A Summer in a Jeep Grand Cherokee

I know I know, it’s technically not my ride. But this summer it basically became my daily driver having put around 10,000 kilometres into it this year. Here is a 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo in all its glory.

For people who know me, I hold a bit of a personal vendetta against FCA. Not because of their build quality or reliability (I own a Nissan… I’d sound like a hypocrite if I criticized them for this), but mostly because of their stupid fucking drivers.

AI-Generated Photo of the Typical FCA Driver

I have had my fair share of getting road raged at by Dodge Darts, tailgated by blacked out Ram 1500s while going 10 over in the fast lane, and cut off by about every distracted Jeep driver known to man. Out of every vehicle on the road, most of the times I have almost been in an accident have involved an FCA car cutting me off, tailgating me, swerving into me, the list goes on.

Anyways, rant over. On with the car.

With my second work season at my internship started, my boss decides I should get my own rental as means of being free to move from site to site, as well as to not be bound to my coworkers for rides.

“Are you okay with a truck?” he asks me. I requested that if I do get a truck, it would be something smaller since I can’t park the Silverado-sized ones for the life of me. Alternatively, the company settled with an SUV for me.

“Cool…” I thought. SUVs are okay. They’re not bumfuck long like a truck is which means I can handle driving them. But in the back of my head, I really REALLY hoped I wasn’t going to be provided with an FCA-made vehicle.

I didn’t want a rental-spec FCA crossover (Compass, Cherokee, Journey, etc.) mostly because they were noisy, drove like garbage, had no power, and were shit on fuel. But low and behold, here I am with a Grand Cherokee. In all its Laredo base model glory.

Dead honest, I actually didn’t mind as much. At least it wasn’t a Compass, Cherokee, Journey, Renegade, any of those tinbox monstrosities. There was nothing really exciting about this thing at first. I hop in, it feels like any other crossover. Cool. Time to do the 3h drive to the job site. It drove like any other car on the road. No hassle, no nothing. But one thing that I found kinda funny is how you feel like your blood pressure has rose a bit once you start driving it.

For one, the interior is very truck-like. Large upwards stance, plastic everywhere. You also sit higher than the typical crossover. Maybe this gives you a bit of a dominating feeling? I have no idea. All I knew is that you feel a bit more impatient, short-tempered in this thing as if you suddenly have that authority. Maybe that’s what it is about these Jeeps. You just feel like you’re more in control of the road, and having a smaller car with that truck-like driving height feeds into that.

Now that I’ve mentioned the interior, it’s probably worth talking about it. It’s actually pretty solid. Everything is laid out where you need it to be, it came with CarPlay and ever since I used it in this car, I swear by it. It also had a pretty bumpin’ sound system for a base model, crazy cold A/C and FCA’s signature UConnect system which I honestly found no outstanding qualities with. The seats are hard and at first, I didn’t really enjoy them. After a while, I grew into them and they just became “okay”. Nothing as comfortable as the family Murano, nothing as bolstered as an AMG seat but at least they’re not BMW M car uncomfortable. There’s no right-side wiper stalk, and everything is crammed into the signal stalk on the left. At first it was kinda weird but after a while its operation is like nothing.

Except for trying to operate the rear wiper. Fuck it’s so stupid. You never know which way is “mist” nor which way is intermediate and you always get it wrong every time.

So this vehicle basically served as my site car to get me to and from construction projects, and eventually back home on some weekends. That being said, I drove this thing a ton. It’s actually a super easy car to drive despite its weight and size. The car doesn’t drive like a boat. The wheel is easier to turn than in my Altima, the ZF 8 speed does the right thing most of the time, it was quite impressive just how easy it was to drive. The Pentastar provides enough power to get the car moving, has plenty of torque to make it feel like it can move, but man it’s shit on fuel. At least for my standards. For a modern SUV going into the 2020s, you’d expect it to hit well into the 30s on a highway cruise, but even with my feather foot, I could barely inch into that metric. Thankfully, it came with a decent fuel tank that could bring me to-and-from site in a single fillup, with a bit left over to head to the office the next day.

This Jeep also carried a ton of equipment with me. Here’s me surveying with it in the background! Scattered in my car was a few cans of survey paint, some stakes, a bag with some extra stuff to survive, my hardhat and vest, a can of bear spray, my backpack, nothing much besides that. It did fine there, it did fine with an extra asphalt sample in the back, it did fine loaded to the nines with survey equipment. Just like how any crossover should be.

Now it’s time for the fun stories!

In the Jeep, I…

1. Got a $235 Speeding Ticket

Yep. I followed the flow of traffic and happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

2. Pissed off a trucker for passing him right before a solid

A trucker decided to confront me at a construction stoppage because I passed him before a solid line, said he got my plate (it’s a rental lol) and was going to report me (to who?) and find out who I work for (but it’s a rental). I didn’t want any shit with him so all I could do is say “sorry” and hope he went back to his day.

Here’s the thing though, your minimum sight distance to pass is right at the termination of the dashed line. I read up on this at work because… well… we design this stuff. That being said, the trucker was in the wrong and he decided to get pissed for no reason other than to get pissed at someone.

3. Nearly high-centered the car on a curb

Because I’m an idiot. Long traffic stoppage. My site is a parking lot where I am about to pick up some concrete samples. I try to hop over the existing curb only to find out the Jeep isn’t as capable as I thought it would be. I reverse and enter the lot an eternity later, much to the embarrassment of myself and the lineup of cars watching me.

4. Off-roaded on a backroad

These Jeeps are honestly pretty damn capable if you don’t baby them. Don’t ask how I got onto the backroad, Google Maps decided to redirect me onto it and it was full of ruts and puddles.

5. Got it stuck on the tiniest sideslope in the world

Crack sealers are done working, so it’s time to head back! I tried to crawl the edge of this gravel road up since all their equipment was parked on the main section. Jeep couldn’t even make it. Gave it a good reverse and a send and it got up like nothing. Honestly, I was expecting it to crawl up just fine but the Jeep had different ideas. Not as capable as you think, eh?

By the end of August, the Jeep is back at the Enterprise, and surprisingly enough, it had exceeded my expectations. I actually really liked it, more than our own family crossover. It’s tall so you have the vision of a 1500 truck, it’s solid inside and relatively comfortable, and it’s super super SUPER easy to drive. Doing 3 hour trips every week, the Jeep held up well and did its job very comfortably. Although I have some gripes about the seats, it has impressed me in every way possible. I can’t believe I’m saying this about an FCA product but… I really liked it.

Yep, that’s right. I’m going to say it. The Jeep Grand Cherokee is a solid car from FCA and I really enjoyed my time with it.

I just said that…

I liked an FCA product…

It doesn’t get worse than this.

Some more pics



Signed, a FCA engineer

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I appreciate the write-up. It was certainly a fun read.

However, this particular quote above stood out to me. The “fast lane” is for passing, not going slightly over the limit. Please allow the faster car to pass - minimize your stress and theirs. :grinning:

$235 CAD speeding ticket - not terrible. My last ticket (I live in NY, so that may make a difference + the speed differentials involved) cost me $750 USD.

A friend of mine had a 2016? Grand Cherokee with the same drivetrain (3.6 Pentastar + 8-speed) so I had a chance to take it for a quick spin when it was new. From that (very) brief test drive I can concur about it having adequate power - but from my recollection it seemed to be concentrated mostly in the mid-to-high rpm ranges. Not much to write about under 3,000 rpm.

It’s funny you should mention BMW M uncomfortable. I rented an F80 M3 while I was in Utah last spring. I was too busy hammering the throttle to notice the seats for the 6 days I had it. I do remember the seats being heavily bolstered, but not uncomfortable. The drive from Salt Lake Airport to my hotel (including the detour to the Salt Flats) took a good 8 hours. Never got out of the car thinking I wish I was in my old Lincoln!

Most scenarios especially on freeways, yes I move into the left then out as soon as I have a good amount of gap in front of me, but this is talking about times where I’m either on an urban road where the limit goes from as low as 50 to as high as 80 and I’m passing multiple cars or turning at the next bay. There are also the scenarios where I’m caught in the left lane with not much room to go out without either bullying my way in or going way over the limit to pass them. Either way, I’m not flawless either, there are times I do make the wrong call and end up in the left for a pass I can’t make, or I know there’s a cop ahead and oops now I have to slow down :sweat_smile: oh well.

Haha that’s sweet. Yeah I don’t know what it is about BMW seats and me. I’m a small guy but they’re so hard and bolstered in all the wrong ways for me. The only exception being the X5M. I’m quite a fan of the AMG seats though. Just the right amount of everything

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It’s not just you. It’s been many moons since I rode in my friend’s 325i, but the front passenger seat of his 3-series felt very much like the back seat of my old '07 Kia Sorento. Something that was derided by the automotive press as feeling like a “buckboard”.

Those are some nicer vistas than the ones I see on my job sites. Sounds like I handle about the same amount of offroading in my Scion. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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weird all this hate, I once had a rental upgraded for a smaller car was missing, and I drove 600km on a compass, and was quite impressed by how precise its driving felt. mind, it’s still a soft setup, but it’s really well driveable compared to other soft cars that require constant steering adjustment to hold a corner line.

My dad has a 2012 with the V8. At just under 80,000 miles, it’s had only one issue involving replacing a sensor, which was covered by warranty. I know the internet lambasts anyone who calls an FCA product anything other than unreliable shit, but I can at least confidently say that his has been reliable. It’s a comfortable car, drives well, and with the V8 it is surprisingly quick and is overkill for towing his small boat, but he’s a bit like your expected stereotype of FCA product drivers, and never even considered getting the base engine. Fuel mileage is pitiful; with the V8 and the older 6 speed, low 20s is the best you can hope for. Aside from that, it’s really impressed.