Review: 2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4×4

Monday December 8th, 2014 at 1:1212 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4x4

By David Colman

Hypes: Spacious, Off-Road Ready
Gripes: Could Use a (Grand Cherokee)V8 and Brighter Headlights

Jeep has an engaging way of reminding you of the company’s storied past. For example, the lower spoke of the Latitude’s fat rimmed steering wheel is inscribed with the notation “Since 1941.” The granite colored fabric covering the seats looks more serviceable than luxurious. The khaki pouch containing the owner’s manual might have once served as a bag for your canteen. The heritage on display is so convincing you almost expect to find a jerry can buried in the recesses of the trunk.

But this Jeep earns its stripes with more than just idle allusions. This is a real, heavy duty, off-road capable 4×4, as distinguished from those light duty all-wheel-drive interlopers so many manufacturers try to pawn off these days as trailblazers. Your first clue that you could tackle the Rubicon trail with the Latitude is the fat knob on the center console reading “4WD LOW” which allows you to creep over otherwise impassable terrain. Yes, this bargain priced $31,020 Cherokee not only offers 4WD Low for tricky travel under 25mph, but also a mechanical locking rear differential (which Jeep calls “E-Locker”) to navigate especially treacherous passages slower than 15mph. This golden promise of traction comes to you for just $995, if you order Customer Preferred Package 27J. Included in the benefits are a 9-speed automatic gearbox with Jeep Active Drive II, Hill Descent Control, and Off-Road Suspension.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4x4

Power for our test Cherokee came from a 3.2 liter V6 more notable for its highway gas economy (26 MPG) than its sheer horsepower (271hp). The 9 speed transmission does an admirable job of maximizing power produced by the 24 valve engine. The 3.25:1 rear axle ratio strikes a decent compromise between acceleration potential and acceptable cruising mileage. The floor-mounted shift allows you to override gear selection at any time, and quite frankly, there are times when the V6 needs a little extra prodding from a lower gear to complete passing maneuvers. Otherwise, you will discover that if you just leave this gearbox in “Drive,” a considerable lag occurs between the time you floor the accelerator and when the engine actually responds.

The Latitude is perfectly configured for long distance freeway jaunts. There is absolutely no wind noise or road intrusion inside the cockpit at speeds over 70mph. This quietude is surprising in view of the Jeep’s off-road suspension underpinnings, so you can probably thank the Firestone Destination tires (225/65R17)for contributing to the silence. If you order the optional Trailer Tow Package, this Jeep will pull 4,500 pounds; or 2,000 pounds without the special fittings. Trailer Sway Damping is a standard Cherokee feature.

On twisting back roads, Latitude is not quite so happy as it is on the freeway. Here, its frontal weight bias causes it to plow into turns, requiring you to crank an extra 20 degrees of lock into the steering wheel, just I thought I was done with the exercise. This tendency became especially demanding in heavy rain, which caused the front Firestones to drift even further from my anticipated trajectory. The “Bi-Function Halogen Projector Headlamps” sound more proficient than they are. Actual night time performance was marginal.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4x4

Although the interior of the Latitude is mostly monochromatic, it’s done with an understated panache that makes you appreciate Jeep’s good taste. The seats, though manually controlled, are quite supportive and handsomely done, with white stitched black side bolsters, and grey cloth inserts that defy sliding. The oatmeal headliner brightens the expansive interior substantially, and brushed aluminum graces the door pulls. Matte titanium colored bezels outline the instrument binnacle, centrally mounted 5 inch touch screen, and air vents. The compartment between the front seats is commodious; you can optionally equip its upper level with a wireless phone charging pad, but be sure not to lay your key fob on it. The floor in the trunk area is hinged at the rear. Lift it, and you find a large hidden set of four shallow storage bins. Remove the bin partition for access to the space saver spare and jack.

Jeep offers a lot of vehicle for the money here. If you are serious about off-roading, or just enjoy the rugged grace this company has been refining since 1941, you need to check out the latest Cherokee Latitude.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4x4

2014 Jeep Cherokee Latitude 4×4

  • Engine: 3.2 Liter V6 24 Valve with VVT
  • Horsepower: 271hp
  • Torque: 239 lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 19 MPG City/26 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $31,020
  • Star Rating: 8 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4×4 Diesel

Thursday October 16th, 2014 at 8:1010 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4x4 Diesel

By David Colman

Hypes: Solid Power Team, Efficient Use of Space
Gripes: Vague Steering Feel, Ergonomic Cabin Issues

The big news at Jeep this year is availability of a diesel engine for the Grand Cherokee model. Although this Eco Diesel option is not inexpensive, at $5,000, it will pay back dividends in mileage and cruising range unavailable with either of Grand Cherokee’s other gas engine offerings (3.6 liter V6 and 5.7 liter V8). If you opt for the diesel, your 24.6 gallon fuel tank will take you more than 700 miles between visits to the pump island. In addition, you will be able to tow a 7400 pound trailer thanks to the diesel’s 420 pound feet of torque. That prodigious torque output makes the Grand Cherokee diesel your best bet for towing duties. By comparison, the 5.7 liter V8 makes 390 pound feet of torque.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4x4 Diesel

Also new for 2014 is the appropriately named Summit model, a range topper which outranks the Overland as the most luxurious Grand Cherokee of all. If you haven’t examined a Jeep interior in a while, you will be smitten with the attention to detail inside this cabin. Our test Jeep, done up in Jeep Brown, is meant to emulate the colors of the Grand Canyon. To me it looked more like an advertisement for See’s Chocolates. Vast swatches of glove soft “Natura-Plus” mocha leather cover the seating surfaces and complement the matching open pore wood of the dash and center console. Even the steering wheel rim features real wood top and bottom segments. The suede-like headliner and A-pillars beg you to touch them. The instrument panel can be configured with a variety of displays thanks to thin film transistor (TFT) technology. The huge double paned panoramic sunroof blasts the interior with enough daylight and fresh air to dispel any trace of back seat claustrophobia. Though it’s hard to find demerits inside the Summit Jeep, flat, hard front seats cry for softer cushions and additional side support.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4x4 Diesel

Also new for 2014 is an 8 speed automatic transmission which offers torque multiplication in gears 1 through 5, direct drive (1:1) in gear 6, and overdrive ratios in speeds 7 and 8. The transmission up shifts and downshifts seamlessly. For 2014, all Grand Cherokees include paddle shifts for gear changes. The gear selection controller sits atop the center console, activated by a stubby T-handle lever with detents set so close together that it’s easy to get Neutral or Park when seeking Reverse.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4x4 Diesel

Although you might mistake this Jeep’s many luxury indulgences for a soft underbelly, that is hardly the case. In fact, the Summit is well equipped to conquer any unpaved road you care to tackle. This Jeep is Trail Rated, an honor bestowed only on vehicles which meet strict guidelines for ground clearance, maneuverability, traction, articulation and water fording. In the case of the Grand Cherokee, you can count on its sophisticated full time 4 Wheel Drive Quadra Trac II system to guarantee traction and maneuverability in the outback. As far as ride height is concerned, the Summit provides a Quadra Lift air suspension system that affords 8.7 inches of ground clearance in normal daily driving. You can elevate it 1.3 inches by selecting the Off Road 1 setting, or 2.6 inches for Off Road 2. With 11.3 inches of ground clearance in this rock avoidance mode, you can clear most any obstacle, or dare to ford stream beds. If you choose Aero Mode, or Sport setting, the Jeep drops 0.6 inch to a ride height of 8.1 inches for less wind resistance and better fuel economy.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4x4 Diesel

The Summit edition of the Grand Cherokee is a styling exercise that ticks all the right boxes for clean design. First you’ll notice new LED head and tail lights, and new charcoal rocker panels which match dark gray lower valences front and rear. The rear under tray houses exhaust tips, the front sports newly integrated fog lights. Bi-Xenon headlights swivel from side to side for improved back road illumination as you turn the steering wheel. Model specific polished aluminum alloy rims measure 8 x 20 inches and plant hefty contact patches on the road thanks to Goodyear Fortera HL tires measuring 265/50R20.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4x4 Diesel

The Summit diesel weighs 5,149 pounds, so you won’t be whipping it through S curves like a sport SUV. You’ll also become quickly cognizant of its heft when you make your first U-turn, an undertaking that uses up 37 feet of road and forces you to swing the steering wheel through 3.7 turns from lock to lock. But once you’ve seated four or five adults inside this luxurious cabin, and headed off road to do some serious trail blazing, you’ll marvel at just how much power, range and competence $59,000 will buy when you select this Detroit-built bargain of a Jeep.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4×4 Diesel

  • Engine: 3.0 liter V-6 Diesel, turbocharged, common rail direct injection
  • Horsepower: 240hp
  • Torque: 420lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 27 MPG City/ 28 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $50,875
  • Star Rating: 8.5 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4×4 Diesel

Friday August 1st, 2014 at 2:88 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4x4 Diesel

By David Colman

Hypes: Intuitive UCONNECT Interface, Stellar Diesel Cruising Range
Gripes: Doors Need Slamming for Closure

Jeep’s latest iteration of the Grand Cherokee line offers remarkable flexibility of use. It’s a tough truck, a comfy limo, and an economy ride, all rolled into one very handsome product. The truck part of the equation will take you just about anywhere on or off road, especially if you order your Jeep with the optional, “Trail Rated” $2,495 “Off Road Adventure II” package. In well appointed Limited trim, this spacious Jeep behaves more like a plush and expensive foreign bred sedan than a domestic sports utility. All the seats are heated, with 8-way adjustability for the front pair. The cabin is plush and quiet, and the new 8.4 inch dash-mounted touch screen offers more climate control and entertainment options than Microsoft’s house of tomorrow. When you order your Jeep with the new-for-2014 V-6 turbocharged diesel ($4,500 extra), your Cherokee will effortlessly yank a 7,400 pound trailer while still managing 24 MPG in overall fuel consumption. Pulling that kind of load with ease is what 420 lb.-ft. of torque will do from a standing start. Jeep’s new 8-speed automatic gearbox is standard across the Cherokee line this year, and its paddle shifted multiplicity of gears immensely enhances the low-revving performance of the new diesel.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4x4 Diesel

Of course, if you’re looking to Jeep for a faster Grand Cherokee, a couple of contenders will put you into the BMW M5 and Porsche Cayenne GTS class. Along those lines, you can up horsepower by selecting either the optional 5.7 liter V-8 (360 hp) or the dragon slayer SRT8 version which generates 470 hp from its 6.4 liter motor. The price for such extra grunt is substantial, with the 5.7 liter V8 barely capable of 20 MPG and the 6.4 liter SRT motor good for about 15 MPG. From a practical standpoint, then, you can’t beat this new diesel, which makes just 240 hp, but produces enough torque to rival the SRT Hemi for towing purposes.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4x4 Diesel

Jeep performed a mild, yet highly successful restyling of the Grand Cherokee’s front fascia for 2014. The results look better than Botox. Below the carryover traditional seven slot grill, an aluminum framed lower intake scowls menacingly. Newly condensed Bi-Xenon headlamps impart a squint to the Jeep’s face that distinguishes it from any other SUV on the road today. If you opt for the sublimely luxurious, $3,000 optional “Luxury Group II,” those slit lamps are automatically adjusted for variable vehicle height, flick automatically from low to high beam as required by traffic, and impart a carnival glow in broad daylight thanks to LED daytime running lights. The seemingly pricey package provides much more than just better illumination. Among the inclusions: a huge Panorama sunroof that gives backseat captives the pleasurable illusion that they’re riding in a convertible. We took a foursome on a day long excursion along the twisting, sometimes nauseating Coast Route, and never heard a single complaint about backseat discomfort.

The 8.4 inch screen, which is also part of the Luxury II package, is a wonder of technology. Chrysler’s UConnect system is far superior to other, nominally similar domestic and foreign offerings such as Ford’s MyTouch, Cadillac’s CUE, and BMW’s iDrive. For ease of use, it’s hard to beat UConnect’s intuitive operation. This system, which encompasses everything from climate control to phone usage to infotainment sources, immediately summons whatever touch screen you might need, and presents the information in a visually clear and obvious way. As soon as I received this Jeep for my weekly drive, I spent about 10 minutes reconfiguring everything about its behavior to suit my personal preferences. For example, I eliminated the annoying valet seat slide and steering wheel tilt, then muted the remote fob door lock chirp. And I did so with absolutely no prompting from the owner’s manual. Good thing too, since the manual was absent from the glove box.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4x4 Diesel

This latest Grand Cherokee with its hyper efficient diesel motivator represents a remarkable accomplishment for Jeep and parent company Chrysler. Its Quadra-Drive II 4WD system allows you to select any suspension height or traction setting from outback to sand to snow with the simple twist of a fat dial on the center console. In normal pavement mode, the admittedly heavy (4,900 lb.) Cherokee tends to lose front axle grip first in twisty turn work. Yet the Michelin Latitude mud and snow rated tires (265/60R18) manage to extricate you from even the most precarious incipient slide by clawing the pavement resolutely. Even when you’re pushing this behemoth to the limit, you’ll never irritate your riders, who remain blissfully unflustered thanks to this Jeep’s uncanny composure in duress. You could hardly ask for more than that from any SUV, and the fact that this one, fully loaded, slides in under $50,000 makes the ownership experience all the more remarkable.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4x4 Diesel

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4×4 Diesel

  • Engine: 3.0 Liter V6 Turbocharged Diesel
  • Horsepower: 240hp
  • Torque: 420lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 21 MPG City/28 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $49,185
  • Star Rating: 9.5 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2014 Jeep Patriot Limited 4X4

Tuesday December 10th, 2013 at 8:1212 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Huge Flat Cargo Floor, Great Tipstick Design
Gripes: Lethargic Handling, Underpowered

The Patriot is Jeep’s classical architecture version of its sibling, the more streamlined Compass. In lieu of gentrified Compass styling, the Patriot’s boxy lines and upright seven slot grill make you think Wrangler rather than Grand Cherokee. The Patriot line begins with the base model Sport FWD, with a starting price of $16,000. Work your way to 4WD and you add two grand to that base price. The Latitude model comes in at about twenty thousand for 2WD, three thousand more for 4WD. We spent a week with Jeep’s top line version, the Patriot Limited 4X4, which carries a base price of $25,895. By the time you’ve added the $995 Customer Preferred Package 2GF (theft alarm, cargo convenience group. roof rails with adjustable cross bars and Tipstick automatic gearbox), plus $745 for navigation with 40GB hard drive, the top of the line Patriot will set you back $28,630.

Even with the heated leather seats included in the Limited’s specification list, the interior of this Jeep doesn’t look luxurious. The first thing you notice inside the cabin is a gaping hole on the passenger’s side of the dash. While this lidless glove box provides a handy receptacle for random items, it looks sketchy. It also duplicates the ample enclosed glove box just below it. Another unnerving note is struck by the incessant chiming that begins if you insert the ignition key in its slot before you buckle up your seatbelt. There are better ways to save you from yourself than this persistent annoyance.

New for 2014 is the 6 speed gearbox, which replaces the previous model’s noisy constant velocity unit. The new “Tipstick” transmission is ingeniously designed to allow you to switch from full automatic to manual mode by simply swatting the Tipstick right for automatic or left for manual. There’s no need to search out separate gates for these two functions. Once in manual mode, you can up shift or down shift be slapping the Tipstick left or right. It’s one of the best solutions yet devised for this complicated bit of engineering.

If you select the Limited version of the Patriot, you receive the upgraded 2.4 liter, 172hp inline 4 instead of the baseline 2 liter, 158hp inline four that powers the 2WD Sport Patriot. Even with this optional motor, the Limited is hard pressed to launch with much thrust. You need to select the correct gear set with the Tipstick before initiating passing maneuvers. The engine sounds labored as it crescendos through the rpm range, and even at a freeway cruising speed of just 70mph the DOHC four is spinning at a rather noisy 2,500rpm. Tow capacity is limited to 2,000 lbs.

Where this Jeep excels is in the practicality department. Flipping forward the 60/40 split rear seats (which also happen to recline) is a simple maneuver that opens up a substantial flat load floor good for 54.2 cubic feet of space. Even with both rear seats erect, you’re good for 23 cubic feet of storage. The beauty of low rear liftover height and that flat floor configuration should not be underestimated. Slinging a bicycle through the tailgate and into the Patriot presented no hassle whatsoever.

The Patriot Limited’s 217/60R17 Firestone Affinity tires are quiet and comfortable over potholes, but ill suited to cornering duty. In fact, this Jeep is not your weapon of choice for back road bashing. It tends to slither through turns without generating much grip. Initial understeer predominates until Electronic Roll Mitigation conspires with Electronic Stability Control to slow progress to a crawl. Thus, it’s virtually impossible to get the Patriot crossed up or out of shape on a curvy road. Out on the freeway, this Jeep is better behaved. Its fat rimmed, leather-covered steering wheel offers you just the right opportunity to get a grip. Even though the Patriot’s high belt line dictates smallish side and rear windows, vision is commendably good in all directions. If you need the safety factor afforded by 4WD, and fancy practicality over speed, this entry level Jeep deserves a close look.

2014 Jeep Patriot Limited 4X4

  • Engine: 2.4 Liter, 16 Valve DOHC inline 4 with Dual VVT
  • Horsepower: 172hp
  • Torque: 165lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 21 MPG City/27 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $28,630
  • Star Rating: 7 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT 4×4

Tuesday October 8th, 2013 at 8:1010 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Beautifully Constructed Street Fighter
Gripes: Poor Detents on Center Console Gear Change Stick

Forget everything you thought you knew about Jeep quality. Long gone are the days when the interior of a Grand Cherokee resembled the lobby of a Motel 6. When you gain admittance to the cockpit of the new Grand Cherokee SRT, you’re more likely to think Ritz than 6. Chrysler has managed to elevate the SRT experience to a level of gratification previously reserved for Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5 and Audi Q7 owners. Swing open the door and you’ll observe a distinctly European mode of finish, trim and appointment that will stagger your sensibility. For example, almost every seam from the top of the dash to the bolsters of the seats is double stitched with white thread for a custom tailored look. Instead of phony wood dash inserts, Chrysler provides carbon fiber slashes to the door panels and dash face that look just right with the purposeful, supportive SRT-embroidered front seats. Best of all the competition inspired touches is the Launch Control panel on the center console which allows you to program the SRT for instant departure when the light turns green. Backing up the track-ready promise of this Jeep, Chrysler has provided a series of performance measurements available via steering-wheel toggled menu: 0-60mph; 1/8 and 1/4 mile acceleration times; peak lateral and longitudinal G-Forces; instant peak G-Forces; Braking Distance from 60mph to zero.

In case you’re wondering why a mass production 4×4 requires such meticulous performance documentation, think of the SRT version of the Cherokee as a race truck first and a passenger Jeep second. Just look at the specification sheet and you’ll get the idea. Instead of the base Cherokee ‘s 290hp V-6, or optional 360hp V-8, the SRT harnesses Chrysler’s top HEMI V-8, the 6.2 liter monster that produces 470hp and 465 lb.-ft. of torque. Couple that prodigious output to a paddle-shifted, 8HP70, 8-speed automatic gearbox that will hold any gear as long as you like when manual mode is selected. The gearbox also tunes itself to your preferred style of driving within the first 300 miles of operation. Adding to the joy of such extensive gear selection are the extra-large alloy paddles affixed to the superbly designed sports steering wheel. This SRT wheel features a tactile lower quadrant formed from buffed aluminum feeding into side grips of perforated leather with deep thumb indentations.

Jeep did not stint on premium suspension apparatus to cope with the engine’s humbling horsepower. The front geometry features independent short/long arm design modulated by adaptive Bilstein gas dampers, while rear architecture consists of multiple links, adaptive Bilsteins, and adjustable toe links. Front and rear sway bars maintain equilibrium, and Jeep’s patented Selec-Trac works with the Bilstein dampers to provide 5 ride settings: Tow/Snow/Normal/Sport/Track. These refined suspension bits feed thrust through new 5-spoke SRT-specific “Goliath” 20 inch diameter polished alloy rims supporting huge Pirelli P Zero run flat tires (295/45 ZR20 all around). Equally impressive Brembo disc brakes – 15 inch, 6 piston front, 13.78 inch, 4 piston rear – haul this monster truck down from its top speed of 160mph.

From the outside, the SRT is all nostrils and gill slits, meaner than a catfish, more purposeful than an MP. Yet the whole design blends together so successfully that unless you’re super-attuned to Cherokee variants, this super Jeep could easily pass muster as a common grocery getter. After all, it still has all the attributes to fulfill that prosaic occupation. The rear tailgate is power assisted to lift or shut at the press of your key fob remote. The rear seat will hold 3 in a pinch, 2 comfortably, and provide them with A/C outlets, heated seats, and reclining backrests to boot. The Panorama sunroof enlightens front and back seat occupants with its generous sweep, and visibility to the rear and sides is unusually informative for an SUV of this type.

The Grand Cherokee in SRT trim is expensive, at $69.470, but worth every dollar when you compare it to its competition. For an equivalent performer from Porsche, BMW or Audi, you’ll easily spend twice as much as the outlay for this Jeep. And to my eyes, none of these German canons look as good as the finely fluted, flying new Cherokee.

2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT 4×4

  • Engine: 6.2 liter HEMI V-8 with Fuel-Saver Technology
  • Horsepower: 470hp @ 6,000rpm
  • Torque: 465 lb.-ft. @4,300rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 13 MPG City/19 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $69,470
  • Star Rating: 9.5 out of 10 Stars

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2013 Grand Cherokee Overland 4×4 Review

Saturday March 30th, 2013 at 8:33 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

By David Colman

Hypes: Primo Looks, Handling, Practicality
Gripes: Flat-Backed Seats, Manual Steering Wheel Adjust

It took 4 days before I realized that this Jeep was not black, but green. “Black Forest Green,” to be exact, a shade so elusive that it only reveals its verdance in direct sunlight. Unlike its paint – which has a visual sweet spot about one millimeter wide – the Grand Cherokee’s sweet spot is a mile wide. Here’s a do-everything SUV from a company that still has the guts to offer it with a spanking V8. In fact, you can optionally order not only the 360hp, 5.7 liter V-8 of our test Jeep, but also a 6.4 liter V-8 which produces 470hp in the SRT8 model. For those of you more concerned with economy than performance, Jeep’s base motor for the Grand Cherokee is a 3.6 liter V-6 good for 290hp, as well as a just-introduced 3 liter diesel which makes 240hp, 420 lb.ft. of torque, and returns 28 MPG.

Although combined city/highway fuel economy of the 5.7 liter V-8 is a modest 15 MPG, this engine, coupled to a 6-speed automatic, is a perfect match for the Cherokee’s 4,470 lb. curb weight. The V-8 option adds $2,195 to the Jeep’s $43,595 base price. But the engine upgrade also includes a bevy of valuable extras that are essential if you plan to tow: 220 amp alternator, heavy duty ABS disc brakes, heavy duty engine cooling, and trailer tow group IV, which includes hitch and wiring. Another worthy option included on our test Jeep is the electronic limited slip rear differential ($695) which overcomes traction loss in the standard Quadra-Drive II 4WD system.

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2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland

Monday December 31st, 2012 at 8:1212 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

 

By David Colman

Hypes: Does-It-All, Looks to Kill, Great Price compared to the Europeans
Gripes: 6 or 8 Speed Gearbox Would Be Nice, Thirsty

Jeep engineers must have had the mountain bike rider in mind when they designed the new Grand Cherokee. If you flip the rear seats down and pop open the hatchback gate, you’ve created the perfect storage area for a mountain bike. Tailgate lift-over is moderately high, but once you’ve got the hang of sliding your bike in and out, you’re good to go anywhere, because the Grand Cherokee is Trail Rated. Its base price of $39,295 includes Quadra Trac II all-wheel drive featuring a terrain selection knob that lets you optimize grip for sand, snow, or loose gravel. In addition, standard Hill Descent Control steadies your gait on long declines, while mud and snow rated 265/60R18 Michelin Latitude Tour tires get a sure grip on steep ascents. If the going gets too tough for this mountain goat of a Jeep, just roll that bike out of storage and tackle the trail with pedal power.

While the foregoing expedition is certainly possible with a Grand Cherokee as your guide, in all likelihood, your next outing will be cross town to the grocery store, not a foray up Mt. McKinley. The Jeep is just as well suited to the mundane as it is to the heroic. Although available with a variety of V-8 engines (ranging from 360 to 470hp), the basic powertrain consists of a perfectly adequate 3.6 liter V-6 coupled to a 5-speed automatic gearbox. This sophisticated new baseline prime mover produces 290hp and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. That’s more than enough surge to meet any passing lane requirement, tow 7,400 pounds of trailer, and still return a thrifty 23 miles per gallon on the freeway. The V8 Hemi featured here is a monster at with power that is omnipresent.

 

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2012 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon 4X4 Review

Monday January 9th, 2012 at 4:11 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

Introduction by Francis Cebedo:

I took this Jeep to my daily grind of work and picking up the kids for a few days and it didn’t do so well. On the freeway it is a bit rough and darty. Keeping it in the lane was a bit of a challenge as the vehicle was easily persuaded to move to adjacent lanes when hitting bumps and imperfections at speeds over 70 mph.

Picking up the kids,  they couldn’t get in the back seat as they couldn’t push the seats forward and the opening to get in back was tiny even for active youngsters.  I took this vehicle mountain biking but  there was hardly any space in the back to put my bike.  So I took the heavy rear eats out and it was better space-wise but only slightly. Finally, I took the front roof off to get some sun but then all the cold wind seemed to descend in to the cabin at highway speeds. Even the mighty heater and heated seats had a hard time of keeping me warm.

Off-roading in Hollister Hills, CA

YouTube Preview Image

That’s when I decided to take this car off-roading.  This is the Rubicon, 2-door so it should feel right at home on an off-road jamboree. It is 2-door so it is short wheelbase and ideal for keeping the tires in contact with the ground. The tires are massive 31 inch with meaty rubber. Other trail worthy features are:

  • High ground clearance
  • Heavy duty front and rear Dana axles
  • Rock rails for true underside protection, skid plates all around the under side
  • Electronic front sway bar disconnect – gives 20% more suspension articulation to keep the wheels on the ground.
  • Electronic locking front and rear differentials.
  • Removable roof, doors, rear seat to lighten up the vehicle

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2011 Jeep Compass Latitude 4×4 Review

Wednesday September 28th, 2011 at 11:99 AM
Posted by: mtan

2011 Jeep Compass
By Ming Tan

Pros

  • Exterior styling – share some visual cues with the big brother Cherokee Series
  • Roomy – the passengers get a decent amount of leg and shoulder room for long distance comfort, although some cargo room is sacrificed
  • Heritage – shares the same Jeep off road bloodlines that began with the original Wrangler
  • Relevance – the 2.4-liter I4 motor is efficient – 21 mpg city and 26mpg highway

Cons

  • Small storage area for its class – 60.7 cubic feet vs. 73 cubic feet in the popular Toyota RAV4
  • Sparse interior – hard plastics and a simple dash – some consider this a good thing, but on the Compass, it doesn’t look like an interior belonging to a $27k SUV
  • Blind spot visibility – the rear c pillar design adds to the exterior aesthetic appeal, but hinders blind spot visibility

“Evolution of a Legendary Bloodline”

I’ve always liked trucks and SUV’s; to be more clear, rugged trucks and SUV’s. I’ve even had my eyes open for a rugged Jeep Wrangler sometime down the road. To me, that model is synonymous with Jeep and it embodies what is pure about the brand: its rugged and well-rounded capabilities.

I’ve owned a few SUV’s over the years, and have test driven a number; most recently, the new Mitsubishi Outlander Sport. The new Jeep Compass is similar in price, size, and value, so the timing was good to get some miles on this small SUV. I recognize that not everyone takes their SUV off road, so I evaluated the Compass from an image, value, and capability standpoint, given the compact SUV class that it belongs to. It seems to be a growing segment with worthy competitors, and the Jeep performed well overall, but not without a few issues.

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2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4×4 Review – Marching to a New Rhythm

Monday January 24th, 2011 at 3:11 PM
Posted by: Derek

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

By Derek Mau

Hits:

  • Smooth power delivery from 290 hp Pentastar 3.6L V6 engine
  • Quadra-Trac all-wheel drive system will never leave you stuck in the mud or snow
  • Leather-lined seats provide the support and comfort for all-day driving trips
  • Interior quality and design on par with some luxury-class vehicles
  • 2nd row passengers also get heated seats

Misses:

  • iPod interface and controls have poor ergonomics
  • Owners need to pony-up for the Trail Rated Quadra-Drive II system if they plan to do any rock-crawling

The recovering car market has welcomed the redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee with a brass band. Chrysler reports November 2010 sales were up from those of November 2009 by 256 percent. Fresh optimism pervades Chrysler’s headquarters and technical centers in Auburn Hills, Mich., where dozens of new employees and engineering consultants have been quietly brought on since last fall to revamp the company’s product line, with help from its new Italian partner and parent Fiat. While Italian automaker Fiat now controls Chrysler, development of this Grand Cherokee began in 2006, when Chrysler was still tied up with Daimler-Benz (the parent company of Mercedes-Benz). Cue the music.

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