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STYLING | 8 out of 10
For '11, designers pulled off a combination of improved aerodynamics and familiar sheetmetal, muscular and upright with short overhangs on a 5.3-inch longer wheelbase.
It's clearly a Grand Cherokee, but it has a sleekness that its predecessor lacked. The old Grand Cherokee's design was blocky, but the new model looks like it was shaped by a wind tunnel.
The previous model's angular lines have been replaced by fuller shapes and softer corners, improving aerodynamics while communicating a more luxurious image. Even so, traditional Jeep design elements remain, like the seven-bar slotted grille, sleekly raked windshield and trapezoidal wheel arches.
The deeply recessed creases in the doors, the blacked-out B- and C-pillars, furrowed brow, standard fog lamps, color-matched spoiler and the tasteful use of chrome – something most domestic automakers still haven't mastered – all blend into a cohesive whole that's at once masculine and refined.
This interior is a huuuuuuge improvement in terms of materials and styling….The levels of fit and finish are high, and where once there were flashing and sharp edges and abject horribleness are now soft plastics, decent leather, and real wood trim (the latter an Overland exclusive).
Car and Driver
The new Grand Cherokee has crossed a styling Rubicon. Can it ever go back to its formerly blocky self, now that it's been streamlined into something so square-jawed and elegant?
The last-generation ute wore heavy-handed panels, but they've nearly all been smoothed into fairly upscale territory. The Jeep seven-slot grille sits high on the front, flanked by smallish headlamps—the treatment's a little subdued and unadorned—but from there on back, the Grand Cherokee sports just the right proportions of metal to glass, with few unnecessary lines to fuss over. The boxed-in wheel wells are just right. From the rear three-quarter view, there's so much BMW X5 and Volkswagen Touareg in its stance and in its taillights, you might be able to swap badges and fool a few civilians. If you like, Jeep will chrome some trim and the mirror housings for a bit more flash—but it's still minimal compared to vehicles like the Cadillac SRX, even with optional 20-inch wheels. If we have one complaint about the look—and it's hard to muster—it's that it might be a little too derivative, a bit excessively refined compared to Cherokees over time.
Inside, the Grand Cherokee's even more of a resounding success. There's a chunky three-spoke steering wheel,a usefully arranged center stack of controls capped with inoffensive metallic-plastic trim, and on some versions, real wood trim on the dash, doors,and the steering wheel. Clean ergonomics are just part of the effect; the Grand Cherokee's materials don't repel your touch, like the feel of some other recent Chryslers. This is probably Chrysler's best interior, with the Dodge Ram pickup coming a close second.
The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee trades its old outlet-mall style for something a little more boutique.