Last year, Chrysler showed the automotive press an interior-free fiberglass mockup of its long-awaited Jeep Grand Cherokee, an icon of the late '90s and early '00s. It looked like little more than vaporware at the time. At the 2009 New York International Auto Show, the audiences will be the international press, Fiat Auto and U.S. Treasury and the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee is no longer a mockup.
The Grand Cherokee has long been a rare viable Chrysler model in Europe and Jeep promises the new one will be built in left- and right-hand-drive versions. It will come only with two rows of seats, and with a bit more emphasis on luxury to compete with the new Cadillac SRX and Lexus RX, among others. The slow-selling Jeep Commander is a short-timer -- you'll find a new three-row Dodge Durango sharing the Grand Cherokee's rear-drive, unibody platform next year at your local Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep dealer.
The 2011 Grand Cherokee is also the first Chrysler product to make use of the new Phoenix V-6 engine family, in this case a 280-horsepower, 260 pound-foot 3.6L unit. The 360 horsepower, 390 pound-foot 5.7L Hemi V-8 will still be offered and Europeans will be able to check a box labeled "diesel." Suspension is all-new, independent at the four corners.
Three 4x4 options remain: Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II with electronic limited slip. A new Selec-Terrain system with Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II has five terrain settings, automatic, sand/mud, sport, snow and rock. The 4x2 will have the highest tow rating, however, at 7,400 pounds.
Jeep has added three gallons to the fuel tank, for 24.6, and claims a range of more than 500 miles with the new V-6.