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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Overview
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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Review

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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.

You'll Like This Car If...

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.

You May Not Like This Car If...

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.

What's New for 2012

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 the Grand Cherokee

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.

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Details
Interior

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.

Exterior

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.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

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.

Optional Equipment

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.

Under the Hood

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.

3.6-liter V6
290 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/23 (2WD), 16/23 (4WD)

5.7-liter V8
360 horsepower @ 5,150 rpm
390 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (2WD), 13/20 (4WD)

6.4-liter V8
470 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
465 lb-ft of torque @ 4,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/18 (4WD)

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Consumer Reviews

Overall Rating
8.4
Out of 10

Based on 247 Ratings for the 2011 - 2015 models.

Review this car
  • Value
    8.5/10
    Quality
    8.5/10
  • Reliability
    8.6/10
    Performance
    8.7/10
  • Comfort
    9.0/10
    Styling
    9.1/10

Really like to drive this jeep.

By on Monday, July 21, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 13,000

10 10.0
overall rating 10 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
10/10
Value
9/10
Reliability
10/10
Quality
10/10
Performance
10/10
Styling
10/10
Comfort
10/10

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."

2 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Overall ok truck but it has its issues

By on Saturday, July 19, 2014

I owned and sold this car
Reason: horrible transmission

10 6.0
overall rating 6 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
6/10
Value
7/10
Reliability
7/10
Quality
5/10
Performance
5/10
Styling
6/10
Comfort
5/10

Pros: "Overall a good vehicle"

Cons: "Horrible tranny and gear selector"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3

"I bought this 2014 Limited in May of 2013 when they first came out. After 25000 miles and owning it for over a year I had to get rid of it. Since the first day I have owned it I did not like the new 8 speed tranny. I took it to the dealer and they did computer upgrades on it but I was still not happy with it. This tranny shifts through the gears very fast and is not smooth in the lower gears. When shifting from 1st to 2nd and 3rd when it is cold the truck jerks forward and is not smooth at all. It also downshifts hard when stopping. The upper gears you don't even feel it shifting, very smooth. When starting the Jeep shifts too quickly and it feels like it is always in the wrong gear if you need to speed up to get moving. The electronic gear shifter is horrible. After owning this Jeep for over a year I still had to concentrate on which gear I was shifting into. I was still putting it in neutral when trying to shift to reverse or drive. Other than those issues the Jeep is a good vehicle and I didn't have any other problems with it. I had the smaller engine and was averaging 20 mpg. I am normally the type of person who keeps their vehicles for 8 to 10 years but I just couldn't take this transmission. I bought a 2014 Charger which I love. This has the 5 speed tranny and not the electronic gear selector as the jeep has. I could have ordered a 2015 but did not want to as the new model has an new 8 speed tranny and also the electronic gear selector. I absolutely love the Charger and I plan on keeping this for a long time. I just couldn't take driving the Grand Cherokee anymore."

2 people out of 2 found this review helpful

Lots of electrical problems

By on Tuesday, July 08, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,000

10 7.0
overall rating 7 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
7/10
Value
6/10
Reliability
9/10
Quality
6/10
Performance
9/10
Styling
6/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Beautiful exterior. Really sharp looking."

Cons: "Lags in take off unless in sport mode."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3

Sharp

"Have had 4 recalls on various items. Still am having electrical issues, like the radio will just go off by itself, there is back static in the radio and I have also had the gauge panel go back several times while driving. The gas mileage is considerably lower than advertised. Also the digital clock does not keep time. I have to go into the settings mode about once a week and add a couple of minutes to get the readout corrected. Maybe it's just haunted. IDK. I have had the Jeep 15 months and am ready to trade for a non Chrysler product."

8 people out of 8 found this review helpful

Sharp

Headache

By on Monday, July 07, 2014

I owned and sold this car
Reason: bad

10 1.0
overall rating 1 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
1/10
Value
1/10
Reliability
1/10
Quality
1/10
Performance
6/10
Styling
7/10
Comfort
7/10

Pros: "Styling"

Cons: "Everything Else"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"Overall I have to say I had better things to do with my life than nurse this poorly engineered car through the next 5 or more years. Check engine, suspect transmission, groans and creaks, recalls...don't waste your time and then get burned with horrible resale. Got a 4 Runner no rattles, issues or drama... put it in garage and can worry about more important things."

2 people out of 6 found this review helpful

Can't Wait For My Lease To End

By on Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 600

10 1.0
overall rating 1 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
1/10
Value
2/10
Reliability
Not Rated
Quality
1/10
Performance
1/10
Styling
3/10
Comfort
2/10

Pros: "Bluetooth and XM (Didn't have them on my last car)"

Cons: "Engine, Transmission, Build Quality"

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1

"This is the worst car I have ever had. Coming from my 2006 VW Touareg V8 I feel like I have taken a major step backwards. The car handles like an old Buick and has absolutely no steering response. You feel nothing. The 3.6L Pentastar is noisy and slow. The transmission rushes to eighth gear and G-D forbid you have to merge onto a highway, you need to floor the rattle trap in order to get it to jump down to a passing gear. I can not wait for this car to go back on lease. To add to it the car does not feel safe and is poorly put together. The headliner is sagging with only 600 miles on it and I can already hear creaks. Wish I kept my VW. The Touareg was a real go anywhere SUV, the Jeep is a go-kart in comparison"

20 people out of 40 found this review helpful

Drives and rides good for a small SUV.

By on Thursday, June 19, 2014

I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000

10 6.0
overall rating 6 of 10rating details

Reviewer Ratings

Overall Rating
6/10
Value
8/10
Reliability
8/10
Quality
4/10
Performance
8/10
Styling
8/10
Comfort
8/10

Pros: "Looks, ride, performance."

Cons: "Too many recalls, lower quality paint."

Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3

"After five recalls in one year it will probably be the last Chrysler product. It's a shame that a vehicle that drives, rides, and looks as good as this one does has so many flaws. Dealer has been very good, shame on the product."

6 people out of 12 found this review helpful

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