The 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee became a top contender in the five-passenger midsize SUV segment with last year's comprehensive redesign. The 2012 model brings more of the same with its powerful engine choices, impressive off-road capabilities, comfortable around-town driving experience, high quality cabin, abundance of available features, solid crash test scores and the return of a burly 470-horsepower SRT8 model.
No longer known just for its off-road prowess, but also for its weak V6 engine and uncompetitive interior, new Grand Cherokee shoppers can look forward to roomier and more refined accommodations, a more robust 290-horsepower V6 and optional 360-horsepower V8, a higher overall drive quality and a long list of feature choices.
Even with its significant upgrades, however, the Grand Cherokee remains a serious off-roader with an optional adjustable air suspension "Quadra-Lift" system that can raise its height from 6.6 inches to 10.7, a choice of three different all-wheel-drive systems as well as the ability to select a drive mode that adjusts the powertrain and suspension for the best match to different terrain conditions.
As much as the 2012 Grand cherokee may have going for it, we feel it's always a good idea to compare other top choices before making a final buying decision, and there are many good ones in this segment. Others worthy of a look would include the Honda Pilot, the Toyota 4Runner, the Ford Edge and the Ford Explorer. The SRT8, however, really has no direct competitor.
Trims, Standard Features And Options:
The 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee is available in four trims: Laredo, Limited, Overland and SRT8.
Standard features on the already well-equipped base Laredo include power windows, power mirrors, power door locks, dual-zone air-conditioning, cruise control, vehicle anti-theft via engine immobilizer, a full array of safety equipment (see below), steering wheel mounted audio and cruise controls, a tire pressure monitor, a trip computer, a tilt/telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, automatic headlights, foglights, halogen headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, a rear spoiler, chrome side molding, a rear step-up bumper and a 6-speaker audio system with a CD player, MP3 player and an auxiliary audio jack. There's also an optional package that includes a power driver seat, keyless entry/ignition, satellite radio and a USB/iPod interface.
The available Security and Convenience package for the Laredo adds Bluetooth, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a USB/iPod interface, remote engine start and a cargo cover, while stand-alone options include leather upholstery, a power passenger seat, heated front seats, a back-up camera and a 9-speaker premium audio system with a touchscreen display, HD radio, satellite radio and digital music storage.
The Limited comes with all the Laredo's options and goes on to add Garmin navigation, a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, heated front and rear seats, driver memory settings, 18-inch wheels, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, additional chrome trim accents, rear parking sensors, bi-xenon headlights, automatic wipers and dual-zone automatic climate control.
Available options for the Limited include an upgraded navigation system, 20-inch wheels, a power liftgate, ventilated front seats and a power and heated tilt/telescoping steering wheel.
Moving up to the Overland adds all the Limited's options, as well as the adjustable-height Quadra-Lift air suspension and unique interior and exterior trim features such as perforated leather seating, a wood-and-leather steering wheel and a mesh grille.
There's also an Overland Summit edition that goes on to add upgraded leather upholstery, black olive wood interior trim, adaptive cruise control, front collision warning and blind-spot alert systems, premium floor mats, additional exterior chrome trim accents and special 20-inch polished aluminum wheels. In addition, a rear entertainment system is available for all models except the Laredo.
An off-road package is available on 4WD Laredo and Limited models that adds off-road tires, skid plates, a full-size spare and tow hooks. On the Laredo, this package also includes the Quadra-Trac II 4WD system and hill descent control. There's also an upgraded off-road package that goes on to add, in addition to the above, an air suspension, an electronic limited-slip differential, towing equipment (also available as a stand-alone) and the Quadra-Drive II 4WD system.
The performance-oriented SRT8 is outfitted similar to the Overland and also adds an exclusive V8 engine, an adaptive suspension, 20-inch forged aluminum wheels, Brembo brakes, paddle shifters, a rear limited-slip differential, performance-tuned steering, suede/leather sport seats, carbon-fiber interior trim accents, LED running lights and a color-keyed grille, side sills and rear spoiler.
Engines, Powertrain And Gas Mileage:
The standard engine for all 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokees, aside for the SRT8, is a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 290 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque and is paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission. Gas mileage for the rear-wheel drive models with this powertrain is EPA-estimated at 17 mpg city and 23 mpg on the highway, while that of the four-wheel drive is only slightly lower at 16 mpg city and 23 highway.
Also available as an option is a 5.7-liter V8 engine that's good for 360 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque and is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy for this engine comes in at 14 mpg city and 20 mpg highway with the 2WD and 13 and 20, respectively, with the 4WD. In addition, a properly equipped Grand Cherokee has a towing capacity of 7,400 pounds.
While rear-wheel drive is standard, there's a choice of three optional four-wheel-drive systems. The Quadra-Trac I, available on the Laredo, is essentially an all-wheel drive system. The Quadra-Trac II, available on the Limited and Overland, features a two-speed transfer case, Jeep's Selec-Terrain system (allows selecting from five settings that best meet different driving conditions) and hill descent control. Also available on the Limited and Overland is Quadra-Drive II, which upgrades the Quadra-Trac II with electronic limited-slip differentials on both axles. Standard on the Overland and optional on the Limited is the Quadra-Lift air suspension which allows for adjusting ride height either manually or automatically through the Selec-Terrain system.
Under the hood of the 2012 Grand Cherokee SRT8 is a powerful 6.4-liter V8 that pumps out a massive 470 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. The SRT8 comes with the standard Jeep Quadra-Trac active on-demand four-wheel-drive transfer case and an upgraded 5-speed automatic transmission with fully adaptive electronic shifting control. In performance tests, an SRT8 was timed from a standstill to 60 mph in a blistering and sports-car-like 4.8 seconds. Of course, performance like this is going to come at the sacrifice of some fuel economy. Gas mileage for the SRT8 is EPA-estimated at 12 mpg city and 18 on the hgihway.
Standard safety features on all 2012 Grand Cherokees include stability control, traction control, four-wheel antilock disc brakes (ABS), brake assist, front side airbags, active front head restraints and side curtain airbags.
In government crash tests, the Grand Cherokee received an overall score of four out of five stars. Within that rating, four stars was earned for overall frontal-impact occupant protection and five stars for overall side-impact occupant protection.
The Grand Cherokee's cabin is attractive, accommodating and solidly-constructed with high-quality materials, putting it on a par with the best in the segment. The seating is comfortable and supportive, both front and rear ... particularly in the SRT8 with its well-bolstered sport seats.
Passengers will find plenty of room that makes for easier long trips, especially in the rear where there is generous legroom. Cargo capacity comes in at a useful 35 cubic feet behind the rear seats and can be expanded to 69 cubes by folding them flat, which is about average for the segment.
The ride of the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee is both smooth and comfortable around town yet still provides decent stability when cornering, an impressive combination for a vehicle with such off-road prowess. And when off the beaten path, the JGC is confident and capable thanks to its advanced four-wheel-drive system, ample ground clearance and available power when needed.
Most drivers will be satisfied with the smooth yet lively performance of models with the capable V6. Those who put a higher value on gutsy acceleration or who have significant towing needs, will likely be well-pleased with the V8. As for the SRT8, well, it's a monster with just blazing speed and surprisingly agile handling for an SUV that's likely to raise many an eyebrow, even among true driving enthusiasts.
How To Get The Lowest Price:
Best Negotiating Tactic: Well, there's definitely a 'best way' when it comes to new car buying. If you want to get the best bottomline, out-the-door price you need to know exactly who to talk to at the dealership, how to make the contact and how to make this person eager to quickly drop prices as low as possible to get your sale.