The 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV's roots can be traced back to 1983, when American Motors was chipping away at a successor for the Jeep Cherokee. It wasn't until 1993, after Ford saw runaway success with the Explorer, that Jeep felt the necessary pressure to release the newly minted Grand Cherokee to combat the competition.
Almost 20 years later Jeep has catapulted itself to the forefront of the off-roading SUV class, but it's still competing with the likes of the Explorer as well as in house competition from the Dodge Durango. Outfitted with the new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine standard are 283 horses are waiting for orders from your right foot. If that's not enough you can always opt for the 5.7-liter V-8 or the SRT8's 6.4-liter V-8, which produce 360 and 465 horsepower, respectively. Refinements both inside and out have helped Jeep bring the Grand Cherokee from obscurity to prominence.
Engines: 3.6-liter V-6, 5.7-liter V-8, 6.4-liter V-8
Transmission: five-speed automatic
Models: Laredo, Limited, Overland, SRT8
A new 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 engine producing 465 horsepower is found lurking under the hood of the SRT8 model for 2012. The SRT8 brand took a year off last year, but it returns with improvements such as Brembo brakes sitting under 20-inch wheels and paddle shifters being added. A revised version of the automatic transmission for V-8 models has also seen some improvements in the latest Grand Cherokee.
Restyled for 2011, the Grand Cherokee carries those sheet metal changes into the latest edition. The iconic grille and round lights that are synonymous with Jeep remain integrated in the Grand Cherokee's front styling, but that's about the only styling cue that remains the same from the previous generation. The front-end has been stretched lower, but still allows eight-inches of ground clearance of normal ride height. The settings can be changed when the air suspension is in use and can raise the Cherokee as high as 10.7 inches. Sheet metal creases on the door panels give the Grand Cherokee an aerodynamic look, and the smoother exterior styling helps boost fuel economy.
The latest Grand Cherokee possesses an abundance of entertainment and technology, such as Uconnect and SIRIUS Satellite radio. Navigation, real-time traffic, and weather updates are also available, along with other media features such as an input for an MP3 player. Voice-recognition commands allow the driver to communicate hands-free and input other orders to the media center. The interior has sliver and sand-colored accents with soft-to-the-touch materials aplenty, as one would expect of a higher-end SUV. The three-spoke steering wheel houses enough buttons to make a television remote jealous, but it's laid out in an easy-to-use way. The Selec-Terrain control dial allows the driver to choose from five different conditions to optimize 4x4 performance.
Performance & Handling
The new 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine is a far superior powerplant than the meager V-6 from the previous generation Grand Cherokee. But if it's still not enough, a hearty 5.7-liter or 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 are also available as replacements. Quadra-Lift, an air suspension system and Selec-Terrain enables the Cherokee to continue off-roading like previous versions. Selec-Terrain configures braking, throttle, and suspension controls, transmission shift, traction control, and electronic stability control.
More than 45 safety features have been included on the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Electronic stability control, electronic roll mitigation, anti-lock brakes, traction control, and remote keyless entry are standard safety features. Trailer-sway control and a remote starter come standard on the Limited and Overland and are available on the Laredo model. Side-curtain air bags, seat-mounted air bags, and active head restraints are also standard.
EPA Fuel Economy
3.6-liter V-6 rear-wheel drive: 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway
3.6-liter V-6 four-wheel drive: 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway
5.7-liter V-8 rear-wheel drive: 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway
5.7-liter V-8 four-wheel drive: 13 mpg city/20 mpg highway
SRT8: 12 mph city/18 mpg highway
- Pentastar V-6 engine
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The legend lives on
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