With more than a year having passed since its unveiling, Chrysler has begun production of the new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which will hit the market in a little while, with the first cars set to arrive at dealers in June.
Although the general look of the car is similar to the previous generation, there are major changes, regarding both looks and the technical side. The latest model has smaller headlights, more elegant stoplights and a slightly more sculptured shape.
The interiors have better build quality and premium materials, with soft-touch plastics, wooden trim and chrome inserts. The rear legroom has been increased by 4 inches, with a 12 degree recline, a standard center folding armrest and rear-seat vent controls. The luggage capacity has also been increased by 17 percent for a total of 36.3 cubic-feet. There’s also a new key-less entry system and an optional CommandView sunroof, with a power shade to cover it.
Top of the range models come with leather trim, heated front and second row seats, ventilated front seats, bi-zone climate control, a 506 watt Alpine audio system with 9 speakers, a power liftgate, heated tilt/telescope steering wheel, HID headlights, rear camera, 18 inch allow wheels--and the list goes on.
On the technical side there are major updates as well. To ensure high reliability and reduced noise, vibration and harshness, the torsional stiffness of the new chassis has been increased by 146 percent compared to the previous model, being stiffer than the BMW X5 and the Toyota Highlander.
The wheelbase has been increased by 5.3 inches to 114.8 inches and the track has been increased by 3 inches; changes that should increase high speed stability and cornering ability as well.
There’s a new 3.6-liter V-6 engine that produces 290 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm, with 90 percent available from 1,600 to 6,400 rpm. The power is being sent to the wheels through a five-speed automatic Mercedes-Benz W5A580 gearbox.
There is also a V-8 HEMI engine with cylinder deactivation, which produces 360 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque and connected to the wheels through Chrysler's 545RFE five-speed automatic transmission.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee can be either two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, with three different 4WD systems:
Quadra Trac I--a full-time 4WD system that is basically a single speed transfer case.
Quadra Trac II--a 4WD system that has a two speed transfer case and can anticipate tire slippage and send the torque to the axle with the most traction in case slippage occurs.
Quadra Drive II--a 4WD system with an Electronic Limited-Slip Differential on the rear axle that can also anticipate a loss of traction and can send torque to the tire with most traction.
To further improve off-road ability the Grand Cherokee is equipped with an air suspension system named Quadra-Lift and a Select-Terrain traction control that provides the driver with five different settings: Sand/Mud with a 50/50 torque split; Sport with a 20/80 front/rear torque split and lowered suspension; Automatic with 40/60 front/rear torque split; Snow and Rock with a 50/50 torque split and a ride height set to maximum.
Standard safety features include Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Electronic Roll Mitigation (ERM), ABS with rough road detection and Brake Assist, Brake Traction Control System (BTCS) and Trailer-Sway Control. Also, there are full-length side-curtain air bags, thorax air bags and active head restraints.
With all the new upgrades the Grand Cherokee is designed to compete with the most luxurious European SUV's.