Jeep Grand Cherokee & Mitsubishi Outlander Sport
The new Jeep Grand Cherokee is huge departure from the brand’s humble beginnings many years ago. Most were first introduced to Jeeps while watching old World War II movies. The Wrangler model still holds the turf that the original war machine fought for. The Grand Cherokee is no less capable but has become an elegant off-roader.
The initial development of this model was begun back when Chrysler and Mercedes were still joined. The benefit to the current Grand Cherokee buyer is that a satisfying amount of Mercedes technology found its way into this vehicle. The new Grand Cherokee really is a fine piece of work.
The vehicle is big and brawny without being ridiculously large or consumptive of resources. It’s very solid, poised and conveys a feeling of confidence. Entry and exit are simple and once inside you’re rewarded with a pleasant interior and excellent visibility. Seating is very comfortable and the look and feel of our Overland test vehicle was impressive. You are left in control of the vehicle, yet so much of the din of the outside world is filtered out.
Jeep has developed a new center display that is both informative and entertaining. Because it’s big and clear, garnering the necessary vehicle information is a breeze. Also, controlling maps, audio and the climate control have never been easier.
The styling is rich looking but understated. Don’t expect to find any lime green “hey notice me” paint schemes. It exudes a competent, upscale presence.
Pentastar is the trade name of the new V6. It produces 290 horsepower and 260 ft. lbs. of torque, which is on par with other engines in this class. The Pentastar is a high-revving engine and around 4,500 rpm’s things really start to happen in a hurry. The 5 speed automatic is offered with the V6 and a 6 speed is mated to the more powerful but less fuel efficient Hemi 5.7 V8. The Chrysler PR folk I visited with indicated that a new 8 speed automatic will be available soon which will be a big improvement over either the 5 or the 6 speed. Even with current offerings, the take-rate on the V6 will likely be more than 80 percent simply because of the price and the fuel economy. A 2-wheel drive model is available for city folks plus numerous versions of Jeeps vaunted 4-wheel drive trains.
Notwithstanding the Grand Cherokee’s elegant new look, it is still a trail-rated Jeep in every respect of the word. In fact it is capable of going places that its owner might cringe thinking about. The vehicle is so pretty that the thought of getting it totally caked in mud and gunk is fear-inducing. The peace of mind comes from knowing that you could do it if you had to.
MITSUBISHI OUTLANDER SPORT
In the automotive world there are regional preferences that often drive the development of vehicles. Europe for example loves compact station wagons and hatchbacks. We here tend to not have the same passion for wagons and we’re gradually warming up to hatchbacks. With these buyer dynamics firmly ensconced in the American psyche, domestic manufacturers offer a broad array of small SUV/CUV,s which are primarily compact cars that have been stretched and formed into a more useful version of themselves.
The Mitsubishi Outlander Sport is exactly that. Mitsubishi already has a Lancer Sportback compact wagon but it seems to be totally lost and undiscovered by the public. The Outlander Sport will do much better.
This model seats five comfortably and offers largesse of interior space not experienced in your typical compact car. The vehicle feels more substantial and the elevated seating position offer and expansive view of the road. Interior flexibility is a critical point and the Outlander Sport deliver almost 50 cubic feet of cargo space that can be configured in a variety of ways.
The seating is comfortable and more than roomy enough. The accouterments are conservative, functional, understated and economy priced. The vehicle has some nice features, but it was never intended to be a luxury car. Still, options like a full panorama sunroof and the 710 watt Rockford Fosgate super audio system are nice.
The Outlander Sport comes with a 148 horsepower 2.0 liter 4 cylinder engine and either a 5-speed manual or a CVT automatic transmission. Two drive systems are also available — the standard front wheel drive and an optional AWD all wheel drive system. My test car had the CVT AWD combo and though not a performance vehicle, it had more than enough power to move itself around respectably. I found some off-pavement places to drive and found that the AWD system when put to work, can indeed get you out of some tough spots.
For typical city driving, the CVT FWD combo is normally the best and delivers a 25 city, 31 highway EPA economy rating. After a week of driving, I averaged 25.2 in the AWD, which is very respectable.
In all I liked the Outlander Sport. The styling is very nice and the vehicle is comfortable. It is good solid transportation and is priced attractively with a base MSRP of about $18,500.
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