First Look: 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee
One Step Closer to Reality
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.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee has long been one of the most handsome SUVs on the market, and the new 2011 model is no exception. With Chrysler design's newfound emphasis on what's on the inside, the interior may no longer be a disappointment. The company touts the crossover's "premium soft-touch interior materials for all price classes," and even a leather instrument panel for the top-of-the-range Overland trim model.
The long list of standard and optional luxury and safety features includes:
- Real wood interior trim
- Heated steering wheel
- Heated/ventilated front seats, heated rear seats
- Four-way power lumbar controls
- Rain-sensitive wipers
- Passive entry/keyless go
- Back-up camera
- Power tilt/telescoping steering column with memory
- Dual-pane panoramic sunroof, covers the top from the windshield header to the rear
- Power rear liftgate with remote up/down
- 20-inch wheels optional on Limited and Overland trim levels
- Standard electronic stability control, electronic roll mitigation
- Hill-start assist, trailer-sway control and hill-descent control
- Blind-spot/rear cross-path access, adaptive cruise control
- Forward collision warning system
- Remote start
- U-Connect internet connectivity
If all that high-tech safety seems Mercedes-like, that's because the 2011 Grand Cherokee's basic platform began with the M-Class architecture, much like the Chrysler 300/Dodge Charger/Challenger, which have old E-Class parts.
Even if the new Grand Cherokee doesn't do anything to advance the luxury crossover segment, it's impressively updated. If nothing else, it should impress the folks at Fiat.