Used 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV
Edmunds' Expert Review
- Available V8 power
- high tow rating
- upscale interior with many available luxury features
- capable off-road prowess
- outlandish SRT8 model.
- Somewhat limited cargo space
- fussy optional navigation system.
With its on-road refinement, well-trimmed cabin and traditional off-road ability, the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a fully competitive midsize SUV.
The 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee reminds us of Rocky Balboa (the pre-Ivan Drago fight one), having made the transition from underdog to top contender. Prior to last year's complete overhaul, the Grand Cherokee offered rugged off-road capability but a substandard cabin, substandard passenger space and an underpowered but thirsty V6. But the 2012 Grand Cherokee, with its well-trimmed and roomier interior, powerful V6 and more refined performance and ride, is in fighting shape as a top contender among midsize SUVs.
The current Grand Cherokee shares components with Mercedes-Benz's ML-Class -- DaimlerChrysler owned Jeep during this vehicle's early development -- so its premium look and feel is no surprise. Drive a pre-'11 Grand Cherokee and the new one back to back, and the upgrades in cabin quality, performance and overall refinement are dramatic. And this year there's slightly better fuel economy (up 1 highway mpg for each engine) through improved power steering in the V6 and a revised six-speed transmission for the V8. This year also heralds the return of the road-burning Grand Cherokee SRT8 and its monster 470-horsepower V8.
Despite its manners and polish, however, the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee still upholds its reputation for off-road prowess. An optional adjustable air suspension ("Quadra-Lift") can vary the JGC's ride height from 6.6 inches for easy passenger and roof rack loading, to 10.7 inches for serious off-road work. Additionally, a drive-mode selector ("Selec-Terrain") can tailor the powertrain and suspension for specific types of terrain.
The midsize SUV segment is loaded with choices. Against the V6 and V8 models, there are Ford's Edge and Explorer, the Honda Pilot, Toyota 4Runner and Volkswagen Touareg. In contrast, the SRT8 has no direct rival; models such as BMW's X5 M cost thousands more and deliver no significant performance advantage. Overall, we think the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a solid choice, particularly if you'll take advantage of its V8 power and take it off road, making it a comeback of Balboa proportions.
2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee models
The 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a five-passenger midsize SUV that comes in Laredo, Limited and Overland trims. Each is available with 4x2 or 4x4 drivetrains.
Standard equipment includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglamps, cruise control, dual-zone air-conditioning, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack. An optional package adds keyless entry/ignition, a power driver seat (including lumbar adjustment), satellite radio and a USB/iPod interface. The Security and Convenience package includes remote engine start, Bluetooth, a cargo cover, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a USB/iPod interface. A back-up camera, a power passenger seat, heated front seats, leather upholstery and a nine-speaker premium sound system (with satellite radio, HD radio, digital music storage and a touchscreen interface) are also available.
The Limited gets all the Laredo's optional equipment plus 18-inch wheels, additional chrome trim, bi-xenon headlights, rear parking sensors, a Garmin navigation system, automatic wipers, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, a power passenger seat, dual-zone automatic climate control, driver memory functions, heated front and rear seats and a leather-wrapped shift knob. The Limited model's options include a power liftgate, a power and heated tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, ventilated front seats and an upgraded navigation system with real-time traffic. Big 20-inch wheels are also optional.
The Overland gets all the Limited's options, plus the variable-height Quadra-Lift air suspension and special exterior and interior trim that includes a mesh grille, perforated leather seating and a wood/leather steering wheel. The Overland Summit tops it off with additional exterior chrome accents, unique 20-inch polished aluminum wheels, exclusive black olive wood cabin trim, a heated steering wheel, upgraded leather upholstery (with accent piping and unique stitching) and premium floor mats. The Overland Summit also features adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and blind-spot/rear cross-path detection systems. A rear-seat entertainment system is optional for the Limited, Overland and Overland Summit.
The high performance SRT8 comes with most of the Overland's luxury features along with an exclusive V8 engine, color-keyed grille/side sills/rear spoiler, 20-inch forged aluminum wheels, LED running lights, an adaptive suspension, performance-tuned steering, Brembo brakes, a limited-slip rear differential, paddle shifters, leather/suede sport seats and carbon-fiber cabin accents.
Optional on the 4WD Laredo and Limited is an off-road package that adds skid plates, off-road tires, tow hooks, a full-size spare and, on the Laredo, hill descent control and the Quadra-Trac II 4WD system. An upgraded off-road package adds to the above features an air suspension, towing equipment (also available separately), an electronic limited-slip differential and the Quadra-Drive II 4WD system.
Performance & mpg
Except for the SRT8, every 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee comes standard with Chrysler's 3.6-liter V6 good for 290 hp and 260 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic transmission is standard. Fuel economy with four-wheel drive is an estimated 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined. In Edmunds testing, a 4WD Overland V6 accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 9 seconds -- about a second or two slower than some rival V6 SUVs.
The optional 5.7-liter V8 produces 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque and comes matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. With 4WD it is rated 13/20/15 mpg. In our testing a 4WD Overland V8 did the 0-60 drill in 8.2 seconds. Properly equipped, the JGC can tow 7,400 pounds.
Rear-wheel drive is standard and there are three different optional four-wheel-drive systems. Only the Laredo can be had with Quadra-Trac I, which essentially functions as all-wheel drive. All can be had with Quadra-Trac II, which includes a two-speed transfer case, hill descent control and the Selec-Terrain system. The latter feature allows drivers to choose from five pre-programmed settings that best suit road or trail conditions. Optional on the Limited and Overland is Quadra-Drive II, which adds to Quadra-Trac II electronic limited-slip differentials on both axles. Optional on the Limited and standard on the Overland is the Quadra-Lift air suspension, which varies ride height based on driver input or automatically via Selec-Terrain.
The Grand Cherokee SRT8 packs a 6.4-liter V8 with 470 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque. All that thrust is sent to all four wheels via a beefed-up five-speed automatic. In Edmunds testing, an SRT8 blasted to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds. That kind of performance in a heavy SUV doesn't come without considerable cost at the pump, as indicated by EPA fuel economy ratings of 12/18/14.
The 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee comes standard with four-wheel antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. In Edmunds brake testing, the Overland V6 stopped from 60 mph in 125 feet, a good result for this segment. The SRT8 made the same stop in an impressive 112 feet.
In government crash testing, the Grand Cherokee earned an overall rating of four stars out of a possible five, with four stars for overall frontal crash protection and five stars for overall side crash protection. In testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Grand Cherokee received the highest possible rating of "Good" in the frontal-offset, side and roof-strength crash tests.
On the road, the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee's suspension offers a comfortable ride while also providing a fair amount of cornering stability. The new Grand Cherokee basically rides and handles like any other modern crossover, an impressive feat considering its ample off-road ability. Off-road, the Grand Cherokee is pure Jeep: generous ground clearance, an advanced four-wheel-drive system, low-speed stability and climbing power.
Most folks will find enough power in the V6's spirited and smooth delivery and its five-speed automatic transmission. Those needing extra grunt or towing capacity won't go wrong with the V8, although its fuel thirst will certainly add up. And for an SUV, the SRT8 is otherworldly; along with blistering acceleration and strong braking, it's a relatively agile handler that could surprise more than a few sports car drivers.
The Grand Cherokee features a handsome cabin with a cleanly styled dash, tight seams, high-quality materials and consistent textures from door to dash. The overall quality doesn't surpass all of the competition, but it's now on par with the best.
Up front, the seats are comfortable and supportive, especially in the SRT8 with its more aggressively bolstered sport seats. Backseat riders likewise benefit from ideal cushioning and, unlike in older Grand Cherokees, will also find ample knee- and legroom. There are also 35 cubic feet available for cargo behind the rear seats; folding them flat provides about 69 cubic feet of maximum capacity, about the same as a Ford Edge but less than an Explorer or Pilot.
The navigation system is pretty much the same as in other Chrysler products. It works OK, but is a little disappointing when measured against cleaner, more user-friendly systems from Ford, GM and others.
Most helpful consumer reviews
Features & Specs
NHTSA Overall Rating4 out of 5 stars
- Frontal Barrier Crash RatingOverall4 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger4 / 5
- Side Crash RatingOverall5 / 5
- Side Barrier RatingOverall5 / 5Driver5 / 5Passenger5 / 5
- Combined Side Barrier & Pole RatingsFront Seat5 / 5Back Seat5 / 5
- RolloverRollover3 / 5Dynamic Test ResultNo TipRisk Of Rollover20.7%
- Side Impact TestGood
- Roof Strength TestGood
- Rear Crash Protection / Head RestraintGood
- IIHS Small Overlap Front TestNot Tested
- Moderate Overlap Front TestGood
More About This Model
If the words "160-mph Jeep" don't raise a few hairs on the back of your neck we suggest you have your hair-raising reflexes checked. Because anyone who has driven a Jeep in the last 50 years recognizes that the brand isn't known for building vehicles that thrive at triple-digit velocities.
Although we didn't witness the full 160-mph capability of the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, we did experience the insane SUV at full crack on Willow Springs Raceway, where we were able to corner the beast at more than 100 mph. And based on that quite dynamic experience, we find it likely that the new Jeep is a snoozer at 160 mph while traveling straight.
This, then, hardly seems like a Jeep at all.
Hauls the Mail
After all, what other Jeep have you cornered at 100 or so mph and — dare we say it — felt comfortable? The answer, for us at least, is none. Sure, the first-generation Grand Cherokee SRT8 was a serious machine. It made no apologies for being what it was — loud, fast, brash and, well, stiff as hell.
And this truck is also stiff. Even in Auto mode, where its adjustable suspension can choose its softest settings, it will, occasionally, rattle your fillings. But overall, the ride is compliant enough for daily use — even for our mother.
Yet here, in Turn 8 on Willow Springs Raceway, this thing is confident. Sure, it took us a few laps to adjust to the Jeep's height, which inevitably produces more pitch and yaw than a car, but we rapidly calibrated to its body movement and discovered that this beast sticks with pit bull determination.
The trick is to use the throttle at unorthodox times. This is not a textbook handler. Despite, or perhaps because of, the fact that 65 percent of the available torque is going to the rear wheels in "Track" mode, the Jeep encourages midcorner adjustments with the throttle. And, near as we can tell, it won't make you pay with any unpleasant surprises. It's as stable as it is stubborn.
If there's anything that should shake our confidence it's bending a near 70-inch-tall, 5,150-pound SUV into a corner at more than 100 mph, but after a few laps it's just routine — almost as if this is an act physics can accept.
Talk to Jeff Roselli, the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8's lead development engineer, and it doesn't take long to figure out why the hairs on the back of your neck are standing proud. Among the litany of obscure facts Roselli offers are these: Its from-the-factory alignment includes 1.6 degrees of negative camber up front and 1.3 degrees out back. Its brakes, 15-inch rotors and six-piston Brembo calipers up front are the biggest in the SRT lineup — including those on the out-of-production Viper. Also, its steering ratio, at 17.5:1, is considerably quicker than that of a standard Grand Cherokee (variable, 18.9:1 on center).
It's almost as if the use of Chrysler's new 6.4-liter V8 is anticlimactic. Trust us, it is not. Although this is the same mill you'll find in every current SRT product, the 470 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque it porks out is not to be overlooked. Those figures are 50 hp and 45 lb-ft better than the 6.1-liter V8 it replaces. Chrysler's five-speed automatic transmission is still used and is still merely adequate at best.
And perhaps not so surprising is that the SRT team benchmarked BMW's X5 M as well as the outgoing Grand Cherokee SRT8 in the development of this SUV. Roselli says the Grand Cherokee platform is, in his opinion, a better starting point for a performance SUV than the X5. "It's an incredibly stiff platform," Roselli says. With 146 percent more torsional stiffness than the outgoing model, Roselli's team didn't need to add any additional bracing for the SRT version.
He acknowledges that the X5 M is a faster vehicle in a straight line because of its power advantage but, says Roselli, "The WK [Grand Cherokee] is a better-handling car than the X5 M. The Grand Cherokee — because it's an SRT product — can have its stability control fully defeated, which gives it a significant handling advantage." Also, he adds, "We've got more low-end torque. The WK will whip the X5 M through a slalom or in an autocross." Excellent news for those of you planning to autocross your 2.5-ton SUV.
"The Grand Cherokee is more brash, more involving," according to Roselli. "You can run it more out of shape and it doesn't mind."
In the end, we discovered, Roselli is right. We've tested BMW's X5 M and X6 M twins and found their nondefeat stability control systems to be truly invasive when driving hard. And the Grand Cherokee, with its sophisticated torque split — 100 percent of the drive torque can be sent to one rear wheel — is superior in the dry. Although we didn't experience it, we'd wager — and Roselli confirms — that in limited-grip driving there is no contest.
Partially, this is because the X5 M comes with standard three-season tires and the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 comes with all-season Pirelli Scorpion Verde rubber. Three-season Pirelli P Zeros are optional. Both are sized 295/45ZR20.
Its five-mode Selec-Track system (not to be confused with the SelecTrac four-wheel-drive system used in the Liberty) integrates with all systems that can affect performance — stability control, suspension damping, shift logic, torque split, rear LSD operation and more. Largely, its management of torque split and suspension damping yield the biggest influence in control.
Still, if you plan to stomp this Jeep around your back roads or a racetrack you'll find some shortcomings. First, its gear spacing is too wide. Chrysler's five-speed is aging, and even when backed by an engine with this much torque, the gaps between its gear ratios are too big. We found ourselves wishing for a ratio between 2nd and 3rd gears as well as 3rd and 4th gears, both on the street and on the track. The eight-speed automatic Chrysler will begin using in other vehicles this fall will solve the problem if it can be made to accommodate this much torque.
Furthermore, the five-speed box doesn't rev-match downshifts in Manual mode. Sure, there's a downshift paddle on the steering wheel, but request a downshift while under heavy braking and you'll find yourself with unneeded engine braking as the transmission attempts to make the engine speed match the wheel speed. It's as mechanically unappealing as it is dynamically disruptive.
This, according to Roselli, is a "Chrysler Safety Office" item. Translation? Blame the lawyers. Chrysler's policy is to refuse to open the electronic throttle unless a request for more torque has been made by the driver. Enthusiast driving be damned.
But let's get real. This isn't a vehicle most owners are going to take to the track. Heck, it's probably not one most are going to drive hard on their local twisty roads. This is a toy for hauling the family but one that is as engaging to drive as many sports cars. It's an all-wheel-drive sedan on a double dip of amphetamine with trucklike visibility and a 5,000-pound tow rating.
And there's not much that can beat it across an intersection. Jeep claims a 0-60 time of 4.8 seconds, a quarter-mile time in the mid-13-second range, 0.90g on the skid pad and 60 to zero in 116 feet. We ran an impromptu test on the media drive without the benefit of our usual test facility and discovered that, in fact, this Grand Cherokee might be slightly slower than its predecessor. Under less-than-ideal conditions and on a non-standard surface, our acceleration times were off the pace set by the old Grand Cherokee SRT8. According to Roselli, the two should run neck and neck. We'll wait for a full instrumented test at our usual location before leveling a verdict.
But when it comes to fuel economy, well, the verdict is in. This Jeep is no Prius. Even though there's a new active exhaust valve that allows cylinder deactivation over a wider range (a 13 percent fuel economy improvement on the highway), the EPA says the new Jeep is good for only 12 city and 18 highway mpg.
At the end of the day it's not just stomping the gas that makes the new 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 special. Its interior is a combination of leather and suede, with deeply bolstered heated and ventilated seats and a meaty steering wheel. Interior quality is a notch behind its German competition, but its MSRP, at $54,470, is nearly $32,000 south of the X5 M and about $52,000 less costly than the Porsche Cayenne Turbo. And that counts for something.
Four options are available: The Luxury Group adds a leather dash, power liftgate and adaptive cruise control. Three-season tires and a sunroof can be had separately. Also, there's an 825-watt Harman Kardon audio system with 19 speakers that sounds better than, well, the last chichi audio system we heard, which featured only 630 watts and 14 speakers.
We'll admit that a 160-mph Jeep capable of out-autocrossing German competitors costing 60 percent more might not be on the top of your need-to-have list. But any Jeep capable of bristling your neck hairs like this will, we guarantee, be on the top of your want-to-have list.
It's now on ours.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored press event to facilitate this report.
Used 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV Overview
The Used 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV is offered in the following styles: Laredo 4dr SUV 4WD (3.6L 6cyl 5A), Overland 4dr SUV 4WD (3.6L 6cyl 5A), Laredo 4dr SUV (3.6L 6cyl 5A), Limited 4dr SUV 4WD (3.6L 6cyl 5A), Overland 4dr SUV (3.6L 6cyl 5A), SRT8 4dr SUV 4WD (6.4L 8cyl 5A), and Limited 4dr SUV (3.6L 6cyl 5A). Pre-owned Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV models are available with a 3.6 L-liter flex-fuel (FFV) engine, with output up to 290 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV comes with four wheel drive, and rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed shiftable automatic. The Used 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 100000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a Used 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV?
Price comparisons for Used 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV trim styles:
- The Used 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV Laredo is priced between $13,027 and$25,998 with odometer readings between 16480 and123024 miles.
- The Used 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV Overland is priced between $19,499 and$27,998 with odometer readings between 52249 and100446 miles.
- The Used 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV SRT8 is priced between $30,995 and$40,998 with odometer readings between 75845 and116950 miles.
- The Used 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV Limited is priced between $17,995 and$17,995 with odometer readings between 85270 and85270 miles.
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Used 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV Listings and Inventory
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Should I lease or buy a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee?
Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.