Sunday, July 20, 2008
(And Still One More) New Car! 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee
This would be getting boring if it wasn't kind of funny. Well, to me, anyway.
I just bought a certified used 2004 Grand Cherokee. That's obviously not it up there. "Certified" means there's supposed to be nothing wrong with the car. There's a 125 point inspection by the dealer that's supposed to confirm that.
Well, my Grand Cherokee had bald tires and no spare, for starters. Got that sorted out. But then we noticed on our trip to Great Adventure that the passenger side floor was soaking wet from the a/c. I mean there was a puddle!
So, back to the dealer again for a repair. No, it wasn't any big deal, and they fixed it for free (as they're obligated to). But in the meantime, they gave us the beautiful car above as a loaner. A 2008 "Rocky Mountain Edition" Grand Cherokee. Not bad! So I'm now probably one of the few people to have driven all three generations of Grand Cherokee in the span of a month.
I gotta say we like our 2004 better. Up until 2004 (the last year of the second gen), Grand Cherokees were real off-road vehicles. They had solid axles, old-school ball steering, and they just felt like heavy trucks. The interior styling was utilitarian but not cheap (it shouldn't be for $30,000). Our 2004 is all black inside, with real metal accents. And I feel like I just fit right in our 2004, which is hard for any car considering how tall I am.
The new Grand Cherokees are basically suburban wagons. They're not even SUV's. They have independent suspension, rack and pinion steering, and the interiors are like any other Chrysler - all cheap and plasticky, with fake metal everywhere (basically just plastic painted silver). I felt like I was driving our PT Cruiser. I love our PT Cruiser, but I knew I was buying a station wagon and I only spent $14,500. I would expect something else if I was gonna pay $30,000+ for a new SUV. I would expect something closer to our 2004 Grand Cherokee.
The new models also seem to only come with full-time 4WD systems (Quadra-Trac and Quadra-Drive). I disliked that in our 1997 Grand Cherokee, but it was just an option back then, as it was in 2004 when our current Grand Cherokee was built. Our 2004's got the manual 4WD transfer case (Selec-Trac), which I love. We can keep it in 2WD mode 99% of the time for gas mileage and handling, then switch to 4WD full or part time on the fly when we need it. The full-time only systems are not reliable - they break more easily, and they're not true 4WD systems. You can't go out in the snow and know you're getting power to all 4 wheels - you only will once the system feels slip, and it might take 1-2 seconds for that to happen.
Oh, and the a/c on these things is weak. Sweat like a pig weak. Full blast in the 95 degree heat here and it took about 30 minutes for the interior to cool down. The previous generation didn't have this problem.
One thing we fell in love with on the 2008 loaner: satellite radio. Holy crap! How did we live without this?? It was so hard going back to regular radio when we got our Grand Cherokee back - hearing the same four genres of music everywhere and with commercials every 3 seconds. We spent most of our time in the 2008 listening to the "Chill" station, which is a lot of trip-hop and ambient music. Stuff you'd never hear on regular radio, and I love that it tells you who the artist is for stuff you don't know. We're pricing out some Sirius add-on tuners for our own cars now.
But I'm still happy to have our 2004 Grand Cherokee back.