After three quarters of living with our Grand Cherokee, we have a pretty good idea of what makes our 2011 Four Wheeler of the Year tick. The WK2, as it is called internally, is a radical departure from previous Grand Cherokees, with its all-independent air suspension, simply gorgeous interior, and astute highway manners. Jeep also packed the Grand full of advanced technology that we have enjoyed getting to know.
Unlike much of the technology in competing vehicles, Jeep engineers have done a good job making the Grand’s systems intuitive to operate. Our WK2 came equipped with the Advanced Warning and Active Cruise Control Group, which include Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Bind Spot Monitoring, and Rear Cross Path Detection. Other progressive technologies include Rain-Sensitive Wipers and Rain Brake Support as well as a rear view camera.
Out of the lot, our favorite and most-used feature is the Adaptive Cruise Control system. ACC utilizes a nose-mounted radar to maintain our selected speed, while keeping a safe distance from the car in front of us. The Grand will automatically control speed, acceleration, and braking, down to a speed of about 20 mph. Below that speed, the Grand hands throttle duties back to the pilot.
The radar for the Grand’s ACC/FCW system resides under the front bumper.
The ACC is great for long highway runs and is paired with FCW. FCW, whether in ACC mode or not, will detect an object that has entered your path at an unsafe distance. If someone cuts you off on the freeway and brakes, or an animal runs in front of the car, FCW will provide the driver with an audible and visual alarm and preload the brake pedal in anticipation of the driver making a panic stop. It is a great feature for those who might find themselves distracted by a carload of kids while driving and we are positive it saved the life of at least one dog.
While these technologies aren’t necessary, they are nice features to have and extend the Grand’s reputation as a vehicle that will gobble up endless highway miles with minimal fatigue to the driver. Add to that our test-best fuel economy of 19.6 mpg (meaning an observed range of over 450 miles) with the 360hp 5.7L V-8 and you have a powerful and competent highway ride.
Our Jeep required two service stops this quarter. One for scheduled maintenance and an upgrade to our finicky Bluetooth system under warranty and a stop to patch a rear tire that had picked up a nail. Both stops were quickly handled by the pros at Don-A-Vee Chrysler Jeep in Placentia, California.
Down to our final quarter, the Grand has proven to be a solid and popular rig so far. While it might not be the ZJ or WJ of yore, we can understand why Jeep moved this product upscale. It tries not to stray too far from the Grand Cherokee’s wheeling heritage, while inviting in a new customer to the Jeep showroom with its luxurious appointments, technological features, and overall comfort.
Report: 3 OF 4
Previous reports: Nov. ’11, Mar. ’12
Base price: $41,910
Price as tested: $47,750
Four-wheel drive system: Full-time, two-speed
Miles to date: 10,895
Miles since last report: 3,404
Average mpg (this report): 14.58
Test best tank (mpg): 19.63
Test worst tank (mpg): 11.41
This period: Oil service, $26.00;Tire repair, $25.00
Problem areas: Bluetooth, repaired under warranty
What’s Hot, What’s Not
Hot: Technology, range, highway comfort
Not: City fuel economy, Blind Spot Monitoring can be annoying
“Vegas to So Cal, almost 20 mpg. Impressive considering there is 360hp under foot.”
“Structure is tight, but there is a rattle coming from the rear entertainment module.”
“I admit it, I am a sucker for the heated and cooled front seats. Even rear passengers get seat heaters.”
“I could drive all day in these seats. This is one of the best road trip vehicles I have driven.”