Jeep has always been able to perform with the best of the best when it came to off road ability, but they have been a little less convincing when it came to on road driving. However Jeep hopes to change that with its new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee range has just launched in Australia with a choice of three models and two engines, a diesel option will be ready midyear. Having spent a full day driving both on and off road in each of the 3 new variants we think Jeep have managed to combine the off road brute with refined on road handling.
Sharing the underpinnings of the yet to be released Mercedes-Benz M-Class the likes of Toyota, Ford and Mazda now have a serious contender in the ever growing medium SUV market.
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overview
Entry in to the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee is via the excellent Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo ($45,000), the mid range is the 2011 Grand Cherokee Limited ($55,000), both the Laredo and Limited come with the Quada Trac 4x4 system. Whilst the Hemi powered Overland ($69,500) is the range topping bells and whistle offering from Jeep with Quadra Drive 4x4 system fitted as standard.
With a standard feature list that is as long as your arm the highlights include: Selec-Terrain, Reversing camera, HID Xenon headlamps, 18-20-inch alloys, Dual-zone climate control, Keyless Enter ‘n’ Go and heated seats.
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Engine
The Jeep Grand Cherokee currently comes with two engine options, there is the new 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 and the legendry 5.7-litre HEMI V8, a diesel is due out in mid 2011. The 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 has Dual Variable-valve Timing (VVT) delivers 210 kW of power at 6,350 rpm and 347 Nm of torque at 4,300 rpm. While the improved 5.7-litre HEMI V8 with VVT delivers 259 kW of power at 5,200 rpm and 520 Nm of torque at 4,200 rpm. Fuel Economy on both engines has been improved V6 claiming 11.4l per 100kms and the V8 Hemi 14.1l per 100kms.
CarShowroom spent a good amount of time with both engines and if we had to put down our hard earned cash we would choose the 5 speed 3.6-litre Pentastar V6, it’s not that the Hemi is a bad engine it’s just that the Pentastar V6 is that good. If you plan on doing some heavy towing then the V8 would be a better fit as the Hemi V8 can tow up to 3,500kg whilst the V6 is rated to 2,268kg.
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior
The level of refinement in the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee has taken a major leap forward from previous models. Stepping in the entry level model you will still be impressed with level of comfort and kit that comes as standard, whilst the top of the range Overland could have come from any of the major European’s.
Sitting in the driver’s seats you are faced with a three spoke, tilt and telescopic steering wheel with mounted buttons for Bluetooth telephone, stereo controls and adaptive cruise control. The instrument display is clear and easy to read and climate control buttons and audio systems are easy to operate – no need to consult the manual.
Passengers riding in the front should be able to find decent seating positions via the 8-way power seats with 4-way power lumber adjustment and 4-way head restraints. Saying that we found the Laredo front seats to offer the best leg support over the leather clad seats in the Limited and Overland variant. Adding to the luxury feel rear passengers are also able to recline their seats.
Load lugging capacity is 782 liters which can be increased to 1,554 liters once you fold down the 60/40 split fold seat back. A nice touch for those that use the car camping is the removable dual storage bins for secure storage as well as the reachable touch.
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior & Styling
Jeep has worked hard on designing a good looking and stylish SUV. The new model looks more European than previous American looking Jeeps. Every panel has been designed and tweaked to bring the Coefficient of drag down to 0.370 down from 0.404.
Measuring 4,822 in length and 1,781 with steel spring the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a well sized. The Grand Cherokee retains the classic 7 slot grille and round headlights but look sharper and sleeker than ever before. The rear lights warp around the back to look like a cross between a BMW X5 and Kia Sorrento.
Jeep offer the choice of nine exterior paint colours all of which are classy instead of the current trend shown by some manufactures of offering outlandish colours which look hideous.
18-inch polished aluminium wheels are standard on the Laredo, the Limited and Overland get painted 20-inch wheels, if you don’t plan on doing much off roading get the 20inch rims.
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee On & Off the Road
With a stiffer chassis than previous models the on road handling is a welcome change. Entering the mountain roads you notice the 146 percent stiffer chassis as body roll is minimised for an SUV of this size. Having driven the car on some section of the Targa Tasmania route the handling and grip on sweeping bends was truly impressive. Having driven older 4x4’s my first reaction was to lift off and brake but the 2011Jeep Grand Cherokee handle better than I expected.
As with the most Jeep’s the off road ability is up there with best. The addition of the multi-surface selector called Selec-Terrain brings the Jeep Grand Cherokee in to the modern era. In off road mode the Selec- Terrain lets the driver select settings for snow, sand/mud or rock. When the drive is on road there is Sport mode is designed for the driving enthusiast. If that sounds too complicated then there is also an Auto mode that lets the onboard computers work it all out for you.
Safety has also come along way with a list of over 40 safety features the main ones being Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Electronic Roll Mitigation (ERM), four-wheel Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) with rough-road detection, All-speed Traction Control (ASTC) and Trailer-sway Control (TSC). Also to help you on the more challenging of off road areas the inclusions of Hill Descent Control (HDC) and Active Hill Start are reassuring.
The optional Quadra-Lift Air Suspension is a must have for only $2,500, the ride is so much smoother. For people that are worried about the 20inch wheels on the Limited and Overlander Jeep have an optional 4x4 package that givers you 18inch wheels, larger fuel tank, electronic limited slip diff, skid plates all terrain tyres.
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Challenges
Fuel consumption is still quite high and this may be a concern for some until the diesel option can be offered.
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Competition
If you are in the market for a medium SUV then you have a plethora of cars to choose from. If you aren’t planning on going on tough 4x4 tracks then you could look at the Ford Territory and Mazda CX-7.
If you plan on taking the car a little further in the wild then the Toyota Kluger and Kia Sorrento should also be on your radar.
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Verdict
With the impressive price drop of $10,000 for the Laredo, the Grand Cherokee now is a serious player for those who have been looking at buying medium SUV who also require the ability to be able to head out to the back of beyond.
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Likes:
Fresh clean interior, Affordable optional Air suspension and bold design
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Dislikes:
Choosing sport mode on the Selec-Terrain shows that transaction control has been turned off when in fact it has just been toned down. Lack of Diesel at launch.