March Car of the Month: The Jeep Grand Cherokee


Once a month when the time comes to write the highly anticipated and thoroughly refined “Car of the Month” article I begin to scavenge the parking lot in search of the most unique, interesting, and personality filled car that I can find. However, during my most recent meander I began to see one car that fit the exact opposite mold.
One car seemed to appear wherever I looked, dotting the parking lot and controlling every section, the Jeep Grand Cherokee blended right in.
It is no secret that Jeep is well known in the high school parking lot scene. Their abundantly popular midsize SUV the Wrangler has been haunting the lined asphalt of schools for decades. However, the wildly common Wrangler is old news. A new wave of Grand Cherokees has swept through the Chagrin Falls High School parking lot, dethroning the Wrangler from its former glory.
The parking lot is flooded with them, and unlike the Wrangler, which tends to be decorated, panel free, or filled with personality, the Grand Cherokees all appear relatively similar. So I began to wonder, “What is so special about this car?”
But as I began to dig, I saw no particular quirks, features, or exceptionalities of the SUV at all. It has decent horsepower, the base model bottling up almost three hundred, and it has relatively attractive styling, however it is still a heavy SUV weighing in at 5,000 pounds and clocking only 19 miles to a gallon. It can also cost serious money with the MSRP of a base model starting at $32,000 and various options to bring it even higher.
So I rethought my statement and discovered I should have been asking a slightly different question, “WHY is this car special?”
This question led me straight to the owners and their friends, who I figured would answer better than anyone else.
Some students had a very simple explanation for why they liked their car.
“I actually really like my car,” said senior Adelaide Doman, a lifetime Grand Cherokee driver. “It’s really spacious and it has good speakers so it’s nice to drive my friends around in.”
Other students had reasons with a little more character.
“I’ve spent more time in Tate’s jeep than my own car,” said senior Julius Lelonis. “What makes it special isn’t the car itself, it’s what we’ve done and where we’ve gone with it. I remember one time we went on a fishing trip in Coshocton county and decided to go offroad in the Grand Cherokee on the way home. We ended up trying to drive through a corn field but got stuck after 5 minutes and had to dig the car out. Obviously it sucked at the time but I always think of that memory when I ride in his car.”
The love for these cars doesn’t stop at students either, even some teachers have grown close to their Grand Cherokees.
“I’ve gone through a few cars in my life,” explained history teacher Ms. Powers. “My brother totaled one of mine in high school, I drove a Buick Rendezvous for a while, but then I drove an old Grand Cherokee for most of high school. When it was time for me to buy a new car recently I wanted to go back to the Grand Cherokee because I loved it so much before. It fit my budget, was also good in the snow and can pull a trailer if needed which was perfect.”
The Grand Cherokee has become an icon in the parking lot, connecting everyone from students to faculty and doesn’t seem to be disappearing any time soon.