Leather wrapped luxury for upscale off roading, or a powerful feeling in the carpool lane.
As I was rubbing my hand along the sumptuous leather seats in 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, I was thankful that I made a decision long ago to stop eating meat, but keep wearing leather. Call me inconsistent, but leather handbags, shoes and jackets have it all over their vegan counterparts, and leather in a car? Sigh.
Love that leather
In addition to the soft, comfortable leather seats and leather door trim, the Jeep has a leather wrapped steering wheel and leather shift knob. They are comfortable to grab, even if you are white knuckle driving along the Long Island Expressway on a summer Friday.
Black leather can get quite hot though, and the rear seat vents were not quite as powerful as those up front. With three daughters in the back, plus a panting dog, my kids kept having us pump the A/C up.
Size makes a difference
The Jeep Grand Cherokee offers a comfortable (if warm) ride for five adults, even with a large dog on the floor in the back. We were in East Hampton for four days, and had
packed for the beach, running, kayaking and going to a fancy dinner – plus we brought a ton of food. So we were not traveling lightly. But the Jeep had plenty of room to hold all our bags.
Let the sun shine in
The optional power sunroof is a great way to let fresh air in. You are off-roading with this vehicle, right? OK, even if you are just driving the car pool or commuting to work, the rugged outdoorsy appeal of the Jeep Grand Cherokee is enhanced by the open air feel.
Altitude or attitude?
Jeeps give you a great feeling of height, which I felt was enhanced by the Altitude package on the SUV I drove. And the Altitude takes you to even greater heights: the vehicles is tricked out with 20-inch gloss black aluminum wheels. Now, I know I’m a nice person, and I never show up at anyone’s house empty handed, but some people see an even higher, shiny new Jeep and figure the owner is a jerk. Yes, that’s jealousy, but just keep that in mind if you try to cut someone off on the highway.
Lots of power
Of course, you can easily outgun a lot of what’s on the road, with the powerful V-6 engine. But for all that power, the Jeep gets 24 miles per gallon on the highway; less if you are towing something, but still rather respectable.
The Jeep I drove and a large 8.4-inch touchscreen display; the basic model has a 7 inch. It also had the latest technology: reversing camera, front and rear park assist, hill-descent control, blind-spot and cross-path detection, adaptive cruise control and forward-collision warning.
It may seem petty to complain about the weak WiFi connectivity in Grand Cherokee, but if it’s offered, it should be state of the art. All three of my girls wanted to go on the WiFi, and I really needed to – the test car we were driving did not have a navigation system. The WiFi was slow and four devices connected to if was overwhelming.
We were able to keep our phones charged, though; there was a USB port and standard household plug in the front, along with a rear plug.
Despite not having the navigation system to play around with, I like Chrysler’s intuitive Uconnect system. it is easy to pair a phone, use Bluetooth, and get back to the home screen when you want to change stations (we did have Sirius XM, with 9 speakers for great sound).
No off roading for us
The Jeep has standard 4 wheel drive, and the giant tires are made for off-roading (our premium model had 20 inch wheels; standard is 17 inches). So I really wanted to take the Grand Cherokee onto the beach. Unfortunately, East Hampton tries to keep the riffraff out by requiring beach stickers; $275 for a season It just wasn’t worth risking a hefty ticket, or splurging on a beach pass for a couple of days. We did drive down a few dirt paths in the ‘rural’ Hamptons and the ride was smooth as artisanal butter.
What we loved
- Luxury leather accents
- Great sight lines, and rear wiper in case of rain
- Large, comfortable back seat with enough leg room to have a big dog at your feet
- Lots of power with reasonable gas mileage
What you need to know
- Base price, 31,995; price for the model I drove, with the luxury altitude package, premium audio, power sunroof and park assist, $40,830
- Fuel economy: 17 miles per gallon in the city, 24 on the highway; 19 mpg combined
- Takes regular gasoline
- 5 star government safety rating
- 5-year or 100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty
- 3-year or 36,000-mile basic limited warranty.