I swear to you the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland’s audio system has one of the most bass-heavy mixes I’ve ever heard right out of the box. Depending on your preference, this could be a very good thing.
Also very good: Most of the other infotainment and telematics features of the JGC’s Uconnect system.
I’m not ashamed to say it: The Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland’s audio EQ is one of the first I’ve actually turned the bass DOWN from its default “zero” position. The bass doesn’t hit particularly hard like some factory systems can, but it seems like the bass signal is stronger in the overall mix of this vehicle’s audio system than any other I’ve tested. I turned it down two or three clicks and boosted the mid frequency slider a click or two for good measure, which brought the mix to a much more natural state, to my ear.
You may not be like me. Many of my friends like to feel their music as much as hear it. The Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland’s 506-watt amp and nine speakers with subwoofer won’t rattle your spine the way the Nissan Titan PRO-4X’s Rockford Fosgate system can, but it will provide plenty of exposure to the deeper registers. But in my case, I prefer a system that is both loud and well-balanced, and I was able to get the JGC Overland’s mix to sound the way I prefer in just a few seconds by using the EQ feature on the touchscreen.
The rest of the Uconnect system’s goodies are as fun as the stereo for nerds like me. Like our Chrysler 300 SRT8 tester from months back, the folks at Jeep made sure to include full telematics read-outs for things like transmission temperature, oil pressure, and even suspension articulation, which is fun to watch as you crawl over bumps and dips in open pasture.
While its auxiliary gauges reminded me of the Chrysler 300 SRT8, its phone connectivity did not. My phone, dumb as it is, was apparently good enough for the Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland. I was able to connect it via Bluetooth easily and could access my phone’s contacts list. To the programmers who worked out whatever it was that caused my phone not to play nice with the 300 SRT8′s similar Uconnect system, I thank you for your diligent work.
Finally, the navigation system was easy to use and understood my voice inputs as expected. They only thing that threw off voice recognition was if I was trying to enter a destination while driving with the sunroof open, but that’s to be expected.
I liked the Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland’s copious amounts of media storage capability. There was not just a USB port in the center stack, there was also an AUX input and an SD card slot right next to it. Furthermore, there were two additional USB ports in the lower center console below the rear passenger air vents. I noticed the USB test stick I used was labeled “USB 1″ in the Uconnect’s Media chooser screen, so I presume any sticks loaded into those rear slots later would be named “USB 2″ and “USB 3.” My music library can’t quite fill a 16-gigabyte USB stick, however, so I had no need to test all the media ports.
As I’ve experienced before, the actual user experience provided by the Uconnect touchscreen is satisfying. It’s easy to learn how to navigate around the system. While I do prefer the tactility of old-school pushbuttons to supplement the touchscreen’s capabilities in almost any infotainment system, Uconnect is among the best screen-only systems out there, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland proved no exception.
The only feature I really wish Chrysler would consider taking out of Uconnect and back into the hard-button world: seat heater/ventilated seat controls. They do appear during the briefly displayed splash screen upon starting the vehicle, but if you don’t reach for them until later, you have to take your eyes off the road for a couple of seconds to activate them as you scan the touchscreen visually for the proper places to press your digit. Most cars still have physical buttons for seat heating and cooling, and for good reason. Firstly, they’re easy to punch as soon as the vehicle is stared.
Disclosure: Jeep provided the vehicle, insurance, and a tank of gas.