• (4.5) 104 reviews
  • MSRP: $8,802–$31,378
  • Body Style: Sport Utility
  • Combined MPG: 15-20
  • Engine: 290-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 (flexible; E85)
  • Drivetrain: 4x2
  • Seats: 5
2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Our Take on the Latest Model 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee

What We Don't Like

  • Cheap-looking silver interior trim
  • Bumpy, unrefined feel on highway
  • Modest V-6 performance
  • Rear seat belts difficult for kids to buckle

Notable Features

  • 290-hp V-6 or 360-hp V-8
  • Three 4WD systems
  • Available Quadra-Lift air suspension
  • Available heated steering wheel
  • 7,400-pound towing capacity
  • New high-performance 470-hp SRT8 version

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Reviews

Cars.com Expert Reviews

When I first started driving 20 years ago, I had a few classmates whose parents bought them Jeep Grand Cherokees. That was at the very beginning of this vehicle's life, and it was quite the status symbol back then. While today's version is masked by a pretty exterior and upscale finishes, the Grand Cherokee has sadly failed to evolve its ride quality enough to compete with others on the market. It's lost some of its modern relevance, especially for the families among us.

When it comes to driving character, the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee seems to thumb its nose at most of the population, who spend more time on asphalt than they do crossing dry river beds.

The Grand Cherokee had a total overhaul for 2011, and not much has changed with the 2012 model year. See the two compared side by side here. For the 2012 model year, there are four trim levels available: the Laredo in two- and four-wheel drive, the Limited in two- and four-wheel drive, the Overland in two- and four-wheel drive and the high-performance SRT8 4X4. (See the 4x4 versions side by side.) I tested a Limited 4x4.

In size and amenities, the Grand Cherokee competes with models like the Volvo XC90, Audi Q7 and VW Touareg. (See them compared.) Its price starts markedly lower, but higher trim levels are priced on par with these premium models. The Jeep and VW have five seats and the other two offer seven in three rows.

EXTERIOR
The Grand Cherokee's exterior is refined, even upscale-looking, while still sporting definite Jeep characteristics. It has traditional Jeep lines that have been slightly smoothed out to appeal to a more upscale buyer.

The 20-inch step-in height of the doorsills and lack of running boards were a challenge for my kids climbing in and out of the Grand Cherokee. While they enjoyed the challenge, boasting about their mad indoor rock-climbing skills, I was cursing the car the day I opted to wear a long dress. My husband loved smirking at me as I tried to discreetly hike my dress up high enough I could step up and over the sill and into the car. I was just grateful I didn't have any work events requiring me to sport a pencil skirt during my weeklong test drive.

FAMILY-FRIENDLY FEATURES
There's just enough storage throughout the Grand Cherokee's cabin to function well for families. There are in-door storage bins and bottleholders in all four doors. The kids in the back also have access to seatback storage pockets. When the center rear seat is unoccupied, the seatback folds down to become an armrest with two cupholders in it.

Storage hooks on the back of the front seats were a great spot for my daughters (ages 7, 9 and 12) to hang their kiddie-sized purses. However, grocery bags and adult-size purses hang down far enough that they rest on the floor.

The backseat passengers had plenty of lateral space and weren't too cramped even when packed in side by side. Legroom was fine as well, at least with the driver's seat pulled forward to accommodate my 5-foot, 3-inch stature. My daughter sitting behind the passenger seat — which was pushed back to make room for my tall husband — was a little less lucky, but not uncomfortably so.

Being that the Grand Cherokee seats a total of five, there's plenty of space leftover for a large cargo area, 36.3 cubic feet. A power liftgate was standard on my test car, though the button to operate it from the cargo area is located on the cargo doorjamb (rather than on the door itself). This requires you to stand underneath the door to press the button, then duck and weave to get out of its way as it closes. You can also operate it via the keyfob or from the front seat.

With the rear seats folded flat, the Grand Cherokee's cargo space expands to 68.3 cubic feet, transforming this SUV into a cargo-hauler capable of stashing huge rolls of pink insulation for my kids' awesome (and well insulated) tree-house. This is a bit larger than the VW Touareg's 64.0 cubic feet, but less than the maximum cargo space available when you fold the second and third rows of both the Volvo XC90 (85.1 cubic feet) and Audi Q7 (72.5 cubic feet).

The $1,495 Luxury Group II option package in my test car offered a few refined features that teased and taunted me, making me want to enjoy driving this car more than I otherwise did. The ventilated front seats worked in an instant to cool my husband and me during the summer heat. Although I didn't get a chance to test them out, my test car's heated front seats, heated steering wheel and heated outboard rear seats would have gotten audible cheers from the whole family on chilly fall- and winter-morning treks to school. Even more cheer-worthy was the remote start system, allowing me to start and cool (or heat) the Grand Cherokee before even setting foot in it.

IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample

SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): None

BEHIND THE WHEEL
The Jeep Grand Cherokee's cabin was initially a positive experience, chock-full of premium, even luxurious, features. Driving it, however, was when my initial enthusiasm deflated quicker than a latex helium balloon on a cold day.

The ride quality and height are adjustable with the optional Quadra-Trac II four-wheel-drive system with which my test car came equipped. You can choose among Sport, Auto, Snow, Sand/Mud and Rock modes, and the car adjusts the drivetrain and air suspension to best fit current conditions. I toggled between Sport and Auto on the dry pavement I drove on for the week. I found the Grand Cherokee to be trucky (which makes sense, given its heavy-duty construction and full off-road capability) and unrefined. It bumped along on the highway almost to the point of vibrating. Not only did I notice this as the driver, but also my kids complained about the backseat being very bumpy. They even demonstrated this by humming the same note and the car's bumpiness made that note jump and jerk.

Acceleration was quick and responsive, but not smooth, with the optional 360-horsepower, 5.7-liter V-8 — a $1,695 upgrade over the standard 290-hp, 3.6-liter V-6. It took some practice to get the car to drive along smoothly in the stop-and-go of suburban driving. Despite the V-8's cylinder-deactivation "fuel-saver technology,” the Grand Cherokee I drove still only gets an EPA-estimated 13/20 mpg city/highway. These numbers bump up as high as 17/23 mpg in the rear-wheel-drive 3.6-liter V-6. Four-wheel drive robs 1 mpg in the city from either engine. These results compare well with the 2012 competition, whose best showing with gas engines are 16/22 mpg in the Q7, 16/23 mpg in the XC90 and 17/23 in the Touareg. The Grand Cherokee SRT8 is a beast all its own, with estimated mileage of 12/18 mpg city/highway.

Wind and road noise are both prevalent inside the cabin, adding to driver fatigue and sensory overload after extended highway driving.

SAFETY
The 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee was named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. That means it gets the top rating of Good in front, side, rear and rollover tests. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the Grand Cherokee four out of five stars overall (four stars in front impact, five stars in side crash and four stars for rollover resistance in four-wheel-drive versions; two-wheel-drive Grand Cherokees get just three stars in the rollover category).

As is required of all 2012 models, the Grand Cherokee has standard antilock brakes, electronic stability control and traction control. There are six standard airbags: front- and side-impact bags up front, as well as side curtain airbags that extend from the front to the back row.

A standard backup camera on my test car was much appreciated, as were the standard rear park-assist sensors. The available rear cross detection system saved my test car while pulling out of a parking spot at the grocery store when a vehicle outside my line of vision sped along behind me. The Grand Cherokee "saw" it first and beeped to alert me to stop and wait.

The seat belt buckles for the backseat's two outboard seating positions are recessed slightly into the seat bottom. While this creates a cleaner, more streamlined look, they were extremely difficult for my two youngest daughters to buckle from their booster seats. The boosters tended to inch their way sideways just enough to prevent the belt from sliding easily into the buckle. And since the buckles are recessed, kids can't adjust their angle to buckle up. After much frustration, the two younger ones just resorted to waiting for my 12-year-old to climb into the center seat, push each booster seat toward the door with one hand and then buckle the belt with her other hand.

Another safety feature I loved was the automatic high-beam headlights. In my neck of the woods, we have deer, bears and porcupines wandering around, so I often drive at night with my brights on. When approaching another vehicle, the brights dimmed on their own without additional intervention from me.

See all the standard safety features listed here.

Send Kristin an email  


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Consumer Reviews

4.5

Average based on 104 reviews

Write a Review

I?m happy

by Dtrickone from on November 11, 2017

This SRT8 has everything and then some. Plenty of room for my small family and plenty of horsepower to get there.

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7 Trims Available

Photo of undefined
Wondering which configuration is right for you?
Our 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee trim comparison will help you decide.
 

Jeep Grand Cherokee Articles

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Safety Ratings

Crash-Test Reports

IIHS Ratings

Based on Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo

Head Restraints and Seats
G
Moderate overlap front
G
Roof Strength
G
Side
G

IIHS Ratings

Based on Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo

G Good
A Acceptable
M Marginal
P Poor

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
G
Overall Rear
G
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
G

Moderate overlap front

Chest
G
Head/Neck
G
Left Leg/Foot
G
Overall Front
G
Restraints
G
Right Leg/Foot
G
Structure/safety cage
G

Other

Roof Strength
G

Side

Driver Head Protection
G
Driver Head and Neck
G
Driver Pelvis/Leg
G
Driver Torso
G
Overall Side
G
Rear Passenger Head Protection
G
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
G
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
G
Rear Passenger Torso
G
Structure/safety cage
G
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers. IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal or poor based on performance in high-speed front and side crash tests. IIHS also evaluates seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts.

NHTSA Ratings

Based on Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo

Overall
Overall Front
Overall Side
Overall Rollover Rating

NHTSA Ratings

Based on Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo

Overall
Overall Front
Overall Side
Overall Rollover Rating
Driver's
Passenger's
Side Barrier
Side Barrier Rating Driver
Side Barrier Rating Passenger Rear Seat
Side Pole
Side Pole Barrier combined (Front)
Side Pole Barrier combined (Rear)
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. NHTSA provides vehicle safety information such as front- and side-crash ratings and rollover ratings. Vehicles are rated using a star rating system from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the highest.

Service & Repair

Estimated Service & Repair cost: $3,000 per year.

Save on maintenance costs and do your own repairs.

Warranty Coverage

Bumper-to-Bumper

36mo/36,000mi

Powertrain

60mo/100,000mi

Roadside Assistance Coverage

36mo/36,000mi

What you should get in your warranty can be confusing. Make sure you are informed.

Learn More About Warranties

Warranties Explained

Bumper-to-Bumper

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

Powertrain

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

Roadside Assistance

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

Free Scheduled Maintenance

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

Other Years