This is my review of a brand new red 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Last week I took a business trip to San Jose California. When I arrived at the airport and hit the rental car place, I was given the choice of any of these cars lined up on one row. I looked around asked about a convertible, they said that is an upgrade, Bummer after all it was spring in southern California. Being from Utah, I was ready for some sun. So my second choice was a Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo. After I left the lot and was zipping down the the 101, I realized what a great opportunity this was. I was driving yet another new Red Jeep. As I looked around I tried to reset the trip odometer. I looked for the standard Jeep console with gas mileage, trip odometers, miles until empty, MPG's and direction and temperature. I saw these in the dashboard but could not find the buttons to play with them. I later realized the buttons are in the center console. But my goal was to reset the odometer so I could see how far we drive the new Jeep. Like I said I could not figure out how to reset the 87 miles on the Odometer. Then I realizes the this Jeep only had 87 miles on it. Wow this thing was brand new, we will fix that.
Here is a first photo of the new Grand Cherokee. As I was driving I tried to get a good feel for the ride and the size. I was impressed with handling of such a big rig. The suspension is stiffer than on my 1999 WJ Jeep Grand Cherokee. I also wondered if I it was the newer suspension that was stiffer or if the 17 inch rims and lower profile tires made the Jeep feel different on the freeway.
As I was driving I had really good visibility using the mirrors on each side of the Jeep. One thing I noticed was the cabin seemed more closed in than on the old model. I also felt like as I looked over my shoulder before making a lane change that is was harder to see the cars in the other lane. I guess the window pillars are larger on the larger rig. Without knowing if the wheel base on the newer model is larger than my 1999, or if the cargo and interior space is larger. I think it is. As we sat in the jeep is seemed like a lot larger Jeep than my 1999. It felt a lot wider and spacious in the interior. But a second ago I mentioned it was more closed in. By this I mean the front window is more sloped and the visors seem closed to you head when sitting in a the drivers seat. Once you look sideway or into the back seat the Jeep seemed a lot larger. I think it would be easier to put 2 car seats and a 12 year old child in the back seat of this new 2007 vs. my 1999.
Here is a view of the drivers seat and cock pit. The dash and the instrument looked pretty good, as I mentioned the Dodge computer center in in the dash. It is a about a 1x2 in panel in the lower half of the RPM gauge. the speedometer is on the part of the dash with the odometer below it, the RPM cluster in on the right. The fuel circle on the lower left and I can't remember what the other gauge in on the lower right, oil pressure maybe. The radio in on the upper section of the center console, Heat and Air controls are in the he lower section of the center console. Between the two section is a small row of button that control the computer center, the C/T or temp and direction, the Step, the Reset, buttons. this is how you move through the different option and reset the values. The cluster is really easy to see in the dash, but the button are out of the way and seem to make you take you eyes of the road to find the button and look back to see if it changed to what you anted it to change to. Maybe you would get used to this and it would not be a big deal.
Here is a picture of the center console and the transmission shifter. The Jeep had an automatic transmission and the shifter was cool. it was between the 2 front seat and had lockouts for each gear. so you did not need to push an button just slide the shifter to the right and back down. Once the shifter was in the D or drive position is acted as a Paddle, you could move it left and or move it right to shift it into either 1,2,3,4, and D. So I am guessing this is a 4 speed Transmission with an Over Drive. I will need to check on the details. I didn't notice much difference between D and 4th when I played with the lever. When we were taking a sunday drive up and down the hilly twisting rout of Highway 1, I did down shift to 3rd, 2nd and even 1st a few time to have the engine and transmission hold the car back so I could save on the brakes. At one point I did really heat up the brakes and could smell them "Burning" But I never had and brake fade or concern. The cup holders in the middle section of the dash are small. They will work for smaller cup and for cups that have the smaller base, but forget about getting a 48 oz soda at a drive through and setting it in there. Maybe the Germans don't want you getting those big drinks anyway. I was impressed with the cup holder in the middle of the back seat. It folded down from under the seat at was designed to accommodate larger drinks.
Now for the overall look and feel of the Jeep. It has a newly designed front end with double round headlights and a big plastic bumper. The round humps over the head light give this jeep a bit of a different look. It does maintain the Jeep grill and so it still has the look that dates back to the military Jeep CJ's. The side panels of the wheels also have a nice curve to them. They a bit bigger than the wheels but I think you would have a hard time putting much bigger tires on without some serious modifications.
This picture is about the same as the one above showing the front styling.
Now we move around the the back. This is where the Jeep really changes from the he older round style. It has a square boxy, distinct feeling to it. The angles are square and abrupt. This must be the German mercedes influence, or the way Jeep wanted to change the whole look and feel of this rig to make if different from the previous version which was round and flowing at the back window. I actually like the new look and would be sure to feel like I was driving a new jeep vs. a model that could be up to 5 years old.
This is another view of the back end, from this distance it accents the boxy rear end. The tail gate has a light feel to it and seemed easy to open up. The tail gate swings way up high so my fear of banging my head into it was removed. This Jeep is really a car. I would not want to take it very far off road, as you can see here the ground clearance is only about 8 inches. I will need to look into the options for lift kits and the difficulties of raising it up for bigger tires. My suspicion is it would not be that easy. I did climb under the front and take a look, but I can't recall what the front suspension looked like. I was looking to see if this Jeep was even 4 Wheel drive. You never know in southern California they surely don't need 4 wheel drive to get home in a snowstorm. The other part of this equation that confused me there is no apparent way to put the Jeep in 4 Wheel drive. It must be electronic and the button is hidden or the system is automatic. This is a big no no for me. I want a big old heavy T-Case shifter lever. If I want 4 high, 4 low, I want control of shifting it in and out. My 1999 Jeep Grand has a 242 transfer case and a nice lever for 2 wheel drive, full time 4 high, part time 4 high, part time 4 low. very easy to shift as needed. All I could see on this 2007 was a button in the middle of the lower console that had wheel skidding, and the word OFF. Does this mean that the Jeep goes into 4 wheel when it wants and you can suggest when to turn it off? I will need to research this.
Now a few last words about the engine. I am not even sure what size it was. The one thing I know is, this Jeep did not have a "Hemi". The cool little badge on the back end that say's 5.7 Hemi was missing. Well what so I expect for a rental company car. The engine was nice and quite, it started up and idled nice and smooth. Not complaints there. The little six cylinder did provide enough power to move the big, heavy feeling jeep around the roads. On the few occasions I need to climb a hill or pass a big truck, when I smashed the gas pedal it would down shift and it would go. No major g forces but it would get out of it's own way. The one thing the smaller engine did not do was get very good gas mileage. OUCH gas is CA is 3.39 a gallon. When I filled it up it was like filling my 30 diesel tank back home. The gas bill for 312 miles was 17 gallons and close to 60 bucks. The computer in the car told me I was getting 12.5-14.5 MPG's. I tend to believe it. Maybe I should have opted for a smaller 2 seat car on this trip. Then I would not have had to pay the toll on the Bridges, "What a Rip Off" 5 bucks to cross the golden gate bridge, arrg, but that's another conversation about taxes and politicians.
To summarize, I liked this new model of the "Family Grocery Getter" I would consider having on in my garage. I have no idea how much they sell for so maybe that's not an option anyway. The one thing that may push towards a different model is the gas mileage. Meaning something like a Jeep Liberty with a diesel maybe easier to drive and better on miles per dollar at the pump. But as my family grows I may need even more space and will need to consider a Jeep Commander, with the extra cargo area and extra seat belt to take the kids and all there friends.