Grand Cherokee offers impressive refinement, power
By IRA SIEGEL For Sun-Times Media September 7, 2012 2:53PM
2012 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE LIMITED 4X4
ENGINE: 360-horsepower 5.7-liter V-8
TRANSMISSION: six-speed automatic
DRIVETRAIN: four-wheel drive
FUEL ECONOMY: 13 city/20 highway
BASE PRICE: $39,295
AS TESTED: $43,775 (including $825 for destination)
Jeep completely transformed its Grand Cherokee last year giving it an unprecedented level of refinement, impressive features and a host of available amenities.
For 2012 Jeep has put a cherry on top of that sundae with a new top-of-the-line Overland Summit edition and the much-anticipated SRT8 edition.
This current generation Grand Cherokee is quite an improvement over its predecessor. If you’re interested in an SUV and you haven’t been in the new Grand Cherokee, you owe it to yourself to take one out for a ride.
Walking up to the Grand Cherokee, the first thing you’ll notice is its exterior styling is more appealing. I like the new look. If you’re an enthusiast, you’ll appreciate the SRT8 edition.
The Grand Cherokee SRT8 looks much more aggressive than all other Grand Cherokees thanks to a suspension that has been lowered by one inch, body-color wheel flares and side sill cladding, unique front and rear fascias, and a dual-sport exhaust system with 4-inch exhaust tips.
This SRT8 is a complete package and much more than just some sporty styling. The SRT8 features a pavement-pounding 470-horsepower 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 capable of launching this SUV from 0-60 mph in just 4.8 seconds.
The SRT8 also includes beefy Brembo brakes, a race-inspired interior with SRT-exclusive appointments, heavily bolstered seats covered in Nappa leather and suede, steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, a 19-speaker 825-watt harman/kardon audio system and more.
The 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 is by far the most powerful, technologically advanced, high-performance Jeep ever built. Even if you don’t have the $55,000 to fork over for the SRT8, the other variants of the new Grand Cherokee are impressive.
The new Grand Cherokee’s cabin is comfortable and features a higher level of craftsmanship than its predecessor.
When taking the new Grand Cherokee for a drive, you’ll quickly notice an impressive level of refinement in the ride. The Grand Cherokee delivers a smooth, quiet well-mannered ride. Yet the foul-weather or off-road prowess that defines the Grand Cherokee is better, too. The available Selec-Terrain 4x4 system is quite sophisticated. It electronically coordinates up to 12 different powertrain, braking and suspension systems, including throttle control, transmission shift, transfer case, traction control and electronic stability control.
Selec-Terrain lets the driver select one of five 4x4 settings (auto, sport, snow, sand/mud and rock) to deliver the ultimate in traction no matter how slippery the road surface is.
You’ll definitely want Selec-Terrain if you plan on doing some off-roading and you’ll probably want the available Quadra-Lift air suspension system, too.
The Quadra-Lift air suspension system features five height settings, including a lowered height for entering/exiting and a maximum lift providing 10.7 inches of ground clearance.
Excluding the powerful SRT8, all 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokees feature a sophisticated 290-horsepower flexible-fuel 3.6-liter V-6 engine mated to a five-speed automatic transmission.
This is a nice combination that offers trailer-tow capability up to 5,000 pounds and fuel economy ratings of 17/23 for 4x2 models and 16/23 for 4x4 models.
Those who want a V-8 can opt for the 360-horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi with trailer-tow capacity of up to 7,400 pounds. The Hemi V-8 also features a fuel-saving mode that seamlessly shuts off four cylinders when power is not needed and quickly brings those cylinders back on line when needed without any perceptible hesitation.
Still, all of that technology didn’t help my 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4x4 with the Hemi V-8 (rated at 13 mpg city/20 mpg highway) avoid gas stations as much as I would have liked.
Obviously the V-6 is much more economical. Where the new Grand Cherokee shines, though, is on and off the road. Grand Cherokee’s ability to deliver an ultra-refined on-road driving experience, along with its impressive off-road capabilities, makes it a very likable SUV.
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