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Roadshow Video Reviews
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4X4 LimitedOur Editor's Choice Award winner features off-road aspirations and some interesting tech options.
-It's a rock-crushing urban assault vehicle with Spongebob. That's just one of the contradictions in the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited. It's got luxury looks, military grade terrain handling and a baffling bucket of tech. And it also made us wonder, is it still relevant? I'm Molly Wood, let's get inside and check the tech. Now, the contradictions on this car start right here in the cabin. First of all, the technology, as you can see, I have a nice big 6-inch touchscreen LCD here for all of my media controls. This car is equipped with the Uconnect System. We've seen this before. It's a very good, capable, voice activation system for controlling media and Bluetooth hands-free calling. However, if you look closely at this nice, big screen, you'll see there's no navigation option on this vehicle. The speaker system is impressive. A 506-watt amp with 9 premium speakers including a sub and yes, it sounds great. And the Uconnect Media System delivers a huge variety of media from satellite radio to a 30-gig hard drive. In fact, one cool feature of this big touchscreen, you can load photos onto that hard drive and then display them on the console while you're driving. And then, of course you have a whole sweet of steering wheel controls here. Now, one thing that's really odd about this car, it actually has steering wheel controls on the back of the steering wheel, so you can control volume and switch between channels and inputs right here without leaving the wheel at all. Now, as for the Uconnect Voice Control System, this car is equipped with Bluetooth hands-free calling and when you pair your phone with it, it will download your contact list and phonebook. I found, though, that the voice controls for calling were unbelievably bad. Whenever I tried to get it to dial an actual number, I got the number wrong every single time I said it. Dial 415-344-2000. -Calling: 041-534-42 pound, 6, is this correct? -No. Now, by contrast, the Uconnect voice controls for media, for example, if you wanna change the radio station or switch to a different input, worked perfectly. Station 10. Next station. No problem. Now, let's talk about one of the flashier options on this car, the rear seat DVD entertainment system, that adds this TV option along with your radio inputs AM/FM satellite and TV. Now you have a drop down display up here and kid-friendly serious satellite television, so you have Nickelodeon Mobile, Disney Channel, Cartoon Network. It's incredibly mom-friendly, but it's not very cat-friendly. Check this out. When you put that display down, you'll block your rearview mirror almost completely. Plus, if you add this $1500 option to your vehicle, you lose your dual sunroof. I suggest that if you have 2 kids, you can buy each one an iPad and still save 500 bucks. Now our jeep, even though it's supposed to be a tough-guy car, is loaded with safety features. It has forward collision warnings; it has aggressive blind spot warnings. They're so aggressive that if you put your blinker on and a car is in your blind spot, it'll lower the radio so that it can beep at you and let you know. That was a little much. Especially considering another contradiction, which is that there appears to be no rear collision warning. You have your backup camera, but it doesn't do anything if you're about to hit something. I'm totally about to hit that guy; this car doesn't care. Now, this is obviously a car that is meant for a harsh climate, even the steering wheel is heated. Next. Another headline on this car is the all-aluminum direct-overhead cam V6 from Pentastar. Nope, it is not direct injection. It's strange, because it's the hottest trend in current engine design, but it's not here in this early Pentastar. However, this is a variable valve-timing engine and it's designed to deliver better gas mileage, there's even an echo mode; the results, a gas mileage rating up to 16 in town, 22-highway. Now, you'll get close to that 22-highway, but I averaged more around 15 in town, not that impressive. The body on this jeep is a uni-frame construction. It's a hybrid of the unibody shell with a distinct truck-style frame. It's a really nice-looking car, it looks rugged, but that unibody construction gives it a relatively pleasant ride. It's not truck like at all. The engine has plenty of power, but it really lumbers up to speed, it's just not quick off the line at all. It's impressive that you can't feel the transmission shift at all. But the complete lack of feedback means you start to wonder why you're still going so slow. Like I said, the ride is smooth, it's also big. You feel like you're sitting up higher than you are in this car. It's got this bunker-like vibe that made me think this is the car I want when the zombies come. Off-road, the Grand Cherokee is still a jeep even if you're not likely to ever take it into the dirt. The off-road terrain selectors adjust traction, torque and power to the wheels and can handle everything from snow and sand to rock crawling. And the car's air suspension lets you actually raise it up to give you a little over 10 inches of ground clearance, so no high centering here. Ultimately, here is the bottom line on the Jeep Grand Cherokee. It's a good-looking car, it's got plenty of amenities, and it can definitely go anywhere you want it to go, but you have to ask yourself when faced with a $40,000 purchase. Are you really gonna take this car off-road? If not, I suggest to get yourself a nice little station wagon and a good pair of hiking boots.