May 24, 2013
Written by Steven Macoy
Thursday, 01 April 2010 12:27
One reason Chrysler Group LLC is still turning out cars after going through bankruptcy in 2009 is the presence of the iconic Jeep nameplate in its stable. Jeeps don’t have to be as smooth-riding, fuel-efficient or reliable as their competitors to put up good sales numbers. They just have to be tolerable on pavement and outstanding off-road.
In a sense, the 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee we drove reflects the end of an era. Chrysler will take the hard edge off this venerable SUV for 2011, using technology from the company’s former partner, Mercedes-Benz, to make the Grand Cherokee roomier and more refined.Our Grand Cherokee Limited was fitted out for the forest, with the Quadra-Trac II high- and low-range all-wheel-drive system, hill descent control and hill start assist, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine, Trailer Tow Group, engine block heater, all-terrain tires with full-sized spare, tail lamp guards and chrome tubular side steps. A GPS navigation system is standard on this model, which starts at $39,420 and came to $45,135 with options and destination charge.
We didn’t take our Jeep off road. Most owners of Grand Cherokees likewise stick to the pavement. So why would they pay extra and make compromises for those incomparable Jeep capabilities? Most likely, they find comfort in knowing that if they ever do need to drive into the back country, the Jeep won’t leave them stranded in a creek bed or on a steep logging road.
Compared with other midsize sport-utility vehicles we’ve driven, the Grand Cherokee felt cramped, especially in the back seat. The autodimming rear-view mirror seemed to occupy a large section of the narrow windshield and interfered with tall drivers’ view to the right. Cargo space is small for this segment, too.
Still, the car is smooth, quiet and sure-footed, and the 357-horsepower Hemi V-8 delivers ample power. Drivers who want to get the most out of the engine-transmission package will have to wield a heavy foot; hypermilers need not apply. Under light throttle pressure, the five-speed transmission tends to linger in high gear even after the engine begins to lug, causing unpleasant vibrations. Downshifts are easily accomplished by a flick of the center-mounted shifter, however.
Most reviewers who have driven Grand Cherokees with the standard 3.7-liter, 210-horsepower V-6 recommend going with the 5.7-liter Hemi for the best combination of performance and fuel economy. The V-8 exacts a mileage penalty of just 2 mpg overall. We averaged 16.3 mpg in mixed driving. Jeep enthusiasts acknowledge a number of other midsize SUVs do better, but the Grand Cherokee’s fuel economy stacks up well compared with competitors with comparable off-road capability.
The Grand Cherokee chalked up five-star ratings across the board in government crash tests, and a creditable four-star rating for rollover resistance. Consumer Reports magazine reader surveys show it delivers below-average reliability. The magazine does call the Grand Cherokee “one of the better models in Chrysler’s current lineup.”
Engine: 5.7-liter V-8, 357 horsepower, 389 lb.-ft. torque
Transmission: 5-speed shiftable automatic
Weight: 4,778 lb.
Ground clearance: 8.2 in.
Suspension: Double wishbone front, solid live axle rear
Wheels: 18x7.5-inch aluminum chrome clad
Tires: 245/60R18 all-terrain
Seating capacity: 5
Luggage capacity: 34.5 cu. ft.
Maximum cargo capacity: 67 cu. ft.
Towing capacity: 7,200 lb.
Fuel capacity: 21.1 gallons
Fuel economy: 13 mpg city, 19 mpg highway
Fuel type: regular
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