2011 Grand Cherokee New Car Test Drive
Everything about the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee is new and excellent, including a lowered price. There's a new DOHC V6 that's smooth and powerful, making 290 horsepower and getting 16-23 mpg. There's a new super-stiff chassis with well-tuned independent front and rear suspensions that provide a comfortable ride on any surface, with solid and secure cornering. The new Grand Cherokee offers more interior space, especially four more inches of rear seat legroom and more cargo capacity. It's 3 inches wider for better handling and more hip room, with a wheelbase that's increased by 5 inches while overall length is only increased 1.8 inches, thanks to a reduced front overhang.
The interior is stylish and made with high quality materials, especially the leather seats in the Laredo models. The 60/40 rear seats recline for comfort enabling passengers to look up at the sky through the optional Panoramic sunroof that extends over both rows of seats; and the front seat folds flat to carry long things like kayaks or two-by-fours.
The styling moves uptown, with a sloped windshield and backlight, sculpted sides, and cleaner lines everywhere. Nothing is missed in the standard safety equipment.
The standard engine is a sweet new 3.6-liter V6 with double overhead-cams making 290 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque. We preferred it. The big 5.7-liter V8 Hemi is still an option for all models. All models come with a five-speed automatic transmission.
Off-road capabilities, with three separate systems, plus an optional air suspension system, are matched only by Land Rover but not at the Jeep price.
Several different types of four-wheel drive systems are used depending on the engine. The 4x4 V6 uses a single-speed transfer case, while the 4x4 V8 uses a two-speed transfer case with Selec-Terrain and Hill Descent Control. There are three levels of 4WD capability. Quadra-Trac I is a full-time system with a single-speed transfer case and 48-52 front-rear transfer. Quadra-Trac II uses a two-speed transfer case and electronic sensors that distribute the torque according to tire slippage, up to 60 percent to front or rear wheels. Quadra-Drive II is available with an electronic limited-slip rear differential. Additionally, a traction control system called Selec-Terrain is standard with Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II; it allows the driver to set the for five different terrain situations. Normal, Sport, Snow, Sand/Mud, and Rock. Each of these settings enables different transmission, throttle, and transfer case functions.
The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee comes in three models, each with a choice of two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.
Grand Cherokee Laredo ($30,215) and 4WD ($32,215) come with cloth seating, fold-flat front passenger seat, power eight-way driver seat with four-way lumbar, LED lighting, reclining rear seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, halogen headlamps, roof rails, flipper liftgate glass, foglamps, 17-inch aluminum wheels, trailer sway control, keyless ignition, electronic vehicle information center, 12-volt auxiliary outlets. Laredo X ($4,000) upgrades to leather seating, heated front seats, 18-inch aluminum wheels, nine-speaker 506-watt CD/DVD/HDD/MP3 audio, rearview camera, hands-free communication, 115-volt power outlet, and remote starting.
Grand Cherokee Limited ($36,320) and 4WD ($38,820) add heated rear seats, bi-xenon headlamps with auto leveling, dual-pane panoramic sunroof with power shade, navigation, rain-sensitive windshield wipers. Also touches of brightness like: silver strakes in rear cargo area, door sill scuff pads with bright insert and Jeep logo, body-colored fascias with bright insert, bright door handles, bright exhaust tip. The V8 ($1,495) is optional.
Grand Cherokee Overland ($38,715) and 4WD ($41,120) feature an air suspension system and Nappa leather seating with piping, ventilated front seats, wood and leather heated steering wheel with memory, cargo net, power liftgate, premium audio with navigation and SIRIUS travel-traffic information, 20-inch aluminum wheels.
Safety equipment includes electronic stability control, electronic roll mitigation, ABS with brake traction control system, trailer sway control, hill start assist, hill descent control, frontal airbags, front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, active head restraints, and tire pressure monitor.
Options include UConnect Media Center, FLO TV, rear-seat entertainment system, Sirius backseat TV, Sirius XM satellite radio, UConnect Web, UConnect Navigation, and UConnect phone.
Note: All prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP) as of May 12, 2010, which may change without notice at any time. Prices do not include destination charges.