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New(er) daily driver recommendations (Liberty vs Grand Cherokee)


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So the time is soon coming to retire my 97 Sentra that has possibly been the best car I will ever own. It has reliably driven me for about 5 years now with two of those years driving 700+ miles a week. It currently has 230k miles on it and is mechanically perfect and the AC/heat still works perfectly somehow.

 

It's not leaving the family, just simply going to be parked at my brother's house so he has a spare vehicle for when someone in the family is in need. 

 

So now down to business; what in the world am I going to replace it with?

 

I'm stuck between a Liberty or a Grand Cherokee. Ideally I would like a 2014-16 grand cherokee but I simply can't justify spending 15-20k on a vehicle. Plus I like the way the 2005-2010 grand cherokees look more. 

 

As far as Liberty's go I would probably be looking more towards the newer boxy looking ones unless I found a PRISTINE older one with low miles for the right price. 

 

My main concern are the engines. Personally I enjoyed my mother's 3.7L that she had in her 06 Liberty before a rocker arm dropped (she got 240k miles out of it) but I have seen a lot of bad reviews about them. I hear that the 4.7L's are the same way. I would love to have the power of a v8 but I also would like decent MPG for an SUV. 

 

What are yalls opinions as far as those two models of Jeeps and the engine options for them? (obviously the Liberty only gets the 3.7L sadly) 

 

It will be used as a daily driver that may occasionally tow a utility trailer if I don't feel like breaking out the MJ when I need to move something big. 

 

Whatever I decide to get will also get a 2-3" lift and slightly bigger tires as well so if anyone has experience with these vehicles lifted, please let me know!

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Wife had a 07 KJ with 3.7, it was fine up until 170k and the issues really started. Left us stranded twice; once with a a key fob issue from the sentry system and other fuel pump died. Then it just had ongoing little mechanical issues. While it wasn't a terrible car I would never own one again. My biggest complaint would be the transmission, 42re was pure garbage and made the thing such an underpowered turd going over the passes. We sold it at 185k because I was working on it almost every weekend. My WJ has a the 4.7 similar the 05+ GC. Biggest issue and will be the same on the 3.7 is dropping valve seats because or aluminum heads on a iron block. I would say neither engine is example of longevity. My WJ was rebuilt at 150k because of the valve seat issue. Typically over 200k you're on borrowed time with the 4.7's. 

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the first gen Libbys had 2 different choices for 4bangers with one being turbocharged  :D  (the diesel)

 

both are rare as heck though.

 

I don't spend a ton of time on second gen Libby sites, but I hear that later 3.7s have better longevity.  but then 1st gen can easily go past 200k.  or blow up.  one of the other.  and sometimes even both!

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I briefly owned a KJ, just for the rear axle.

D8FCEAA3-3863-4692-886D-018D23955D88.jpeg.e11c667cda61415e638ef3696ff99441.jpeg
Don’t know what it hit, but it hit hard. The photo doesn’t make it so obvious, but you could pretty well draw a straight line from the A-pillar to driver’s tiny corner, and everything was shoved over to one side of it. From the inside, the centre console came up from the trans getting rammed into it, and the airbags were dangling loose, but otherwise you wouldn’t have known what happened. Doors all still opened and closed nicely, windshield wasn’t even cracked. That’s a stout little chassis.

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Thanks for the replies! I've been researching, crunching numbers, and talking with the warden (wife). If the right deal came up then I may end up grabbing a 11-14 GC. Does anyone have any experience with the 3.6l Pentastar engines that are in those? Are they any better than the engines in the earlier models mentioned above? My main goal is to have a reliable vehicle so if I have to have a car payment then I guess so be it 😂

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7 hours ago, Knucklehead97 said:

Thanks for the replies! I've been researching, crunching numbers, and talking with the warden (wife). If the right deal came up then I may end up grabbing a 11-14 GC. Does anyone have any experience with the 3.6l Pentastar engines that are in those? Are they any better than the engines in the earlier models mentioned above? My main goal is to have a reliable vehicle so if I have to have a car payment then I guess so be it 😂

My parents love their 3.6 Pentastar in their 2017 JKU. I am not very impressed by it because it does not seem to have a ton of low end torque. 

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7 hours ago, Knucklehead97 said:

Thanks for the replies! I've been researching, crunching numbers, and talking with the warden (wife). If the right deal came up then I may end up grabbing a 11-14 GC. Does anyone have any experience with the 3.6l Pentastar engines that are in those? Are they any better than the engines in the earlier models mentioned above? My main goal is to have a reliable vehicle so if I have to have a car payment then I guess so be it 😂

I had a Pentastar in a 2012 JK for years.  It is an improvement over the 3.7 and 3.8 sixes it replaced.  There are a few minor known issues depending on the year but overall it's reasonably solid.

 

It lacks low end torque but they do a decent job matching the automatic trans and stall speed in the torque converter to the engine.  So in daily driving it's not as bad as you may think.  It sucks with a manual but the GC doesn't have that as an option.

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We have 2 Libby's an 03 4x4 and an 04 2wd. 03 just rolled 240k and the 04 is over 245k. The 04 has started the nickel and dime routine but up to this point has been a very reliable vehicle (Wife is the 2nd owner putting on 190k of those miles). The 03 we have put on about 27k miles (also 2nd owner) and it has been a good cheap little ride. I think the Liberty's are hit or miss on getting a good one. The wife replaced the 04 with a 2020 JL with the 3.6. The engine is pretty peppy with the 8 spd auto. I don't think you can go wrong with the 3.6 GC, we were looking at them to replace the 04 Libby before she jumped on the Wrangler.

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My manager has a 3.6 WK2 as a company car, 2012ish I think. It’s decent, and I was recommending my parents get one before Covid hit and they quit shopping around. We haven’t had any issues with it, although I think it’s only at around 70,000 miles so far. She doesn’t use it much.

I’ve only driven it a couple times, but I wouldn’t call it slow. The torque curve hits differently than the 4.0 in my ZJ, much higher in the rev range, although that might be a manual vs automatic thing. It’s not a race car, but the 3.6 is definitely quicker than the 4.0. It’s not a luxury trim but it’s pretty nice inside, and it rides and handles nicely for an SUV. My only complaint is the full-time transfer case doesn’t have low range or a 2wd option. Low range isn’t that big a deal in something that’s strictly a commuter, but no 2wd will cost you in MPG.

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12 hours ago, Knucklehead97 said:

My main goal is to have a reliable vehicle so if I have to have a car payment then I guess so be it

 

For this reason we avoided  jeep all together when the KJ had to go. Got a GX460 and haven't looked back. Rides amazing, plenty of room and gets semi decent MPG for a v8 (around 18 city and 20 highway). Was more than other options but the depreciation on them is practically non existent. We just hit over 100k on it and so far has jsut been basic maintenance. 

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I've been overall pleased with my KJ, but I wouldn't rush out and recommend one to anyone.  Mine's a first model year, which came with good and bad.  The "bad" is the rear 8.25 is drum brake (03-forward all got discs).  Very early models also came with higher suspension, which switched sometime during the model run.  I'm not sure which one mine is, and really don't care since I don't wheel it.  The good is the auto trans is the 45RFE, not the dreaded 42RE.  Sure, it shifts a little bit harsh, but that trans will outlive the rest of the drivetrain.  I've only had minor maintenance on it since owning it and it's got about 140K on it now (bought it with <60K on it as the third owner).  Yes, I had to do major surgery to it a couple years ago when I snapped the #6 plug off in the head, but looking back I can't say that wasn't my fault to begin with, so no fault to it).  I'm well aware of, and super paranoid about the valve seat problems inherit with the 3.7 (and 4.7), to the point I'm anal about cooling system maintenance on it.  That's my choice, but I'd say a vehicle owner shouldn't have to worry about such things in a plain Jane daily driver.  That one's on D/C.

 

Funny thing is I remember when KJ's first came out and I swore I'd never be caught dead riding in one of them, let alone own one.  Well, here we are now LOL.  I also said the same thing when the new Cherokee's came out.....and I've been eyeballing them lately now (early, used models).  I've got a feeling if I ever get rid of the KJ, it will be for one of them.

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The 3.6 is definitely an improvement over the 3.7 for sure. It's not really a torque motor more horsepower RPM. It's what's in my wife's journey and it will get you in trouble in a hurry. 290 hp and 260 lbs are quite impressive when you think about it. I love my 2005 Grand but wish it had the hemi not the 4.7 but neither get good MPG.

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10 hours ago, Pete M said:

the looks of the KJs are helped by the flat top conversion (or just buying a later KJ Renegade to being with). 

 

 

20200929_085423.jpg

 Yes the flat hood looks much better. Too bad mine got t boned shortly after  upgrading. 

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I'm actually probably looking at a 2012 GC with the 3.6l tomorrow. It's loaded with every option possible, has 106k on it, 1 owner with no wrecks, crystal black pearl paint with leather charcoal grey interior, and 4wd. They're asking 12,900 for it. I'm still not sure if I want 4wd or not honestly though...

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As a mechanic be careful with the 11-13 3.6s. I've seen quite few of them require cylinder head replacements, even below 50k miles. Chrysler extended the warranty to 10yr/150k miles, it's a fairly common failure. 

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