Many have wanted my impression of the new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I think part of the reason are the new ads Chrysler is running that lets you have a peek at the SUV. But part of it is also that it been SO long since the vehicle was updated.Although it was a long time coming, if you are a Jeep fan, your wait was worth it. There is no doubt this is the best Jeep ever made. It is also the best-looking Grand Cherokee in history too, with virtually everything being new and fresh.
At one time, ten years or so ago, I thought the Grand Cherokee was one of the nicest SUVs on the market. But it sat still while every other manufacturer updated or completely changed their product in this segment. Jeep had sat stagnant on the GC up to this model, which kicks off a product avalanche of sorts.
Remember this new Jeep was designed when Mercedes owned Chrysler, so you see many of the cues of the Benz SUV stable, and it is clear looking at the interior. My press vehicle for the week has been the Overland package with a 360-horse, 5.7 liter V8 with a 5-speed automatic rated at 7400 pounds of towing capacity.
For serious off-roaders, the new Cherokee has Quadra-Drive II on the upper line versions including the Laredo, Limited, and Overland-which adds electronic limited-slip differentials to both axles. The Overland I have has a Quadra-Lift air suspension, which varies ride height based on driver input or automatically via Selec-Terrain. The traction and ride selections are very reminiscent of Range Rover products.
If four-wheel drive is not your thing, the new Jeep also comes in a two-wheel drive version and you can get a 290-horse V6 if you desire better fuel economy.
The list of standard features on the Overland package goes on and on and includes heated and cooled seats, leather interior, 20” wheels, power sunroof, power seats, remote start and push button starting. Techies, the Blue Tooth system is awesome and you can get adaptive cruise control and forward-collision warning as optional.
Driving impressions are good and it is a night-and-day difference from the last Grand Cherokee. This new one rides much better, corners better, and take dips in the road with much more authority. Inside, the interior is just beautiful. This is really where you see the Mercedes influence. All materials are very rich unlike previous Grand Cherokees, which were on the plain side. This vehicle would be awesome off-road or could be used as a daily driver for even those looking to impress clients.
This is a most unusual Jeep that took a risk by going upscale, but it works.
What I liked most: Ride and interior refinements.
What I would change if I could: Have a six-speed automatic for better road mileage.
MSRP as tested: $44,690 fully loaded
Fuel Economy: Rated at 13 city/19 highway with the V8.
Grand Cherokee in a few words: Best Jeep ever.