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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland V6 4×4 Review & Test Drive

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Filed under Automotive, Featured, Jeep, SUV, Test Drives

The all-new 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee remains to be one of the most popular and off-road capable SUVs on the road. Continuing a long pedigree of being a well-awarded and trail-rated SUV, the new 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee aims to satisfy a wide array of consumers looking for a 5-passenger SUV that does it all.

When it comes being both a comfortable yet rugged SUV, the new 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee aims to please. For 2012, Jeep adds a new Overland Summit trim level along with the performance oriented Grand Cherokee SRT8. For the midsized SUV segment, the new 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee remains at the top of the list for the most capable off-roader. When properly equipped, the new Grand Cherokee can serve quite well as a multipurpose SUV.

New optional equipment such as a Quadra-lift air suspension system can virtually turn the new Grand Cherokee into a smooth-riding highway prowler or hard-core off-road machine. My new 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland trim comes standard with the innovative Quadra-lift air suspension system. The new system allows for a ride high adjustment from 6.6 inches all the way to a riding-high 10.7 inches of ground clearance. Team the air suspension with the optional off-road adventure package, and the new Grand Cherokee becomes virtually unstoppable on any Earthly surface considered navigable by a true off-road vehicle.

The new Jeep Grand Cherokee’s optional off-road adventure package turns the already capable off-roader into a more rugged SUV by adding underbody skid plates on suspension components, drivetrain components and gas tank. Also part of my Grand Cherokee Overland’s off-road adventure package, are all-season off-road tires and tow hooks.

To put things into motion, on all types of terrain, is a new 3.6-liter V6 Flex-Fuel capable engine with 290 horsepower and 260 ft-lbs. of torque. The V6 engine is mated to a 5 speed automatic with a semi-manual shifting option (down-shifts can be manually controlled with a limit to up-shifts). Power delivery is smooth but lacks quick responsiveness from the sluggish shifting 5-speed automatic box. At times on the highway my Grand Cherokee hesitated to up-shift and took a few seconds to sort out down-shifts. For an automatic gearbox with only 5-fowrad gears, it seems to need a bit of re-working or programming to speed things up. Although, when going off-road, the auto transmission, coupled with a 2-speed transfer case, proves to shine especially when selecting 4×4 low.

During my city drives in the new 2012 Grand Cherokee I took special notices to a lingering gas pedal. At speeds around 45mph, letting off of the gas pedal seemed to respond very slow allowing the vehicle to keep accelerating for a couple seconds too long. This was also noticed in the Dodge Durango, built off of the same drive-train platform as the new Grand Cherokee, which I reviewed last year.

Having an adjustable air suspension system, with as many as 4 different selectable height modes, gives the 2012 Grand Cherokee a major edge over its competition. The system is quite advanced also. The Quadra-lift air suspension has the intelligence to lower the vehicle at highway speeds (starting around 65mph to 70mph) to an aerodynamic ride height and automatically limit higher ride heights when approaching cruising speeds. Additionally, the system can be set at its lowest setting when parking to allow easy entry and exit. A lot of thought was put into making the air suspension system safe, and at the same time, functionally useful.

The new 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland’s interior gets minimal scrutiny as it is on par with the interior quality of other Chrysler vehicles. The heated and ventilated front leather seats prove to be supportive and allow a lot of adjustability. Rear seating areas have also been improved from previous generations giving them adjustable backs and enough room to fit 3 adults comfortably. Vehicle controls, including the selectable terrain management dial surrounded by ride height adjustments, are all placed in convenient locations proving to be easy to read. The integrated touch LCD screen, stereo system and navigation unit is customary to other Chrysler and Jeep uConnect offerings.

Exterior styling of the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee keeps things rather traditional and not sway too far from a formula that has worked well since 1993. For the 2012 model, the design carries over from the 2011 Grand Cherokee’s redesign.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee remains to be unmistakable and is now more off-road capable than it has ever been.

An optional 5.7-liter V8 engine can be had on the 2012 Grand Cherokee mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The new 2-speed transfer case, as equipped on my Grand Cherokee V6 test vehicle, includes hill descent and a Select-Terrain management system. The terrain management system, in conjunction with the height-adjustable air suspension, allows you to select different terrain programs such as Snow, Sand/Mud, Rock, Sport mode or an automatic mode. Hill descent works wonderfully as I was able to experience it at a Jeep excursion at a local car show proving how the Grand Cherokee keeps things civilized on steep declines. Approach angle for the new 2012 Grand Cherokee is 26.3 degrees, while angle of departure is 26.5 degrees. Maximum towing capacity is now 7,400 pounds a 4×4 equipped V6 Grand Cherokee.

Those looking to get extreme performance out of the new Grand Cherokee can now look to the SRT division’s potent SRT8 version. The contrast from my 290 horsepower V6 Grand Cherokee Overland test vehicle to a 470 horsepower Grand Cherokee SRT8 monster is tremendous.

Knowing that the new 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee can serve as a comfortable road-going highway SUV or rugged off-roader, proves how versatile the Grand Cherokee has become. In way, the new 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee can handle just about anything that you could throw at a midsized 5-passenger SUV. It looks great, can haul 5 adults comfortably, gets about 16mpg city/23mpg highway, and tops the list for the most rugged off-road capable out-of-the-box midsized SUV.

My new 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland has a modest as-tested price of $45,590 ($39,495 base Overland). A base 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4×2 Laredo starts at just $26,995.

Copyright: 2012


  • Price: Base Grand Cherokee Laredo $26,995 As-Tested Grand Cherokee V6 Overland 4×4 $45,590
  • Engine:  3.6 liter V6 290 horsepower @ 6400 rpm / 260 ft-lbs. @ 4800 rpm
  • Transmission: 5 speed automatic
  • Wheelbase: 114.8in.
  • Total length: 189.8in.
  • Total width: 76.5in.
  • Total height: 69.3in.
  • Track: f/r-63.9/64.1in.
  • Ground clearance: 8.6in.
  • Approach angle: 26.3-degrees
  • Departure angle: 26.5-degrees
  • Fuel tank: 24.6 gallons
  • Headroom: f/r-39.9/39.2in.
  • Legroom: f/r-40.3/38.6in.
  • Max Cargo capacity: 68.7cu.ft.
  • Turning circle: 37.1ft.
  • Curb weight: 4,920lbs.

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