Despite a month of mostly commuter duty, our Four Seasons Jeep Grand Cherokee did more than just haul us back and forth to work.
Associate editor Eric Tingwall put the Jeep’s towing abilities to the test, dragging a 1500-pound trailer full of debris from his ongoing home renovation. It turns out that, even though the Grand Cherokee has been with us for ten months already, Tingwall was the first to use it to tow.
“I actually walked away impressed with the gearbox. At 70 mph, the Grand Cherokee might be able to hold fifth gear, but it really needs fourth. Despite the lack of a tow/haul button, the transmission figured that out on its own, never hunting and never rushing to a higher gear.”
Once the Jeep was loaded down with 2700 pounds worth of drywall, plaster, insulation, and hardwood, Tingwall found the 3.6-liter V-6’s power to be adequate, although not outstanding, especially when compared with our departed Four Seasons Audi Q5 3.2.
“The Q5 still felt quicker with the utility trailer hooked up. How does Audi manage that with less displacement, horsepower, and torque? Lower gearing. The shorter first gear and final drive of the Audi result in a very noticeable 50 percent more torque at the rear wheels. The Q5’s transmission, however, wasn’t nearly as steadfast as the Jeep’s in selecting gears.”
We’ve also continued to be impressed by the high level of durability of the Grand Cherokee’s interior. “It’s a refreshing change from past Chrysler products,” says associate web editor Evan McCausland. “The interior of our Four Seasons Town & Country got beat up. The Grand Cherokee shows that Chrysler has figured out how to make an attractive and durable cabin.” Indeed, despite initial worrying, the leather on the dashboard, the light-colored carpets, and the silver plastic trim in our Grand Cherokee looks the same as the day it arrived at our office, even 25,000 miles later.
However, it hasn’t been a month of great praise for the Jeep. On a weekend trip to Chicago, the five-speed automatic and the outdated infotainment system -- the Grand Cherokee’s two most discussed problem spots -- made themselves known once again. Navigating the Chicago area was a breeze thanks to the Jeep’s high seating position, abundance of glass, and tidy dimensions. However, the five-speed automatic’s age showed, necessitating that passing maneuvers be well planned out, since the gearbox doesn’t kick down quite quickly enough to get the power going. The same went for any kind of grades or passing on the highway -- expect a downshift (or two) during 70-mph highway cruising when you encounter a hill or want to pass.
Although outdated in graphics and interface, the navigation system cooperated with nary a hiccup; however, the USB interface to play your iPod was another story. In the past month, few people in the office have had it work on the first try, and it stopped working completely at the tail end of the Chicago trip. It’s too bad that the Bluetooth audio streaming has been equally as problematic as well.
We expect the problems in gearshifting will be remedied when Chrysler ditches the five-speed next year in favor of an eight-speed automatic for 2013. Jeep has also made the premium infotainment system standard on the Overland model starting this year, meaning buyers will get a system with an upgraded interface at no extra cost. Otherwise, the Grand Cherokee seems hard to beat. Stay tuned for our continuing adventures with the Jeep.
|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 |