Jeep Grand Cherokee 2011 gets complete makeover
I always try to be impartial about brands, but I actually have a soft spot for my Jeep Grand Cherokee. So I can’t help but feel slightly excited about the all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee that made its debut at the 2009 New York Auto Show. Because in terms of features, it raises the bar yet again when it comes to combining affordability, offroad ability, crossover SUV looks, V8 performance, soft-touch cabin trim and some semblance of on-road handling. Do not take this as my endorsement for the dying Chrysler brand or Jeep in particular. The rest of Jeep’s range continue to be embarrassing.
The upcoming Grand Cherokee’s available engines have been reduced to two for now. The first one is a 290 hp 3.6-litre V6 with Variable-Valve Timing (VVT), 353 Nm of torque at 4800 rpm and an 11% improvement in fuel economy with a claimed range of up to 800 km. The second is the venerable 360 hp 5.7-litre HEMI V8 with VVT, 520 Nm at 4250 rpm, dual exhausts, and fuel-saving Multi-displacement System (MDS) cylinder-shutoff technology. Both come with a 5-speed automatic.
An all-new Quadra Lift air suspension system provides height control and lifts vehicle up to 11.4 cm from park mode to a maximum ride height of 28.2 cm to improve off-road capability, which is higher than most full-size SUVs. A choice of three 4×4 systems – Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II with Electronic Limited-Slip Differential (ELSD) – are now available. Also a new Selec-Terrain system with Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II offers five terrain settings: Auto, Sand/Mud, Sport, Snow and Rock. However, the 4×4 systems are optional, and a 2WD model will be available in some markets.
The four-wheel independent suspension, first introduced in 2005, continues for this iteration, but tuned for better ride comfort. The body structure is 146% stiffer than current model, and supposedly stiffer than the BMW X5. Apparently the unibody platform is the same one used in the Mercedes-Benz ML, thereby making it the last collaboration model before DaimlerChrysler split up.
The interior has been redesigned with premium soft-touch interior materials, leather instrument panel and door uppers on the Overland model, real wood and leather options, heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, four-way power lumbar controls, rain-sensitive wipers, Passive Entry/Keyless Go, ParkView rear back-up camera and a power tilt/telescoping steering column with memory. Thankfully, rear legroom has been increased by 10 cm and cargo space by 17%, though it still seats only five.
The exterior is too simplified, but still retains its crossover-style shape, losing the ugly googly-eyed headlights of the current model, but gaining a tacky chromed rear. New optional features include a dual-pane panoramic sun roof with power open/close sun shades, power rear liftgate, optional 20-inch wheels, Bi-Xenon HID headlights, and unique SmartBeam headlamps that adjust to ambient light and oncoming traffic to deliver maximum lighting.
Standard Electronic Stability Control (ESC) includes Electronic Roll Mitigation, Hill-Start Assist, Trailer-Sway Control and available Hill-Descent Control. Also standard are side-curtain airbags and active head restraints.
Other available features include a park assist system, a blind-spot/rear cross-path detection system notifies the driver of vehicles in blind spots, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning system, remote start, Alpine audio system with nine speakers, a
506W subwoofer, and a Uconnect system that calls for help in a crash, tunes wireless Bluetooth connections for phones and future
MP3 players, connects via USB to enable voice search by song title and artist for iPod devices, Garmin navigation and SIRIUS Backseat TV.
The 2011 looks to be the ultimate buy in SUVs without moving up to the luxury brands, provided one doesn’t need a cramped third-row seat. Here’s to hoping that the mismanaged company survives long enough to see next year, because its GCC marketing efforts aren’t doing the brand any favours.
Keep track of updates to the local Jeep range in the Jeep Grand Cherokee buyer guide.