Our Rides: How To Arrive At The Gay Softball World Series

Photos by Randy Stern
Photos by Randy Stern

The Gay Softball World Series will welcome hundreds of athletes from across the country to the Twin Cities. If they’re lucky, they’ll simply fly into Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport with their bats and uniforms. Otherwise, it’s going to be many hours on the road to ensure that no bat is destroyed and many pieces of luggage full of uniforms are not lost somewhere in an airline’s network.

Most likely, you will load up an SUV or minivan full of gear and fellow teammates on the road for a chance at the GSWS title. Not everyone’s schedule will mesh to get you all to the Twin Cities. But, when they do, you need to ride in comfort.

However, if six of you want to get to the GSWS, I have something for you to consider when you get to the rental car lot…or, if you’re shopping for a vehicle altogether.

It’s a Jeep!

Ok, it’s not your stereotypical Wrangler with the roof and doors removed. Rather, the spacious Grand Cherokee L.

You’ve heard of the Grand Cherokee. It has been one of the more popular models in the Jeep lineup – next to the iconic Wrangler. It is more of a softroader, which can be equipped with a beefier four-wheel drive system. For this newest edition of the brand’s mid-size SUV, you can also choose between a two-row model or this three-row L version.

Grand Cherokee L models can also seat up to seven people – your teammates included.

This particular example is what Jeep calls the Altitude trim, which is a package for the Laredo model. A Laredo is the “base” trim level, but don’t call it basic. It comes with a lot of equipment as it is. The Altitude package adds a blacked-out grille, badging, trim, and a set of 20-inch alloy finished in black. For some folks, this is considered “cool.” It is also a trend among automakers to make such “cool” vehicles in their respective lineups.

If you’re a winning team and want to look “cool” getting to the ballfields – this is your ride.

In terms of space, there is 159.1 cubic feet of interior volume to work out between players and their gear. If you load up all three rows, you only have just 17.4 cubic feet of gear space to load up. Knowing how big your equipment bags are, you might have to get creative in getting everything together. You can use the Grand Cherokee L as a gear hauler for your entire team. That way, you can fill up to 84.6 cubic feet of equipment bags, coolers, luggage, and everything else to support your team.

The Altitude trim offers six seats upholstered with its leatherette and sueded cloth combination. They are on the firm side, but you can find comfort getting to the ballfields in Eagan and back to your hotel. If you’re coming from our state lines, the Grand Cherokee L is pretty comfortable for six folks – including the driver.

Access to the third row is done with a sliding second row seat, using a lift handle on top of the seatback. The rear doors are large enough for your teammates to navigate. There is a center “pass-through” area, but please be mindful of the raised “hump” between the second-row seats. You can also adjust the second-row seats for leg room and recline.

Your teammates would probably want to chill out with their devices on the road. This Altitude tester comes with an 8.4-inch UConnect 5 infotainment system, which is very robust and offer plenty of options for playback and navigation. That means, you can tether your iPhone or Android device seamlessly either through a USB cord or wirelessly. There are twelve USB A and C ports across all three rows for charging up your devices. There is a wireless charging pad up front in the center console.

Each row of seats gets two cupholders. There are places for water bottles in the door compartments, as well. In the Grand Cherokee L, you can stay hydrated and entertained after a tough game in the tournament.

Most likely, your Grand Cherokee L will come with a 3.6-liter V6 putting down 293 horsepower. An eight-speed automatic is operated by a knob on the center console. This vehicle had Jeep’s four-wheel drive system, which turns on automatically in most conditions – including rained out sessions. Expect fuel economy to average around where we observed at 22.3 MPG.

The ride to the GSWS and back will be smooth inside the Grand Cherokee L. You won’t feel the remaining potholes around town, as the suspension handles them quite well.

Drivers will find the Grand Cherokee L highly maneuverable with solid braking and steering action. Not to mention, you have plenty of driver assistance features that will keep you away from harm. Adaptive Cruise Control, along with the LaneSense Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keeping Assist, are engineered to make sure that at least six of you will take your at-bats in one piece.

If this is the kind of SUV you want to have handy for your team at home or on the road – not to mention your active and relaxing lifestyle – the three-row 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L is available in six trim levels, two- or four-wheel drive, and a choice of the V6 or a V8 engine. Pricing starts from $42,030. This 4X4 Altitude tester came with a sticker price of $54,565.

If you don’t need a third row, the shorter two-row Grand Cherokee has a lot more choices available with pricing starting from $40,130.

As you traverse the country on your way to the Twin Cities for the GSWS, you have a lot of choices on how to get there and around for the tournament. Consider the Jeep Grand Cherokee L one of those choices. If you get one from your local rental car agency, you have already won. If you own one, just grab your trophy already.

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