For the third generation of the Grand Cherokee, Jeep continued a trend begun in the previous rework -- mirroring efforts seen around the industry back then -- by making its flagship SUV a little bigger, brawnier, and more powerful. Debuting in 2004 as a 2005 model, the third-gen Grand Cherokee gained 3.5 inches in wheelbase and 5 inches overall, yet kept its two-row seating, available V-8 engines, and myriad 4WD options.

The new Grand Cherokee gained a far more sophisticated look, with angular wheel arches, arched headlight surrounds, and a smoother, somewhat less prominent beltline treatment. There was a mild restyle for the 2008 model.

Under that rescsulpted skin was significantly upgraded running gear, representing Jeep's desire to make the Grand Cherokee a better highway cruiser without sacrificing much off-road prowess. It was an expected move, given the competition's willingness to go soft in search of suburban sales. The live front axle disappeared in favor of an independent control-arm setup.

The base inline-six was replaced by a 3.7-liter SOHC V-6 that was three-quarters of the 4.7-liter V-8. The gas V-6 made 210 hp and 235 lb-ft of torque, while the 4.7-liter V-8 started with 265 hp, but got bumped to 305 (and 334 lb-ft of torque) for 2008. The Hemi had 330 hp at the start of this generation and 357 by the 2009-2010 model years. The Hemi used cylinder deactivation to improve fuel economy. Jeep also offered a 215-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel in 2007 and 2008. A 6.1-liter version of the Hemi propelled the high-performance SRT-8.

While the transmission of choice was one -- a five-speed automatic across the board, though not the same unit for all engines -- there were several other drivetrain options. The gas V-6 and base V-8 could be straightforward 2WD; the Hemi had 4WD standard. All engines, including the diesel, were mated to some form of 4WD; the matrix of matchups changed over the years. Basically, though, the choices were Quadra-Drive II, the high-end system with a two-speed transfer case and electronic limited-slip differentials; Quadra-Trac II, which lacks the ELSDs; and Quadra-Trac I, a simplified system with a single-speed transfer case.

Online resources give this generation of Grand Cherokee very good marks for reliability. Owners praise the GC's high level of available equipment, off-road abilities, and the Hemi's unstoppable nature. Plus, it's a good value. Looking at 2007 models, the Grand Cherokee Overland (the top model aside from the SRT-8) carries a Kelley Blue Book retail value of $22,051; a comparable Ford Explorer V-8 is valued at $21,125, but a Toyota 4Runner Limited 4WD fetches $24,383. A base-model 2005 with the V-6 and 2WD is under $10,000 -- seemingly little dough for a slick soft-roader.


2005-2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Body type 4-door SUV
Drivetrain Front engine, RWD/4WD
Airbags Dual front
EngineS 3.7L/210-hp SOHC V-6; 4.7L/265-305-hp SOHC V-8; 5.7L/330-357-hp OHV V-8; 3.0L/215-hp DOHC V-6 turbodiesel
Brakes, f/r Disc/disc, ABS
Price range, whlsl/retail (KBB) $6232/$9957 (2005 RWD V-6 Laredo); $23,97w2/$27,222 (2010 4WD V-8 Limited)
Recalls Too many to list; see www.intellichoice.com
NHTSA frontal impact rating, driver/pass Five stars/five stars