The Jeep Grand Cherokee has been totally redesigned for the 2011 model year, adding more upscale materials and features while maintaining its already very capable off-road abilities, particularly for a midsize crossover SUV. Other notable attributes include its strong V6 and V8 engines along with a high towing capacity.
The new and more refined Jeep Grand Cherokee actually shares some of its components with the Mercedes-Benz ML-Class thanks to DaimlerChrysler's ownership of Jeep when the Grand Cherokee was originally developed. It's length has been increased, allowing for more passenger space, especially in the rear seat. Also, changes to the cabin's center stack and storage areas have significantly upgraded the interior's look while also adding improved functionality.
And now powering the 2011 Grand Cherokee is a new 290 horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine that is both more powerful and fuel-efficient than its predecessor (the 360 horsepower V8 is still an available option). Enhancing its off-road performance, an air suspension is available that raises the vehicle's ride height, as well as a drive-mode selector for setting the powertrain and suspension to best meet specific terrain and driving conditions. And the Grand Cherokee's overall drive quality has been improved with a fully independent rear suspension.
The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a 5-passenger midsize SUV that is available in three trims: Laredo, Limited and Overland, with each offered in both 4x2 and 4x4 forms.
Standard features on the Laredo model include full power accessories, dual-zone air-conditioning, foglamps, keyless ignition, 17-inch alloy wheels, a power driver seat, cruise control, automatic headlights, a tilt/telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel and a 6-speaker stereo with a CD player, satellite radio and an auxiliary audio jack.
The Security and Convenience Group for the Laredo adds an auto-dimming rearview mirror, remote ignition, a cargo cover, a USB/iPod interface and Bluetooth. Stand-alone options for the Laredo include leather upholstery, a power passenger seat, a back-up camera and a 9-speaker audio system with HD radio, a touchscreen interface and a subwoofer.
The Grand Cherokee Limited comes with all of the Laredo's options plus a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, rear parking sensors, 18-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, a leather-wrapped shift knob, automatic wipers, heated front and rear seats, bi-xenon headlights, driver memory settings and auto-dimming exterior mirrors.
The Luxury Group II for the Limited adds ventilated front seats, a power tailgate, a heated steering wheel and a power tilt/telescoping steering column. There's also a Media Center package that includes navigation, real-time traffic and digital music storage (30GB). Also optional are 20-inch wheels.
The Overland model comes with all of the Limited's optional features, plus a wood and leather steering wheel and unique trim accents.
An optional Off-Road Adventure I package is available on 4x4 Laredo and Limited models and includes tow hooks, off-road tires, skid plates and a full-size spare, as well as the Quadra-Trac II 4WD system and hill descent control on the Laredo.
The Off-Road Adventure II package adds all the Adventure I's features plus an air suspension, towing equipment (also offered as a separate package), the Quadra-Drive II 4WD system and an electronic limited-slip differential. Both the Limited and Overland can also be outfitted with a rear entertainment system with Sirius Backseat TV, however, it requires the replacement of the panoramic sunroof with one of normal size.
Under the hood of all 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokees is a new 3.6-liter V6 engine that pumps out 290 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission, while the EPA-estimated gas mileage for the V6 with four-wheel drive is 16 mpg city and 22 mpg on the highway.
The optional engine is a 5.7-liter V8 that's good for 360 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque. Its EPA-rated fuel economy comes in at 13 mpg city and 19 mpg highway.
While rear-wheel drive is standard, there are three optional four-wheel-drive systems. The Laredo comes with Quadra-Trac I, which basically operates as all-wheel drive. Standard on the Limited and Overland, and optional on the Laredo, is Quadra-Trac II, which includes a two-speed transfer case, the Selec-Terrain system and hill descent control. The Laredo and Limited can also be outfitted with the optional Quadra-Drive II, which includes electronic limited-slip differentials to both axles. In addition, the Overland comes with Quadra-Lift air suspension, which adjusts the ride height based on the driver's choice or automatically through the Selec-Terrain system.
The Grand Cherokee, when properly equipped, has a towing capacity of 7,400 pounds.
Safety features on the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee include traction control, stability control, four-wheel antilock disc brakes (ABS), front side airbags, active front head restraints and side curtain airbags.
The 2011 Grand Cherokee is also a "Top Safety Pick" of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Award recipients must receive Good overall scores in the institute's frontal-offset crash test, side-impact crash test, whiplash-prevention test, roof-crush test and must also have an available electronic stability system (standard on the Grand Cherokee).
The new Grand Cherokee's cabin is much improved with an attractive, user-friendly design that is solidly-constructed and made from higher-quality materials. The overall result now puts the Grand Cherokee's interior on a similar level with top competitors.
The seating is comfortable and supportive all around. The rear seats are wider and the longer wheelbase creates four additional inches of legroom. With the rear seats folded flat, cargo capacity comes in at a very useable 68.7 cubic feet.
The Grand Cherokee's drive has also been improved. The fully independent rear suspension provides a smoother and more comfortable ride as well as competent cornering stability. And off-road, the Grand Cherokee is a superior performer thanks to its advanced four-wheel-drive system and good ground clearance.
Most drivers will be more than satisfied with the power of the new V6 engine, while those needing extra towing capacity or who just like extra power will likely be pleased with the V8. While the 5-speed automatic transmission is smooth and well-timed, it should be noted that many rivals have upgraded to more efficient 6-speed automatics.
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2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee:
Laredo, RWD: list price: $30,215, invoice price: $28,711
Laredo, 4WD: list price: $32,215, invoice price: $30,601
Limited, RWD: list price: $36,320, invoice price: $34,266
Limited, 4WD: list price: $38,820, invoice price: $36,611
Overland, RWD: list price: $38,715, invoice price: $36,446
Overland, 4WD: list price: $41,120, invoice price: $38,704