Further aiding the ride is the new Dynamic Handling System (DHS), which uses an active stabilizer bar. Traditionally, stiff stabilizer bars are installed to improve a vehicle's handling, often at the expense of the ride. With DHS, the front and rear stabilizer bars are decoupled, except when the vehicle is cornering. The power-steering pump sends hydraulic pressure to the anti-roll-bar links to relax or tighten them. There are three vehicle sensors to determine when the bars are necessary. Like normal stabilizer bars, this system improves handling by reducing body roll in turns; however, we're told DHS doesn't adversely affect the ride in straight-line driving.
A major change for the Grand Cherokee is under the hood. Three engines are offered, two of which are new to this vehicle. The biggest powerplant is the 5.7-liter, 325-horsepower Hemi currently found in the Durango and Ram. It uses the Chrysler Group's Multi-Displacement System, which can deactivate half of the cylinders when driving conditions don't require V-8 power. This improves fuel economy, yet doesn't affect towing capability. The transition from eight-cylinder power to four happens in 0.04 seconds (40 milliseconds). The standard engine is now a 3.7-liter V-6, replacing the stalwart yet dated 4.0-liter I-6. Buyers who want something bigger than the six can buy the 4.7-liter that's been a part of this platform since the second generation was launched for 1999, except this year's 4.7 has more horsepower and torque than in the past and is now quieter. The 3.7 is backed by an all-new five-speed automatic transmission, and the V-8s both use the 545RFE five-speed auto, which offers dual second-gear ratios to help fuel economy.
The body receives noticeable changes, but is still unquestionably a Grand Cherokee. For the first time, this Jeep receives round headlights that flank the seven-slot grille, aligning it more closely with the brand's signature front end. The body itself is more angular, and its sides more upright, than its hunkered-down predecessor. Rear taillights are now a combination of red and clear lenses, and lighter, more efficient moldings replace the previous side cladding. The redesigned interior has seats built for comfort during long-distance hauls. The gauges and instrument panel are new, and the cabin receives more storage pockets and bins. For the first time, the Grand's options include rear-seat DVD entertainment and a color navigation system with integrated AM/FM/six-disc CD/MP3 playback. The cargo area has a reversible load-floor panel, the plastic underside of which contains a large utility tray.
The Chrysler Group was careful to keep this sport/utility close to its off-road roots, while improving comfort, on-road ride and handling, power, and fuel efficiency. Even though the new Grand is five inches longer than the previous model, the platform is still too small to justify a third row of seats (those who really need the extra seating can get the 14-inch-longer Durango). Other than that, Jeep found a way to make this vehicle capable of competing with traditional SUVs and crossovers, and did it without sacrificing what makes a Jeep a Jeep.