Archive for Jeep

The IT Nerd Award For The Best SUV Goes To: Jeep Cherokee Limited

Posted in Products with tags , on December 14, 2014 by itnerd

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This is the last award that I’ll be handing out and like the other car categories, this decision was a toss up. On one hand there’s the Mazda CX-5 GT which brought insanely great handling, a extensive suite of technology, and good fuel economy to the table. On the other hand there’s The Jeep Cherokee Limited which lives up to the Jeep heritage and brought its own array of technology to the table along with good fuel economy. In the end, I gave the nod to the Jeep Cherokee Limited. Granted, most SUVs never touch dirt in any significant way. But the Jeep Cherokee Limited will handle off road conditions with ease thanks to one of the more advanced four wheel drive systems on the market. That’s something that you’ll appreciate in other conditions such as a winter storm. Not only that, it has a ton of technology in it including ParkSense which gives the Jeep Cherokee Limited the ability to parallel and perpendicular park itself. That makes it ideal for your urban adventures in addition to your off road adventures. To top it off, it has a 9 speed transmission mated to the V6 engine to keep your fuel costs down. Something that I appreciated when I was testing it for my review last summer. To be fair the CX-5 almost pulled this one out because it quite frankly is a very good SUV that deserves a very good look if you are in the market for one. But what tipped the scales in favor of the Jeep was ParkSense and its off road capabilities. Those points made it my choice for the best SUV of 2014.

This was fun to do as it really made me think about what truly are the best products that I review. Congratulations to the winners and I look forward to doing this again next year.

Review: 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited – Part 5

Posted in Products with tags on May 30, 2014 by itnerd

So I’ve come to the end of this review. What are my final thoughts? This is a very capable Jeep that will handle anything you throw at it better than anything else in its class. But at the same time it will get the kids to day care without an issue. Plus it’s got a ton of technology that makes your life simpler and safer. The final fuel economy that I got was 12.1 L/ 100 KM. I could have done better, but I drove mostly in stop and go traffic. But I’m not disappointed with this number because if I compare it to other SUVs that I have reviewed, it did pretty well. Also if I compare it to my daily driver which is the Toyota Matrix that has AWD and a 4 cylinder engine that puts out over 100 less horsepower, it fuel economy is the same in similar conditions. Thus that makes 12.1 L/ 100 KM in the Jeep Cherokee pretty good.

So now let’s discuss the price. With everything in the Limited trim level included, it goes out the door for $43,070. But keep in mind that the Cherokee starts at $23,695 as a 4×2 with a 4 cylinder engine and the Limited trim level starts at $32,395 as a 4×4 with a 4 cylinder engine. Thus there’s plenty of room here to find the Jeep that you want. In terms of competition, I can come up with two competitors in terms of SUVs that have similar power and appointments. The Subaru Forester which if you get the XT Limited With Technology variant, and the Ford Escape Titanium. The former optioned the way this Jeep is optioned will cost you $39,876 and the latter will set you back $38,499. But, consider the following:

  • The Jeep has a V6 Engine. Both the vehicles I mentioned have turbocharged 4 cylinder engines. As an aside, most of the compact SUV class has abandoned the V6 engine as an option. Thus if you want a V6, the Jeep Cherokee is pretty much your only choice.
  • While both have 4 wheel drive, neither has a 4 wheel drive system that is as capable as the Jeep Cherokee.
  • Neither has a suspension system specifically designed for off road use.

So you pay a bit more for the Jeep Cherokee, but you a vehicle capable of taking on anything you throw at it. That’s important seeing as the compact SUV class is full of vehicles that aren’t nearly as capable. Thus I would consider the Jeep Cherokee to be class leading. No wonder it won the AJAC Award for the best utility vehicle of the year. Clearly AJAC knows a winner when it see it.

Review: 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited – Part 4

Posted in Products with tags on May 29, 2014 by itnerd

The technology in the Jeep Cherokee Limited is extensive. Let’s start with the safety technology, here’s the list of things that will keep you safe:

  • Ten air bags including driver and passenger knee blockers
  • Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop: This uses radar and video sensors to help maintain a consistent distance between you and the vehicle in front of you by adjusting cruising speeds. When activated, it’s even capable of bringing your vehicle to a full stop automatically.
  • Forward Collision Warning with Mitigation system: This alerts you when you’re approaching another vehicle or large obstacle too rapidly, allowing you to take action to prevent a collision.
  • LaneSense Lane Departure Warning: This system lets you know if you are drifting out of your lane unintentionally. If you should begin to drift out of your lane without signaling, the system provides an audible warning, as well as feedback through the steering wheel.
  • Blind-Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Path Detection
  • Rear back up camera

The next thing is the key. It’s a proximity key that allows you to walk up, open the door, press the start button, and drive away. You can also remote start the Jeep, open the rear hatch, and unlock the doors. Like other Chrysler vehicles I’ve reviewed, there’s a real key on the inside. When you want to lock the car, simply press a button on the door handle when you get out of the car. Net result: You never have to take the proximity key out of your pocket.

Now to the easy part of this review, which is the UConnect system. This is a newer version than the one that was in the Grand Cherokee that I drove last year. It has been refined since the last time I tried it with things like the buttons and graphics looking more smooth and consistent. Navigation is still provided by Garmin which is a good thing. And as usual, it took me seconds to pair my iPhone via Bluetooth and make everything work the way I expected. Plugging in my iPhone via USB allowed me access to all the music and playlists on it. The voice recognition was good, though I had trouble with street names. The system is powered by a 8.4″ touchscreen which is clear and easy to read. There are redundant controls that are well designed and easy to reach. When it comes to the design part, I’ll use the controls on the steering wheel as an example. Individual buttons have their own feel so that once you know what the functions are, you can use them purely based on feel. It’s still a excellent system to use. But it’s facing some significant competition in the form of the system that comes with the Hyundai Genesis which comes with a 9″ screen and is just as easy to use. Thus, Chrysler may have to step up it’s game shortly.

No matter where I was sitting, the audio was fantastic. Crisp highs and well defined bass with zero distortion. Kudos to Chrysler for providing a top notch stereo.

Now to the crown jewel of the technology in the Jeep Cherokee, which is the fact that it will parallel and perpendicular park itself using a feature called ParkSense. Now cars that do parallel parking by themselves is not a new feature as several vehicles have this feature including the Ford Explorer that I reviewed a couple of years ago. But perpendicular parking is a new feature that I have not seen in another vehicle. I tried both and they work well, assuming you understand how the system works. More on that a second. Right now let me show you a video of the system in action:

Now it looks impressive, but I did this in an open parking lot where it took several tries to get this video recorded. The reason being is that I had to be three feet or less from the cars that you’re trying to park between. Once I figured that out, I was able to make the system work perfectly at will. Another thing to note, you have to trust the system. The first time I used it, I was convinced that I was going to hit one of the cars I was trying to park between and I aborted the parking attempt. Further attempts at parking brought about the revelation that the system would automatically figure out when I was too close to a car and issue instructions to shift into drive or reverse depending on the situation so that it could adjust the position of the car. My suggestion is to try out the system in a parking lot for a hour or two until you are comfortable using ParkSense. It does work well once you understand how it works.

In the last part of my review, I’ll wrap up some loose ends and I will give you my final verdict.

 

Review: 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited – Part 3

Posted in Products with tags on May 28, 2014 by itnerd

The interior of the Jeep Cherokee for the most part is a place that you will not complain about. Let’s start at the front:

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The driver’s seat is well bolstered and very comfortable. It is 8 way power adjustable and comes with adjustable lumbar support. The front seats are heated and ventilated.

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They also make it clear to anyone who sits in them what you’re driving.

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The memory settings for the drivers seat as well as the door locks, window controls, and controls for the mirrors are on the doors. The leather and wood accents are a nice touch along with the chrome door handle.

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What is a bit puzzling is the placement on the driver’s side door of the button to open the flap that covers the gas cap. It’s a small button located in an out of the way location that most people will never consider looking for it in. This is easy to miss. I would suggest that Jeep should relocate it to the left side of the dash where the controls for the interior and exterior lights are.

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To the left of the steering wheel are the controls for the exterior lights and interior lights along with the button to open the rear hatch. One thing to note is that the Jeep Cherokee has automatic headlights and as you can see, I have set them that way. You can also press the knob to activate the fog lamps.

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The steering wheel is leather wrapped, heated and is on the chunky side. But it still is comfortable to hold. There are redundant controls for the UConnect system on it. One thing to note is that I found the horn to be somewhat hard to press which was disconcerting at first. But after a couple of days I stopped thinking about it.

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The gauge cluster is interesting as you can customize the centre portion with whatever info you need to see, plus navigation directions are replicated there. I do note that it is sometimes prone to suffering from glare though, but it doesn’t really affect your ability to see anything.

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To the right of the steering wheel is the always useful engine start/stop button.

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Here’s the 8.4″ display that’s part of the UConnect System. Below it are controls for the automatic parking and dual zone HVAC.

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Just above it on the dash is a place to put your sunglasses….

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… and on the roof is another place to put your sunglasses.

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Below the HVAC controls is a USB port, an SD card reader, and AUX jack for audio and a 12V outlet.

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Here’s the shifter, the controls for the four wheel drive system to the left of it, the parking brake (of the electronic variety) below it, and a pair of decently sized cupholders.

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The centre console has a feature that I have never seen in a vehicle before. This is a wireless charging plate for phones that support wireless charging. If you have a phone like a Nexus 5 or a Galaxy S5, you’ll love this. It is made by QI and I reviewed one of their charging plates a while back and found it to be a very good product. Thus I would expect this one inside this Jeep to be the same.

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Underneath that is a deep storage area that also has the CD player, a USB port and another 12V outlet.

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The glove box is a good sized one and it is lit.

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The sunroof is MASSIVE. The only other one that I have ever seen that is competitive with this one is the one that was in the 2015 Hyundai Genesis that I recently reviewed.

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The back seats sit three people. Though the person in the middle has to deal with the hump created by the driveshaft. One thing does stand out about the back seats….

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….You can slide them forward or back as you can see here to create additional legroom.

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If you don’t need the middle seat, you can flip down a pair of cupholders and also use it as an armrest.

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Those in the back also get one other handy feature. If you look just below the HVAC outlets, you get a 115V outlet. Handy to charge your iPad, laptop or your phone.

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Moving to the the cargo area, you get a privacy cover.

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And if you have something long to transport, you can fold down the right rear seat and the front seat to accommodate it. Trips to Home Depot will never be the same.

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This apparatus puzzled me until I figured out what it was. This is part of Jeep’s cargo management system and it adds handy hooks and a removable grocery bag as well as many innovative and thoughtful add-on storage solutions including a First Aid Kit. Accessories that leverage this feature are available at your dealer. I’ll also note an abundance of cargo hooks and tie downs all over the cargo area of the vehicle.

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Here’s what the results of our weekly grocery shopping trip looks like. As you can see, there’s room left over in the back.

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The rear hatch is motorized and the button to close it is on the left near the cargo management system. Its position and size (as it is on the small side) was puzzling because my wife and I were looking for it and didn’t find it until my wife discovered it and said “what does this button do?” right before pressing it causing the rear hatch to descend and bump me in the head (I wasn’t hurt by the way because it was a gentle bump). The hatch then promptly went back up as it is designed to do when it encounters an object. I would suggest that Jeep should relocate the button on the hatch itself to make it easier to find or make it bigger so that it is easier to spot. If you look at the bottom right corner of this picture, you’ll notice another 12V outlet.

Some notes:

  • I was able to set up the driver’s seat to fit my six foot frame and then hop into the back seat easily and have ample legroom thanks to the sliding seats. Headroom for me was on the low side, but I did have room.
  • Visibility is good in all aspects and headroom which is usually an issue for me in vehicles with sunroofs was good as well.
  • Everything was put together well and any surface that I touched felt like it oozed quality. I could not find one thing in the fit and finish department to complain about.
  • There’s an abundance of soft touch materials that I believe will hold up over time.

Now in part four, I’ll cover the technology in the Jeep Cherokee. And there is a lot of technology in it so stay tuned!

 

Review: 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited – Part 2

Posted in Products with tags on May 27, 2014 by itnerd

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Under the hood of the Jeep Cherokee Limited is a 3.2L Pentastar V6 that puts out 271 HP and 239 pound feet of torque. It’s mated to a 9 speed transmission. That’s not a misprint. This gearbox has 9 cogs in it. Now you’re likely asking why would Jeep put 9 cogs in a transmission? The extra gears are supposed to improve both acceleration and fuel economy. The engine and transmission drive all 4 wheels via Jeep’s Active Drive II 4×4 system. Active Drive II 4×4 comes with low-range gearing which is great for rock crawling and has a neutral mode for flat towing behind an RV. It offers Snow, Mud/Sand and Sport modes, the latter delivering more power to the rear axle for a sportier on-road feel. You also get hill decent control and an off road suspension as part of the package too.

So, how does this combination work? There is lots power and torque available, but there were times where I put my foot down on the highway to pass a truck and it took a second to accelerate. It didn’t happen all the time, But it did happen frequently enough that I decided to mention it. I’m guessing that it is due to the fact that the transmission has to drop a few cogs so that the Jeep can accelerate. Though I will note that putting the vehicle into sport mode helps with this. I would recommend that you plan your passing activities when you’re on the highway so that you’re not caught out by the second or two of hesitation should it appear. Beyond that, I really do not have any complaints about the engine or the transmission. In terms of the latter, it for the most part shifts smoothly and there’s no “shift shock” which is that slight lurch that your vehicle makes when your transmission shifts gears when accelerating. You can easily use the accelerator to crawl through stop and go traffic and on the open road you can deliver the right amount of power to get the speed you want. The brakes are easy to modulate and bring you to a stop smoothly. In terms of fuel economy, I’m averaging 11.8 L/100 KM on 89 octane gas in mostly city and some highway driving. That’s pretty good considering that this is a SUV that isn’t light. Plus my daily driver which has two less cylinders and 120 less HP gets about the same fuel economy in the same conditions. Other than tire noise things are quiet inside the cabin unless you put your foot down. The ride is smooth and steady, floating over big bumps but taking the edge off the sharper ones. It handles curves as better than most SUVs in this class with minimal body roll. Though if you push it too hard in a curve, you’ll be reminded that it’s an SUV due to the high center of gravity.

Now let’s head off road. To test its off road capabilities, I headed to a gravel road in Belfountain which is north west of Toronto that has very steep uphills, downhills and sharp turns. It’s usually frequented by the pickup trucks and SUVs that are owned by the farmers in the area. The rough winter that we had really made this road rougher than normal. In the past, it was a challenge to drive this road. But now I feel that vehicles designed for off road use are the only vehicles that can handle this road because it has become so rough. Also having previous experience driving off road (I took a off road driving course that was run by Land Rover) helps as well as you can make a mess of a vehicle if you don’t know what you’re doing off road. Having said all of this, the Cherokee was able to deal with this road exceptionally well. Ruts, uneven terrain, and loose gravel did nothing to upset the Cherokee. One thing that was really handy was hill decent control which made going down really steep hills way less stressful. If you need to drive off road as well as on road, this Jeep is for you.

The next part of the review will look at the interior which is a very interesting one. Stay tuned for that.

Review: 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited – Part 1

Posted in Products with tags on May 26, 2014 by itnerd

When you think of the compact class of SUV’s, most vehicles in that class look like SUV’s, but they really can’t go off road in any serious way. That’s fine if you have no aspirations to touch dirt. But if you do want to go off road, you want something that can handle any possible condition that you could come across. Enter the Jeep Cherokee. It’s a vehicle that will take the kids to soccer practice as well as take you deep into the woods and back. CAM00002Now let me deal with the elephant in the room. The looks. It doesn’t look like your father’s Jeep Cherokee: CAM00005 I’ll admit that looks are, shall we say unique. However, this is one of those vehicles that you have to see in person because my pictures will not do it any sort of justice. For all the buzz the look of the front end of the Cherokee seems to be generating online, it really is not that bad. In fact, I like it. CAM00004 Walk around to the back and the unique look continues. Take it from me. If you walk around the vehicle a few times slowly, you’ll find that the look is coherent. It really does work to make this SUV unique in good way. Now the Jeep Cherokee that I’m driving is the Limited trim level which comes with a V6, a real four wheel drive system, and a ton of technology. This is going to be one packed review. As usual, I’ll be posting a multi-part review that will cover the following sections:

  • Engine, transmission, handling, fuel economy, and driving comfort
  • Interior
  • Technology in the vehicle
  • Wrap up

As an aside, all the photos for this review will be taken with the LG G Flex Android based smartphone which was provided to me by Rogers and is exclusive to them. I will have a review on this phone on Friday. But in the meantime, let’s see what the Jeep Cherokee can do both on and off road.

Review: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit – Part 5

Posted in Products with tags , on June 17, 2013 by itnerd

Let’s wrap up the review of the Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. There’s one loose end that I want to address. In part two of this review, I spoke of the ECO mode and how turning it off made this SUV comes to life. There’s also a sport mode. Simply double tap the gear shift and the SUV lowers, the accelerator response sharpens, the transmission mapping changes, and you now have a very fast and responsive SUV. So much so that if you love to carve corners on back roads, you’ll love being in this SUV. It was fun and I can see how you could get speeding tickets and demerit points in a hurry if you’re not careful. Oh, I don’t know if it was just me, but the engine note which is largely muted becomes more present. It also becomes intoxicating.

One thing that I found annoying in stop and go traffic was this: I’d tap the accelerator and I’d glide forward. But there’d be be a “thunk” sound and I’d feel a bit of a lurch forward as it the SUV had problems deciding what gear it needed to be in. I’m not sure what’s responsible for this. But I think that Chrysler needs to look at this as it’s about the only negative thing I had to say about the Grand Cherokee. One thing that annoyed my wife, and she insisted that I add to the review was how high off the ground the SUV was. For her, wearing a skirt and getting in and out of the SUV is “interesting.” Plus using the proximity card to enter the garage in our condo required her to put the SUV into park, remove her seatbelt and lean out the window while opening the door. Not ideal from her standpoint. I guess that’s one of the side effects of being 5 foot 6 in a very large vehicle.

How about the final fuel mileage? I averaged 12.9 L/100 KM in mixed city and highway driving. I believe that could have gone lower, but a trip into the stop and go traffic hell known as downtown Toronto put an end to that. Still, given that this is a big and heavy SUV, it was still impressive. If I compare it to the front wheel drive Ford Explorer with Ecoboost that I drove last year, it drank 1 L/100 KM more in fuel. But I’ll point out that the Ford was only motivating two wheels and had a lot less horsepower and torque. That makes the results that I got in the Grand Cherokee which had all four wheels going and had way more horsepower and torque even more impressive.

So would I buy one? Yes. Here’s why:

  • The fuel usage is something that I could live with which is something that I have never been able to say about any other SUV of this size.
  • It handles shockingly well which is something that I have never been able to say about any other SUV of this size.
  • It has a ton of cargo space.
  • It has class leading off road features. Some of which I can see myself using during ski season.
  • The technology is top shelf and easy to use.
  • The craftsmanship of the interior is top shelf and very impressive.

While what I was driving goes for just under $63K, you can get into a Grand Cherokee for just under $40K. Or you can go straight to the SRT version starting at $63K which comes with a 6.4L V8 HEMI. Thus, you’ll likely be able find something that fits your budget, or your need for power.

If the goal was to have the Jeep Grand Cherokee be the leader in this class, I say mission accomplished. I have to say that the Grand Cherokee Summit can safely be considered to be class leading in every respect. Anybody else who is in this class should be afraid. Very afraid.

Review: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit – Part 4

Posted in Products with tags , on June 14, 2013 by itnerd

Let’s look at the technology inside the Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit, and there’s a lot of it. Starting with the safety technology, here’s the list of things that will keep you safe:

  • Seven air bags including driver’s knee blocker
  • Tire pressure monitoring
  • Adaptive Cruise Control and Forward Collision Warning
  • Blind-Spot Monitoring with Rear Cross-Path Detection
  • Rear back up camera
  • Reactive head restraints
  • Anti-Lock Brakes, Electronic Stability Control, Electronic Roll Mitigation

I love the adaptive cruise control. If the car in front of you slows down, the SUV slows down. If the car in front of you speeds up, the SUV speeds up. This is a nice feature to have a long highway drive. The only thing that I will give a negative grade to is the rear backup camera. It’s fully exposed to the elements so it gets dirty which makes it useless. While this isn’t the only vehicle that has this issue, I really think that Chrysler needs to rethink the camera and how it’s placed.

The next thing is the key. It’s a proximity key that allows you to walk up, open the door, press the start button, and drive away. You can also remote start the SUV, open the rear hatch, and unlock the doors. Like other Chrysler vehicles I’ve reviewed, there’s a real key on the inside.

Now to the easy part of this review, the UConnect system. This is a newer version than the one that was in the Dodge Dart with the big change being the navigation system. It’s still a Garmin system from what I can tell, but it feels more integrated into the system. The one in the Dodge Dart looked just liked they took a stock Garmin GPS and popped it into UConnect which gave it a different feel from the rest of UConnect. It still worked well though so I didn’t say anything about it at the time I did the review of the Dodge Dart. But what they’ve done with this system in the Grand Cherokee is much better from a user interface standpoint. Kudos to Chrysler for that. It took me seconds to pair my iPhone via Bluetooth and make everything work the way I expected. Plugging in my iPhone via USB allowed me access to all the music and playlists on it. The voice recognition was good, though I had trouble with street names. The system is powered by a 8.4″ touchscreen that as far as I am concerned is the gold standard for these sorts of systems. Now there are redundant controls that are well designed and easy to reach. When it comes to the design part, I’ll use the controls on the steering wheel as an example. Individual buttons have their own feel so that once you know what the functions are, you can use them purely based on feel. Negatives? One. Just like the Dodge Dart, the system was capable of reading things like text messages and responding to them. But I couldn’t get that to work. But other than that, UConnect once again showed me why it’s a the top of the food chain when it comes to these sorts of systems. It’s easy to use and feels very well thought through.

One last point. This SUV has a great sounding stereo. No matter where I was sitting, the audio was fantastic. Crisp highs and well defined bass with zero distortion. Clearly Chrysler put a lot of thought into making sure the stereo was top of the pops.

In the last part of my review, I’ll wrap up some loose ends and I will give you my final verdict.

Review: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit – Part 3

Posted in Products with tags , on June 13, 2013 by itnerd

This part of the review will cover the interior of the Grand Cherokee Summit. I have to say, that this is one of the best interiors that I’ve seen in a vehicle in some time.  Here’s some of the items that stood out to me:

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This is the driver’s side door. Note the stitching on the leather. It’s top shelf.

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Here’s a wider shot of the door. Note the wood on the door near the door handle. It’s real open pore wood. Nice touch.

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There’s similar stitching on the dash (and the seats as well) and it is well done.

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There’s a massive dual pane sunroof that gives you an open air feel. Now around the sunroof is quality a quality headliner that I believe is either suede or the best fake suede I’ve seen.

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On the centre console, you get the gear shift and the controls for the air suspension, hill decent control and to set the Quadra Trac II 4×4 system. You can also see more of the stitching on the leather armrest. One thing to note is that the gear shift isn’t mechanical, it’s electronic. Once you get used to it, it is very cool.

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Inside the armrest is a CD player and a 12V outlet.

IMG_00000017In front of the gear shift is a compartment where you can slide your iPod or iPhone into and plug it into a USB port. There’s also an AUX audio port as well as a SD card slot and a 12V outlet.

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Move to the second row and you’ll see separate HVAC controls as well as a 110V outlet and two USB ports. You’ll also note that there’s switches for heated rear seats. For the record, the front seats are not only heated, but they’re ventilated as well.

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One nice touch is this rechargeable LED flashlight which is in cargo area on the left hand side.

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In the centre console is a 8.4 inch touchscreen that controls most of the functions of the SUV and there are redundant controls below the screen.

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Finally there is a dashboard that is highly customizable much like the Dodge Dart that I reviewed recently. It’s clear and visible in all light and you can dispaly all sorts of info from fuel efficiency, what music is playing, to your text messages from your phone.

Some notes:

  • How about interior space? I was able to set up the driver’s seat to fit my six foot frame and then hop into the back seat easily and have ample headroom and ample legroom. What really got my attention was the fact that the sunroof did not cut into my headroom. Nice!
  • There’s no third row seating. That’s unusual but I for one wouldn’t miss it because it gives me more cargo space while being able to carry five people. If you truly need 7 seats, there’s always the Dodge Journey or the Chrysler Grand Caravan to choose from.
  • The second row folds flat to give you even more cargo space should you need it. That’s not a trivial thing as a flat load surface makes the SUV easier to load. Just ask anyone who makes a lot of trips to Home Depot.
  • You get a memory settings function for driver’s seat and mirrors.
  • The driver gets a 12 way power seat with lumbar support. The front passenger gets power seats as well. The seats are well bolstered and if you take the time and effort to use the controls to find the perfect driving position, you’ll be rewarded with comfort on long trips.

Now in part four, I’ll cover the technology in the vehicle. Stay tuned!

Review: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit – Part 2

Posted in Products with tags , on June 12, 2013 by itnerd

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What you’re looking at is the 3.6L Pentastar V6. If you read part 2 of my Grand Caravan Crew Plus review, you’ll recall that the Pentastar V6 has a lot going for it:

  • It was one of Ward’s ’10 Best Engines’ for 2011. Only the best engines get onto this list which should tell you how good this engine is because it’s in the same company as Audi and BMW who also made this list
  • It has 290 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque
  • It will take 87 octane gas or E85 gas
  • It will tow up to 6,200 lbs

This engine is paired to a 8 speed automatic transmission. No that’s not a misprint. To add to that, it’s made by famed transmission company ZF who makes transmissions for BMW and Mercedes Benz among others. All of that is good on paper. Which is why when I picked it up, I was surprised by how lethargic it was. I pressed the accelerator and it was slow to get up to speed and was in no great hurry to get anywhere. It was usable, but not to the level that I expected from a V6. I really found that weird and I lived with it for about five minutes and figured that I was going to tell you to avoid this engine and get the optional V8 HEMI engine or diesel engine. That is, until I found a button on the dash called ECO that was activated. Upon turning it off, the personality of this SUV radically changed. It was quick to get up to speed and always had power to spare. Clearly with ECO turned on, the performance was blunted to save gas. That means that if you want neck snapping performance, you want it off. Of course your fuel bill will skyrocket accordingly.

Having said that, fuel economy is where this SUV shines. I am averaging 12.6L/100 KM in mixed city and highway driving. Though I will note that on the highway I can get down to the single digits if I am driving with fuel economy in mind and I have ECO turned on. This is excellent given how big (and presumably heavy) the Grand Cherokee is.

Now I will note that if this V6 isn’t enough power for you, you have two options:

  • You can get a 5.7L V8 HEMI engine that puts out 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque and can tow 7,200 lbs
  • If fuel economy is your priority, there’s a 3.0L diesel engine that puts out 240 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque and can tow 7,200 lbs

The Grand Cherokee is largely quiet and only when you push the engine do you hear it. Also outside noise is kept to a minimum which is what you expect from a SUV of this type. The handling is really what got my attention though. I expected this to drive like a truck. However I found it to be light on it’s feet and able to turn very sharply. An example of this was at a Starbucks drive through that I frequent. It’s a very tight environment with not a lot of room to manoeuvre. But you’d never know it in the Grand Cherokee. It was able to make two very tight left hand turns as if it were a much smaller vehicle. Not only that, but I found lane changes didn’t require a lot of input and U turns were very tight. I was impressed. If you want a SUV that handles exceptionally well, this is the one to get. As an added bonus, you get a transmission that you can barely tell when it’s shifting unless you are going really slowly. Plus the Grand Cherokee never feels like it’s in the wrong gear. One nice touch, it has metal paddle shifters that are behind the steering wheel that work at any time. Visibility is good out the back and to the sides, though I will note the “C” pillar is big and can obstruct your view depending on how you have your seat set up. I’ll also note that the mirrors are huge and you almost don’t need the blind spot monitoring system.

Now for those of you who want to take this off road rather than use this as an urban assault vehicle, Jeep has you covered. In typical Jeep fashion, the Grand Cherokee has all sort of class leading off road capability including:

  • A Crawl Ratio of 44:1 with Quadra Trac II 4×4 system with hill descent control. This is a real 4 wheel drive system capable of going anywhere.
  • Jeep Selec-Terrain works with Quadra Trac II which allows you to set the 4 wheel drive system and set it for the terrain that you’re on. Be it snow, sand, mud and rock settings. Or you can leave it in auto mode which works for any situation. I left it in auto and when it rained heavily the day I picked it up, I found it to be sure footed in even standing pools of water.
  • Jeep Quadra-Lift Air Suspension is included to raise the vehicle to 272 mm so that you can clear any obstacle, or lower it for better performance on the road.

The bottom line is that you’re covered if you go off road or on road.

In part three of the review, I’ll cover the interior. Stay tuned.