An inveterate Jeep owner myself, I'm always looking forward to jumping into the latest iteration, even if it scantly resembles my old Wrangler from back in the day.
That's okay though, because Jeep's technological improvements, like the ones on my loaner, the 2011 Grand Cherokee Limited, are, yes, needed to keep pace with competition. And yeah, I say that somewhat grudgingly because I tend to be a purist and a dab resistant to change, neither of which I'm particularly proud of. But in such a fancy-schmancy world I have to say I enjoyed the spare, oh-so simple utility of old-school Jeeps, with their spindly shift-on-the-fly gear wands and non-powered door locks and windows. But then, my fave personal camera uses film...
Back to Jeep, and its insistence upon innovation with nascent techno stuff, sophisticated styling, on-road refinement and off-road ability. I got the Quadra-Trac II four-wheel drive system, complete with Selec-Terrain System and the always-nice Hill Descent Control, the latter of which manipulates braking on steep downhills to help keep you on Mother Earth. The other controls you can activate depending upon your surface.
What's more, the Jeeps now allow you turns at higher speeds; better steering and handling.
One thing about the Cherokee, which I did bump around on some choppy terrain, is that it also does well on pavement, with its now-fully indie suspension (air suspension elevates the ride up to 10.7 inches, if need be. But that's optional, as are other portions of the $,1655 Off-Road Adventure II package, including Trailer Tow Group, a seven- and four-pin wiring harness, Class IV Receiver Hitch, off-road tires, spare tire and wheel, skid plate and tow hooks). Back to other extras in a sec.
The Grand Cherokee, introduced in 1992, retains its 3.6-liter, V-6 Pentastar powerplant from last year, which is fine, but could be a mite better from standstills. The old five-speed tranny could use another gear or so, but that's just me, and is a minor grouse.
Thank goodness the Cherokee keep its basic handsome, classic looks ... chiefly the iconic seven-bar grille. Some of the exterior's sharp corners have been rounded, but the SUV still is recognizable on the road. Inside, five folks can fit comfortably, and the cargo can hold all manner of junk. Instruments are intutitive, and I love the fat-ish steering wheel. Much better grip.
Standard are front, side-curtain front and rear, and front-seat side airbags; electronic stability control; back-up camera; park-assist system; hill-start assist, heated front and second-row seats, power eight-way driver seat; rear 60/40 folding and reclining seat; two 12-volt power outlets; one year, SIRIUS satellite radio; hands-free phone capability; nine premium speakers with 506-watt amp and subwoofer; leather-wrapped tilt, telescopic steering wheel; 18-inch wheels; smartbeam headlamps; and panoramic sunroof.
Also available (all on my loaner) are leather-trimmed and vented front seats; power liftgate; heated steering wheel with power tilt, telescoping column; 6.5-inch touch-screen display; GPS navigation; and iPod control.
Oh, and mileage is 16/22. Not optional.
Shoot, for $43,500, you've got a classic ride that can literally go anywhere. And if you don't understand that, oh well.
It's a Jeep thing.