Comfort and Quality » 8
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QUALITY | 8 out of 10
Front-seat cushioning is firm, but the seats were comfortable for a day of driving. Part of the credit goes to the longer seat cushions and the extra thigh support they provide…. With the front seat adjusted to where I'd drive backseat legroom was generous, with a few inches between my knees and the front seatbacks.
The extra distance between the wheels was put to use largely in the rear seat, where riders get an additional 3.1 inches of legroom. Curiously, although the 2011 GC is 3.7 inches wider, a half-inch of shoulder room was lost in the front and rear seats.
Car and Driver
The whole package has grown by three inches in width, but only 1.8 inches in overall length, with a 114.8-inch wheelbase – over five inches longer than before. With the rear wheels shoved so far back, it pays dividends for rear-seat passengers, with an additional four inches of rear leg room.
The seats are comfortable, there's a bit more living area (notably 4 inches more legroom in the rear) and the interior trim is miles ahead of where the Grand Cherokee has been. More acoustic insulation from the improved headliner materials as well as thicker glass also make this the quietest Jeep ever built.
All three trim levels, including Limited and base Laredo, have a much-improved interior with plastics and fit-and-finish that are up to, but no better than the level we expect from mainstream manufacturers today.
There's more cabin space and cargo room in this Grand Cherokee than in Jeeps of the past. That's because the latest generation sports a longer wheelbase than before, and the space it grants is used more effectively. Not only that, it's finished in more appealing materials, to a higher standard--and that adds luster and value to the Jeep's sticker price.
In its 2011 redesign, the Grand Cherokee grew by 5.3 inches between its side wheels. The longer wheelbase has not only smoothed out its ride, it's also boosted leg room in both the front and the back seat, and allowed for bigger doors that make climbing in and out of the Jeep easier than ever.
In the front seats, driver and passenger will notice wider cushions, and in base models, a fair amount of flatness in them. The bottom cushions can seem a little short, too, but with a little adjustment, it's not difficult to find a good driving position--and on vehicles with leather seats, there's more support formed into the bolsters. The Grand Cherokee's cabin is wide enough to put some distance between those passengers, too--they can make elbow contact on the center console, or rest an arm on the door panel, but it's by choice.
Most of the added space is devoted to making rear-seat passengers more comfortable. In the old Grand Cherokee, the knee and shoulder room were tight, for such a large, tall vehicle. Now three adults have a good shot at sitting in the back seat comfortably; two will be quite happy, with plenty of room to slouch and fold down the center armrest. The seatbacks recline for even better comfort, all the better to enjoy those four additional inches of leg room.
All versions of the Grand Cherokee are rated at the same storage space, about about 35 cubic feet behind the rear seats. This Jeep doesn't have a third-row seat option--for that, you'll have to switch to the Dodge Durango, and hopefully not a competitor like the Honda Pilot or Ford Explorer. The tailgate has flip-up glass or you can raise the entire liftback; on the ritzy versions, the cargo area gets fine padding and trim bars. You can flip down the rear seats with a single lever, and on some versions the front passenger seat will fold flat, too—just in case that grandfather clock needs a new home. Our favorite storage detail: The removable dual bins hiding under the cargo floor, molded to fit around the spare tire. At first glance, they look right-sized for a six-pack on ice. We're just saying.
Great seats and a spacious cabin do justice to the Grand Cherokee's vastly improved fit and finish.