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2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee: One last spin in the original off-road SUV

In a short few months Chrysler is set to bring a totally new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee to market.  With the 2010 model still on the lot and on sale, we wanted to give the current iteration one last spin before it made its way into the history books this summer. In a world of crossovers the Grand Cherokee is the original SUV; and yes it’s got a HEMI.

Specifications as-tested

Model: 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4×4
Engine: 5.7L HEMI V8 with MDS , 357-horsepower , 389 lb-ft of torque
EPA Fuel Economy: 13-mpg city / 15-mpg combined / 19-mpg highway
Observed Fuel Economy: 13.9-mpg
Total Miles Driven: 401 miles
Base MSRP: $39,420
As driven MSRP: $45,095
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Standard Equipment: Backup Camera, Rain-Sensing Wipers, Automatic High-Beams, Boston Acoustics Sound System, GPS Navigation with 30GB media center, SIRIUS, Heated front and second row seats, Bluetooth UConnect Phone System
Equipped Options: Inferno Red Crystal Pearl Coat Paint ($225), Chrome Edition Group by MOPAR ($995), Trailer Tow Group IV including wiring and sway damping ($280), 5.7L HEMI Engine with Quadra-Trac II/Hill Decent/Hill Start Assist ($2,400), 18″ Chrome Clad Wheels ($995)

The swiss army knife of automobiles

2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4X4

When you think of going off-road, one brand immediately comes to mind above all the rest. Jeep.  The SUV craze has come and gone yet Jeep is one of the few automotive marques that didn’t drop their mid-size sport utility or transform it into a new-fangled crossover.  Nope, Jeep kept producing off-road capable vehicles with on-road amenities before and after the popularity swing.  The best example of that is the Grand Cherokee.

So, as the snow began to thaw and mud-season started to emerge this week we decided to go for a spin in the current 2010 Grand Cherokee while we could. It’s apparent why Grand Cherokee owners love their vehicles and the model has kept a dedicated niche following in the market; It can do everything.  Stuck in a blizzard? No problem, you’ve got all-wheel-drive all the time. Perhaps that favorite trail you always use to go fishing is getting muddy or even washed out? Jeep’s four-wheel drive system and ground clearance will get you through. Got a 20-ft boat you need to get in the water for a weekend on the lake? With 357-horsepower that would be no problem. Going on a long trip to visit family? Luxury features such as a navigation system, 30GB hard drive to store music, heated seats front and back, and a rear-view camera make on-road cruising extremely comfortable.

There’s a reason for the 2011 rebirth

2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4X4

But for all that the 2010 model does well (which, to be fair is quite a bit), there’s also things that it does not. Off-road ability means on-road driving feel is soft, floaty, and with semi-numb steering. The interior of the Grand Cherokee is feeling aged; seemingly molded out of large chunks of hard plastic in spots. The seats are, while trimmed in leather, flat as a board and offer no shoulder support. Switch-gear feel is imprecise and some high-tech features, like Smart beam automatic headlamps, feel gimmicky.

Will the brand new 2011 Grand Cherokee fix these problems? We’re not sure. We do know, however, that if Jeep keeps the focus on off-road prowess, there will always be a market and fan base ready and waiting.

360 HD Video Walk-around

Conclusion

Although this generation of Grand Cherokee is on its final days there’s still a lot to love. For the true off-road enthusiast or someone who needs to haul a lot of cargo, the GC is the among the last true SUV options in a crossover world.  When the new 2011 model hits dealer lots, discounts on the 2010 will be steep and maybe too good to pass up.  The 2010 Grand Cherokee may not be great at everything it does, but in the areas that it does do well, off-road,  it’s the best.

Strengths

  • The most capable full-featured mid-size SUV off-road- period
  • Massively powerful 5.7L engine is perfect for towing, hauling, and/or off-road activities
  • Lots of luxury features make the GC easy to live with on a daily basis

Weaknesses

  • MDS does little to tame the 5.7L’s thirst for fuel
  • Smart beam automatic high-beams don’t work very well
  • Drives like a truck compared to the new breed of “crossover” SUVs on the market

2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee Photo Gallery