Short-Term Review 2011 JGC
If it is not obvious by now, I love this rig. It’s got all the makings of a category and import killer. Well done Jeep. Please keep it up.
The WK2 looks like an early victory though long-term support will be key. In that regard, JG is an excellent resource, thanks all for your experience and input, vets and noobs alike.
Fit & Finish: Both interior & exterior are very good, if not excellent. Interior is the nicest I’ve seen in an American vehicle, and compares favorably to higher quality imports. I love the firm, highly adjustable seating, it also fits larger occupants. The leather would make Ricardo Montalban blush. Very quiet, especially for an SUV. Majority of materials are high quality, including plastics. Paint finish is strong. Minor critiques below.
Design Aesthetics: Superb in and out. Handsome, aggressive looking rig. Sharp attention to detail. Some have concerns over the beefier hood or wrapped lights onto the tail hatch, but IMO, the WK2 design is a strong suit. Comparisons to BMW X5 appearance are also compliments in my book. The 20’s might be Jeep’s best wheelset, ever. If you don’t care for the chrome mirrors/grill/door handles or red lenses, then get your mod on. Forthcoming WK2 SRT8 will undoubtedly be a monster.
Handling: Road, tow, and trail manners are great. Might consider sway bars later, but that’s only because I like to drive a heavy SUV moderately fast around mountain passes and hairpins. The HD brakes are solid with good modulation, even if tempted to boost them later. Thus far, the Select Terrain and Quadra Lift work well, and are appreciated as much in lowered sport mode, as they are for slower, higher lifted trail riding. No surprise, the WK2 is a highly competent snowmobile (QDII), though note I use winter/AT wheelset and rubber for the white stuff. (Will report back soon in really deep storm conditions, yum.) Nice turning radius for a medium-large SUV. Handling is strong for everything but rock crawling and high speed evasive maneuvers, both of which I hope to avoid.
Electronics: Originally was skeptical going in, but for purposes of this short-term review, I am now a converted fan. All are very good including: Keyfobs, EVIC, Lighting, Climate Control, Quadra Lift, Select Terrain (maybe a bit overkill), Convenience Features, Multi-media, TPMS, rear camera/parking sensors.
Multi-Media: Had planned to do normal aftermarket stereo upgrades, but am not compelled to change anything yet with the 730N RER and Alpine system in the Overland. Audio quality, aux inputs, and controls are excellent for stock. Ipod connection and controls are nice, with touchscreen menu commands that mimic Apple without a track wheel. Screen resolution is good, though not high def. Rear DVD system works well with kids on wireless headsets. NAV functions are fine but we aren't heavy users. Dig the altimeter which is accurate to within 100’ elevation.
Convenience Features: Nice surprise because all work well and add to vehicle enjoyment, particularly for driver. Keyless entry, exit, memory settings, and ignition are superb. Remote start is sweet and has high and low temperature kick ons. Bi-level headlights work beautifully. Uconnect is excellent with seamless bluetooth pairing to a Blackberry 9000 (cannot speak to Iphone issues). Speakerphone is very clear for occupants, with only some road noise for outside callers. Handsfree and voice command work well. Two items I thought were unneccesary: heated steering wheel and motorized rear hatch – both are used constantly for winter and outdoor sports when cold, gloved, or muddy hands are full of gear. Mountain bikes, skiis, and other items might otherwise be leaned against the vehicle or dropped onto sloppy ground to fumble for keys or lift the hatch.
Transmission: Others are concerned, but I have found the 5 speed transmission to be more than adequate for spirited city and mountain driving, especially with the Hemi. Jeep’s manual shifting feature is excellent, and I was spoiled by Triptronic systems in Audi and VW. We use it regularly, especially for downshifting on sustained inclines or in winter conditions.
Power & Speed: Hemi – ‘nuff said. Big rig handles both at ease. Haven't pinned it yet but would not be a concern. I’ll be sampling the aftermarket goods as well, and already am a huge proponent of the Borla catbacks. The WK2 SRT8 is gonna be a monster. (Yes, that's a repeat.)
Price/Value: No brainer, especially if long-term reliability is there.
Doohickey Bonus Award: Tie between anti swamp-butt ventilated seats, keyless functions, Multimedia.
Fun Factor: Very high. Yes, it’s a new vehicle honeymoon period, but I’ll keep enjoying it for both its function and form. WK2 can easily hang with street cred, mountainous snow conditions, or trail short of anything extreme.
Roof Rack: Rooftop tracks are flimsy, short, cheap, and fugly. While the Mopar cross bars are sturdy and somewhat aero, they attach to the vehicle with a security torx wrench - no locking mechanism. Yak or Thule tower mounts are forthcoming and could solve much of these issues. Regardless, this is poor execution for a simple, priority SUV item. Aftermarket solution was a must, for me at least.
Certain Control Buttons: Tactile feel and click mechanisms of steering wheel and climate control buttons seem less than robust. Like the roof rack, looks like unwise penny pinching on a simple item that gets used frequently.
Antenna: Cheap, too long, fugly. Simple item should be worthy of the rest of the WK2’s great systems.
Heft: Can be an attribute for an SUV, and it buys safety, towing, and certain handling benefits (additional welds, stiff, stable, quiet, high safety rating). The advanced electronics that add to GVW aren’t just useless doodads either. However, this all just feels like an arms race, and there is a lot to like about a more nimble SUV on both road and trail. Carbon schwag could get expensive.
Suspension: Jury still out, though QL is a nice feature thus far. Not going to debate traditionalists about the IS or front ELSD here, IMO this rig is more than competent for 95% of its intended user base.
Select Terrain: I'm a fan of modern electronic traction systems, but this feels like it may have one too many option settings, not sure yet.
Engine Alternatives: Love the Hemi, but gas is still cheap and the Mountain West lodgepole forests are literally dying from an epidemic of mountain pine beetle. Al Gore not required. The Pentastar drove nicely but bring on a high powered diesel or maybe Hemi update.
Plastic rivets, pins, fasteners: Secure many Jeep parts such as interior door and trim panels, to exterior fascia. Seem to hold well without degrading and provide for clean fitment. As a noob to these things, they are a major PITA to disconnect and reconnect properly without damaging knuckles and parts. Hopefully this becomes easier with familiarity and proper pry tools.
Gremlins: So far, I have have not had any. None. Obviously a positive, but can’t escape the feeling that this is just dodging lightning as previous Chrysler quality ratings are not favorable, and other JG members have experienced some challenges. Knowingly accepted this risk as a first mover.
New Edition Vehicle with Complicated Systems: Many, including yours truly, felt it was requisite to purchase Chrysler extended warranties to cover potential exposure to expensive system fixes such as Quadra Lift, Select Terrain drivetrain, and electronics. This protection is inextricably linked to the long-term reliability of the WK2 and economic stability of Jeep.
Chrysler Financial Performance: The 2011 JGC is already a bright spot both for sales and initial quality. Hopefully it is enough to generate corporate profitability and feed its voracious owner, Cerberus (named after the three headed dog that guards the gates of hell), or at least provide for an exit to a strategic owner. The extended service warranties may only be as good as the company backing them.
Dealer Network, Quality & Service Standards: Can the overall system keep up with the high bar set by this vehicle? JG members have noted that the Chrysler Dealer network neither expects nor is prepared to service a demanding customer. I had pursued a Dealer complaint through Chrysler Co, and both responded in a highly disappointing manner. What should have been a relatively small item and quick solution became endless finger pointing. Hopefully this will not be the case when more significant service needs arise. Imports’ success is based upon the combination of vehicle quality and high service standards that are accountable. Jeep needs to focus on this.
2011 JGC Oland Hemi / Borla Catback Proto / Hemifever Tune on DS Trinity / Flyin Ryan PTB / Volant CAI / Bwoody Sway Links / BT Catch Can & Underhood Kit / Jon's Tinted Tails / SRT8 Hood, Steering Wheel, Shiftknob, Pedals / Firestone Dest AT's & Winter 18's / Focal 165 Component Fronts, Alpine PDX 5 Amp, Rockford Fosgate P3 10" Sub & Fiberglass Enclosure / PS2 Grill, Mirrors & Liftgate Strip / Tow Hooks & Skids / JW Speaker LED Foglights / Debadged, Tint, Clear Bra / Sharkfin / Vled & Putco LED's / JRoll Uber-Tech Cabin Filter / RA & Yak Roof Rack / Lit Sills, Slush & Cargo Mats