By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.8
As Chrysler's 2011 Rookie of the Year, Jeep's 2012 Grand Cherokee enters its sophomore season with minor enhancements (improved fuel economy, revised automatic transmission for V8 models) added to what in 2011 was an all-new architecture. And this all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee did for the segment what many manufacturers have – with their redesigns – refused to do: retain real off-road capability while improving on-road dynamics, interior comfort and overall refinement. Helped in no small way by an all-new V6 as standard equipment, 2012 sees the bar raised an equal amount on the upper end of the Grand Cherokee ladder with an all-new SRT8, the brand's performance halo. This is the bigger/badder variant of what is already a very responsive platform.
If you envision using your SUV for both "sport" and "utility," the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee is tough to beat. In the Snowbelt Jeep's three 4WD systems provide needed security through all four seasons, while the Grand Cherokee's 2WD system and its rear-wheel-drive (RWD) architecture provide a balance of handling and traction not (typically) available in front-wheel-drive crossovers.
To create a platform with both on- and off-road capability, there are inevitably some compromises of interior room and accommodation. And while the Grand Cherokee's wheelbase stretch for 2011 created significantly more room for rear-seat passengers, this remains a 2-row SUV, more tightly drawn than many car-based competitors in the same price category. In short, if "room" is more important than "roam," there may be better choices available to you.
Given the very big changes made in 2011, this is a year of tweaking a "still new" redesign. V6 models receive an electrohydraulic power steering system, while the V8's automatic transmission now provides six speeds when shifted in manual mode. And the HEMI-equipped SRT8 is revived, with 6.4 liters and 470 horsepower of urge.
Driving Impressions At its price point the new-for-2011 Grand Cherokee was one of the most capable on- and off-roaders available. The key is adaptation of an all-independent suspension for enhanced on-road composure...and comfort, while not compromising its prowess when the pavement becomes unpaved. And for those with a real penchant for the "road less traveled," Jeep's available Quadra-Lift air suspension (4x4 only) impresses with its ability to clear large objects off-road, while hunkering down beneath the turbulent air at higher on-road speeds. Of course, while giving the chassis and suspension its appropriate due, we shouldn't forget powertrains. The new V6 (2011) is a huge improvement over the previous 3.8-liter lump, the HEMI has recently gained improved efficiency with its fuel-saving, multi-displacement technology, and the SRT8's 6.4 liter can give Porsche's Cayenne a credible run for its money. Finally, the Grand Cherokee's power-assisted steering feels better connected to the wheels, and the wheels – via careful attention to spring and shock rates – feel better connected to the road.
Quadra-Lift Air Suspension
Available on 4WD models only, the Quadra-Lift option allows Jeep enthusiasts to join the rarefied "air" of Land Rover and Range Rover customers with adjustable ride height fully compatible with virtually any road or off-road condition. What is described as "normal ride height" provides just over eight inches of clearance for improved fuel economy via enhanced aerodynamics. If you're venturing off-road, you can adjust the clearance upward by 1.3 or 2.6 inches, while, if parked you can lower the vehicle 1.5 inches. The lower figure, of course, eases passenger loading and unloading.
Overland Summit New Saddle leather
In between tax hikes, the design team at Jeep has thrown a bone to the nation's off-roading affluent with the best reason yet to opt for "natural" hide. The leather for the Overland Summit seemingly covers everything in the interior of this grandest Grand Cherokee except the windshield. While wishing they wouldn't spell the model designation out on the seat itself, those popping for the top trim will be rewarded with each and every drive.
In its redesign of the Grand Cherokee for 2011, the Chrysler design team executed what can only be called a seismic shift in both design and material selection. In its previous generation (2006 through 2010) the Grand Cherokee was notable for hard plastics and, to a lesser extent, hard seating. Further, the rear seat was short on legroom and difficult to access. With a longer wheelbase the rear seat is made much more accessible, and once inside you'll enjoy expanded use of soft materials, real wood trim (in upscale variants) and a much more concerted effort to make the driver and passenger experience everything you'd want in a luxury SUV. This is without – of course – the penalty of a luxury price. Today's Grand Cherokee can now credibly play on a global stage, regardless of whether that stage is asphalt or rock.
There's a unity to the new Grand Cherokee sheet metal that we haven't seen since its initial launch two decades ago. To be sure, the familiar cues – 7-slot grille, hexagonal wheel arches and minimal front and rear overhangs – remain, but the whole now comprises various elements much better integrated than before. And visual upgrades in all trim levels, from base Laredo to Overland Summit, result in a 2012 Grand Cherokee family looking decidedly more upscale than previous generations. We especially like the wheel-and-tire fitments, in combination with shortened overhangs; even the Laredo's standard 17-inch alloys fill the wheel wells in a capable, off-road-worthy fashion.
Despite a modest base price of around $28K (2WD), the 2012 Grand Cherokee comes with dual-zone A/C, rear liftgate "flipper" glass, remote key fobs, Jeep's Media Center 130 AM/FM/CD radio, leather-wrapped steering wheel and 17-inch alloy wheels. Those placing a premium on active safety will enjoy standard ESC (electronic stability control), electronic roll mitigation and ABS. And interested consumers should note that in combination with a slight decrease in base window sticker (for 2012) comes a realignment of standard equipment and optional extras.
For those wanting to keep the MSRP low and the appearance of their new Grand Cherokee up(scale), the Laredo X should check most boxes, as it provides a number of enhancements – cosmetic and functional – not available on the base Laredo. And for those wanting to enhance the Jeep experience even further, a number of chassis improvements will do just that, beginning with Quadra-Drive II (includes 2-speed transfer case and Hill Descent Control), Quadra-Lift Air Suspension (adjustable ride height for both off-road adventure and on-road composure) and Selec-Terrain. Selec-Terrain is Jeep's electronic take on all-season capability, allowing for five traction control settings: Automatic, Sport, Snow, Sand/Mud and Rock.
With the reintroduction of the Grand Cherokee SRT8, the Jeep customer can enjoy a veritable "holy trinity" of exciting powertrains. The standard 3.6 liter approaches V8-like horsepower and torque levels, while admitting that even when connected to the 2WD platform it has a great deal of mass to motivate. The 5.7-liter HEMI benefits from multi-displacement technology; based on need, the HEMI will operate on all eight cylinders or with reduced demand, only four. And with the increased displacement, horsepower and torque of the HEMI, owners can enjoy an enhanced towing capability (7,400 pounds versus 5,000 pounds in the V6). The SRT8's 6.4 liters and 470 horsepower bring new life, and a nationwide network of dealers, to the hyper-performance SUV segment.
290 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/23 (2WD), 16/23 (4WD)
360 horsepower @ 5,150 rpm
390 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (2WD), 13/20 (4WD)
470 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
465 lb-ft of torque @ 4,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/18 (4WD)
By pj on Friday, August 22, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 20,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"only problem is the headlights,autolevel keeps moving headlights up and down,driving other drivers in front of me crazy"
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Please Help on Thursday, August 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,300overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "I can't wait to drive my Jeep again."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"I did get the 4X4 and you can't tell by the comfort of the ride. I just wish they would get this 8 gear transmission problem fixed,and the electric wiring as well. I've had my jeep since November and it has been in 4 times regarding the transmission. The dealer has now had it for two weeks and doing there best considering Chrysler is in the drivers seat. You guys need to get it together. ASAP"
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By iateyourcat on Monday, August 18, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 8,500overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Good mileage, towing, comfortable, sharp looks."
Cons: "Nav is terrible, radio bad, diesel overly expensiv"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 7
"Apparently this form is incapable of interpreting paragraphs. Overall rating of KBB review form, 2/10. Here we go in order of ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’. If you shop like me you can skip to The Ugly to find out what’s infuriating. OK, now make that little spaghetti western noise. The Good: I love the diesel, the air suspension, the ride and the ability to tow 7400lbs. The cockpit is mostly well designed, comfortable and roomy. This thing gets me (and my trailer) where I want to go in style. Make that noise again. The Bad: In order to get adaptive cruise control and diesel you wind up spending about $15,000 more because of all the required upgrades. This may or may not be bad depending on whether comfort or money mean more to you. Three other issues fall under ‘bad’ for me. The first is the seat positioning button, the one by your left knee. It has two settings. You know why? Because I hit it with my knee every single time I get into the vehicle and it resets. Move this button Jeep. The second bad thing is the shifter. My 2010 Overland had a good shifter. It had a longer throw, felt stable and sure and didn’t have a cap on it that comes off all the time. The 2014 is just the opposite. Finally, what is wrong with 4x4 low? Unless you’re crawling along at 1-2 MPH the vehicle surges on hills like someone is slamming the brakes on. I have a steep gravel driveway. The steep part is 80 yards long. If I travel above an idle in low up this hill I wind up with whiplash and it ain’t from an unsteady foot. Make that noise one more time then cut your eyes back and forth. The Ugly: Who created this NAV of torture? Oh My God! I’ve had this NAV take me OFF a 4 lane interstate at 3AM that had ZERO traffic and ZERO accidents. It routed me through 10-15 miles of country towns. I’ve had this NAV take me off a normal highway to drive me through 30MPH side streets that CAME BACK TO THE SAME HIGHWAY. It literally took me on a D shape. I’ve had this NAV bypass highways for small towns and stop and go traffic on multiple instances. The ONLY thing this NAV is good for is looking at the cool avatar of the Jeep or the Charger. Whoever created the NAV probably had a hand in designing the radio. I like the fact that I can use USB or SD media. That’s great. Unfortunately there are two modes of listening if you like variety; random ALL (all tracks are shuffled (that’s 6000+ songs on my 64GB SD card)) or manual mode where you select genre/folder/song manually. If you try to select, say, a folder or a genre and hit shuffle, you get ALL tracks, not the tracks in the genre or the folder or the subfolders. This radio lacks the basic functionality that Winamp has had since…1999? I’ve heard the apps are not good either but I didn’t bother setting them up. I did opt for the basic UConnect so I can remotely unlock the vehicle from my PC but that’s it. Take the NAV, take the radio and burn em. Cut a hole in the dash where I can put my Phone. Right? Am I the only one who thinks this? Overall the Jeep Limited 4x4 with diesel and technology package was the best vehicle for me. As much as I complain about the items here I can work around them assuming the vehicle stays reliable. If the few nagging issues were resolved I’d be 100% happy instead of 70% happy with my $48,000 purchase."
1 person out of 5 found this review helpful
By madashell on Tuesday, August 05, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 7,000overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Cons: "No Dealer or Corporate service"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Don't buy this car if customer service on warranty items is important to you. I've made countless calls for a warranty issue and am constantly told by Chrysler they have no information and then the dealer tells me the info has been sent. Bottom line I have not recieved a call back more than a dozed times after I was promised a return call and resolution. Don't buy a Chrysler!"
9 people out of 11 found this review helpful
By Cinder1469 on Tuesday, July 29, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 71,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Handles well, great in icy weather"
Cons: "Driver's seat goes flat fast, not comfortable"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Jeeps are the best there are for reliability. They handle well, they maintain value. Wish the driver's seat was more comfortable. Jeep seats go flat quickly! Laredo is meant for a tall person (I'm 5'6" female) who can put the seat back with long legs and still see above the dash."
20 people out of 36 found this review helpful
By Bob on Monday, July 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great car to drive"
Cons: "The v-8 not good on gas"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Love the car and nothing I don't like except I got the 5.7 Liter and only get 14.8 miles to gallon around town. That is if I don't get on it sometimes. My son in law has a 2014 Jeep Cherokee like mine with the 6 cylinder and gets 19 around town. My mistake so I will trade in and get the 6."
6 people out of 16 found this review helpful