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To help you make a smart buying decision, the editors of TheCarConnection.com bring you firsthand driving impressions and advice on the 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee here in this Bottom Line, supplemented with highlights from other review sources in the adjacent full review.
The 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a much better vehicle than the Grand Cherokee that rose to popularity in the ’90s, yet it's kept its classic styling. The Grand Cherokee last saw a redesign in 2005, when its ride and handling were quite dramatically improved; overall, the 2010 Jeep Cherokee's lightweight unibody and trail-rated suspension deliver performance and refinement that compare favorably within the class of five-passenger SUVs.
For 2010, Jeep cuts the number of powertrains available on the Grand Cherokee. Base models still carry a 210-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 and five-speed automatic transmission, but the 4.7-liter V-8 engine that we liked best of the gasoline engines has been scrapped. Jeep has also gotten rid of the 3.0-liter diesel V-6 engine that was available in 2009 models. This leaves buyers of the Grand Cherokee who are not opting for the SRT8 model to choose between the base V-6 engine and the HEMI V-8 engine that puts out 357 hp and 389 pound-feet of torque. The HEMI V-8 also includes a Multi-Displacement System (MDS) to boost fuel economy. Most shoppers will find the base V-6 adequate, while performance with the V-8 is impressive, with decent handling to match. Those who want more performance will be pleased to see the return of the range-topping Grand Cherokee SRT8—a rip-roaring on-pavement-only edition with a monster 6.1-liter HEMI engine rated at 420 hp.
The 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee does include real off-road ability, especially if you specify a four-wheel-drive model (all include high- and low-range transfer cases). Jeep offers several packages and individual options beyond the four-wheel-drive system to increase the Grand Cherokee's already formidable off-road capabilities, including locking differentials and skid plates.
The interior of the 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee is where you’ll see the benefits of opting for one of the more modern crossover vehicle designs instead of this venerable off-roader. The cabin of the Grand Cherokee is surprisingly tight in a vehicle of this size—possibly due to the floor being higher than expected—and even normal-height front-seat occupants might find their heads brushing the sunroof enclosure. In the back, there’s enough space for three, but it’s not luxurious. And because of the Grand Cherokee's sloping roofline, there is no third row of seats available, and cargo room is limited to 35 cubic feet behind the seats. Previous editions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee tended to ride harshly on paved roads, a side effect of being able to crawl over boulders and scamper across sand dunes, but engineers have managed to solve the ride/handling compromise to the satisfaction of most. The quality of the materials and switchgear inside the 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee—including lots of easily scratched plastics—is another issue. Some of it isn't great, but the real wood used in the Limited trim level is an exception and quite tasteful.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee performs respectably in crash tests, with top five-star results from the federal government and "good" scores from the IIHS in all except side impact. Electronic stability control and side airbags are included.
The 2010 Grand Cherokee can be set up as a family wagon or a serious off-roader, according to the options selected. The performance-oriented Grand Cherokee Jeep SRT8 can be loaded with items, such as heated second-row seats, to rival the level of equipment in luxury-brand SUVs. And with available Sirius Backseat TV, the second row might become one of your kids' favorite places.