Thousands of road-trip miles have been logged in the Grand Cherokee since my last update and none of them with myself at the wheel. A trio of western U.S. trips in varying distances were undertaken by three different colleagues with three very different agendas, but all praised the vehicle.

First up on the guest-drivers parade was photo editor Brian Vance who wanted to take an off-road capable vehicle to the San Gorgonio Wilderness area in San Bernardino County for some Thanksgiving holiday hiking with friends. After easily getting Vance and friends to the trail head he wanted to test the vehicle's off-road bona fides with a demonstration.

"I wanted to show off the Jeep so I found a gravel hill at a roadside construction site. Put the Cherokee's all-wheel-drive system into Sand mode and climbed the hill with little to no effort by just breathing on the throttle. The Cherokee did not break a sweat. In fact, it could have gone to the top and back down over and over. My friends watching (safely) from a distance were amazed."

Next to take the Jeep was video producer Duane Sempson. After putting out a request for a robust, safe vehicle to take home to Boise, Idaho over the Christmas break I offered up the Jeep in the hope it might encounter some snow on the nearly 1700-mile round-trip journey the capital of Idaho AND to deliver Sempson back to us safe and sound. Sadly, in this winter of brown mountains and disastrous skiing the Jeep wasn't tested too much, but it did deliver a smooth comfortable ride to the Gem State and back with a few surprises.

"That thing was awesome," Sempson said. "The cruise control and the 3.6-liter V-6 had no problem charging up large hills and holding at a solid 75 mph. It even held steady on the downhill side without flinching." One fun fact we learned by sending the Jeep to a colder climate is when you use the remote start the seat warmers and steering wheel heater are automatically engaged if its cold enough outside. Way to look out for us Jeep.

Finally, Associate Art Director and Leeds United supporter Darren Scott needed a vehicle to take on a scouting mission to Palm Springs some 120 miles away to look at a classic car collection. There, he came to the same conclusion I've started to realize. The Jeep is marketed as an off-road vehicle, but its true genius may be as a highway hero.

"Why they pitch it as an off-road motor I do not know," Scott said. "This is a perfect freeway cruiser. Very comfortable. Very smooth ride with a quiet cabin and world-class air conditioner." Scott does feel the Jeep is a little heavy with its steering and acceleration in town, but overall feels the Jeep delivers on its promise.

"I imagine paying for these cars and matching my satisfaction against its given purpose and under these conditions I would be happy with the Jeep purchase. The BMW 5 GT didn't pass this test for me." This realization didn't hit home immediately "It took me 12 hours behind the wheel to decide the Jeep was so good it was boring." Which, in a way, is very high praise.


Our Car
Months/miles in service11/18,457
Avg econ/CO218.0 mpg/1.08 lb/mi
Energy cons187 kW-hr/100 mi
Unresolved problemsNone
Maintenance cost$154.59 (3-oil change, inspection; 2-tire rotation)
Normal-wear cost$6.57 (taillight bulbs)