2009 Grand Cherokee New Car Test Drive
The Jeep Grand Cherokee offers superior off-road capability comparable to that of the upscale Land Rover LR3. This makes the Grand Cherokee a fine choice for families who venture off-road or vacation in the mountains or other remote areas.
Its edgy and angular lines make it instantly recognizable as a Jeep. Inside, the atmosphere is light, comfortable, and enveloping, with lots of seat adjustments, and excellent outward vision around relatively slim windshield posts.
With nearly 70 cubic feet of cargo space, the Grand Cherokee is useful for hauling whatever a family may need.
A wide range of engines is available. The 5.7-liter Hemi V8 is updated for 2009, increasing from 330 to 357 horsepower. The Hemi is particularly good for towing or driving at higher elevations. The high-performance SRT8 model has a 420-horsepower 6.1-liter Hemi V8 and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds. The smaller, 4.7-liter overhead-cam V8 works quite well and it can run on gasoline or up to 85 percent ethanol.
The Grand Cherokee also offers a Mercedes-Benz 3.0-liter common-rail turbo-diesel (CRD) V6, allowing it to tow up to 7,400 pounds (with proper equipment) and range 425 miles between fill-ups. The diesel engine makes it frugal for an SUV of its size.
Grand Cherokee was last redesigned for the 2005 model year. The current Grand Cherokee offers better handling than that of pre-2005 models, leaning less in corners. It rides better on all surfaces and its turning radius is tighter.
Four-wheel-drive models have hill-start assist and hill-descent control. Hill-start assist holds the brakes on a hill to allow smooth launches. Hill-descent control uses the ABS to control the rate of speed when driving down steep hills.
A trailer sway control system is available that applies braking pressure to individual wheels to help stabilize trailers during towing.
Also new for 2009 is tire-pressure monitoring and fuel saver notification displays in the instrument panel, an available 9-inch rear DVD entertainment screen in place of an 8-inch screen, and an available iPod interface.
The 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee is offered in four trim levels.
The Grand Cherokee Laredo ($30,150) comes with a 210-hp, 3.7-liter V6 and a five-speed automatic transmission. Air conditioning is standard, along with cloth upholstery, cruise control, power windows, power heated mirrors, power locks with remote keyless entry, eight-way power driver's seat with lumbar adjustment, tilt/telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, AM/FM/CD audio with auxiliary input jack, Sirius satellite radio, driver information center, 60/40 split folding rear seat, engine immobilizer, water-resistant storage compartment, roof rack and P245/65R17 tires with alloy wheels. Leather seats are available in an option package with much of the equipment from the Limited model.
Laredo 4WD ($32,120) features Quadra-Trac I full-time four-wheel drive and a full-size spare tire. Quadra-Drive II full-time active 4WD is optional ($795) with either engine. Quadra-Drive II adds low-range gearing, hill ascent and descent control, a special axle ratio, and front, center, and rear limited-slip differentials. It also comes with skid plates and front tow hooks. The Laredo can be ordered with the 4.7-liter V8 ($930). If this engine is chosen with AWD, the price is $1730 and it also comes with Quadra-Trac II, which includes low-range gearing. Buyers can also opt for the 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V6 ($2760 with 2WD, $3560 with 4WD).
Grand Cherokee Limited ($36,920) comes with leather upholstery; heated first- and second-row seats; rear obstacle detection; rear backup camera; dual-zone automatic climate control; sunroof; Boston Acoustics six-speaker, 276-watt AM/FM/CD stereo with MP3 capability; power adjustable pedals; four-way power passenger seat; leather-wrapped steering wheel; memory function for the seats, pedals and mirrors; automatic, self-dimming headlamps; rain-sensing automatic wipers; auto-dimming exterior and rearview mirrors; HomeLink universal garage door opener; an upgraded tire-pressure monitor that displays the status of individual tires; fog lights; remote engine starting; and a 115-volt power outlet. The Limited also comes with Jeep's UConnect GPS and UConnect Phone. UConnect GPS includes a navigation system with voice recognition and real-time traffic, a 6.5-inch touch-screen, an iPod adapter and a 30-gigabyte hard drive to hold music and picture files, as well as navigation map information. UConnect Phone provides a wireless cell phone link. Limited 4WD ($39,010) gets all that plus hill start assist, hill descent control, and Quadra-Trac II with low-range gearing. Quadra-Drive II is an option.
The 4.7-liter V8 is optional for both 2WD ($930) and 4WD ($1580) Limiteds. The 5.7-liter Hemi V8 is optional ($1750) for both 2WD and 4WD Limiteds, and the 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V6 is optional for both 2WD ($2760) and 4WD ($3560) models. Other options consist of a rear DVD entertainment system with Sirius BackSeat TV ($1720), chrome 18-inch wheels ($995), Class II and IV trailer hitches ($280-$430), and high-intensity discharge headlamps with auto leveling ($500). Sirius Backseat TV includes three child-oriented channels: Cartoon Network, Disney Channel and Nickelodeon.
Grand Cherokee Overland ($41,110) comes with the 5.7-liter Hemi V8, 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, a leather-covered console and armrest, the high-intensity discharge headlamps with auto leveling, a Class IV trailer hitch, and chromed 18-inch aluminum wheels with P245/50R18 tires. Platinum accents highlight the exterior. Overland 4WD ($44,545) adds Quadra-Drive II. The 3.0-liter diesel engine is optional for 2WD and 4WD Overland models ($1010).
Grand Cherokee SRT8 ($42,665) comes with a 6.1-liter Hemi rated at 420 horsepower, a lowered suspension, performance brakes, its own electronic all-wheel-drive system, and P244/45R20 front and P285/40R20 rear run-flat tires. Distinctive bumper fascias and 20-inch wheels make SRT8 instantly identifiable. Inside, the SRT8 adds to Laredo trim with leather and suede sport seats, special trim, a four-way power front passenger seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a Boston Acoustics sound system with six-disc CD changer, and a universal garage door opener. Also standard are auto-dimming rearview and exterior mirrors and automatic headlights. Options can bring an SRT8 nearly up to the Overland level of comfort and convenience.
Safety features that come on all models include front air bags with four levels of deployment, head-protecting side curtain air bags with rollover deployment, LATCH-style car-seat anchors in the rear seats, traction control, an electronic stability program (ESP) with roll mitigation, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes (ABS) with brake assist, and a tire-pressure monitor. Also available are rear obstacle detection, a rear backup camera, hill descent control, hill start assist, and trailer sway control.