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2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee: Refined Just Right; Raw Where It Counts

Using The Phone, Navigation, And Microsoft Bing Features

Phone

Standard stuff when it comes to connecting your phone: simply use Bluetooth for hands-free dialing and messaging. We didn’t have any trouble getting Uconnect Access to download our phone book or make calls. Messaging was an issue, however. We weren't able to take advantage of the built-in texting support with a reference Samsung Galaxy Nexus running Cyanogen mod. Unfortunately, this is pretty typical with most phones, we've found. Unless you have a BlackBerry, messaging functionality is hit or miss.

Voice quality is pretty good, though. We tried out the phone book voice recognition support a couple of times, but preferred using the touchscreen at a stop instead. It’s not that the voice recognition is inaccurate. Rather, we found that navigating the display was faster than using voice commands and then listening to the prompts back. That interaction doesn't work really well with a screaming child in the back seat, either.

Chrysler taps Garmin for its navigation functionality. The maps look like what you'd find on your typical Garmin portable navigation product, which isn’t a bad thing. Rather than attempting to develop navigation software in-house, the third-party approach works to Chrysler's favor. It provides a familiar interface for anyone accustomed to aftermarket systems.

Actually using the Garmin software is a pain, though. When you’re at a stop, all is good and well. You have full access to all of the platform's capabilities. But as soon as the SUV starts moving, certain features get locked out to keep you from inputting directions or searching for POIs by name. While we understand Chrysler’s desire to curb distracted driving, we prefer Hyundai’s approach, forcing you to press "Agree" every time the system is turned out. Sure beats getting shut-out mid-command. You're thinking, "Tuan, they're just trying to keep you safe!" I usually have my wife in the passenger seat, though. She shouldn't be stopped from using the system, should she? Chrysler does counter this weakness with one-step voice recognition, but again, using it gets super-annoying once you start involving residential streets and their mix of numbers, cardinal points, quadrants, and street type designations.

SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link are integrated with Uconnect Access and the Garmin navigation system. However, as with all of the traffic-reporting systems we've used, relying on those technologies is a dice roll. We simply don't understand the allure of SiriusXM Travel Link. Weather forecasts, sports results, and gas prices are free from your smartphone, and I'm going to assume you already have one of those.

Bing

Chrysler integrates a Bing app for extended POI search with reviews. You can look for restaurants, nightlife, hotels, entertainment, shopping, and so on, right from the touchscreen.

The restaurant reviews are a nice touch to help narrow down meal decisions. There are even voice commands and Bing search, too. But there is one very big problem with the Bing app: it's oh-so-slow. We're not sure if development is to blame, or Sprint's spotty network coverage. Either way, something so simple shouldn't be so cumbersome. As with SiriusXM Traffic, it's faster to whip out  your phone and peruse Yelp or Urbanspoon.

  • cheesyboy
    I hope the sponsorship money from Jeep helps pay for good stuff elsewhere on the site, because this was a damned boring article.
    Reply
  • sanilmahambre
    other then all those tech-check the actual thing that attracts customers towards Jeep is the front trademark spiral grill.
    I drove it in Far cry 2
    Reply
  • vertexx
    What's up with the miss-fitting front lighting? It looks like they re-designed all the front lighting and didn't bother fitting the front-end cutouts to the new lighting. Looks terrible.
    Reply
  • MU_Engineer
    This has to be the only car review article where the only performance graphs are for how quickly the infotainment system starts up. At the very least time it going 0-60 (it *does* have a Hemi after all), do a slalom test to see how well you can avoid text-addled drivers weaving in and out of their lane at 50 mph on the interstate, and see how many Antec 1200s fit in the back. (shakes head)
    Reply
  • poik
    How do the gauges work with polarized glasses?
    Reply
  • tuanies
    11512660 said:
    This has to be the only car review article where the only performance graphs are for how quickly the infotainment system starts up. At the very least time it going 0-60 (it *does* have a Hemi after all), do a slalom test to see how well you can avoid text-addled drivers weaving in and out of their lane at 50 mph on the interstate, and see how many Antec 1200s fit in the back. (shakes head)

    We do not have a track to test 0-60 on while maintaining consistency, nor do we have accurate equipment to test such feats. Speed limit here is 60 and most people do 70-80 weaving in and out of traffic ;). I deny going those "speeds" but the Jeep is quite competent and that HEMI, every press of the gas pedal makes me shed a tear for the fuel economy while enjoying the thrust. Either way we have a SRT8 booked next month for a quick follow up. Hopefully the Pandora and other apps work by then.

    I don't have enough Antec 1200s to test, but that's a pretty good idea for testing methods :).

    11512907 said:
    How do the gauges work with polarized glasses?

    I do not wear polarized glasses so I can't really tell you - mine are just transitions. I don't see them being a problem though. You could always just turn up the brightness on the LCD. It gets very bright.
    Reply
  • cheesyboy
    11512660 said:
    This has to be the only car review article where the only performance graphs are for how quickly the infotainment system starts up. At the very least time it going 0-60 (it *does* have a Hemi after all), do a slalom test to see how well you can avoid text-addled drivers weaving in and out of their lane at 50 mph on the interstate, and see how many Antec 1200s fit in the back. (shakes head)

    Slalom test, you say? Hope it does better than its predecessor;
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaYFLb8WMGM
    Reply
  • rezzahd
    I honestly feel like this article is a waste of time. not on my part for reading it, but on Tom's part for producing an article on a site that attracts people more towards hardware specs. If I wanna read I car review I will go to Car & Driver not Tom's Hardware.
    Reply
  • tuanies
    11513248 said:
    I honestly feel like this article is a waste of time. not on my part for reading it, but on Tom's part for producing an article on a site that attracts people more towards hardware specs. If I wanna read I car review I will go to Car & Driver not Tom's Hardware.

    We have 6 pages dedicated to the tech inside the car that traditional publications just gloss over...
    Reply
  • rezzahd
    11513294 said:
    11513248 said:
    I honestly feel like this article is a waste of time. not on my part for reading it, but on Tom's part for producing an article on a site that attracts people more towards hardware specs. If I wanna read I car review I will go to Car & Driver not Tom's Hardware.

    We have 6 pages dedicated to the tech inside the car that traditional publications just gloss over...

    Okay, sorry got a little ahead of myself. I was just saying when I think car reviews in general I just mean there are other sources I would go to. I tend not to look at the tech in cars. I actually prefer to see how well things like the motor and transmission are built over how fast boot times are for a camera.
    Reply