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2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee First Look

Posted in Project Vehicles on July 1, 2009
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Photographers: Courtesy of Jeep

In the June issue we tried to break the huge news about the all-new Grand Cherokee as gently as we could-which for Jp meant sugarcoating it as, "We bet it'll be less capable than its predecessor." As for the rumors? Mercedes-Benz M-Class chassis and four-wheel independent suspension. As for reality? Mercedes-Benz ML chassis and four-wheel independent suspension. There's not enough sugar, people.

Let's talk about that suspension a bit: In addition to the independent setup (short and long arms in front, multilink coil-spring at the rear) and a rear-wheel-drive, unibody platform, there's something new called Quadra-Lift-an air suspension. It's said to give an additional 4 1/2 inches of lift, equaling a max ride height of 11.1 inches. Settings are NRH (normal ride height, with 8.1 inches of clearance), Off-Road 1 (for an extra 1 1/2 inches), Off-Road 2 (3 inches), Park (it lowers 1 1/2 inches so you can stumble in and out of the Jeep easier), and Aero, which lowers 0.6 inch from NRH.

Another new thing with five options is Selec-Terrain traction control, standard with Quadra Trac II and Quadra Drive II. You pick the mode, be it rock, sand and mud, sport, snow, or auto, the latter of which is said to automatically adapt to the road, whatever it is. The differential is the familiar electronic limited slip.

In that same June-issue foreshadowing, we questioned the likelihood of this Grand Cherokee being Trail Rated-having the Quadra-Lift or off-road group causes it to retain the badge. Jeep says that with Quadra-Lift utilized and the air dam removed, approach angle is 35.9 degrees, while departure is 29.2 degrees. Breakover angle is 25.1 degrees. That's with a longer wheelbase-now 114.8 inches compared to the previous Grand's 109.5 inches-and overall length goes from 188 to 189.8 inches. Load-leveling shocks will be available for Grands used for tow duty through the optional trailer-tow packages-but not if equipped with Quadra-Lift. Now is probably a good time to mention that the spare is no longer underneath, but back indoors. What you will find down there is a larger fuel tank-now with a 24.6-gallon capacity, up from 21.1.

The 5.7L Hemi is returning as an option on all three models-Laredo, Limited, and Overland-and a new 220ci 3.6L DOHC V-6 debuts. It makes 280 hp at 6,400 rpm and 260 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm-the departing 3.7L was worth 210 hp at 5,200 and 235 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm. And it looks like the Hemi will get a tiny performance bump to 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. And the new V-6 also will be hooked to the existing W5A580 five-speed automatic transmission. In case you're wondering, there's no diesel for North America.

In terms of transfer cases, there's a single-speed MP 3010 straight from the Mercedes-Benz M-Class (MP is Magna Powertrain, the builder), and that's in the base Laredo 4x4. The MP 3022 is in the Limited and Overland, or if an off-road package has been added to Laredo. With it comes the Selec-Terrain. Low range is 2.72.

And to round out the numbers game, the curb weight and GVWR on the heaviest Grand (5.7L, four-by, Overland) are 5,210 and 6,800, respectively.

Jeep is eyeballing early 2010 for when this fourth-generation Grand will go on sale, so plan to stop by your local Fiat dealer in the new year to give it a test drive.

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