How much competition is there for the Grand Cherokee Overland? The answer is: Not much.
Seeking serious off road, deep snow capability combined with real luxury and proper road-car manners, I easily narrowed down my choices for a mid-sized SUV. Who didn't qualify? Frankly most of those others can't really handle the rough stuff. An X5 or Q7 are nice, but the reality is that they are excellent all-weather road cars and nothing more. My friend's X5 was not any more capable than my Mitsubishi Outlander or Subaru Tribeca. If you see a lot of snow don't kid yourself that an MDX can save the day. We learned first hand that it can't. Another choice might have been the LR4, but the bad quality reports are common and I could find few happy owners. A brand new LR4 at a dealer would not unlock and a 2nd one wouldn't start. No thanks!
Last year we had one bad storm, a few days before Halloween, that really socked us. Two feet of snow crushed one of our steel sheds and my wife had to abandon our Subaru 3 miles away. I tried to rescue her, but our Outlander would not budge. Standing by the side of our un-plowed road I watched a white Overland punch through the snow, it's ride height at max, and cruise down the road without a care. Days later I met the owner (he lives on our road) and listened to his logical buying process that led him to the Overland. He had found a SUV he felt might be better, but it was the Toyota Landcruiser; a giant mega SUV that was an unfriendly ride on our narrow roads and just too big. His choice was not an emotional one. His wife worked as a EMT and she needed something that would not get stuck. Like me they had been through the Subaru's, 4 Runners and AWD wannabees that were great until things got really rough. Then all of the AWD lock buttons weren't worth diddly.
So here I am with a new Black Forest Green Overland with V8 Hemi, Saddle Black interior, Adaptive Cruise, Summit grill and chrome accents (and skid-plates soon to come). Let me start with what I don't like!
1) The NAV system is needlessly complicated, though it's quite powerful overall. As others have pointed out the Sirius radio control is limited in only displaying a small group of stations at one time. It's just a clunky interface across the board. Once mastered it's nice enough.
2) The EVIC display is good in some respects and poor in others. I like that NAV info is mirrored there, but the separate status screens for oil temp, tire pressure and so on....just ridiculous. All of that info should be viewable in ONE page via the NAV screen. The info is useful, but the manner in which you need to get to it is once again CLUNKY!
3) It's a bit of a bummer that the giant sunroof only opens half way. It lets a lot of light in, but I think the sunroof on the Subaru Forester "opens bigger."
4) The switchgear for the headlights feels like it came from a Ford Fiesta.
5) The hidden padded area for Phone with the USB under the armrest is a pretty cheap looking/feeling item, though it's functionality is fine.
6) No third row. Even a little pop-up jumper seat like the one if our previous Mitsubishi would have been welcome. But I understand the trade off....full spare and no tire under the car.
And there you have it. Not a long list! Here are some additional observations: Hemi vs. V6. Having driven both versions quite a bit and noted the rather small difference in MPG, I went with the V8. If you haven't bought the GC yet don't bother with the V6. On hills and highways it's going to strain at times while the V8 is never really working hard and conveys a feeling of power that is in keeping with the luxury level of the Overland. And allow me to discuss the Overland trim level for a moment. Don't talk yourself out of it for ANY reason unless it's beyond your means. The quadra-lift suspension is part of the end-game in the logical evolution of the new Grand Cherokee. Handling: Make no mistake; this is not a car and never really handles like one. The weight and suspension are truck like when it comes to driving dynamics. Good work has been done and road manners are secure, but this is not a SUV body riding on a sports sedan chassis and doesn't try to be. Fit and finish in the Overland is very well done, but the paint is somewhat below the mark as it's not a perfectly glass-like job. I had put a small dent in the door and the new paint applied to the area actually looks BETTER than the factory job! Not noticeable unless you stare like a mental patient, but I do think Jeep can do better on the factory paint. Beyond that there is little to complain about. The Overland is in a class all to itself. I've got an interior that makes Mercedes owners jealous, true off road/heavy snow capability, luxurious and very quiet ride, serious towing ability and a upscale appearance that is what you should expect in a truck costing 45-50K. If you don't need it's unique abilities a good case can be made for an X5, X3, Q5, Q7 and so on. Otherwise I feel like I'm driving a luxury tank that can do what few other SUVs can manage!
2012 Overland, V8, Adaptive Cruise, Summit Grill