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2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Ltd. 4×4

Jeep’s Grand Cherokee touts power, toughness and luxury …2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee

What could be more patriotic than a Jeep? And the brand, now part of Fiat-Chrysler, is celebrating 75 years of Jeepdom, although the test model wasn’t specially adorned.

This was a dark metallic gray Grand Cherokee Limited with 4-wheel-drive, starting at a relatively sane $39,895 and ending up at a luxurious $47,930 after adding one hefty $4,200 option package and three others that were more fiscally conservative.

Jeep lovers love the fact that many models can be taken for serious off-roading. While Wranglers are the primary off-roaders, Jeep is happy to tell you that Grand Cherokees can be too.

The Limited could as it came with a 4-wheel-drive system with five traction settings, sand, snow, mud, rocks and automatic. Guess which one gets used the most?2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee

This is all handled by a neat dial on the console so it’s easy to dial up the traction your Jeep currently needs. In automatic it was fine on damp Wisconsin roads.

There’s plenty of power too. The base engine is a 3.6-liter V6 with variable valve timing and a healthy 295 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. The Grand Cherokee will move and a Sport button will amp up the power by holding lower gears longer while also firming the steering effort considerably. Entering a highway the Sport setting is the way to go.

As with many cars now, the Jeep has an automatic stop/start feature that turns the engine off at stoplights and other times where it otherwise might idle. This saves a bit of gas, but this one is particularly rough. However, you can turn the feature off for smoother operation. Speaking of which, the 8-speed automatic tranny standard on the Grand Cherokee is exactly that, smooth. Continue reading 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Ltd. 4×4

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2016 Dodge Journey Crossroad Plus AWD

Value-minded Dodge Journey keeps improving journey1

Dodge’s Journey is a good example of a carmaker not being satisfied with its work, with its own status quo.

How so? To look at the Journey you’d think it’s long in the tooth. On its face, that’s true. Journey joined the Dodge lineup 7 years ago and looks pretty much as it did then, when it was one of the first mid-size crossovers on the market, a blend of minivan and sport-utility vehicle.

But Dodge has kept improving the Journey year after year to keep it relevant as a low-cost option for folks needing to haul up to seven people along with their stuff, plus providing enough power and all-wheel-drive security to get them where they want to go.

This year, for example, Dodge has broadened Journey’s lineup of 10 models in 5 trims to include the Crossroad Plus model with leather seats and Dodge’s large 8.4-inch nav/radio screen. I tested a bright red Journey Crossroad Plus with AWD that started at $29,595 and after options ended up at $34,360. That’s at the lower end of pricing for mid-size crossovers with AWD. Continue reading 2016 Dodge Journey Crossroad Plus AWD

2016 Dodge Charger SXT AWD

Dodge Charger AWD charger awd

Big people need cars too, and sometimes automotive interior designers forget that fact.

So hurrah for the Dodge Charger and its generous sized interior, a full-figured person’s dream machine. There’s head and legroom to spare, front and rear, plus Charger happens to be available in so many trim levels a person can pick and choose just the right power and goodies quotient to meet their needs, and pocketbook.

My test car was the SXT AWD model, which means it can hold its own on slippery streets. The SXT also is second on the trim level list to the base SE, so it’s not a complete budget buster. Oh, and Charger looks muscular and distinctive, not something many large sedans can claim. Dig the full-body-width taillight bar!

For the record a base SE lists at $28,990 including delivery. It comes with the same 3.6-liter VVT V6 as in the SXT, an engine with a generous 292 horsepower and 260 ft.-lb. torque rating. Moving up to an AWD version pushes that to $31,240, just about the average transaction price for a new vehicle these days.

charger awd2The tested dark metallic gray (Maximum Steel Metallic) with a hint of blue in it, was listed at $31,995 in AWD trim. If power and speeding tickets are to your liking, the super-duper top-end Charger is the SRT Hellcat with a 6.2-liter V8 that cranks a mind-bending 707 horsepower. It lists at $68,640, but compare that with the supercars that start north of $1 million and have lesser horsepower, and it’s a bargain. There are three other trim levels between SXT and Hellcat and yes, HEMI V8s are available. Continue reading 2016 Dodge Charger SXT AWD