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 CJ on Wednesday, January 21, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 14,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Love the interior, exterior and engine (3.6L gas)."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I purchased a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland and simply love the vehicle. Test drove many of the North American (Ford & Chev) and Euro (BMW & Mercedes) SUV's and the Overland is by far the nicest and best equipped. Jeep hit a home run with this model!!"
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful
By Sher on Sunday, January 18, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 48,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Enjoy driving, good gas mileage for comfort/size!"
Cons: "Miss a Moon/sun roof, wish had garage door buttons"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"This Jeep is amazing- luxury ride, great gas mileage (better than the estimated some times). Love the room in both front and rear seats, and all the cargo space. I took it to Ziebart as soon as I got it for complete protection- Rust Protection, Undercoating, Sound Deadener, Diamond Gloss® Paint Protection, Inner-Guard® PLUS, Germ Defender®- (I get this updated yearly)- along with tinting the front windows, adding the back up camera with microphone, adding vent visors, bug shield, mud flaps and running boards. It is great! It takes me safely everywhere I want to go without a moment's trouble even in the snow. I just recently had Wrangler Fuel Max tires put on with a new alignment. My oil is changed regularly by my son in law and I couldn't ask for more!"
11 people out of 21 found this review helpful
By Ludmilla on Thursday, January 08, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 50,000overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks great inside and out"
Cons: "1 hour on window defrost on high to move wipers"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 4
"I've had my Jeep grand Cherokee Laredo for about a year and a half. I bought it used with about 40,000 kms on it. I love the inside and the outside of this vehicle however after 4 recalls, and the fact that it takes one hour to run my vehicle so that the wipers will work when it's cold, considering I live in Canada, i'm trading it in. there is a huge blind spot created by the extra-wide front pillar, wide rearview mirror, and I guess the position and height but I have my seat into drive as well that's problematic."
15 people out of 31 found this review helpful
By Robert on Monday, January 05, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 4,500overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Quality, Appearance and Reliability"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have owned Jeep vehicles all my life and have never been disappointed. We love our new Grand Cherokee Summit and feel it is the perfect size for our active family. We drove every brand out there in the same class and higher and could not find an SUV that was more capable."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By Kathy on Friday, January 02, 2015
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 25,000overall rating 3 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great styling"
Cons: "Transmission problem. Radiator leak.Many recalls"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"just received the sixth recall for this vehicle. Have owned it for one year. It is currently at the dealer for the second time due to transmission problems. Also, they are replacing the radiator because it developed a leak. I really love the appearance of this vehicle and the comfort. But I am beginning to think that i have a lemon on my hands. Perspective buyer need to research the problems associated with this vehicle before you purchase."
31 people out of 44 found this review helpful
By Mary M. on Wednesday, December 31, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fun, capable, looks great!"
Cons: "Capless fuel door"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"***2014 Grand Cherokee Summit 4x4 v8 Hemi*** After my trouble-prone 2005 Honda Odyssey Touring finally died this past summer while it was loaded up with people and gear for a family vacation, I took a chance on the vehicle I'd been wanting for a while - a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Honestly, I was initially hesitant due to the poor reliability reviews surrounding the Jeep brand but after my awful 9 year experience with the Honda Odyssey I figured I had no where else to go but up.*** After ditching my dead van in a strange city and cramming our stuff in a compact rental, we set out to buy a new vehicle so we could complete our vacation in relative peace. After an exhaustive day of searching & test-drives, I found my ride - a new 2014 Grand Cherokee Summit 4x4 v8 Hemi. I. am. in. love. *** After 12,000 miles in almost 7 months of ownership I've experienced exactly 1 minor issue that required a trip to the dealer. A headache for sure, but after pouring BIG $$$ into keeping my 'reliable' Honda in working order over the years, this was trivial. I did purchase the lifetime extended warranty from Chrysler (not a 3rd party company) for peace of mind - something most other manufacturers don't even offer. *** Before making our purchase I did test drive several other comparable (or larger) vehicles - BMW x5, Audi q7, Toyota Sequoia, Toyota Highlander and a Suburban LT - but I liked the size, handling and interior quality/layout of the Jeep the best. There is more 'hard plastic' interior panels than I would prefer but it seems to be on par with the other vehicles in the 'luxury' category and it is MUCH more upscale that the van I was used to driving, even though it was the top of the line as well. The cabin is fairly quiet and there is just enough 'road feel.' Some people prefer a more cushy, soft ride (Toyota, Lexus comes to mind) but I like to drive hard and fast and prefer having a bit of feedback in the wheel. *** The v8 takes a LOT of gas, but only a bit more than my v6 van, surprisingly. I don't really enjoy the capless gas filler door but it's not a dealbreaker. Can't really think of anything else I dislike or would change at all. I just really, really enjoy driving this Jeep!"