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4006 miles, 8 states, 80 hrs, 25.5 mpg, 4 Nat'l Parks

5403 Views 32 Replies 18 Participants Last post by  f1anatic

29 June 2013
Day 1 Chicago, IL to Omaha, NE
Day 2 Omaha, NE to Estes Park, CO @ Rocky Mountain N.P.
Day 3 Estes Park, CO to Jackson, WY
Day 4,5,6,7 Jackson, WY @ Grand Teton N.P. and Yellowstone N.P.
Day 8 Jackson, WY to Rapid City, SD @ Mount Rushmore N.P. (I think it is actually National Monument]
Day 9 Rapid City, SD to Chicago, IL
7 July 2013

First the all important answer to the question:

Q: How thirsty is the V6 5000 lbs porker with 4 people and enough luggage to travel to the moon. And back.

A: Fantastically economical. I drove the posted speed limits + 2 mph which meant I either had it on 72 mph or 75 mph. All the freaking way. Never less than 70 mph. Up the mountains, down the mountains. Plus the needed 85+ acceleration in SPORT mode to get around campers and people driving sub-standard. Exception being the National Parks where I drove slower. The +2mph is because I had set up the navi lady to remind my wife the posted speed limit - so any variation above or below the posted limit triggered the annoying little lady in the dashboard. A +2 mph setup took care of that. Sure I could have quieted her in the settings but I was lazy.

There will be few nice pictures, my comments on what went exceptionally well and what did not (as far as the car goes), my impressions on the off-road attempts in the National Forest outside Jackson WY. So bear with me, I am just waking up.


The car: 2014 JGC with ORA II and Lux Pkg. and RA4 Navi and the Adv. Tech Group. Overland minus the leather dashboard and the puddle lights, V6 with a home brewed Cold Air Intake.

I will start with the NEGATIVE IMPRESSIONS (simply because it is easier to get it over with and realize that everything else worked either fine, perfectly, or flawlessly).



1) Navigation. I had updated to whatever patch came out 13.19.0 just before leaving on the trip. Even the previous one had worked well and had cured my erratic GPS display. I had no problems until days 8 and 9 when around Rapid City SD, the navigation started acting up, going into crazy re-routing modes and putting me off I-90 by about 300 feet. Has happened before ...4-5 times. This continued into day 9 and even closer to home, around Madison, WI. Also, the in-dash display seemed to turn off on occasion but I could click it right back. I think there may have been on OTA update for U-Connect and messed up my system. AGAIN.

2) Wi-Fi Hot Spot. It worked decently well, there was a consistent signal but at some point it failed to provide internet anymore and the box could not be clicked any more. I had to use it as T-crappy-Mobile did not provide coverage. It happened right after I pulled over for a driver change and turned off the engine. Also every 30 min or so, the service would be interrupted ( I was streaming music by phone - so I just had to restart the App).


1) The fuel economy: 25.5 MPG...I am floored. The range on this thing is amazing. I could cruise at 28-29-30 mpg all day (on flat ground at 60 mph - say Chicagoland) and just me and wife in the truck but I didn't. I had 4 people and so much luggage, I went up to 10-12,000 feet,
I crossed semi-arid high altitude...emptiness at 75 and often put in in SPORT to blast by campers (my new hate). You can easily do 600 miles in the truck. In fact each leg, days 1-3 were done on one fuel tank.

2) The adaptive cruise control - phenomenal. Now, I have driven Chicago-Montreal ...hmmm 14 times before, 850 miles one way, in other cars, including a 2011 JGC. But aside from the safety considerations (another set of "eyes" and "controls" that can slow down the car), it just made driving more relaxing. And that is the bottom line for me as far as the Adaptive Cruise Control goes: Added Safety and Driving Comfort.

3) Vented Seats much needed and worked well in the 90-100 deg. dry heat of Wyoming's high altitude faux deserts.

4) ORA-2 in my light attempt at off-roading (I will tell you where on the map I was - or you can googloe it yourselves). There's no 4x4 trails in the National Parks but in Jackson, WY I went to the visitor's center and they pointed me to trails in the National Forest. The one trail I took (time constraints - 4th of July) went to a very...remote...bear is your neighbor type camping...and then it just went and went and went into the mountain, becoming rougher and rougher. I went all the way to a lake, I started in OR-1, 4-Hi and briefly dropped it into 4-LO and also used the Hill Descent feature briefly. I also..forgot about ECONOMY vs. NORMAL so I stayed in ECO Mode. Didn't have a problem. Now it wasn't much of an off-road adventure, I'll admit, but I was at 8500 ft at some point and the car did not struggle. At all. And no, I did not play with the TERRAIN RESPONSE.

5) 8-speed tranny and the 3.6 L V6. ENOUGH POWER-GEAR RATIOS combo to keep me satisfied. YES, there were times when I needed more zest but nothing short of a turbo would have done it. Maybe the SRT would have provided equal amount of brute acceleration - maybe not - but in those moments I was contemplating how my Mitsubishi EVO turbo-driven STI-geared Subaru Legacy GT would fare, with its 282 whp and 350 wheel torques and weighing only 3300 lbs. Probably a lot better than even the mighty SRT since turbo engines suffer a lot less at altitude. I found the manual shift useful as well, a bit better control and acceleration over the SPORT mode alone.

6) Enough Room for the Family. Enough said. 2 parents and a wife. Enough luggage to last us for a round trip to the moon.

7) Error Codes - NONE. NIL. ZILCH. ZERO.

8) Tire Traction In the desert (and you know what I want to say), at speed, the tire pressures went up 7 psi. Cold 41 psi, Driven 48 psi. I got a little concerned with it but they did fine, including traction in the downpours along the way.

9) Hill Descent Control and 4WD LOW - I did not know how to activate HDC - I kept pressing it, then it occurred to me that I have to be stopped. Fully stopped. The Jeep crept down hill so I had to cancel it - the slope was not that steep and in 4WD - LOW there was enough engine braking. The car is noticeably louder in 4WD LOW, you can actually hear the gears.

10) Automatic Wipers - I am ambivalent on it, they worked well, but you have to put it in 3rd position before their automatic motion provides meaningful initial wipe.

11) Adaptive Cruise Control vs. Radar Detector. There have been reports that ACC triggers the Radar Detector. Maybe it depends on the detector but my 2013 spec STI MAGNUM did not get triggered by ACC.

More to come. But for now I am taking another break.
I will later add the obligatory pictures of wild life: the bison, the moose, the bear.
I like'em dirty but I will now go wash the Jeep. Laterzzz.


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Part 2 - Pictures


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Part 3 - More Pictures

My Fake off-road attempt. 18:00 hrs on 4th of July - if I got into trouble, help would have been slow to come. It also started raining and with lightning nearby, I decided to go back. The car did as I expected in my modest attempt.

This is the place of my laughable off road experience. Hey - I've never done it before so I've gotta start small.


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Great write up and beautiful pics! I am also taking a trip to Montreal with the wifey and little one before the summer is over and am too looking forward to stretching the Jeep out and seeing what sort of mileage she can do.

Sure, mine is the 13 and yours is the 14, that just begs the question, what sort of difference will there be in mileage.
Great pictures & write-up!
Great pics---need more travelogue, though. Would love to read about your trip and how your JGC did.

I've been to Mt Rushmore and Yellowsotne twice---Did you go to Mr Rushmore in the early morning as the sun rises? It is spectacular to see the sun rise on the presidents' faces. Story is that the presidents will always see the sun rise over our great nation; they will never see the sun set on us. On the way down did you catch the V slot in the moutainside with George Washington's face in profile?

I can't wait for my roadtrip vacation next month. Sounds like the JGC will be a rocket ship for this.
Great write up.....although, I am disgusted there wasn't a JeepGarage "group invite" posted PRIOR to your trip:D
Great write up F1antic!! Glad you had fun with the Jeep!
Great write up.....although, I am disgusted there wasn't a JeepGarage "group invite" posted PRIOR to your trip:D
You know, I am up for organizing our own Jeep Jamborees (or communal vacation meeting spots) in case the Wrangler boys think we are not up to spec. Which we are not, let's face it.
That's a great idea, fianatic! The main obstacle to going even on mild trails in the boonies is the risk of breaking down and not even cell service to call for help. Even a small caravan can help pull, push, or get help for any breakdowns so no one is left to feed the vultures.

No, we're no rock crawlers like the Wrangler crowd. The JGC can do probably 80% of what a Wrangler can do but JGCs are luxo-road cruisers with significant off road abiliites----mainly limited by how much we want to pay for repairs and body damage, not dedicated rocky crawlers.

But then, I see JGC owners as being more explorers and adventurers than rock climbers---seeing places, eating at interesting restaurants, and perhaps just some camping--although I did enough of that crap in the army. Now camping is at the Embassy Suites. So we might not share the same goals as Wrangler owners---but a good time exploring the great outdoors, seeing national monuments, going to out of the way places, that's why we bought Grand Cherokees for, isn't it?

I for one would love fianatic's suggestion of a JGC Jamboree. We'll even keep it open to Wranglers if they don't mind keeping company with us old farts. :)

We should have a seperate forum page for "Travels with our GC's" to post pictures and travelogue reports.
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Thanks for the write up and pictures, very enjoyable read.

That's a great idea, fianatic!
I for one would love fianatic's suggestion of a JGC Jamboree. We'll even keep it open to Wranglers if they don't mind keeping company with us old farts. :)

We should have a seperate forum page for "Travels with our GC's" to post pictures and travelogue reports.
I will only say this: I've done it (organized and ran the event) with the Subaru clubs many times before. These are the ones where I was the lead organizer. I've done many others. They can be done as long as you account for a majority of tastes and have enough variety to appeal to everyone while setting strict limits on ages (no bebe); pets; speeds and so on. The other thing to realize is that all the people in the threads below are long term friends of mine and we all live in Chicagoland and 75% of us meet every Thursday at the weekly meets.

BUT it can be organized also with total strangers. More challenging but not impossible.

Subaru Cruise VIII - Autumn / Winter 2010 - NASIOC

Subaru Cruise VIII - NASIOC

Subaru Cruise VII - (AUGUST) - Summer 2010 - NASIOC

Autumn 2009 - Subaru Cruise 6 - NASIOC

2009 summer - SUBARU CRUISE 5 - NASIOC

I would like to rally support and encouragement for our dear brother Matt ! - NASIOC

Summer Drive - IL/WI - August 2nd 2008 - NASIOC

Chicagoland 2nd annual Subaru AUTUMN CRUISE ! - NASIOC

Here's how our events go like (check out min 2:20). I have organized all those - events with 30+ cars.
Wisconsin... on Vimeo
Here's the first ever event I ran (lead car):
Subaru Flyby - YouTube

I was crazier my late 20s, not married, and I had a crew that helped organize everything from booking hotels, camp grounds and restaurants to booking side attractions like visiting naval museums, Halloween Maze, caves, wineries, something for kids, and so on. We ran very organized, walkie talkies (and NO not CB radios but UHF private channels on programmable 2 way Motorola or ICOM radios that nobody else could listen to), lead cars, backup plans in case the convoy split, medical car, tow car etc. I mean gush, I've had a spark plug and ignition coil changed on a hot boxer engine (they are at the bottom of the engine compartment) in 10 minutes in the middle of bumblephuck Wisconsin.

I am sure that with the right crew, I would do it again with the Grand Cherokee boys.
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Nice write up. Looked like tons of fun. We just finished a 2400 mile trip from Kansas City to Salt Lake City, UT and back again (via Neb/Wyoming) and got 22.8 mpg in our 2014 GC Overland v6. We kept it at about 82 mph and 1/2 the trip was into very strong 35-50 mph gusts/head winds. Not bad for an SUV. We also had next to no issues other than a full slab of 18-wheeler re-tread smashing out the front end (in the shop as we speak). :)
C'mon... You were off-roading up Sheep Creek, I bet without a paddle too!
Awesome pics!! Looks like it was a lot of fun.
And lastly, the wild life shots and some other park views/shots. It was pretty hard to mess up a picture...


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Nice pics, type of camera? I'm guessing some sort of Sony with that panoramic shot ( or maybe all cameras do that these days)

Any "must-see" spots on your trip? I hope to take my 01 Cherokee, after delivery of my '14 Grand, out west to leave it in Seattle. I have done Yellowstone, but just for a day or two. This next trip I'd like to spend a week in Yellowstone/ Glacier in September.

Nice pics, type of camera? I guessing some sort of Sony with that panoramic shot ( or maybe all cameras do that these days)

Any "must-see" spots on your trip. I hope to take my 01 Cherokee, after delivery of my '14 Grand, out west to leave it in Seattle. I have done Yellowstone, but just for a day or two. This next trip I'd like to spend a week in Yellowstone/ Glacier in September.

Images are saved as DSCN...Digital Still Capture Nikon (COOLPIX P510...)
Sony is just DSC format IIRC

Correct me if I'm wrong...
P510, great entry level camera, amazing optical zoom (80-1000 mm or 42x). Early on my laptop stopped workinduring the trip so I lowered the quality of the pictures to make sure they all fit on the card. I shot them at 4 MP which is enough for my needs.
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