday's wife, Amy, was also impressed with the Grand Cherokee's maneuverability; even though her daily driver is the smaller and lower Subaru Forester, she had no problem parallel-parking the Grand Cherokee on the packed streets of Chicago.
The Floradays weren't the only people to adore the Jeep's size -- editor-in-chief Jean Jennings finds it to be the perfect height for entry and egress, and she loves its planted feeling on the freeway. Managing editor of digital platforms Jennifer Misaros had previously complained about the height, but Jennings brushed aside her concerns: "Jen is a shrimp -- of course she needs a stepladder to get in!" The rest of us fall between Jennings and Misaros in stature and are generally in agreement with the boss: the Grand Cherokee is the Goldilocks of SUVs, neither too large nor too small.
|Our Test Results|
| 0-60 mph: || 9.1 sec |
| 0-100 mph: || 24.7 sec |
| 1/4-mile: || 16.9 sec @ 86 mph |
| 30-70 mph passing: || 9.7 sec |
| Peak acceleration: || 0.52 g |
| Speed in gears: || 1) 54; 2) 88; 3) 113; 4) --; 5) -- mph |
| Cornering L/R: || 0.74/0.72 g |
| 70-0 mph braking: || 184 ft |
| Peak braking: || 0.98 g |