2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Long-Term Road Test

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Towing Ride Explained

April 5, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

A previous towing trip in our long-term 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 had me scratching my head over its ride quality, which worsened when towing a trailer. My most recent towing trip revealed to me the reason why.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Second Row Surprise

February 19, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

Here's an unexpected JGC surprise: rear seat heaters . I've never had cause to use them and haven't driven with anyone who has. But shows how much I know. The Grand Cherokee Limited, starting at around $37,000 comes standard with a heated second row. Our SRT8 would cost nearly $63,000 new off the lot. Still, heated rear seats aren't a given, even in this exclusive space.

If you're buying in this exclusive space, you'd need to equip a Range Rover HSE with the Luxury package (a $4,700 option) to get heated rears, for an MSRP of around $64,700. A BMW xDrive50i starts at $64,200 and you'll have to add the $750 Cold Weather package to get heated second row (although they are three-stage heated, not the two-stage like our SRT). Finally, the Mercedes-Benz ML550 comes off like a bargain here: a $620 option that brings the sticker up to about $59,400.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 20,085 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Smart Place for the Tailgate Switch

February 6, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

There are plenty of examples of smart design in our Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. From the steering wheel, which I have already noted, to the great seats, the SRT8 is well executed.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Compliance

January 28, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

With its run-flats, the SRT8 drove many on staff, including Editor Oldham who commissioned the switch to Sumitomos, to distraction. For whatever reason, I'm in the minority by never being too bothered by the JGC's prior ride. You wouldn't call it compliant, but I always felt the seats and acceleration made up for it. At $60,000-plus, I can see why you'd want a better ride, but I figure you don't buy a 470-hp Jeep for its compliance. That's why they make ML550s.

My first time back in the JGC after its Sumitomos, I couldn't discern a major difference. But it's been awhile. Maybe my memory of the run-flat ride has sufficiently faded. I think it's quieter. But the suspension seems like the main suspect in any ride quality investigation. Simply rolling over a speed bump at a single-digit speed brought it to the bumpstops. No matter. This is still primetime fun and it's still a head turner. One of my neighbors asked "is that really a Jeep?"

Sure is. A weird one, but a Jeep all the same.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 18,500 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Heated Steering Wheel vs. Real Metal Trim

January 26, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

During my Colorado road trip, I became smitten with our long-term 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8's heated steering wheel. See, we were visiting relatives who don't happen to be coffee drinkers. I am an incurable coffee drinker. So every morning, I'd get up in subfreezing temperatures and drive the Jeep to the nearest coffee-themed watering hole. (There wasn't one in walking distance, or otherwise, yes, I would have walked to burn off some of the holiday feasting.)

Since I don't own a good set of winter driving gloves, the heated steering wheel and the heated seats were the first things I'd turn on in the Jeep. I wouldn't bother with the heat until it was all warmed up, because I sure didn't want chilled air blowing in my face.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: A Better Rear Seat

January 23, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

One of the biggest criticisms of the Jeep Grand Cherokee has always been its lack of passenger space. The driver and front passenger never had much to complain about, but anyone in the second row typically felt like a second-class citizen.

As you can see, it's still not a cavernous back seat, at least compared to some of the latest midsize crossovers. There is decent knee and toe room, however, and the shoulder and head room is more than adequate for average-sized adults. Three kids will fit back there with ease and they might not even complain.

The worst that can be said about the current second row is the fact that the seats aren't nearly as aggressively bolstered as the awesome chairs up front. Shotgun, anybody?

Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor @ 12,361 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Seat Comfort After 2,400 Miles

January 11, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

Lately, I've been a tough customer in the seat comfort department, at least on road trips of more than 300 miles. I always liked our long-term 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee's driver seat during my commutes, though, so I wasn't dreading driving to Colorado in it. That is, until I seriously wrenched my back five days before we were due to leave on the trip.

Due to poor planning and procrastination, we hit the road just in time for evening traffic in Los Angeles. If it hadn't been for the comforting voice of Steve Inskeep on All Things Considered, I might have flown into my first rage of the holiday season right then and there. However, thanks to Steve, the Jeep's four-way power lumbar and the mostly toasty seat heaters (only two settings, though), I made it to our first fuel stop on the north side of Las Vegas without complaint.

My back healed over the course of our trip, and the front seats in the Jeep proved supportive enough for some really long stints behind the wheel (the SRT8 has a big gas tank, it turns out). The shaping of the seats is excellent. The seat-bottom cushion is long enough to support your thighs, and the heavily bolstered seat-back really wraps around your shoulders — it's great for driving and sleeping (haha, passenger seat only) alike.

The cabin space is also good. The foot wells have plenty of room whether you're driving or stretching out as a passenger. There was ample shoulder room, too, so that my husband and I weren't continually bumping elbows, yet it didn't feel like we were sitting in a huge cavern of an SUV either.

After nearly 2,400 miles, there was only one thing we didn't like.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: The Ride to Colorado

January 4, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

Our long-term 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 spent the holidays in Denver, and when I pulled into my driveway after a week on the road, we'd racked up 2,458 miles and spent nearly 46 hours in the driver seat. Denver is only about 1,000 miles from Los Angeles, but a detour into Monument Valley via U.S. 191 and 163 on the return leg lengthened our trip. It was worth it, too. Monument Valley is an awesome sight in the winter with a dusting of snow. (You're seeing the valley from the Utah side in the above photo.)

All the hours behind the wheel gave us plenty of time to reflect on the ride quality with the Jeep's recently fitted all-season, non-run-flat 295/45R20 Sumitomo HTR Sport H/P tires. On the highway, the ride is pretty livable with these tires. Interstates 15 and 70 were both in decent condition, and given its aggressive suspension calibration, our Grand Cherokee SRT8 offered reasonable compliance. It wasn't busy or harsh over the small impacts, and we could just kind of settle back and pretend we were in one of the normal Grand Cherokees instead of the crazy SRT8 version. Road noise was minimal.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Towing Impressions

January 2, 2013

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

Our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 is equipped with the $995 Trailer Tow Group IV option. Translation: Tow package. According to the manual, its towing capacity is rated at 5,000 pounds. As it turned out, we recently conducted a test requiring several electric cars to be towed around town. Our Cherokee was the most appropriate long-term car for the job.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Holiday in Denver

December 21, 2012

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8

It's time to put our long-term 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8's all-wheel-drive system (all-wheel drive in that all four wheels are driven all of the time, plus no low-range) and Sumitomo all-season tires to work: I'm driving it to Denver for the holidays. It'll be my first time on Vail Pass, and there's no better time of the year to do it. I've been looking forward to this road trip for weeks.

There will only be two of us traveling, plus luggage, Christmas presents and trail mix (lots of trail mix), so there's little doubt the Grand Cherokee SRT8 will accommodate us with room to spare. Will those new tires improve the ride quality enough that we won't mind all that time at the wheel, or will the Jeep's limited fuel range drive us nuts... I've already proposed a first-night detour in Monument Valley, Utah.

Surely, you have suggestions for places we should stop along the way or questions about our SRT8 Jeep that only a road trip can answer. Write me at eriches (@) edmunds.com, and I'll tackle your questions in my road trip reports after New Year's.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 15,397 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: The Steering Wheel Heater

November 26, 2012

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Sure the Jeep's heated and cooled front seats are quite nice, as are its heated rear seats, but we've covered that territory before. Its heated steering wheel, however, is new ground. It's also a little luxury solely for the driver that's right in line with the SRT's hedonistic nature.

As you can see the wheel warmer is activated by a button on the vehicle's center stack. Unlike, some heated wheels it warms up quickly, but doesn't become a flame thrower that forces you to shut it down a few miles down the road. Instead, it throws just right amount of BTUs through the truck's leather wrapped wheel. It's warm enough for a truly cold December morning in Detroit, but not too hot for a cool L.A. evening by the beach.

Don't tell my yoga instructor, but I use it all the time.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 13,602 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Decisions, Decisions

November 16, 2012

jeep sp.jpg

Hmm, I dunno. Alright -- think I'll go with Sport. Yeah, Sport -- after all, it's the weekend, right?

For the record, Track is like Sport, only firmer, for optimum performance. And Snow and Tow -- well, those are self-explanatory.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor

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2012 Jeep GC SRT8: Shockingly Improved

November 06, 2012

Jeep New Tires on Crap Pavement.jpg

I was quite vocal in my distaste for the Grand Cherokee SRT8's ride. In short, it crashed over pavement imperfections and its subsequent handling improvements could rarely be enjoyed in the real world to justify the unpleasantness. Personally, I was a little skeptical that switching from the standard run flats to regular all-seasons would make much of a difference.

Well, it does. Big time. I was flat out shocked last night at how much the Jeep's ride had improved. It's still firm, but no longer crashy, and I don't find myself sighing with annoyance and displeasure every time I hit one of the umpteen expansion joints, pot holes and general concrete crapiness along I-10 and my neighborhood surface streets. I could be crazy, but I also think the steering has gotten a bit lighter in effort, which I'm totally fine with.

Frankly, I question why this thing even has the run flats when there's a regular spare lurking in the trunk in the event one of those expansion joints, pot holes and general concrete crapiness blows a regular one up. Sure, our new Sumitomos are only H rated, but I'm more interested in the mighty Jeep's ridiculous acceleration than its ability to go above a buck 35.

This is how the JGC SRT8 should feel all the time.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 12,708 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Supple Sumitomos

November 02, 2012

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So we mounted some new non-run flat tires to make our Jeep ride better, and what do you know, it worked!

Sort of.

Ask anyone who riding in the Jeep for the first time and they'll say it rides like crap. Nothing new there, after all, this is a serious performance machine. Yes, it's a Jeep, and an SUV, but it's a 470-horsepower Jeep SUV. SRT doesn't mess around, so in order to get the performance the engineers wanted they had to crank up the springs and dampers to a point that makes a comfortable ride quality nearly unattainable.

But...to anyone who had seat time before the new tires, e.g. me, there's a definite difference in the ride quality. Yeah, it's still stiff, but the new tires take the edge off the sharp jolts that used to come through the cabin. It's similar to the effect that airing down the original tires had without the loss of performance or wear. Seems like a good move so far.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Interior Glare

October 12, 2012

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I was lucky enough to spend the past few days in our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. There is a lot to like about the Jeep. But there is one thing I can't stand, interior chrome.

My dislike of these shiny, sun-reflecting surfaces is not limited to the Cherokee. I don't care for them in any car. This center console trim is positioned so the reflection shines up underneath my sunglasses. Sorry, Cherokee. But that is especially annoying.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 10,960 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Towing Reprised

September 21, 2012

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A few months ago I used our longterm 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 to tow my crappy LeMons car to Buttonwillow.

Last weekend I took it on a far longer towing trip -- Los Angeles to Willows, CA (go to Sacramento, then keep going) and back, a 1000-mile round trip.

Previously I'd wondered how the Jeep would fare towing in hot weather. This time I ascended the Grapevine when the thermometer was in the high 80s to low 90s. Not crazy hot, but warmer than last time.

Oil and transmission temps stayed happy. Coolant temp reached 222 degrees F, which sounds high but turns out to be no higher than what this truck runs in routine freeway traffic conditions. So it seems the GC has ample thermal capacity for this load.

The seat is supportive but, man, the butt cushion is unyieldingly firm. Too firm for long hauls. I had dead but within three hours. I was tempted to pull over and grab the memory foam pad from the race car's seat. Maybe at the next stop. Maybe I'd forget. Yep.

More from the trip later.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: The Comfort Factor

September 10, 2012

jeep-gc-tire.jpg

Not sure why this caught my eye while driving the Jeep this weekend, but it reminded me what an impossible task it must have been to get this Jeep to ride as well as it does.

Between its weight, its height and the sheer size of its tires, the Jeep isn't exactly a suspension tuner's dream. Throw in the fact that there's no room to put a big giant spare in the back and you're stuck with a set of rock hard run flats.

With all that in mind, I'd say this Jeep rides just about perfect. You want cush? Buy a Lexus.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Ride's Not Worth It

September 07, 2012

Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 front.jpg

The Grand Cherokee SRT8 is purposely nutty. A heavy SUV normally intended for off-roading transformed into a warbling track monster that can hit 60 in 4.9 and go through the slalom at a ridiculous 67.1. I get it, it's ironic. This is casting Leslie Nielson and Lloyd Bridges against type in Airplane!, or having David Bowie sing with Bing Crosby. Such decisions are usually quite memorable, and so is the JGC SRT8.

However, I think SRT took the joke too far because the ride is terrible. Yes, it can go through the slalom at basically the same speed as a Charger SRT8, but in the end, I'd rather it not bob and slam over expansion joints. Keep the power by all means, hell give it more. Keep the steering, the brakes, the looks. Yet, there has to be a suspension sweet spot somewhere in between the stock Grand Cherokee and the SRT8. As it is, the adjustable and adaptive suspension just doesn't achieve it, even in its comfiest Auto setting.

I can see lots of people wanting a crazy pants fast Jeep Grand Cherokee. I could see few people wanting to live with the ride.

James Riswick, '80s Male Model @ 8,820 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Run Flats?

September 02, 2012

Jeep-SRT-tire-1.jpg

A few of us, including myself, have posted grips about the ride quility of our long-term Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. The high performance SUV is surely stiffly sprung and its ride is on the busy side. I wrote how I felt its suspension could be backed off by 10% without sacrificing enough agility to matter.

Now I'm rethinking that. I'm starting to think it's the Cherokee's run flat tires that are the culprit here and not its suspension. Run flats are to ride comfort as bad breath is to a love life. And any chassis engineer will tell you that run flats make their job much more difficult.

The big Pirelli P Zeros on our Jeep are sized 295/45-ZR20 and they are a max performance summer tire according to the www.tirerack.com. My theory was to be proven with a quick tire swap, but the only other tires Tire Rack offers in that size are an all-season Pirelli run flat and Pirelli's Scorpion Ice and Snow tire.

No thanks.

I kept shopping. Looks like Hankook and BFG are marketing products in that size, but they're also all-season tires, which means they both have a less aggressive compound and tread pattern than the Pirellis.

What do you think, should we mount a different set and see what happens?

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief @ 9,022 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Too Stiff?

July 23, 2012

GC SRT8 logo Josh Jacquot.jpg

The Above Amazing Photo Brought To You By Josh Jacquot

Since a few folks around here have complained that the Grand Cherokee SRT8's ride is too stiff, I was wondering if maybe it would prove to be a poor choice to haul me, three friends and all our gear north of Sacramento for a weekend of river rafting.

Would my friends hate the GC SRT8, and me by association? And could the cargo area hold our tents, sleeping bags, water guns, coolers and clothes needed for the two-day trip down the river, along with a few extra items we'd haul up for some friends who were flying?

Good questions, all.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Love the Seats

July 11, 2012

srt_seat_1600.jpg

This morning during a 90-minute drive in our long-term Grand Cherokee SRT8, I realized how much I love its seats. Nappa leather and suede, combined with the perfect seat bottom width and length, and nice, high bolsters on the back and bottom.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: At Home in the Suburbs

July 10, 2012

grcherokee_donuts.jpg

It only took a week in my new place for me to embrace suburban living .

I eat doughnuts now instead of going to the farmers market, and I almost need an SUV because I've been visiting the hardware store every day. Bought some patio chairs last week, and although our Camry could have handled them, they went right into the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 without a second thought. (I do wish the power liftgate would respond to a long press on the keyless remote button, rather than requiring a double-tap, but a quick yank on the gate itself will also activate the power mechanism.) It's a nice size, our Jeep... large enough to look serious, roomy enough to be useful and compact enough to park almost anywhere.

Some days I also have a longer commute (about 30 miles), and the Jeep's torque keeps flared tempers at bay, because I almost never miss a hole in traffic. The cabin's quiet, too. Maybe you'd like more of an exhaust note, but at least you're not hearing a whole bunch of noise from the 20-inch wheel/tire package.

Those tires do affect the ride, though. After driving the Grand Cherokee on a few more freeways, I have to agree with some others that it's overly stiff on the slabbier roads. (See? Suburbia has already softened me.) At least its excellent seats insulate you from some of the impact.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: An Honest IP

July 10, 2012

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Under promise and over deliver. It's a safe M.O. no matter what you're doing. In the Grand Cherokee that means adapting to "most" road conditions. Rarely do you see such honesty in a promise, especially from a computer.

Truth is, I'm not sure which conditions this Jeep would have trouble adapting to out in the real world. I suppose some heavy duty rock crawling would give the computer some trouble, or maybe a little mix of mud and snow maybe, but other than that it seems to adapt quite nicely to various road conditions.

I used to put into Sport mode right off the bat, but now I've found that Auto mode feels pretty good most of the time. Having 470-horsepower helps. Then again, the owner's manual says that the Auto mode orders up the most compliant suspension to start, so maybe I just like the cush.

Ed Hellwig, Editor, Edmunds.com @ 4,835 miles

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: The Only Way To Haul

July 06, 2012

jeep_gcsrt8_det_seatcooler.jpg

Yeah, that's right. Seat coolers are the only way to roll when you climb into our longterm 2012 Jeep GC SRT8 after it has been parked for hours in Buttonwillow's unrelenting sun. The air temp is only in the mid-90s but the insane heat load pouring down from overhead makes it feel like 190.

Go ahead and call seat coolers sissylike. This sissy will be enjoying cool, dry nether regions. So there.

(Excuse the dust on the buttons. Along with being in the sun, Buttonwillow is also in the desert, which is where dust apparently is manufactured. It'll pervade every nook if you leave your windows open for any amount of time.)

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: If It's Too Aggro, You're Too Old

May 31, 2012

jeep_gc_srt8_seat.JPG

This is the driver's seat in our longterm 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. It's got bolsters. You see, it's not a couch because this isn't your living room. The Jeep GC SRT8 is a performance car truck wagon thing. The fact that it has good roll stiffness and steering with actual substance helps make it more than a one-trick drag-race pony. Yet none of its sporting pretenses are over the top, as it is totally suitable for day to day duty. If it's too aggro, you're too old.

It is true, though, that the SRT8's 5-speed transmission is something of an anachronism. It works quite well in feeling "locked-up" at low revs, but forward thrust falls off noticeably with each full-whack upshift. The corporte 8-speeder's closer gear spacing would provide stronger acceleration (and probably better fuel economy too).

And then there's its lack of rev-matched downshifts which is indeed lame considering a) a vehicle badged as 'SRT8' is by definition a performance thing; b) this SRT8 thing costs a thingload of money; c) it's currently 2012. But collectively those circumstantial factors are not nearly as lame as the lawyerly rationale for the lack of rev-matching capability. Other manufacturers apparently don't have lawyers running the company issues with allowing their transmissions to match revs, so why does Chrysler/Jeep?

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Almost Perfect

May 30, 2012

SRT8-Jeep-1.jpg

I've been living in our long-term 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8. Since last Thursday afternoon I've driven the Jeep 800 miles including round trips north to Bakersfield, Santa Barbara and a couple of runs down to Anaheim.

And I'm driving it again tonight. It's that good. This is without a doubt one of the top five American cars you can buy.

But it isn't perfect. I'd like three things about the Jeep to be bit different.

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2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8: Hot Wheel

May 22, 2012

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The Grand Cherokee's heated steering wheel gets nice and hot, and stays that way until you turn it off.

Question is: How cold should it have to be before you can use it?

For me, it was a drop below 70 degrees.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor

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