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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


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.


  • 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


  • 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

Photo Gallery: A detailed look at the 2010 Volkswagen GTI

Every year over a dozen new car models are released in the US. Very rarely does one stimulate the the mind, body, and wallet all at the same time.  All too often it’s a choice between performance, fit/finish, and economy. Almost never do you get more than one of these at the same time. Absolutely never do you get all three, let alone in a base model. Well, that was until this year, when Volkswagen introduced the heavily redesigned 2010 GTI.  Prepare to be impressed.

Continue reading our full review of the 2010 GTI >>

Specifications as-tested

Model: 2010 Volkswagen GTI 2-Door
Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L 16-valve producing 200-horsepower @ 5,7000rpm & 207 lbs-ft @ 1,800rpm
EPA Fuel Economy: 21-mpg city / 25-mpg combined / 31-mpg highway
Observed Fuel Economy: 27.44-mpg
Total Miles Driven: 655 miles
Base MSRP: $24,414
As driven MSRP: $24,414
Transmission: 6-speed manual


Photography: Zane & Joshua Merva / Copyright 2010

Road Test Gallery: 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid

Hybrids have seemingly been on the cusp of mainstream fame for years now as the US consumer searches for ways to reduce fuel consumption. But, could it be that the car of the future is actually already on sale today? Check out our full road test later today.

Specifications as-tested

Model: 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid
Engine: Duratec 2.5L I-4 Gas Engine [156-horsepower] & Permanent magnet AC synchronous electric motor [106-horsepower/275V]
Base MSRP: $27,270
As driven MSRP: $31,940 (includes $1,270 in “rapid spec” savings)
Available Government Tax Credit: $850 until April 1st, 2010
Transmission: Electronically Controlled Continuously Variable Transmission (eCVT)
Equipped Options & Features: Rear View Backup Camera, BLIS (Blind Spot System), Moonroof, Sony Premium Sound System, Leather/Heated Seats, Navigation System, SYNC

First Drive: 2010 GMC Terrain

Think of it as the bold alternative to the Chevy Equinox- We’re behind the wheel of the new (and surprisingly great) 2010 GMC Terrain. First Drive: 2010 GMC Terrain

A few days ago we had the opportunity to test out the new 2010 Terrain through the winding roads of Michigan in the suburbs of Detroit. Sampling both the V6 and I4 variants in SLE and SLT trim levels.  After spending the good part of a day in and around the Terrain- here’s our first impressions.  We’re scheduled to test out the Terrain in full here at the office in just a few weeks, so stay tuned for a more in depth road test.


  • Extremely solid and well composed ride soaks up bumps and always feels in control
  • Well designed seats are extremely supportive and comfortable
  • Four-cylinder/front-wheel-drive fuel economy (32mpg) is good enough to make this a replacement for a car


  • Exterior styling that’s not for everyone
  • Base price is over $2k more expensive than the Equinox

We also appreciated

  • Noise canceling technology in the four-cylinder model makes it a quieter ride than the V6
  • Rear view camera is standard across all trim levels
  • USB audio / iPod interface – standard
  • Brownstone interior treatment (seen below) looks rich and upscale
  • Three highly textured cloth seat options First Drive: 2010 GMC Terrain


Move over Toyota, Ford, &  Honda- a new competitor has hit the small/midsize SUV landscape and is every bit worth a look.  Featuring a solid drive, premium interior materials, and shockingly great fuel economy(I4/FWD), the 2010 Terrain is sure to make some converts out of people who had previously sworn off American automobiles.  Amazingly well executed.


Base Price: $24,995 [SLE1/FWD] – includes destination
Engine: 2.4L Direct Injection I4 or 3.0L Direct Injection V6
Power: [I4] 182-horsepower/172lb-ft torque , [V6] 264-horsepower/ 222lb-ft torque
Transmission: 6-speed automatic (standard)
EPA Estimated Fuel Economy (city/highway)
I4/FWD: 22/32mpg
I4/AWD: 20/29mpg
V6/FWD: 17/25mpg
V6/AWD: 17/24mpg

First Drive Gallery

Quick Road Test: 2010 Kia Forte 2.4L SX

Hot on the heels of the well received Soul, Kia is reinvigorating it’s small car offerings by introducing the Forte. We take the new economical four-door for a spin.


  • Attractive, modern styling
  • Interior fit & finish is impressive
  • Audio system offers full iPod / USB / MP3 connectivity


  • Super sensitive manual transmission clutch
  • Throttle progression tuned for low end sensitivity, dull upper end
  • Flat sounding stereo didn’t match what we heard in the Soul

The Soul had shocked us so much the Forte had big shoes to fill when it arrived at our office.  We were impressed with the fit and finish of the car inside and out. Kia’s new steering wheel and switchgear feel really good. Leather, heated seats, and a sunroof for under $20k.

The same audio system interface from the Kia Soul made its way into the Forte- a very good thing. However, the trick LED lit speakers and thumping sound quality from the Soul did not.  We can’t complain though, as few automakers have audio interfaces that work this well.

We found issue with the manual transmission not feeling as smooth or predictable as we’d like. Often starting out from a stop we’d stall the engine, which bothered us considering we’ve never had that problem in other makes or models. We did not have the opportunity to test a Forte with the automatic transmission.

If you’re buying a Forte for fuel economy, go for the smaller 2.0L EX with the fuel economy package. You’ll get the 5-speed automatic and 36mpg on the highway.

The Forte is equipped comes with an impressive slew of safety features including traction control, abs brakes, front airbags, side mounted airbags, side-curtain airbags, active front headrests, and a tire pressure monitoring system.

Kia has come a very long way in the last few years. With it’s modern lines and refined interior, we’d take the Forte over a Toyota Corolla any day of the week.

As-tested specifications

Model: 2010 Kia Forte SX
Engine: 2.4L 16-valve DOHC CVVT four-cylinder – 173-horsepower,168-ft lbs of torque
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Suspension: Independent front, torsion beam rear
Tires: P217/45R17
EPA Fuel Economy: 22mpg City, 26mpg combined, 32mpg highway
Warranty: 10-year/100,000 mile powertrain, 5-year/60,000 bumper to bumper

Base Price: $17,195
Options: $1,600 (SX leather package, Sunroof)
Destination: $695
As Tested Price: $19,490

2010 Kia Forte Road Test Gallery

Road Test Gallery: 2009 Solstice Coupe GXP

It’s the end of an era as the Pontiac brand shutters its doors for the final time. It’s fitting then that perhaps the most exciting car to ever wear the Pontiac dart logo is among the very last. We drive the super-limited Solstice Coupe GXP and here’s the photo gallery from our Road Test.

AutoInsane Road Test: 2009 Pontiac Solstice Coupe GXP

Specifications as tested & photographed

Model: 2009 Pontiac Solstice Coupe GXP
Engine: 260-horsepower 2.0L Turbocharged Four-Cylinder EcoTec
Base MSRP: $30,375
As driven MSRP: $34,020
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Equipped Options: Premium Package [Leather seats, leather steering wheel, bluetooth, steering wheel controls], 5-speed automatic transmission, air conditioning, high performance audio system, USB port for audio system

Check out our full Road Test of the 2009 Pontiac Solstice Coupe GXP


Photographer: Zane Merva