What SUV can replace my Grand Cherokee 5.7 Hemi?

Hi John,

I've enjoyed watching many of the vehicle reviews on your YouTube channel >>

I currently drive a 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 5.7L V8 HEMI - it has all the bells and whistles... they just don't always work! I'm often left wondering if it will actually make the trip.

I enjoy having a car that is fast, fully featured and good in the mud as it is on the road.

I don’t enjoy the high service costs: 16L/100km - or having to wait three weeks for parts to come in from America!

I have a pet dog so a wagon/SUV is a must. I’m also a tech-head so I want my new car to have everything - even automatic high beams would be preferred. Also, fairly important on my list is adaptive cruise control.

I enjoy camping and going ‘off road’ occasionally so ground clearance is a must.

I really like the Subaru Forester 2.5i-S S4 and the Outback 2.5i Premium - they are on point with price but I’m concerned that I’m going to get bored in a ‘slow’ car.

In comes the 3.6L Outback and 2.0-litre turbo Forester, right? With those better models comes a higher price, worse fuel economy and higher servicing costs – speaking of servicing costs, Subaru is every six months or 12,500km, which means that I’d be looking at servicing it twice as often as competitor cars (I do about 15,000kms a year).

I’d like to stick to a budget of $50,000.

What are your thoughts on which you think may be the better option or if you recommend something complete different which may be the case, especially when comparing the 2.5L versions? 

I’m also meeting with my accountant to determine what would be the best way to buy for me. Lease, finance, etc. I didn’t consider leasing until I read your article. I still wonder if it’s worth it, given the balloon payment at the end which I think would outweigh any tax savings.

Thanks, Elijah

Below: 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee - awesome SUV; shame about the crap reliability and the worse customer non support...

Hello Elijah,

Very few SUVs offer the performance of a 5.7-litre Grand Cherokee, and it pisses me off royally that this vehicle is not more reliable, because I’d recommend it all day long if it was. Great to drive, awesome off-road, but kicked in the guts (as you have discovered) by poor reliability and worse customer support. This is why Jeep is a'Don't Buy' in my view.

If you have not seen it, you might get a giggle out of Teg Sethi's Grand Cherokee ownership experience (right)...

For performance, the Forester XT is very hard to argue with. You are correct that servicing costs with Subaru are comparatively high. There aren’t too many performance SUVs to choose from. Obviously it’s going to be outside the scope of my advice to tell you if you’re going to be happy with a slower vehicle, but I can confidently surmise you’ll be pleased with one that doesn’t break down every fortnight. Forester XT is very quick from A to B in a wide range of conditions. Of course, it's not as off-road-capable as the Grand Cherokee. Nor are any of the alternative vehicles you mentioned.

I agree that the Outback 2.5i Premium is impressive. Its engine performance is acceptable - but it's no 5.7-litre fire-breather. Of course the 3.6R offers more performance than the 2.5, but it’s a fair old jump in price (almost $7000 extra). And the performance SUVs from Germany are all out - they'll blow your $50k budget out of the water. Mazda CX-9 with the new turbo petrol engine is another contender here, for you.

I don’t see that the balloon payment at the end has anything to do with tax advantage. The important thing to remember is that the balloon payment should be structured so that it is less than the value of the vehicle at the end of the term - because selling the vehicle pays the balloon out. The important thing with finance is getting the fundamentals right - the lowest combination of rate and fees, and being mindful of unexpected costs like early discharge fees. Ultimately, whatever you decide, we can assist with a discount on the car as well as the most affordable finance. Send me your details here >> and I can get the ball rolling any time.

I also have a comprehensive guide to car finance >>

See also:

John Cadogan