Mike Tucker Jr
Jeep vehicles are normally best served on the rocks but due to the lack of rough terrain in the area besides crater-like potholes, I decided to take my trip East of the River neat and in grand style.
The new Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo reminds me of how I thought of the vehicle back in the day. A beast of luxurious proportions, it was the Range Rover before I knew one. Now that I know Range Rovers I think differently, of course. Still, there is something to be said for the inferno red American made 4X4 that sat outside my door.
Opposing and welcoming all at once, the first compliments I received were from a few of the moms at my kids’ school. The standard V6 engine and absence of aggression, which will come in the SRT-8 version, renders the Laredo I drove harmless but that didn’t take away from its allure. The traditional box frame adds needed curves and lines to come back to the future in appearance and match its interior’s technology. A few highlights inside include the voice-activated Bluetooth phone, removable rechargeable flashlight and 30GB hard drive holds 4,250 songs including pictures.
Everything is big. Seats are like large leather love seats, thick and comfortable. I didn’t know whether to sit and relax or drive. I chose the latter bouncing over huge potholes in Fort Dupont Park like small cracks in asphalt. The interior was quite quiet save the bass strumming of Esperanza Spalding. The supple surroundings matched the lush sounds I chose. But note Grand Cherokee’s upscale taste does not leak to the gas tank, which can take low grade fuel thanks to its “Flex Fuel” appetite. This is a real plus these day with gas prices at nearly $5 a gallon.
After nearly 20 years, Grand Cherokee remains refined yet rugged. In 2011, Jeep clicked the “refresh” button and updated a classic.
Price Tag: $32,215 base ($38,310 tested)
Power: 3.6L V6 290 horsepower
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Drivetrain: 4-Wheel drive
Fuel Economy (mpg): 16-city/22-hwy