Review of the Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 2006

A staple of the American car landscape for decades has been Jeep and it’s rugged off road vehicles. Starting with its sporty Wrangler and now introducing the luxurious Commander, Jeep has developed a reputation as a company based on quality and durability. Now, before I test-drove the new 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo I was indeed biased towards Jeep. I had never ridden in a Jeep vehicle and not been impressed. However, this was not the case with the newly redesigned Grand Cherokee, one of Jeep’s best sellers of all time.

The Jeep has undergone another change with its Grand Cherokee model just five years after its previous redesign. Now, with a more boxy design and chrome trim. The less sleek design makes it look more like a Hummer than anything else, and those familiar with the Jeep design can easily overlook the fact that this is in fact a Jeep model. Its new design doesn’t do it justice as the rugged look of the past has been replaced by a look that rivals more upscale and luxurious S.U.V.’s. One positive about the outside are the large 20-inch alloy rims and wheels, which are the only semblance of a once tough S.U.V. that seems now more likely to be driven by an accountant than a park ranger.

When you first enter the inside of the new Jeep, you feel as though you have been whisked away on an alien spacecraft. A cluttered console with confusing controls, and a carbon fiber looking alloy accentuating the door panels make the interior feel sterile and distracting. With more than 8 different settings for the temperature and thermostat, you can easily lose track of what you are doing by trying to make the cabin an adequate temperature. The seats are very stiff, and although they offer a number of different seating arrangements, the back folds down or can be used as two extra seats, everything seems to be overdone and the space is confined and cramped. God forbid you should have to sit in the back seat for a long trip. The sterility and stiffness of the seat make the back feel like you are sitting in a doctor’s office and people easily affected by motion sickness have known to become nauseous on long trips.

The Jeep does offer a great deal of cargo space, but that’s only after you remove the three back seats and fold them down, leaving only the driver and passenger seats. We fit two large surfboard bags and our entire luggage easily and without any problems. That was until we tried to shut the back. The gate shut effortlessly, but the back window took at least four or five slams to shut completely. Very annoying and stressful. The new exterior design makes for a less aerodynamic ride and the added resistance makes for more noise. Luckily, the cabin has added a new quiet ride feature that filters out most of the annoying sounds. But that’s only when the windows are closed. As with any S.U.V., the gas mileage is spotty at best, but this Jeep does is a little more efficient that any of the rest.

This is not the Jeep of old, and the new design is not typical of past Jeeps. If you are looking for a classic Jeep with old-fashioned performance than this is not the vehicle for you.

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