2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited Road Test Review

Mary Chapman - CAP staff
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"It's a Jeep Thing... You Wouldn't Understand."

I used to know what that meant.  I even had a license plate holder bearing the slogan on an old Wrangler I kept around.  We owners were smug about Jeep's vaunted off-road performance and, mostly, the brand's whole spare, rough-hewn, proletariat thing.  So what if you bounced around a bit, or that you bought seat pillows from Canadian Tire.  These were fun workhorses, not to be confused with anything else. 

And now... 

I'm not wholly sure what Jeep's image is, except that it appears to be more inclusive. 

Not that there's anything wrong with that.  And besides, in this economy, it's probably smart to appeal to as many wallets as possible. 

Take the 2010 Grand Cherokee Limited.  Ever since its debut in 1992, the SUV has prided itself on being able to conquer any driving condition, whether on- or off-road.  This latest iteration continues a tradition of innovation with new technologies and refinement, and matches up nicely with other five-passenger sport-utes.  Five years into its last overhaul, it rides and handles better than ever. 

Thank goodness it's styled the same.  I love the long, clean lines, the signature seven-slot grille and trapezoidal wheel openings.  My options package included nice 18-inch aluminum chrome-clad wheels and all-terrain tires.  The interior is a little less impressive, considering Jeep's intentions.  The cabin feels somewhat claustrophobic, and there's not much headroom for this six-one frame.  But my leather-trimmed seats were comfortable enough.  There's 60/40 split seating in back, where three adults can sit, albeit not in primo-SUV environs.  Real wood notwithstanding, too much plastic abounds.  The roofline nixed third-row seating, still leaving only 991 litres (35 cubic feet) of cargo space behind the second row. 

There is a plethora of standard goodies on the Limited, including rear a back-up camera, remote start, rain-sensitive windshield wipers, audio jack input, tilt/telescoping steering, GPS navigation, "SmartBeam" headlamps and heated front and second-row seats.  Electronic stability control with electronic roll mitigation maintains vehicle stability in a variety of road surface and weather conditions. 

Performance, ah, yes, is where Cherokee leaves poseurs behind.  There's refinement here, too, owing to the vehicle's light unibody and "Trail-Rated" independent front and five-link rear suspension systems.  The Cherokee no longer rides roughly on-road and has purist off-road ability.  My tester featured the optional Quadra Drive II, which combines a full-time transfer case with front and rear electronic limited-slip differentials, and was mated with hill descent control for some rough-and-tumble rural Michigan cheer.  I was only out there for a short while, long enough to whip up those old Jeep vibes.  Cherokee gobbled up soil with aplomb. 

For 2010, the Grand Cherokee is available in North Edition, Limited and S Limited trims.  It features a standard 3.7-litre V6 powerplant, which delivers 210 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 235 pound-feet of torque.  My Limited tester had the optional 5.7-litre HEMI V8 with variable valve timing, which generates an impressive 357 horses and 389 pound-feet of torque.  The HEMI's fuel-saving multi-displacement system sweetly shifts to four-cylinder mode when less power is needed and to back to V8 mode when oomph is called for.  The V8 HEMI gets the EPA equivalent of 18.0L/100km city/12.4 highway, or in less conservative Canadian EnerGuide rating, 15.5L/100 km in the city and 10.6 on the highway -- not bad when sidled next to other off-roaders.  Transmission is a five-speed automatic with manual mode in the base model and in the Limited a five-speed automatic dubbed Multispeed because of its unique alternate second-gear ratio for smoothing out downshifts and increasing efficiency. 

Other optional equipment included an automatic headlamp leveling system, high-intensity discharge headlamps, engine block heater and hill-start assist. 

The Cherokee does well in government safety ratings, nabbing top five stars for front and side crashes, and four stars for rollovers. 

Here's the deal: this is one very, very nice $48,395 vehicle, but probably isn't the best choice for lugging family around. 

But if you're going to go off-road?

Yup, it's a Jeep thing.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: SUV, Jeep, 2010, Grand Cherokee, $30,000 - $39,999, $40,000 - $49,999, Midsize,

Organizations: Cherokee Limited

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