2011 Grand Cherokee Limited 4x4 Review - after 1500+ miles (2+ weeks)
I'm a first-time Jeep owner with the WK2. Originally I shopped Audi Q5/Q7, Ford Explorer/Expedition and VW Touareg among a few other SUVs. I wanted driving comfort and tow/cargo capacity but not at the expense of acceptable performance. The 2011 Grand Cherokee won in an overall comparison. It is world class in fit, finish and performance and I'm more than happy with my selection. Would I buy it again? Absolutely, resoundingly, unequivocally yes.
Excellent. Tight turn radius, comfortable ride, QUIET, and good visibility everywhere with one exception; the mirrors are so close to the A-pillars that it creates a blind spot for traffic on the right when at intersections. If the mirrors were mounted just an inch or two further back toward the rear of the vehicle or stick out one inch farther it would help a lot. The flipper glass in the tailgate is a must-have and both the flipper glass and tailgate are designed to eliminate getting dripped on when opening them. I stood under the tailgate in a severe downpour and never felt a drop get inside the cargo area.
No rattles or squeaks after 1500+ miles with a significant portion of those on some of Chicago's infamous cratered roads; it sucks up bumps well. Very impressed with the chassis integrity especially on the 50-series tires. The 20" wheels and 50-series tires do provide some rough road feedback at times, but that's to be expected from low profile tires and is not objectionable. The Goodyear Forteras are performing very well, surprisingly well even in wet/snow covered pavement. I was going to switch to a 20" Firestone Destination AT but see no need to do so. Best of all is that it tracks like a cruise ship on the highway and only requires minute steering adjustment under severe crosswind conditions. Impressive road manners by any measure!
The 5.7L Hemi...wow. I'm glad I didn't get the V6 even though that's what I originally wanted. The Hemi makes the Grand Cherokee charge like a bull with acceptable fuel economy: ~15mpg urban/suburban crawl, and 22mpg on a long highway trip (507mi on 22.8gal, no mountains) with my overall average currently at 17.4mpg after 1500 miles, including the initial 500 miles in Tow/Haul mode (no MDS). It's not great, but considering the 7200lb towing capability and power-on-demand, I'm happy. When the MDS engages I barely notice it. The 5speed 545RFE feels perfectly mated to the Hemi powerband, so no desire for an 8speed that would annoy me with constant shifting like in Audis and BMWs I've driven. Heavy duty brakes provide very good modulation and stop the Grand Cherokee short, straight and without drama. ABS engaged as expected in rain/snow.
-- 4x4 & Selec-Terrain
QuadraTrac II and traction control worked seamlessly in rain/snow/ice and there were zero problems, as it should be; just punch it, turn and go. Selec-Terrain has not been thoroughly tested, but I did make sure 4-Low worked. With the Hemi and 4-Low, it feels like there's enough power to pull a bulldozer from a ditch, so boat ramps and steep hills should be elementary. I did perform the first 500 miles of break-in in "Sport" and with the Tow/Haul mode on and now, after break-in, I notice the "Sport" mode extends shift points and quickens throttle response when I get on it. Nice.
Subjectively, the interior is beautiful and well-designed for driving. Doors open WIDE and ingress/egress is easy. However, there could be firmer stay-points for the doors to prevent them from sometimes closing back on my legs. The panoramic moon roof has become a much loved feature but remains my only long term concern (open roof systems in general). Seats are firm and supportive with "infinite" adjustment and enable driving for hours. Two memory positions are easy to set. The tilt/telescoping steering wheel in mine is manual and it adjusts much faster than the electronic variety. Steering wheel buttons feel good to me; all function perfectly and "make sense" in their operation. Rear seat recline is perfect for long-distance comfort with plenty of knee and foot room for the backseat passengers who give up no comfort. Seat heaters front-and-rear are fantastic; kids like the rear "butt toasters". All interior hardware looks and feels of quality with nice tactile feedback that I expect will last for the vehicle's service life. The rear seats fold flat and cargo hold has nice anchor points and the storage in the spare wheel well is a welcome feature for small stowage items.
The instrument cluster is clear, legible and with EVIC provides good information. The EVIC placement is excellent; it shows fuel economy, range and a plethora of info like trans and engine oil temps, for example, as well as some feature customization options like disabling remote start or if the horn honks when you lock it. The EVIC is a back-lit LCD and the speedo and tach gauges are angled such that when sunlight is shining directly on them there is no obfuscation of the display.
Climate control and radio layout with their dedicated buttons (hard and soft) controlling specific functions makes changes while driving effortless. A better layout compared to the "nuisance controls" found on some other vehicles (i.e. Audi). Some competitive vehicle interiors have fussy, multiple-step processes just to change the interior temperature. The Grand Cherokee interior is a head above in usability. Air is filtered and flows so quietly that I hardly notice it's on unless the fan speed is cranked up. Dual zone temp control is exemplary and rear vents have effective flow. The airflow temp is steady; it does not constantly shift cold-to-hot like some other systems do after setting a temperature. The radio (430, no Nav) has been great except for one thing: when I have Bluetooth turned on for hands-free phone, I cannot get my podcasts to play from my iPhone unless I unplug my phone and plug it in again. Sometimes I can get the podcasts to stream via Bluetooth but operation is spotty. Hands free phone works well but phone volume is about half what the radio volume is when it switches to phone use; I need to investigate that further but overall I'm please with the execution.
-- Working on getting some pics when time and weather permit.