2006 Grand Cherokee New Car Test Drive
The 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee lineup features two new models, the luxurious Overland and the high-performance SRT8. The Grand Cherokee was completely redesigned for 2005, and is bigger, more modern, and more powerful than previous versions of this iconic, midsize SUV.
The edgy, angular body is devoid of cladding and is proportioned differently from earlier Jeeps. It looks new and contemporary, but people instantly recognize it as a Grand Cherokee.
Interior materials are dramatically improved over the previous generation's, which left much to be desired. The atmosphere inside the latest Grand Cherokee is light, comfortable, and more enveloping than the previous model; from the driver's perspective it's more bolted in than hanging on, with lots of seat adjustment, excellent outward vision around relatively slim windshield posts, and with all the switches and controls clearly labeled and easy to find and use. In back is nearly 70 cubic feet of cargo space.
A more sophisticated suspension gives the current Grand Cherokee much better handling than that of pre-2005 models, with less leaning in corners, along with better ride quality. Its turning radius is tighter, too, good for crowded parking lots.
All four available engines are modern. The 5.7-liter Hemi V8 is particularly good for towing or driving at higher elevations. The SRT8 has a 420-hp 6.1-liter Hemi and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than five seconds. The smaller, 4.7-liter overhead-cam V8 works quite well, however, and the standard overhead-cam V6 is a big improvement over Jeep's old overhead-valve inline-6.
Overall, 2006 Grand Cherokee retains the rugged spirit of the Jeep brand, combined with engineering and quality control closer to the Daimler-Benz tradition.
The 2006 Jeep Grand Cherokee comes in four trim levels:
The Laredo ($27,165) comes with a 210-horsepower, 3.7-liter V6 and a five-speed automatic transmission. The 4.7-liter overhead-cam V8 is optional ($720 with 2WD, $1,340 with 4WD). Cloth upholstery is standard, but leather bucket seats are available ($850) when ordered with other options. Air conditioning comes standard, along with one-touch power windows, power locks with remote keyless entry, eight-way power driver's seat, AM/FM/CD audio with auxiliary input jack, driver information center, 60/40 split folding rear seat, an engine immobilizer, water-resistant storage compartment, and 17-inch tires and wheels. Laredo 4WD ($29,135) features Quadra-Trac I full-time four-wheel drive. Quadra-Trac II, which includes a Low range, is optional ($620) with the V6 and standard with the V8.
The Limited ($33,415) comes with the 4.7-liter V8 and leather upholstery. Also standard: automatic climate control; Boston Acoustics six-speaker 276-watt AM/FM stereo with six-CD changer and MP3 capability; power adjustable pedals; power passenger seat; memory function for the seats, pedals, and mirrors; automatic headlamps; rain-sensing automatic wipers; electrochromic rearview mirror; HomeLink; tire pressure monitor with display; adjustable roof rack crossrails; and machined-face 17-inch aluminum wheels. Limited 4WD ($36,005) gets all that plus Quadra-Trac II. The Hemi is optional on both 2WD and 4WD Limiteds, and when ordered on the latter comes with Jeep's latest Quadra-Drive II full-time active 4WD.
The Overland ($39,240) comes with the 5.7-liter Hemi, and adds a wood-and-leather steering wheel, real wood accents on the doors and console, two-tone leather and ultra-suede seats embroidered with the Overland logo, leather-covered console and armrest, side airbags, DVD-based navigation, Sirius Satellite Radio, a ParkSense reverse-parking sensor, a trailer-tow group, and platinum-clad aluminum wheels. Other platinum accents highlight the exterior. Overland 4WD ($42,230) adds Quadra-Drive II.
The SRT8 ($39,300) comes with a 6.1-liter Hemi rated 420 horsepower, a lowered suspension and its own electronic all-wheel-drive system. Distinctive bumper fascias and 20-inch wheels make SRT8 instantly identifiable. Inside are sport seats, special trim, and an level of standard features roughly analogous to the Limited's. Options can bring an SRT8 to Overland levels.
Safety features that come on all Grand Cherokees include an electronic stability program (ESP) with roll mitigation, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) with brake assist, traction control, a tire-pressure monitoring system, and front air bags with four levels of deployment. Side curtain air bags are optional ($560).
Options include GPS navigation built into the radio ($1,200), a rear-seat DVD entertainment system ($1,200), sunroof ($800), a trailer tow package ($255), Boston Acoustics audio, UConnect hands-free communication system ($275), Smart Beam headlamps that sense the available natural light and adjust accordingly, and ParkSense rear park assist. An Off-Road package ($420) with tow hooks is available, along with chromed alloy wheels, and an engine block heater.