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Jeep altitude vs. Laredo

1. Introduction

The purpose of this paper is to compare and contrast two specific Jeep models as to the features and performance each has to offer. The specific models in question are the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo and the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Altitude. The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo is a mid-range trim package with the Altitude being a newer version equipped with more features aimed at attracting a different buyer. The general focus of this paper will be to show that choosing the right trim package can be the difference between buying a vehicle that is just "alright" and buying your dream car. This paper will emphasize this by showing the differences in features and performance between the two models. A brief background of the Jeep Grand Cherokee is that it is a sport-utility vehicle available in a 2WD or 4WD with a variety of different trim packages. It is widely known as a tough and rugged vehicle capable of surviving all sorts of off-road conditions. It is commonly used as a family vehicle as well as a vehicle for someone who wants something tough looking and fun to drive. It is my goal to analyze and argue a point that could potentially be useful to anyone looking to buy any vehicle, not just a Jeep Grand Cherokee. It is essential for anyone in the market to do very thorough research as to what is available. A customer needs to know exactly what he or she wants, and know the differences between individual models of a certain vehicle and how it will affect what he or she gets for their money. In some cases, a buyer might be thrilled with the base model of a certain vehicle but be completely discouraged after finding out the differences in the higher level trim packages. A classic example would be the difference between a base model car and a sports-oriented model of the same car. The Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo and Jeep Grand Cherokee Altitude are good examples of this being that the Altitude is a new special edition model of the Laredo. This paper will serve as a useful tool for someone trying to decide between these specific Jeep models or any car models.

1.1. Overview of Jeep Altitude and Laredo Models

The model year and specific packages available will affect the features and styling of the Laredo. The base Laredo will come with a 5" touch screen display with Uconnect and dual zone climate control. Step up to the Laredo E and you will receive a power driver's seat and Sirius XM radio. High Altitude and Sterling Edition Laredo's will come with an 8.4" touch screen display with automatic climate control and heated front seats. The Laredo X package has the same features as the Limited. Please see the Limited section for these features.

We will cover the Altitude model separately below and emphasize the differences between it and the Laredo.

Two trim levels are offered on the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Laredo, which is the base model, and the highly popular Altitude model. The Altitude model was created as a sub-model of the Laredo to offer an alternative with different styling and features.

1.2. Importance of Choosing the Right Jeep Model

One of the chief reasons to explore the differences among the Jeep Altitude and Laredo models lies in finding the one that will provide the best features and performance for a desired price. Jeeps are considered workhorses when it comes to off-road travel and poor weather conditions. The difference in features found between these two models directly affects their ability to travel and their performance in these situations. It is reasonable to assume someone in the market for a Jeep is interested at least in its 4x4 capabilities and its ability to handle various terrain. The Altitude model is sold as a 4x2 / 4x4 capable vehicle. Unfortunately, the 4x4 capabilities come at an additional cost that will put the total price over the Laredo model's total price. Purchasing a vehicle that is underselling its intended use is an issue for anyone looking to get the most out of their money and product. Here we run into the access to 4x4 capabilities at a lower price than the alternative. The Altitude model is underselling for a 4x2 vehicle as it is essentially a high-priced entry-level model for the Grand Cherokee. This version of a 4x2 is better than most as it is a Quadra-Trac I, which is a single-speed lightweight all-wheel drive system that is packed with features such as brake-traction control, neutral, and a 2wd/4wd switch to make for seamless transition to all-weather travel. This provides a great travel option for those who live in places where rain and snow are common without having to take the full-on 4x4 option.

2. Exterior Features

Jeep has a model for every SUV enthusiast, with an offering for every niche and every lifestyle. This paper aims to go in depth on the differences between the Altitude and Laredo models of the Grand Cherokee, the midrange SUV in Jeep's lineup. This essay will be essentially useless to everyone except those who even know the Altitude is a package on the Laredo, let alone what the Altitude package includes. The Laredo will serve as a benchmark, as it is the base model Grand Cherokee and these two models share the same drivetrain. This will help determine if the Altitude package is worth its price and how it differs from the base Laredo, in addition to helping potential Grand Cherokee buyers to decide between these two models. This essay will cover how these two models differ in terms of features, both interior and exterior, as well as how they perform. The first stop along this feature comparison is the exterior. The exterior is the first thing someone notices on a vehicle. Usually when someone is buying a more expensive version of a base model car, the exterior design was one of the things that attracted them to the nicer model. Here we will see how the Altitude package has built upon the Laredo's clean five-year-old design. A lot of people don't look at the physical appearance of a car as a "feature," but more as an asset. This means that when that car looks like junk in seven or eight years, it's not going to be worth as much as the exact same car that looks much newer. From that point of view, the new-looking car would have saved its owner some money. Anyways, the Grand Cherokee Laredo starts out with seventeen-inch aluminum wheels. Step up to the Altitude edition and the seventeen-inchers are replaced with eighteen-inchers and silver-painted aluminum wheels. The Altitude comes in a much wider selection of paint colors than the Laredo; however, the colors are meant to be more tactical and stealth-looking. It is somewhat difficult to define the difference in paint and wheels as an improvement. Some may even call it a matter of opinion, as the only statistical change comes with the Altitude's added residual value due to its wider color selection, but at the same price. The definite exterior improvement comes with the Altitude's standard black cloth heated leather seats. Remember, this is strictly opinion. Some people may prefer tan cloth.

2.1. Styling Differences between Altitude and Laredo

If you were just to observe the vehicles with no knowledge of each model, you would agree that these are two very different vehicles. However, the Grand Cherokee Laredo is the only model that offers a number of optional exterior add-ons. This includes a sunroof (which is also optional on Altitude), dual pane or single pane, and is a stand-alone option. Laredo is the only model that gives you the option of getting Quadra Trac I. The Altitude is only offered as a 4x2 model. Other option-only Laredo items include bright side roof rails, chrome tubular side steps, and the previously mentioned off-road adventure package. All of these added features and options make the Laredo uniquely customizable.

Jeep holds the title for producing a vehicle that is easily recognizable from any point on the road. Despite this, Jeep wants to make each model unique in its own way. There is no exception to this when it comes to the Grand Cherokee Altitude and Grand Cherokee Laredo. Starting with the Laredo, the model already has a striking exterior that is synonymous with Jeep. With the Altitude, Jeep added blacked out headlamps and a blacked out grille to set this model apart from other models. This may be an insignificant change, but this adds a new aggressive look to the model. The Laredo also has the option of adding the off-road adventure 1 package. This package adds a number of features, but the most distinct are the color-matched front and rear fascias.

2.2. Wheel Options and Sizes

Option and size variations are another large distinction between the Laredo and the Altitude. The Laredo comes with a wide range of packages and options for the exterior. Because of this, the wheel options and lifted packages vary greatly. Regular Laredo's come equipped with 17" rims, but depending on which package is purchased, the options range all the way up to 20". The Altitude only comes with one choice of 20" rims and has no variations in size options. Because most wheel sizes for the Laredo are smaller than 20", it is pertinent to mention that there may be some variation in tire pricing for these two models. An added sales point for the Altitude is its wheel options can be directly transferred to a WK2 Grand Cherokee Limited or Overland should the owner choose to upgrade Jeeps in the future and keep the wheels. This could be a good option for those wanting to have winter tires on separate rims to minimize the cost of changing over tires every season.

2.3. Roof Rack and Exterior Trim Variations

The rationale behind the decision to purchase a roof rack seems to be a clear indication of what is going on in this comparison for exterior looks. The Altitude with its extra exterior trim pieces and contrasting colours to the available paint options will appeal to buyers seeking an edgy and modern aesthetic. The roof rack is a carry-over bonus for those buyers in a practical sense. Comparatively, the Laredo is the simple, less bold alternative for the consumer that perhaps does not want to draw so much attention or prefers to keep a more conservative look to their vehicle. A variation in the exterior primarily comes down to a variation in price and which options the buyer would stretch out to make.

This is another area where the Altitude and Laredo differ quite a bit. Each comes with a black roof rack, but that is where the similarities end. The Altitude features a glossy black paint over the chrome grill and headlight bezels, the rear step pad, and the front and rear bumper inserts. In addition, the Altitude has notable black Jeep badges. This is quite a package in contrast to the standard Laredo. The Laredo has a black roof rack but other than that there are no further variations in exterior trim. Buyers who might otherwise be interested in a Laredo may be enticed by the level of bold contrast to the black colour scheme offered by the Altitude exterior trim pieces.

3. Interior Amenities

To create a real rough-and-ready vibe, Jeep has engineered the Altitude's seat with fabric mesh and leather material. With the familiar Jeep trademark logo sewn onto the top of each front seat and "altitude" stitched into the front seats. The SUV's manual adjustable front passenger seat and rear seating are trimmed in the same materials. The Laredo, however, has a much plusher appearance with leather and wood trims throughout the cabin and standard cloth seats. This compliments a more luxurious feel in comparison to the Altitude. Both vehicles come equipped with air conditioning, front and rear reading lights, leather-wrapped and tilt/telescoping steering wheel. Jeep has included some finesse of technology to the owner's convenience such as remote keyless entry, external temperature display, compass, and cruise control. The Laredo also comes with dual-zone climate control, which the Altitude unfortunately doesn't possess. Both the Altitude and Laredo have the same basic elements such as a 6-speaker audio, auxiliary audio input, and USB with an external media control and a radio data system. The Laredo has an additional feature of voice-operated audio control with a Bluetooth feature. The Altitude has an AM/FM stereo, video monitor, and a memory card slot. An advantage that Altitude may have over the rival in terms of media control is its optional 9-speaker system optional with an all-weather subwoofer, so if the driver had any intention of personalizing the sound of the system, this would be the most suitable alternative. Both the Altitude and Laredo are also satellite radio service providers, the Altitude with a standard 1-year subscription and the Laredo with a standard 6 months.

3.1. Cabin Design and Comfort

The updated Altitude and Limited trim is designed and built within Grand Cherokees with blacked-out headlamp bezels and black cap seven-slot grilles combined with liquid dish black paint on 20-in. rims, black chrome badges, and is eligible in Billet Silver, Bright White, Maximum Steel, and Velvet Red. Inside, the black theme persists with black leather-trimmed heated front and back seats, and gloss black and metallic-colored accents. The bottom Altitude is eligible with 4X2 or 4X4 drivetrains at value prices of $35,495 and $37,495, plus a $995 destination charge. Another upgrade from Laredo models is a normal 4-way driver and passenger lumbar adjust. Also standard on the Altitude's base is the Security and Convenience Group, including remote start, security alarm, power liftgate, heated power mirrors, 115-volt A/C power outlet, and a universal garage door opener. The Limited possessions include a standard Bi-Xenon High-Intensity release Headlamps combining signature LED daytime running lamps and auto high-beam manage, and the new design is optional with the Jeep brand's available 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 and 5.7-liter V-8 engines. Regarding cabin design and comfort, the Altitude and Limited trims leave nothing to be desired. Whether you're diving into the driver's chair or just fastening your seat belt and taking a casual glance around, the engulfed sense of content and luxury is inevitable. On Altitude models, the heated leather-wrapped steering wheel is adorned in black stitching with audio, vehicle, and cruise control system buttons, all about in easy reach. High-quality instrument cluster rings show off a hue of metallic chrome and draw attention towards informative gauges and vehicle notifications. Coming down the center stack, the center console shows off a new effect with an automatic transmission shift knob and integrated climate and audio control from a singular location.

3.2. Infotainment Systems and Connectivity

The Jeep Laredo's basic infotainment system has less overall system benefits, but its standard radio capabilities are more advanced than its base system. With a 5-inch or 8.4-inch touchscreen, it offers both types of screens an equal benefit, as well as basic radio and subscription options. The 8.4-inch touchscreen also offers HD Radio, SiriusXM Travel Link, and optional SiriusXM Traffic. If a vehicle does not come with a Travel or Traffic service, an Uconnect Access features can be added to an existing Uconnect system. This mirrors the Altitude Uconnect System. A Laredo is also capable of adding a Uconnect Access System through an optional package, there are also basic navigation and SiriusXM Travel Link and Traffic service capabilities. The standard Garmin Navigation and Traffic systems come with both 5-inch and 8.4-inch touchscreens. Although the standard radio and subscription capabilities exceed the standard Uconnect System, the Laredo has less overall system benefits than the Altitude. Both the Altitude and Laredo have a great system, but the Altitude has the most advanced system via its optional Uconnect package. This is a disadvantage to the Laredo, as the Navigation and Traffic capabilities were the Altitude's strongest system benefits.

The Altitude comes with an 8.4-inch touchscreen, as well as navigation, radio, and satellite capabilities. It offers both Bluetooth and wireless hands-free operations, and steering-wheel mounted controls. The Laredo is offered with a 5-inch or 8.4-inch touchscreen, 6 speakers, and steering-wheel mounted audio controls. It doesn't include navigation and satellite, and offers wireless mobile phone operation. Both infotainment systems with their varying features may be accessed by the driver and front passenger. Although equally as technologically beneficial, the Altitude offers much more through its 8.4-inch touchscreen with navigation and satellite capabilities. The Laredo may also be accessed by an SD card, but both vehicles offer a covered storage area and a USB port. Both vehicles also offer a variety of connectivity options for the driver. The Altitude comes with its Uconnect System, which is accessible through both an 8.4-inch touchscreen and steering-wheel mounted controls. The Uconnect System is an extremely beneficial feature to the Altitude, as it offers a wide variety of internet and social media options. By using Wi-Fi, drivers can turn their vehicle into a Wi-Fi hotspot, and connect to the internet through their mobile phone or USB. This feature is very beneficial for anyone who brings their car on a road trip. The Uconnect System also allows drivers to connect to Facebook and Twitter, as well as various internet radio options. The system is especially beneficial to the Altitude, as its radio capabilities are heavily integrated with the Uconnect System. With radio and subscription options, drivers can find music, talk shows, and sports provided by satellite radio. The system will even search and store music with the same artist or genre, record up to 30 minutes of live radio, and find any missed songs and replay them. With the use of SiriusXM Travel Link and Traffic, the Uconnect System can provide information on the cheapest gas nearby and change in traffic conditions. The Altitude has an optional package that further enhances its Uconnect System. By adding Uconnect Access, drivers can use 9-1-1 buttons and send SOS calls, as well as vehicle information and theft alarm notifications through an Access Smartphone App.

3.3. Upholstery and Interior Trim Options

This is where the Altitude and Laredo models really begin to diverge. The Altitude offers an all-black leather interior with suede inserts and accent stitching. The headrests and floor mats are also embroidered with Jeep logos. Meanwhile, the Laredo offers a choice of black, frost beige/black, or Morocco black/brown interior color schemes. Materials are relegated to cloth or a dual-pattern cloth-leather combination. The base Laredo may feature a choice of black, beige, or black/brown with simulated wood grain plastic trim. Step up Laredo X models feature a standard black option with added wood grain or the Morocco black/brown combination with new silver metallic accents. Patterned after last year's Limited X is a new for 2012 Laredo Leather package which adds the option for a single-color all-leather interior in black or frost beige. This package includes power and heated front seats as well. The interior color schemes of the Laredo Leather package with black or frost beige are almost identical to that of the Altitude and also feature accent stitching (though brown for the Moroccan models) and leather seating. Both models also offer a power sunroof option to further enhance the cabin ambiance. Overall, the Altitude's fashionable monotone color scheme and rich leather textures make for a higher quality interior compared to the Laredo.

4. Performance and Capability

In terms of towing, Jeep Laredo has a towing capacity of between 5000-7400lbs compared to that of the Altitude which can manage only 1000-2000lbs for the V6 and 2000-2000lbs for the V8 engine. Furthermore, Laredo provides much better handling and stability with Trailer Sway Control and its heavier weight. This makes the Laredo a clear winner when it comes to driving and towing heavy loads, especially those located off-road.

Off-road capabilities are the next piece to the puzzle and an area where these vehicles may see some use. Both Jeeps have 4X4 systems available, but Laredo comes with a more sophisticated tractive capability with the Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II, and Quadra-Drive II systems available to the V6 and V8 engines. Altitude provides a single and somewhat basic system; the Freedom Drive I 4X4 system and its OEM off-road capability is not comparable to that of the Laredo.

For each and every driver, a powerful engine is fundamentally the showcase of a vehicle's performance. Jeep Laredo comes furnished with a 3.6L VVT Pentastar V6 engine compared to the 2.4L I4 of Jeep Altitude. The much higher capacity V6 engine of Laredo gives it an edge over the Altitude. Both vehicles, on the other hand provide a V8 engine as an optional upgrade. Altitude provides a 5-speed 4X2 automatic powertrain as standard compared to the 4X2 Laredo that comes with a 5-speed and 4X4. However, Laredo provides users with more choices and marginally better technology as it has a 5-speed and 4X4 option available for the V6 engine and a 6-speed for the V8 engine along with an additional Flex-fuel option in the 4X2.

4.1. Engine Choices and Powertrain Options

The Altitude and Laredo are available with a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 producing 290 horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque. This engine is the standard and only available power plant on the Altitude. A 5-speed automatic is standard equipment on the Laredo 4x2 equipped with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. Optional on the Laredo and standard on Laredo X, Limited and Overland is the 5.7-liter HEMI V8. Jeep improves fuel efficiency of the Grand Cherokee with the 3.6-liter engine and it's now capable of an estimated 17/city and 23/highway mpg with 2WD and 16/city and 23/highway mpg in 4x4 configuration. HEMI models are also slightly improved in fuel efficiency due to the addition of a lower friction engine design and weight reductions in the vehicle affecting a 14/city and 20/highway mpg on 2WD models and 13/city and 20/highway mpg on 4x4 models. Last but not least is the 5.7-liter engine's Multiple-Displacement System (MDS) allowing the engine to run on half the cylinders when power demands are low, thus improving fuel efficiency. This engine will have an estimated annual fuel cost of $2800 with $500 in fuel savings over five years in comparison with the previous year's model according to the EPA Fuel Economy and Environment Label for the 2011 Grand Cherokee.

4.2. Off-Road Capabilities and Suspension Systems

The Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo and Altitude share Jeep's legendary off-road capability and feature the same suspension systems. Both models come equipped with the proven Quadra-Trac I four-wheel-drive system, which is an intuitive system that requires no input or adjustment from the driver. It constantly and smoothly adjusts torque distribution, thanks to its brake traction control, to any of the four wheels when it detects slip. The system also includes the Select-Terrain system, which allows the driver to choose from five pre-configured settings for optimum traction on a variety of terrains. The traction control and the ability to affordably equip all Grand Cherokees with an air suspension system make the Jeep Grand Cherokee one of the best and most economical choices in the SUV market for off-road capability. The most impressive aspect of the Jeep Grand Cherokee's off-road capability is its optional Quadra-Lift air suspension system. This system allows the driver to raise the vehicle from park mode to 1.5 inches higher than the normal ride height. The system is used to increase ground clearance and to raise the vehicle up for clearing obstacles. The air suspension system also allows for lowering the vehicle 1.5 inches below the standard height for ease of entry and exit. It automatically adjusts the ride height according to the terrain and choice of the Select-Terrain system setting. The air suspension system is only available on the Laredo and Altitude trims as an added option.

4.3. Towing Capacity and Trailer Sway Control

The towing capacity of a vehicle is one of the most important aspects, especially when the purchaser knows they will be towing a load of some sort, e.g. a boat, a box trailer or a caravan. Both the Laredo and the Altitude have a maximum towing capacity of 3500 pounds (1587.57kg) when the vehicle is fitted with the 3.6 litre engine. It is worth noting that the diesel engine has a larger torque rating (520Nm) than the most powerful petrol V6 (450Nm), however the higher towing capacity cannot be utilised unless the vehicle is fitted with a trailer tow package. The package is available with both the Laredo and Altitude, and the main feature of the package is an upgraded engine cooling system to cope with the extra work, and a full size spare tyre as the compact-steel is not rated for use with a trailer. This is due to the fact that the main use of the compact-steel wheel is to save weight and improve fuel economy, which may not be a priority when towing a heavy load. Trailer Sway Control (TSC) is an essential addition to any vehicle with a large towing capacity. A vehicle and trailer combination that begins to sway can quickly become uncontrollable, and if the driver is not prepared for how to handle the situation, it can lead to an accident. Every Grand Cherokee, regardless of model and specification, is fitted with TSC as standard, which is a system designed to provide assistance in difficult or emergency manoeuvres on a vehicle that is starting to sway. This is usually provided by selectively applying brakes to certain wheels, however no specific information could be found on the exact function of the TSC in the Grand Cherokee.

Jeep Altitude vs. Laredo

Exploring the differences between Jeep Altitude and Laredo models provides insights into their unique features and capabilities. Whether you are looking for luxury, performance, or value, understanding these models can guide you in making an informed decision.

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