The strong Total Car Score for the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee is keeping with the strong reviews it has earned since its thorough revision a year ago.
Reviewers see a V8-powered, off-road-capable GC as a solid choice. Jeeps are famed for not being fazed by a lack of asphalt. Automakers are making things easier by offering driver-selectable settings according to surface (snow, rocks, mud), and the Grand Cherokee offers equipment along the same lines.
For those who crave more horsepower than they know what to do with, and don't mind sacrificing some traditional Jeep virtues (like ground clearance and skid plates), the new-for-2012 Grand Cherokee SRT8 version (convered separately) might be worth a look.
Since this generation of the Grand is just a year old, the only major change for the 2012 Grand Cherokee is the addition of a luxury Overland Summit trim level.
The five-seat 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee comes in Laredo, Limited, Overland and SRT8 trim levels (The Grand Cherokee SRT8 model is covered separately). A full range of drivetrain options is available, including rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, and three 4WD systems.
The entry level engine is a 3.6-liter V6 developing 290 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It connects to a five-speed automatic. There's also a 5.7-liter V8 making 360 hp and 390 lb-ft and linked to a six-speed auto.
Laredo trim comes with dual-zone air conditioning, automatic on/off headlights and 17-inch alloy wheels. Add the options of an upgraded sound system, Bluetooth, satellite radio, keyless ignition, a power-adjustable driver's seat, rearview camera and heated front seats, and the Laredo starts to look like the Limited.
The Limited also has a panoramic sunroof, navigation, rain-sensing wipers, rear parking sensors, heated rear seats and 18-inch alloys. A power liftgate is optional, but standard in the Overland, which adds air suspension, perforated leather and a heated steering wheel. The Overland Summit brings alert systems for forward collision, blind spots and rear cross-path detection. A rear-seat entertainment system is optional.
Standard safety equipment includes traction and stability controls, front side and side curtain airbags, plus an anti-lock braking system that can detect rough surfaces.
EPA ratings for the 2012 Grand Cherokee start at 17 mpg city, 23 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined when running the V6 with rear-wheel drive; 16/23/19 with all-wheel drive. A rear-drive/5.7-liter V8 setup returns 14/20/16 mpg; 13/20/15 mpg with 4WD.
The 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee is rated to tow up to 7,400 pounds.
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