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May 2011 4xForum

Posted in Features on February 15, 2011
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2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Engine Choices

Q: I now own a 2004 Grand Cherokee Laredo 4x4 with the 4.7L V-8 engine. The Jeep is stock, not modified in any way except for light truck tires. I use this Jeep in the desert in Southern California to visit old mining camps and ghost towns. I want to buy a new 2011 Grand Cherokee, as the reviews I have read are quite glowing.

My question is engine choice. My 2004 has the 4.7L V-8 with 235 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. The 2011, as you know, has two engine options: the 3.6L V-6 with 260 lb-ft of torque and the 5.7L Hemi with 390 lb-ft of torque. I want to make sure I don’t run out of torque but am not excited about what I anticipate as poor mileage out of the 5.7L Hemi. Have you an opinion you might be willing to share with me? As you can see, I value torque more than horsepower, as I feel this number is more user-friendly than high hp numbers. Of course, I would prefer a diesel, but I have not read of its availability in the USA. I welcome your thoughts.

Bob Reed
Via email

A:Bob, we appreciate your value of torque over horsepower we share this same feeling. We also think that a production diesel engine in the Grand Cherokee is a good fit. But despite the lack of a diesel you still have two very good engines to choose from; both have ample torque, and one has decent fuel economy (Hemi) and the other has better-than-decent fuel economy (V-6). The 3.6L Pentastar V-6 offers 16 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. The Hemi offers 13 mpg/19 mpg.

Let’s shoot for the middle and say that the V-6 will average 19 mpg and the Hemi will average 16 mpg. With the Grand Cherokee’s 24.6-gallon fuel capacity, the Hemi will get a little more than 390 miles to the tank; the V-6 will get almost 470 miles to the tank a difference of about 80 miles. The ability to travel further on one tank will not only keep your fuel costs lower, but you’ll also be able to explore further in to the backcountry without needing to carry extra fuel. On the other hand, the Hemi does offer 130 lb-ft more torque than the V-6, and it is very apparent that the Hemi offers superior power when you’re behind the wheel.

Personally, I really like the 5.7L Hemi engine and have found it to be a great asset to any vehicle that I’ve driven with one installed (Grand Cherokee, Dodge Ram trucks, Jeep Commander, converted Jeep JK). I try not to let this opinion lure me away from the positive attributes of the 3.6L V-6, but it is difficult. The only aspect that weighs heavily is the availability of extra fuel mileage.

If you think you can live with less torque, I’d say go with the V-6, as it will serve you best during your backcountry explorations. If you plan to do any towing with your Grand Cherokee or want to increase tire size over stock, go with the Hemi. If you still have problems deciding, hit your local dealer and take as many test drives in each as they’ll let you. A few spins on the road in each should help you determine if the V-6 delivers enough torque for your needs or if you’ll be carrying extra fuel to power the Hemi during extended adventures. Thanks for writing. ’Wheel on.

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