Full 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee Review
What's New for 2010
For 2010, the Jeep Grand Cherokee's Overland trim level has been discontinued, as have the 4.7-liter V8 and diesel engine options. Also, the lineup sees a shuffling of minor features among surviving trim levels.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee's silhouette is no stranger to wilderness trails or metropolitan highways. As one of the first mainstream SUVs to hit the market back in the early '90s, the Grand Cherokee has long been a popular choice for people wanting a vehicle that possesses both off-road prowess and respectable urban civility. The 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee (JGC) stays close to its off-roading roots thanks to an advanced four-wheel-drive system, and for the most part, it's still a pretty civil vehicle to drive. Add to that the JGC's maximum towing capacity of 7,400 pounds and you can see why the "utility" in "SUV" is well deserved.
Unfortunately for Jeep, the vast majority of SUV owners rarely, if ever, stray from the pavement. For them, an SUV with the space and appointments for the civilized world is more important, and in this regard, the Grand Cherokee comes up short. The Grand Cherokee isn't particularly roomy, especially in the second row, and overall cargo space is less than what you'll find in many other models.
There is some good news under the hood. The two optional V8s provide plenty of grunt -- the hot-rod SRT8 version, in particular, is a hoot to drive with a 0-60-mph time of just 4.7 seconds -- but this naturally puts the hurt on fuel economy. Amusingly, the underpowered base V6 offers virtually no fuel economy benefit, so you pretty much have to order a V8 to make the JGC a viable choice.
As the latest Jeep Grand Cherokee takes to the stage for its swan song (a redesigned model is expected next year), it is surrounded by a cast of significantly better choices. The select few who still need off-road capabilities would be better served by the new Toyota 4Runner and, to a lesser degree, the Kia Borrego. For the rest of the population, midsize crossovers like the Ford Edge, Nissan Murano and Toyota Highlander are better choices overall.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee midsize SUV is offered in three trim levels: base Laredo, luxurious Limited and ultrahigh-performance SRT8. The Laredo and Limited are available with either rear- or four-wheel drive, while the SRT8 is all-wheel drive only.
The Laredo's standard features include 17-inch alloy wheels, heated outside mirrors, an eight-way power driver seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, air-conditioning, full power accessories, a 60/40-split rear seatback, cruise control, a trip computer and a six-speaker stereo with a CD player, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack. Options on the Laredo include a sunroof, foglights, a rear back-up camera with parking sensors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, automatic headlights, power-adjustable pedals, a power front passenger seat, heated front seats, remote ignition, leather upholstery, Bluetooth, a navigation system with real-time traffic, an upgraded stereo, an iPod interface and a hard drive for digital music storage.
The Limited includes all of those features as standard and adds dual-zone climate control, driver seat memory functions, rain-sensing wipers and heated rear seats. The ultrahigh-performance Grand Cherokee SRT8 is equipped much like the Laredo (with similar options) but comes with 20-inch wheels, a street-biased sport suspension, larger brakes, special exterior styling enhancements, a performance trip computer, front sport seats, leather and suede upholstery and leather trim with a carbon-fiber look. SRT8-only options include a body-heat-sensing climate control system and an 11-speaker Kicker sound system.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo and Limited models come standard with a 3.7-liter V6 that makes 210 horsepower and 235 pound-feet of torque. Buyers may opt for a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 good for 357 hp and 389 lb-ft of torque. The high-performance SRT8 model receives a 6.1-liter V8 that generates 420 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic is the only transmission available across the board.
For the V6 models, fuel economy is underwhelming at an EPA estimated 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined for two-wheel-drive variants, while the 5.7-liter V8 models are rated at 14/20/16 mpg. Four-wheel-drive models deliver 1 mpg less across the board. The all-wheel-drive SRT8 turns in a predictably low 12/16/13 mpg.
Four-wheel-drive Laredos come with the Quadra-Trac I system, which essentially functions as all-wheel drive. Optional on the Laredo and standard on the Limited is the full-time Quadra-Trac II system, which adds a set of low-range gears. The Quadra-Drive II system, available on both Laredo and Limited, combines a two-speed transfer case with front, rear and center electronic limited-slip differentials. Grand Cherokees equipped with Quadra-Drive II include hill descent control, hill start assist and skid plates. The SRT8 comes with an exclusive all-wheel-drive system that's optimized for performance driving.
If you're interested in towing, your best option is the 5.7-liter V8, which gives a properly equipped Grand Cherokee a tow capacity of 7,400 pounds.
Safety features on the 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee include antilock disc brakes, stability control and side curtain airbags with a roll-over detection system. Trailer sway control is available as an option on the Laredo and Limited.
In government crash tests, the Jeep Grand Cherokee earned a perfect five-star rating in both frontal and side impact protection for all occupants. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the JGC its best rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset test but the second worst rating of "Marginal" in the side-impact test.
Interior Design and Special Features
The Grand Cherokee's cabin is on the small side compared to other midsize SUVs. The front seats offer plenty of room, but the cramped rear seats are only suitable for children. Cargo capacity is 35 cubic feet behind the rear seat, expanding to 69 cubes with the seats folded, which is about the same as in the Ford Edge but much less than in the Nissan Pathfinder and Toyota Highlander. Materials quality has never been this Jeep's strong point, but a recent refresh yielded some improvement in that area.
Considering the 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee's off-road prowess, its on-road manners are surprisingly good. Steering is precise and handling is mostly sure-footed, although the suspension can be jittery over cracks and potholes. In off-road situations, the Jeep's generous wheel travel and advanced 4WD hardware earn it true mountain-goat status.
The base V6 is woefully underpowered and lacks any significant fuel economy advantage. We recommend that buyers opt for the powerful 5.7-liter V8 if they can swing the additional cost.
The specialized SRT8 model provides more than just wicked acceleration and intoxicating sounds. A precisely tuned suspension and quick steering allow you to hustle it through turns as if it were a much smaller vehicle, and the oversized Brembo brakes skim off speed quickly and resist fade. Those expecting the Grand Cherokee's typical forgiving ride quality will be disappointed, however, as the SRT modifications firm up the suspension considerably.