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Jeep lovers, pick your Grand Cherokee

Published:   |   Updated: March 21, 2013 at 04:52 AM

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This is one Jeep everyone should love for reasons apart from its off-road capabilities. The 2012 Grand Cherokee offers plenty of head, leg and knee room in a tasteful, functional and high-quality cabin. Yes, we are aware folks don't buy the four-door, five-passenger SUVs for space, but it's always nice to have that extra room to haul people or cargo.

Available as a rear-wheel or all-wheel drive, the Grand Cherokee comes in several trims, including the base Laredo, mid-level Overland and the mind-boggling speedster SRT8.

Standard and more than sufficient for most Jeep buyers is the 3.6-liter V-6 flex-fuel engine putting out 290 horsepower @ 6400 rpm. Or go with the optional 5.7-liter V-8 engine cranking out 360 hp @ 5150 rpm. Performance enthusiasts will line up for the 6.4-liter (up from previous 6.1) Hemi V-8 engine belting out 470 hp (up by 50) @ 6000 rpm and 465 pounds-feet of torque (45 increase) @ 4300 rpm. Besides, who doesn't like a 4.8 second dash to 60 mph, a formidable 160-mph top speed and 5,000-pound tow capacity?

Though the SRT8 allows the driver sport, auto, snow, tow and track modes, EPA fuel estimates are just 12 city/18 highway, unlike the base, which ekes out 17/23 mpg. You can bet there is a price to pay for the SRT8, which starts at $54,470. But if pedal to the metal is not your ideal daily drive (think peak-hour traffic), the base RWD Laredo at $26,995 should suffice. For an extra $2,000, get AWD on the Laredo, so off-roading is still an option for weekend outings. A 5-speed auto is standard on all trims, though we are counting on the transmission to inch up to 6 in future Grand Cherokee models.

The SRT8 boasts a wickedly quick ride, but most buyers should be content with the 3.6- or 5.7-equipped Grand Cherokees, which offer more-than-adequate power, well-balanced handling, generous passenger/cargo capacity and an attractive interior par none.


Wheelbase: 114.8 inches

Length: 191.3 inches

Suspension: SLA front, multi-link rear

Steering: power rack and pinion

Weight: 5,150 pounds

Fuel capacity: 24.6 gallons

Website: jeep.com

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