Hoooweeeee! Every year around this time, a gleaming fleet of new 4x4s is readied to rumble, turned loose for a week of testing, on-road and off, powered by tireless drivers and company credit cards. If not for the experience and steady professionalism of our testers, yessir, there could be chaos and confusion, not to mention unnecessary tire wear.
But now, gas station cashiers, country store clerks, motel check-in ladies and waitresses at Western roadside cafes can all breathe easy. The Four Wheeler of the Year test is over, with nobody killed or caught, and eight dusty, mud-flecked 4x4s safely returned to their manufacturers, none the worse for wear. Mostly, anyway.
During our week of testing, we covered more than 1,000 miles, burned 363 gallons of gas, 97 gallons of diesel and wolfed Lord-knows-how-many sunrise egg McMuffins, bags of gas-station jerky and stale trail mix.
Most of all, we drove. Starting from our palatial Four Wheeler offices, we caravanned north to L.A. County Raceway for track testing, then followed Highway 14 north to U.S. 395, which took us through the scenic Owens Valley. Staying in touch by radio, we hustled up steep mountain grades well into Nevada, finally settling in the scenic Carson Valley, gateway to a wide variety of trails and the Toiyabe National Forest. In two days of low-range driving, we saw rocky hillclimbs to more than 10,000 feet, waded carefully through eight water crossings, crawled up rock-strewn trails, rattled down dusty washboard farm roads and tried some of the tallest, steepest sand dunes we'd ever seen.
We recorded our thoughts on tape, logged every gallon of fuel, rotated frequently through the vehicles, and debated among ourselves-professionally, of course-the meaning of our conflicting preferences.
We came to consider it the Year of the Diesel, or maybe the Year of Electronics. Confronted by two remarkable diesel powerplants, and an avalanche of functional electronic traction enhancements, we came to sense the tip of an iceberg, a pending transition that could ultimately change the way we four-wheel. In the end, we tallied our score sheets and named a winner. None of us could remember a time when we had to evaluate a fleet of 4x4s all so worthy, from top to bottom. But split hairs we did, as best we could. To find out how we see it, read on.
The '05 Liberty got our attention with a new engine, the first diesel in a small SUV in North America. Some of us run diesels, though not this small, and we were interested in getting a feel for one of the new Common Rail Diesel (CRD) motors. The Liberty, which competes with other small SUVs such as Toyota's RAV4 and Honda's CRV, has a lot to offer, and the CRD definitely makes it better.
The engine-four cylinders and 2.8L of snarling diesel-is made in Italy by VM Motori, which is owned in part by Detroit Diesel. The 2.8 uses an advanced common-rail, direct-injection fuel system, which Jeep says is more efficient than a pre-chamber indirect-injection configuration. The injection system requires fuel delivery pressures some 70 percent higher than normal distributor pumps can supply. The pump is driven by a cog belt off the camshaft to deliver fuel at close to 24,000 psi. To do their job, injectors on the new CRD diesels have to be manufactured to even more precise standards, allowing fuel to burn more completely. The result is a lot less smoke, better mileage and better power.
There is no delay in starting the motor in the morning-electronically controlled ceramic "smart" glow plugs can warm up in only 2 seconds, and glow only when needed.
Another upgrade is the use of an electronically controlled, variable-geometry turbocharger. The turbocharger has movable vanes that allow the turbo to spool up quickly and also deliver larger air volumes as rpm increase. Turbo lag is minimized, and top end power is maximized.
To smooth combustion and quiet the engine at idle, two pilot injections are used prior to the main injection. Balance shafts, a new engine cover and a torque-converter turbine damper have also been developed to help combat noise and vibration. New engine mounts, called hydro mounts, contain fluid that helps isolate engine vibrations, and additional noise-absorbing carpets and liners are present in the engine compartment and cabin.
There is no doubt the 2.8L CRD is one sweet little motor. It may not be as quiet as the Touareg diesel, but it does not rattle at idle, and it is practically smoke-free. It makes V-6 horsepower (160 at 3,800 rpm) and V-8 torque (295 lb-ft at 1,800 rpm), and gets four-cylinder mileage. We averaged 20.98 mpg-best in the group-with a worst tankful of 19.2 mpg during off-highway use. We got 23.5 mpg cruising at highway speeds, where the Liberty was most at home, loping along at 70 mph with 2,000 rpm on the tach. The turbo allows the motor to remain largely unaffected by altitude, which was not the case for all our 4x4s as we flogged our way up 8,000-foot passes, and later, 10,000-foot peaks.
As you might expect, the Liberty is also quite maneuverable, with the smallest turning circle of our group.
The interior of the Liberty was of unusual quality-simply designed and nicely executed using sturdy, finely finished materials. It had features we appreciated, such as a tire-pressure display that helped us return the tires to perfect balance after a day of dune running.
The Liberty has a great little engine and a Real Jeep look, but alas, its actual trail capability is limited by two factors. First is ground clearance, which at 6.4 inches to the front skidplate means the driver of the Liberty is treated to a symphony of bangs and clangs, even on the most innocent of rocky trails. While we doubt that any real damage is done, the noise alone becomes disconcerting.
Second is that the Liberty is equipped only with three-channel ABS. Sure enough, when the trail got rough, the rocks got tall and the hills became very loose and very steep, the Liberty was the first to lose traction and grind helplessly in place. Even with the optional Trac-Lok limited slip, which we had, the Liberty could not go some places the others could.
We think the 2.8 would be even better matched with a manual transmission, something like the new NSG 370 six-speed, which is available this year with gas engines. But ours came with the 545RFE five-speed auto. It's a transmission we know and like, but in some environments, as in sand, we couldn't make it do what we wanted and it affected the Liberty's performance.
Testers were marginally impressed with the Liberty's brakes and transmission, and the scores reflected that. Off-road performance, respectable in many terrains, still lost points in sand and on rocky trails and hills. Finally, there were fewer functional hook points on the Liberty, something that became apparent when we tried to use it to rescue another 4x4 that had buried itself in sand.
We still think the Liberty offers more guts and character than the average Cute/Ute, and we hope to see more of the engine, because it sings. But this little cutie got mixed up with some real thugs in a bad neighborhood, and got the worst of it.
* "I like this diesel...not too noisy, has a lot of pep."
* "Torque is outstanding, wonderful for a four-cylinder."
* "Maneuverability is awesome in this thing."
The Infiniti QX56 is a fullsize, rear-wheel-drive, body-on-frame SUV in the classic domestic sense. Which it should be-it is made in Canton, Mississippi, and was designed for North American use. It is truck-based, with a large and powerful engine, and loaded with features and luxury appointments. Old-timers would say it almost has the feel of a fullsize Bronco, but very advanced, and much more precise. It is a truck for people who like their trucks big, strong and comfortable. It has presence on a grand scale, for use in wide-open spaces. Perhaps more than anything, it is intended to be an outstanding tow rig, to haul heavy loads, people and their gear across the open road.
The QX was all new for 2004, but at the time we did not get to compare one to everything else ... so we included it this year. We actually tested an '04 unit, because '05 pricing was not available at the time of our test. The differences for '05, however, are minor.
You can get the QX56 as a rear-wheel-drive truck if you like. Our test unit was four-wheel drive, which takes the GVWR up to 7,100 pounds, but reduces towing capacity by 100 pounds and fuel economy by 1 mpg on the highway.
There is a lot to like about the QX, and the engine is first on the list. It produces 315 hp at 4,900 rpm and 390 lb-ft of torque at just 3,600 rpm, and sounds great all the way up to the redline. With more torque on demand than everything else save the Touareg, the QX moves out easily at part throttle, maintains speed up steep mountain grades, and-in spite of a 5,600-pound curb weight and significant rolling resistance-has power in reserve.
The interior is set up for long-haul comfort. It's roomy, and the seats have 10-way adjustability. With practically no side bolstering, these seats are intended for straight and level flight, nothing sporty or swoopy. On the highway at rational speeds, the interior is notably quiet. The QX has the very long legs of an interstate cruiser. At 80 mph, the tach shows a cool 2,300 rpm.
The interior is cavernous, built to carry multiple passengers for hours at a time with comfort. There is seating for seven (eight with the optional second-row bench seat), eight cupholders, four power outlets and a DVD entertainment with overhead screen, set up so that a passenger can listen to a CD through headphones even as the driver listens to news on the radio. The sound system is a 10-speaker Bose unit that testers agreed "really rocks."
The suspension is a double-wishbone IFS in the front, and also independent in the rear. Steering is tight, rack-and-pinion with speed-sensitive variable assist. The turning circle, at 41 feet, is wider than the Pathfinder's but less than the H2, which is shorter and with a shorter wheelbase. The QX suspension does not offer the kind of handling that inspires really spirited driving, and in fact, several testers felt that the rear would feel more connected to the front if there was a load back there.
Like the H2, the QX goes off-road anywhere it will fit. It has three skidplates, almost 11 inches of ground clearance and a fullsize spare. The 4WD system engages unusually readily, enabling seamless on-the-fly transitions between paved and dirt roads. Traction is good. A respectable crawl ratio of 33:1 keeps things under control on downhills, and is enhanced by an effective electronic traction control system heading uphill. Certainly there are limits-slightly more wheelspin than some before the traction control system kicks in, and the running boards tend to compromise the excellent ground clearance. We also found that ride quality deteriorated more quickly on rough surfaces than some of the others in our fleet. It was harsher and noisier on washboard roads, and a good amount of vibration leaked through to the wheel on rough roads.
We didn't like the running boards, but they survived the entire test. Even so, the QX is just too big to be a trail machine. As the trail gets tighter, contact with brush becomes harder to avoid. Eventually, there is only one line to choose-just to fit on the trail. We experienced steering kickback on rocky surfaces, and even though it crawled well in low-range, technical off-highway driving in the QX was like trying to fly the Spruce Goose at the Reno Air Races. We didn't get far on the dunes.
We also have to say that the dash, though modern and attractive, is a mixed bag. The dials, knobs and shapes of things are really nicely designed, but many of the bright metallic pieces are plastic. They look like plastic, and they scuff like plastic.
Finally, it takes a lot of power to move something this big. The QX has all the power you need and more, but the trade-off is fuel economy. We averaged 13.51 mpg over our test period, with the worst tankful of 10.07 mpg after a day of four wheeling. To be fair, we'll say our best tankful, in which we covered 162 miles on the highway with air conditioning, came in at 18.08 mpg.
If this were called Tow Vehicle of the Year, the QX56 would have won, hands down. That's really what it's for. Use it to haul your dune buggy to the dunes, but don't plan on going out on the dunes. Tow your trail machine to the trail, but make the QX your base camp; inside, you could probably watch a movie and get some sleep at the end of the day. You can load up the kids and a weekend's worth of gear and head for the cabin, knowing you will get there rain, snow or high water. It's a heck of a cruiser, and a better four-wheeler than you might think. But it's not versatile enough to outscore the more sporting 4x4s in an off-road test.
* "Has a great power-to-weight ratio, never suffers when you climb uphill."
* "I'm sitting on top of the world driving this thing."
* "Definitely not at a loss for engine power just about anywhere."
The Pathfinder, bigger and tougher than in the past, has developed into more of a family adventure vehicle and less of a passenger-oriented, crossover SUV. As such, it becomes more trucklike, more functional in a straightforward manner. It's been updated with performance, convenience and entertainment features-and it looks completely modern-but not necessarily littered with gadgets. Elaborate complexity, a design trend especially among manufacturers of luxury SUVs, has been set aside by Nissan in the Pathfinder, in which there is nothing too fancy.
The Pathfinder, following an industry trend, has grown in nearly every dimension, moving from a five-passenger configuration to a seven-passenger capability. Bucking another industry trend, the unitized body has been replaced with a fully boxed steel ladder frame. It's a platform similar to the Nissan Armada fullsize SUV. It's a rugged way to go, and convenient for Nissan, which makes good use of existing components at its Smyrna, Tennessee, manufacturing plant.
A new engine, a 4.0L V-6, is a stroked version of the 3.5L VQ V-6 found in the 350Z, Murano SUV and Quest minivan, among others. With a longer stroke, the V-6 now makes more torque (291 lb-ft) than horsepower (270), and becomes more suitable for truck use. It's an advanced engine, with variable valve timing, variable induction control, microfinished surfaces on the camshaft and crankshaft and molybdenum-coated pistons. To reduce weight, the intake manifold is resin, and the block is aluminum. The engines are also a local product, supplied by Nissan's engine plant in Decherd, Tennessee.
All '05 Pathfinders will come with a five-speed automatic transmission, as ours did. It's electronically controlled, and combined with the 4.0L engine and longer wheelbase, is rated to tow up to 6,000 pounds.
The suspension is an independent double-wishbone design, front and rear. In front, there are coilover shocks and a stabilizer bar, and the rear uses coil springs with coils located on the toe control link and a stabilizer bar. It's intended to improve ride and handling on rough terrain. You get Rancho shocks, standard, on the SE Off-Road model.
Right away, testers commented on the simplicity of the dash layout and controls. They are easy to understand, and for most of us, simple is good, as long as it works. Several testers commented that they liked the new styling, which is unusual for our staff.
There is a single tow hook in the front-not always convenient, but all you need, really. There is no tow hook in the back, but an integrated tow hitch is standard, and with the right clevis, that represents a solid recovery point. Those two pieces of equipment, perhaps not the ultimate in off-highway equipment, mean you don't have to be afraid to go places where you will get stuck. There are three skidplates, and the front passenger seat folds down, so you could sleep in the Pathfinder if you wanted to.
Taller drivers appreciated the extra room afforded by the new, longer wheelbase. There is conspicuously improved room for a taller driver's knees. The seats are eight-way adjustable with enough range to stay comfortable on longer hauls.
We found the engine and transmission to be normally good, adequate when challenged, but definitely noisy and harsh at the top of the rev range. Pushed hard on long uphill grades, the transmission would hunt between gears, and the engine makes a lot of noise starting at about 5,000 rpm. The redline is at 6,000 rpm, and the power is there, but extracting it when needed does not always make for completely relaxed driving.
The flip side of dash simplicity is that the layout can seem sparse, maybe even a bit crude, compared to some of the more polished entries in our fleet. Several testers also commented on marginal rearward visibility.
The Pathfinder was just average on most off-highway terrains, and in some cases, below average. We liked that the transfer case engaged and disengaged readily, but the suspension felt stiff on rocky trails and did not offer much flex. In ramp travel testing, our test of suspension flex, the Pathfinder ranked seventh. The Pathfinder worked pretty well on dunes, where the lack of suspension travel actually worked to reduce tramp and keep the tires up on top of the crust.
Testers deducted points for the suspension, having fewer hook points than some, and for an interior that was functional and versatile, but not tremendously well executed. By comparison to the more expensive vehicles in the test, the driveline and other mechanical componentry was uninspiring, and scores reflected that. We still think the new Pathfinder is adequate in every way, with enormous built-in value. It has enough power to be quick off the line, enough room to carry people and gear, and enough versatility for people who go places and do things. At the price, it is realistically accessible to normal families, something we can't say for all the vehicles in this fleet.
* "The Pathfinder seems like an amazing value for the dollar."
* "It may not have as many gadgets as the others, but I don't see that as a detriment."
* "With the traction control off, the Pathfinder works well in the sand dunes. Seems to have the right combination of weight and power."
First off, we're not embarrassed to say we love this Jeep. Yes, it is noisy on the road, with a bare-bones interior, marginal air conditioning, and no NAV system. The ride is harsh, and the nothing-but-torque Six drops off the boil on steep highway passes. And still, we love it.
There is something very special about driving a real Jeep, on road or off, and especially in low range. More than anything, we are grateful someone still makes a 4x4 like this. There are fewer every year.
We consider the Wrangler Unlimited a great Jeep made better by the addition of 10 inches of additional wheelbase and 15 inches of overall length. The result is double the cargo capacity of the original TJ, 13 inches more cargo space and 2 inches more legroom for second row passengers. The additional wheelbase helps smooth out the ride, adds 1,500 pounds of towing capacity, and makes for a more versatile, still deadly-serious trail machine.
With the Wrangler Unlimited, you get a folding windshield, removable doors, and two straight axles front and rear. You get 30-inch tires on 15-inch wheels, with lots of sidewall to tune any way you want. These are some of the toughest sidewalls you could order up-10-ply thick-which also means you can run very low tire pressures without excessive fear of sidewall damage. There is a manually actuated electronic locker in both the front and rear Dana 44s, and stout tow hooks right where they should be. You get a Real Jeep, made in Toledo, as authentic as they come. And on the trail, you get the feeling that this horse knows where a cowboy wants to go.
The fact is, practically every specialized asset the Wrangler offers has an equal and opposite liability. The longer wheelbase does add weight and reduces the angle of departure to less than 28 degrees. More than that, what you don't get is the kind of on-road/off-road sophistication so often found in the modern SUV. Sure, you get heat and air conditioning, but not necessarily as much as you want, or where you want it. Removable doors are great on the trail, but they let the cabin get noisy at speed-too noisy to hear someone calling you on the radio. Stout 10-ply tires are not going to crumble on sharp rock, but you get noise, vibration and harshness transmitted to the wheel, to the seat, to the pedal-everywhere.
The Wrangler Unlimited has the best approach angle by far, the best RTI (607 on our 20-degree ramp) and the second-best turning radius. But it also had the least towing capacity, and surprisingly, the tallest crawl ratio. Five in our test fleet had more ground clearance, including two Nissans and a Volkswagen, and six accelerate faster. Testers felt the engine was one-dimensional. On the highway, whoever drove the Wrangler Unlimited had trouble keeping pace, since the 4.0L pushrod I-6, now powering a heavier Jeep, was at a clear disadvantage as altitudes increased.
Ride and handling qualities were only fair, not only on the pavement. On washboard surfaces at moderate speeds, the voice recordings of the testers sound as if they had swallowed a soil compactor. Most disappointing, the Unlimited was a no-go in the sand, where the stiff tires and long-travel suspension caused uncontrolled wheelhop. We locked the locker and took 18 psi out of the tires, thinking we could get on top of the fine, powdery dunes, but we can't say it helped much.
And so, as the miles wore on, we had to admit this machine is meant for one thing-going slow on a tight trail, heading for a remote lake or quiet campsite.
In a test that takes everything into account, there are glaring weaknesses with the Wrangler that are going to cost points. If this test were called Rockcrawler of the Year, the Wrangler Unlimited would win. But this test measures overall performance, not just certain kinds of trails. So when the points are scored, the Wrangler Unlimited, even with intangibles in its favor, finishes in the middle of the pack.
* "This is my kind of vehicle. You can understand it. It's got a lever. No computer stuff. This is what four-wheeling should be all about."
* "Simple, easy to understand, not too much gadgetry."
* "Puts a smile on your face."
There are few 4x4s as imposing as an H2. You can't roll through a small town or stop for gas without creating a scene. Pedestrians stop in their tracks, little kids point and working women on their lunch break can't resist one quick glance. It's big, it's bright, and you won't miss it coming. It may not be subtle, but it is distinctly American-all H2s are made in Mishawaka, Indiana. The SUT (Sport Utility Truck) has much in common with the standard H2. It has the same towing capacity, same payload, same GVWR, same fuel tank, same remarkable breakover angle of 26.6 degrees-but there are also significant differences.
The H2 SUT is essentially a standard H2 in which the third-row seating has been converted to a pickup box. The cargo box is 20x34x59 inches wide, large enough to be useful, but small enough that four passengers can still be carried inside with comfort. The bed and interior are separated by a midgate. When longer cargo is at hand, the power rear window can be lowered into the midgate, and the gate folds forward, creating a 4x6-foot pickup bed. The bed is equipped with rubber mats, and a locking hard tonneau is available as an option.
The new configuration comes with the self-leveling, variable-rate air-spring suspension, 46mm monotube gas shocks and 32mm stabilizer bar, which is optional on the standard H2.
In essence, the cargo box adds total volume capacity while reducing interior volume. The configuration also slightly reduces the angle of departure with the spare-tire carrier, from 40 degrees to 36.5 degrees. Perhaps more important, the configuration permits an open-air feeling, like driving a convertible, when all five windows and the sunroof are opened.
The onboard air compressor made the H2 SUT the only vehicle in our fleet that could air up its own tires after we hit the dunes, where it was also the vehicle we used to pull out whatever was stuck, because of its multiple tow points and truly functional recovery hardware.
On the trail the SUT was methodical, its progress very controllable, and it steps over ruts and rocks that smaller SUVs might contact. We marveled at the spare-tire carrier, which has to be the beefiest, most over-engineered tire carrier in the universe.
The tires, LT315/70R17 all-terrains, were the biggest of our test units, and some of the best for our purposes. Equipped with a rear locking differential and electronic traction control, the H2 was readily able to walk up the steepest hills and rockiest trails. Angles of approach and departure are so favorable, and the tires so large, that the H2 can be driven in a straight line over obstacles that other 4x4s would need to steer around.
People think driving an H2 might be tiring, but the Hummer is actually quite pleasant on pavement. It tracks straight and true, cruises in a relaxed manner and is stable at speed. The audio system is Bose, and the NAV system is DVD-based, with touch-screen controls. The heating and cooling system is separate from the NAV system, so the operator is not forced to cycle through several screens to adjust the temperature.
While there is more wind and tire noise than the sleeker vehicles in our test, the H2 SUT is a fine cruiser at normal speeds on flat highways. It has a cavernous, comfortable interior, eight-way seats and plenty of room to stretch out. However, on steeper highways it can take time for the 6.0L V-8 to spool up to pass, especially apparent on the 8,000-foot grades we drove. At times, significant rolling resistance, plus the high altitude, will combine to slow this big-rig 4x4.
We discovered all five windows could be controlled with one express button. So if you hit some dust on a dirt road, you can also bring all five back up instantly.
Testers gave the H2 low scores for maneuverability, because it had the largest (43.5-foot) turning radius, the largest overall width and because of the difficulty the driver has keeping track of all four corners.
The H2 SUT feels wide on the average trail, and it is. At 81.2 inches, it is the widest of the test. Out in the open, that width is not an issue, but on tighter trails, we had to take more care to keep away from brush and branches. In some spots, it was impossible.
Several testers noted they had to use the brakes on really steep downhills. The brakes-four-wheel discs with dual piston calipers-are certainly up to the job. But new standards had been set by some other 4x4s in the test, which with lower crawl ratios and electronic descent control, could walk down the same hills without touching the brake.
The H2 SUT had the best approach and departure angles, the fourth best crawl ratio, fourth best ground clearance, fifth best towing capacity and the largest turning circle. Testers awarded points for excellent underbody protection and outstanding hook point accessibility, and also for tire size and quality. The H2 SUT lost points on performance in the sand and maneuverability, and did not shine especially brightly on washboard roads. In the end, it was outscored by three truly outstanding 4x4s, each of which offered an equal degree of trail potential, in faster, quieter, more maneuverable packages.
* "Crawls nicely in low range. It just goes to show you what good ground clearance, wide footprint, and good all-terrain tread can do. Locking rear diff doesn't hurt, either."
* "The more time I spend in the seat, the more impressed I am with the way it handles rocky trails. Just idles over everything."
One of our favorite four-wheel-drives of all time, the Grand Cherokee has always been a vehicle that does everything well. The new Grand Cherokee is like a student who earns an A- or B+ most of the time, and nothing lower than a B-, and maintains a high overall grade-point average.
For 2005, the Grand Cherokee is all new, from the halogen headlights to the rack-and-pinion steering to the addition of a 5.7L multi-displacement Hemi V-8. The 545RFE transmission has been refined, permitting a higher tow rating of 7,200 pounds. Both axles have electronic limited-slip functions; our test unit had the Quadra-Drive II 4x4 system, with the NV245 electronic transfer case.
The suspension is also new. Gone is the straight front Dana axle we used to bend so easily. Instead, at the front, a short/long-arm front independent setup uses L-shaped single-piece lower control arms, made from nodular iron. Upper control arms are forged pieces for strength. Jeep engineers were able to increase front travel with this arrangement more than an inch compared to the '04 Grand Cherokee. The rear suspension is multilink, as in the past.
The engine/transmission combination offers the most obvious improvement over previous generations. The 5.7L 90-degree V-8 produces ample torque (375 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm) and horsepower (330 at 5,000). It uses two plugs per cylinder to better ignite 89-octane fuel delivered by sequential multiport EFI. The Hemi can seamlessly deactivate four cylinders when less power is called for, saving fuel.
The five-speed automatic functions almost like a six-speed, with the capability of delivering two Second-gear ratios. Pin the throttle off the line and the NV545RFE selects a combination of gears that generates a 1.67:1 Second-gear surge. For ordinary part-throttle, around-town kickdowns, the ratio is a more gentle, fuel-efficient 1.50:1. The result is a transmission that reacts quickly, appropriately to throttle input, and enhances the engine's need to rev.
The suspension flexes well enough to deliver comfortable ride quality on the highway and a competent, relaxed feel on the trail. Suspension travel seems to be much more controlled. We noticed the tires did not get jammed into the sides of the wheelwells when the suspension bottomed, which we did see on the prior Grand Cherokee. Steering precision is noticeably improved at speed, but classic quick Cherokee steering-an asset on the trail or in a parking lot-is retained.
All of these things together allow the Grand to work well on a variety of unpaved roads. Traction is enhanced via two electronic lockers, and they practically eliminate wheelspin. It is the best of the Jeeps on washboard, allowing some noise and vibration to leak in when you hit a bad patch, but overall, the suspension permits more relaxed driving and travel at higher speeds. The Grand was also conspicuously good on sand dunes, where the engine's ability to rev and the transmission's quick kickdown allowed significantly better dune running than all but the Touareg.
A number of gripes centered around the interior. We liked the design of the controls, which operated smoothly and felt like high-end audio equipment. The wood grain and chrome trim are nice details, but some testers felt Jeep could have done a better job on the materials. During the day, some of the digital instrumentation was hard to read when the sun hit them. Finally, the NAV system-perfectly good most of the time-blanked out when we got onto the trail. Some other systems had topo maps written into their software.
Every tester commented on the low roofline, which compromised overhead visibility. "You're trying to enjoy the scenery and beauty, and it's like you're sitting in a tunnel," said one tester.
On the average National Forest trail-rocky, rutted, and dusty-the Grand remains a great crawler. But in low-range the throttle was notably sensitive, harder to control than either the LR3 or Touareg. Likewise, on really long, steep downhills, the tallish crawl ratio (30.43:1) did not help the transmission hold back strongly, so some use of the brakes was required to maintain control.
The new Grand is longer, but it is not bulky. There is still a workable angle of approach, although the angle of departure was sacrificed to make the new Grand bigger. Six of our test vehicles had better departure angles, including both of the other Jeeps.
Testers consistently gave high marks for the engine, ride and handling, steering, the ready availability of recovery hooks, and acknowledged overall competency in a wide variety of off-highway environments. But scores for the interior were mixed, and some testers thought the Grand was not as good a rockcrawler as several of the other contenders. It was fourth in ramp travel measurements, seventh in ground clearance, seventh in departure angle, and tied for sixth in crawl ratio, equal with the Liberty.
Overall, we can say there are some things we like better about the new Grand Cherokee than the last generation, and some things we don't. But the Grand is still all Jeep.
* "Must be really quiet. I just tried to start it, and it was already on."
* "Crawls nicely in low range"
* "At the dragstrip, definitely one of the fastest we've tested."
Like the arrival of a comet, a new Land Rover is a rare and memorable event. There have been just nine new models in the last 56 years. Characterized by an uncommonly focused reconciliation of opposing engineering priorities-street luxury and trail excellence-Land Rovers have been conspicuous suppliers of gracious transportation since the advent of the first Range Rover. The formula is to combine an industrial-strength, even military, framework with a thoughtful, if somewhat eccentric, luxury cabin. The result is a high-utility product that instills confidence in operator and passengers alike.
The LR3 is essentially a family Range Rover, but with updated systems and components that the Range Rover does not offer. It is bristling with electronic enhancements tailored to handle off-highway driving.
The LR3 is new from the ground up for '05, including the chassis, the engine, the transmission, the interior, and everything else.
The engine is a 4.4L version of Jaguar's DOHC V-8, stroked to deliver more torque (315 lb-ft) than horsepower (300 at 5,500 rpm). For Land Rover use, the engine received a protected air intake, and water and oil pumps that allow the engine to be properly cooled and lubricated at 45-degree tilts and 35-degree side slopes. The chassis is essentially a heavily braced unibody, in which the body and frame are integrated. Hydroformed pieces are used to create a front structure that crushes on frontal impact-to spare the other guy, poor devil.
The LR3 has extremely powerful brakes, a necessity in a vehicle weighing just under 6,000 pounds. The hardware is impressive-the biggest discs, all ventilated-but it is the way they are controlled that makes them impressive. In the LR3, there are no fewer than seven different systems that can intervene to improve cornering control, adjust brake force, or to restrict downhill speeds in low range, to name a few. As a result, an LR3 driver on a narrow highway can hang two wheels into the dirt to avoid a stray dog and swing right back on to the road again, with no drama.
It would take 10 pages to explain every system, but they work, and they all seem to have been thought through by hard-core four wheelers and experienced adventure drivers. For example, Descent Control on the LR3 is adjustable via the cruise control switch on the steering wheel, so you can dial in the amount of speed you feel best.
The new engine is far more willing to rev than previous Land Rover V-8s, and gives away less torque to the competition than in previous generations. It might not be the biggest or most powerful of this bunch, but the LR3 gets up to speed pretty fast, with good passing power on the highway. It is backed by a six-speed Tiptronic-style transmission, which gives the driver the option of hanging on to a gear when climbing hills or towing loads. The rest of the time, we liked the automatic mode just the way it was. One tester blurted out, "It almost reads your mind."
Nevertheless, it is on the trail the LR3 shines most brightly. The LR3 is possessed of the lowest crawl ratio by far, complemented by a computer-modulated throttle control in Rock Crawl mode that makes exquisitely progressive throttle tip-in an easy matter. In Rock Crawl mode, a slipping tire will spin just a half turn before traction control kicks in ... and the LR3 moves ahead. Rock Crawl mode is just one of five selectable operating modes that the driver can choose, depending on the conditions. Each mode optimizes the response of the engine, transmission, differentials, dynamic systems and air suspension, depending on the nature of the surface, the speed and driver input.
Then there is the long-travel air-spring suspension, which cycles between operating levels that can supply 10 inches of vertical travel in the front and 13 inches in the rear. On the soft side in normal paved-road use, the suspension delivers remarkable droop on the trail, keeping tires in contact with the ground.
Optional tires compromised on-road composure, notably during cornering at what we admit would be illegal speeds. Even so, with the suspension geared more toward ride comfort and equipped with taller tires designed for off-road terrain, testers experienced significant body roll, with cornering power somewhat less than average. The off-road tires also probably did not help acceleration at the track, or enhance braking distances. The point is, if you decide to order the tires, make sure you need the maximum in off-highway performance.
On one high-speed leg south toward Los Angeles, a gas gauge actually appeared to gain fuel as we drove. Unfortunately, that was not the case. We found the 4.4L V-8 revs willingly, so we drove it that way, ending up with an overall average of 13.8 mpg over tankfuls on the highway, around town, and in low range.
Testers awarded the LR3 top points for off-road performance. The LR3 glided over rocks and obstacles without spinning a tire, it retained composure over washboard, it maneuvered extremely well for a vehicle of its size, and we all fought to drive it. The LR3 seems to be the best Land Rover ever. But in the end, it fell short by less than a point, beaten by 200 lb-ft of torque and the stunning rally-car charisma of our winner.
* "Incredible capability to climb obstacles"
* "This thing is like a vault off-road. No squeaks, no rattles. Phenomenal."
Probably right now, pigs are circling O'Hare airport, and a snowball fight has broken out in Hades. Because a manufacturer with no particular heritage in off-road circles, Volkswagen, has defeated three Jeeps, a Land Rover and a Hummer in head-to-head testing. Speechless testers resorted to clichd terms such as "phenomenal," "unbelievable," "amazing," "incredible," "just sick," and finally, "perfect."
Other than that, the V-10 Touareg is just like any other SUV.
Sure, the Touareg is comfortable, well appointed, rides and handles well, engineered for rugged terrain, has all the latest bells and whistles-you name it. But more than anything, this Touareg has an engine.
The engine in question is an intercooled, twin-turbodiesel V-10 displacing just 300 cubic inches. It produces 310 hp at 3,750 rpm, and a ton of torque-with virtually no noise and no smoke.
Even last year, when it was introduced with a small gas V-8, the Touareg was a remarkably versatile four-wheel-drive. Thanks to minimal overhang, a good crawl ratio (36.1:1), adjustable air suspension and locking diffs, the Touareg could motor all around Moab with ease. Another magazine even named it "4x4 of the Year." But power was lacking-and that limited performance, on-road and off. With the new engine, our 5,800-pound weakling is back, looking like Arnold. And all the girls notice.
We can start with 553 things we liked-as in 553 lb-ft of peak torque at 2,000 rpm. Volkswagen's new 10-cylinder diesel transforms the Touareg into an electrifying rally car that seems to be able to do anything a driver can imagine. There is so much power on tap, so readily available through the six-speed transmission, that the Touareg immediately intoxicated our testers. As we traveled on lonely, largely unpatrolled roads, virtually every one of our drivers tried to find the rev limiter in top gear, but nobody could. VW specifies top speed as 130 mph. One tester, operating the TDI at tear-up-your-license, go-straight-to-jail speeds well into triple digits, reported the Touareg remained planted, tracked sure and did not skitter around. At 65 mph the tach indicates 1,600 rpm; at 2,000 rpm you're doing 80.
The engine meshes well with the Touareg's impressive off-road capability. The suspension is a double-wishbone independent air front suspension and four-link rear, with six different ride heights. There are three different adjustable damping settings, a system VW calls Continuous Damping Control. The air springs can vary ground clearance from 6.3 inches to 11.8 inches, the highest ground clearance in the fleet.
The Touareg's crawl ratio was second only to the LR3. Like the LR3, the highly evolved Touareg computers can prevent skidding or loss of traction pretty much anywhere, on-road or off. Of the eight electronic performance-enhancing systems on the Touareg, three appear to be aimed strictly at enhancing off-road grip. These are Hill Climb Assist (HCA); Hill Descent Assist (HAD) and Electronic Differential Lock (EDL). As a result, even without a high degree of chassis flex , the Touareg never seemed to spin a tire.
Lighting is excellent at night, due to high-intensity gas-discharge headlights, supplemented with halogen projector-lens foglights, which are integrated into the bumper.
The Touareg had by far the highest-quality interior in the bunch. Metallic accents are genuine aluminum, wood is actually walnut, and chrome applications on the instrument cluster, interior door handles and glovebox lock are tasteful and attractive. Seats are 12-way adjustable with memory function and, of course, are heated. Heated rear seats are optional. There are five power outlets-two in front, two in back, and one for passengers.
On the sand, the Touareg was incredible. Like an oversized luxury rally car, the Touareg zipped all over the dunes, carving across steep sand faces at will.
Struggling to find objectionable flaws, our testers zeroed in on the 255/55/R18 V-rated, all-season tires. There were no tire failures, but a flat would have caused us to rely on a temporary spare, a fact that caused testers to deduct points. An optional fullsize spare will be available later this year.
Another knock related to recovery equipment: Although we never got stuck in the Touareg, not even for a moment, not even in the sand-there are no exposed tow hooks. Instead, small bumper caps have to be removed and a square attachment loop can be screwed in. It's probably effective, but we considered the arrangement to be second-best to having real tow hooks at hand.
There are numerous warning lights, chimes and buzzers-we lost track of how many-that might not really be necessary. Thankfully, some of these are switched, such as the parking assist sensors, which sound continuously on a tight trail. Some, like the low-tire pressure indicator, came on when we adjusted air pressure for the sand, and never went off.
The Touareg was the fastest of the bunch, no matter how you measured. It also had the most ground clearance, second-best mileage, the most torque, and tied for second on towing capability. Testers unanimously gave the Touareg the highest scores in Highway Performance, worth 20 percent of the scoring, and six of eight judges awarded the Touareg the highest scores in the Mechanical category. Judges split evenly when it came to trail performance, with four naming the Touareg best, and four naming the LR3-leaving the Touareg with the all-around performance advantage that comes with 10 cylinders of turbodiesel.
When all is said and done, even in a test weighted toward off-highway performance, the Touareg's superiority could not be denied. Like a rally car with low-range, the V-10 Touareg is muscular, athletic, sophisticated beyond words. It was just as good as everything else going slow-and going fast, nothing could touch it. The high level of quality-quality materials, elegant design, costly components-is perhaps to be expected from this, the most expensive of our 4x4s. We know it doesn't look like it, but the V-10 Touareg is a tremendous four wheeler, in addition to everything else. And that is why it has earned the right to be called Four Wheeler of the Year.
* "If you didn't know this was a diesel, there would be no indication."
* "On the sand, if you start to bog down, just kick the throttle and it takes off again."
* "Awesome compression braking down hills. Just smooth and controlled."
Volkswagen describes the Touareg V-10 as "the ultimate extension of the modern direct-injection diesel." We can attest that it is quiet, smooth and largely smoke-free, emitting only a brief puff of white smoke upon hard acceleration. Fuel burns cleanly due in part to an advanced fuel-injection system, using very high fuel pressure, which atomizes and precisely measures fuel as it is delivered. The injectors can deliver fuel to the combustion chambers at pressures as high as 29,733 psi.
Twin turbochargers, one for each cylinder bank, are used to maximize breathing. The turbine blades are actuated electrically for more precise delivery of cooled air, which arrives via a charge-air intercooler.
The V-10 block is aluminum, with an innovative gray cast-iron bearing tunnel into which combustion forces are introduced directly by way of the cylinder head studs. The cylinder walls are plasma-coated, a process that leaves a surface layer a few thousandths of an inch thick, helping cylinder walls resist deformation and wear.
Much attention was paid to reducing noise and vibration. The "V" configuration, with two rows of five cylinders, allows the water pump and water-cooled alternator to be located within the 90-degree valley, to be driven by shaft rather than belt. Engine oscillation caused by moving masses is limited to only a few hundred thousandths of an inch, being largely cancelled by a counter-rotating balance shaft and careful offsetting of crankshaft throws. There is a set of helical-cut spur gears at the flywheel, replacing the timing chain or toothed belt.
Keeping everything lubricated is a duplex oil delivery pump and two scavenger pumps that, according to Volkswagen, will operate reliably even at extreme angles. The result is an uncannily smooth, compact and powerful engine, EPA-rated at 23 mpg highway and 17 mpg in the city, that effortlessly powers a vehicle weighing roughly 6,000 pounds.-John Stewart
|Final scores |
|1 VW Touareg V-10 ||81.689 points |
|2 Land Rover LR3 ||80.756 points |
|3 Jeep Grand Cherokee ||71.075 points |
|4 Hummer H2 SUT ||64.093 points |
|5 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited ||61.622 points |
|6 Nissan Pathfinder ||60.349 points |
|7 Infiniti QX 56 ||59.678 points |
|8 Jeep Liberty CRD ||52.810 points |
|Vehicle/model ||’05 Hummer H2 SUT ||’04 Infiniti QX56 ||’05 Jeep Grand Cherokee ||’05 Jeep Liberty Limited Turbodiesel ||’05 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon ||’05 Land Rover LR3 HSE ||’05 Nissan Pathfinder SE Offroad ||’05 Volkswagen Touareg V-10 TDI |
|Base price ||$51,995 ||$50,400 (AWD) ||$34,045 ||$25,035 ||$24,355 ||$49,995, including Destination ||$28,450 ||$57,800 |
|Price as tested ||$59,980 ||$55,080 ||$38,870 ||$30,870 ||$28,825 ||$52,920 ||$36,410 ||$63,365 |
|Options as tested ||Up-level Chrome Package ($550), |
Air Suspension ($1,275);
Luxury Series ($3,740).
|Smart Vision Package ($1,100); |
Entertainment System Package ($1,600);
Splash Guards ($100);
Power Sliding glass Sunroof ($1,200);
|Preferred Package ($1,925); |
Side Air Bags ($490);
5.7 Hemi Multi-Displacement Engine ($1,245);
P245/65R17 tires ($190);
ParkSense Rear back-up System ($255);
Tire Pressure Monitoring Display ($75);
|Trailer Tow Group ($285); |
Rear Cargo Organizer ($175);
Trac-Lok Differential ($285);
2.8 TDI Engine ($1,640);
Power Sunroof ($700);
AM/FM/CD stereo ($300);
Sirius Satellite Radio ($195);
Tire Pressure Monitoring Display ($75);
|NV241 “Rock Trac” transfer case; |
Electronic locking diffs;
|Cold Climate Package ($1050); |
Rear Seat Package ($1250);
Heavy Duty Package ($625)
|Premium Package ($1,700); |
Mobile Entertainment Package ($1600);
Side airbags ($700)
|Premium Package ($3,800) |
includes Navigation System,
Nappa Leather trim and
wood interior upgrade;
CD changer; Electronic Parking
Rear differential lock ($550)
|Type ||Vortec V-8 ||ZH-2 (VK56DE) V-8 ||90-degree V-8 with cylinder deactivation ||Inline four-cylinder diesel ||Inline I-6 ||90-degree V-8 ||VQ40 V-6, aluminum block ||90-degree V-10 diesel |
|Displacement (ci/liter) ||5.967/364 ||5.6/342 ||5.654/345 ||2.768/171 ||3.956/242 ||4.4/268 ||3.954/241 ||4.921/300.2 |
|Bore x stroke (in.) ||4.00 x 3.62 ||3.86 x 3.62 ||3.92 x 3.58 ||3.70 x 3.94 ||3.88 x 3.41 ||3.47 x 3.56 ||3.76 x 3.62 ||3.19 x 3.76 |
|Compression ratio ||9.4:1 ||9.8:1 ||9.6:1 ||17.5:1 ||8.8:1 ||10.75:1 ||9.7:1 ||18.0:1 |
|Valve actuation ||Overhead valves/pushrod ||DOHC; 32 valves ||OHV, 16 valves, two plugs per cylinder ||DOHC, 16 valves ||OHV, 12 valves, hydraulic lifters ||DOHC, four valves per cylinder ||DOHC 24-valve ||Direct injection |
|Intake ||EFI ||Sequential EFI ||Sequential multiport EFI ||Common-rail direct injection ||Sequential multiport EFI ||Sequential multiport EFI ||Nissan variable induction ||Intercooled biturbo |
|Mfg.’s power rating @ rpm (hp) ||316 @ 5,200 ||315 @ 4,900 ||330 @ 5,000 ||160 @ 3,800 ||190 @ 4,600 ||300 @ 5,500 ||270 @ 5,600 ||310 @ 3,750 |
|Mfg.’s torque rating @ rpm (lb-ft) ||360 @ 4,000 ||390 @ 3,600 ||375 @ 4,000 ||295 @ 1,800 ||235 @ 3,200 ||315 @ 4,000 ||291 @ 4,000 ||553 @ 2,000 |
|Mfg.’s suggested fuel type (octane) ||Regular unleaded ||Premium unleaded ||Unleaded 89 octane ||#2 Diesel ||Regular unleaded ||Premium unleaded ||Premium unleaded ||#2 Diesel |
|Transmission ||4L65-E, four-speed electronic automatic ||Five-speed automatic ||545RFE five-speed automatic ||545RFE automatic ||42RLE four-speed automatic ||ZF HP26 six-speed ||Five-speed automatic ||Six-speed Tiptronic |
|Ratios: || || || || || || || || |
| First ||3.06:1 ||3.827:1 ||3.00:1 ||3.0:1 ||2.84:1 ||4.17:1 ||3.841:1 ||4.15:1 |
| Second ||1.62:1 ||2.368:1 ||1.67 upshift; 1.50 kickdown ||1.67:1 ||1.57:1 ||2.34:1 ||2.352 ||2.37:1 |
| Third ||1.00:1 ||1.520:1 ||1.00:1 ||1.50:1 ||1:1 ||1.52:1 ||1.529 ||1.56:1 |
| Fourth ||0.69:1 ||1.000:1 ||0.75:1 ||1:1 ||0.69:1 ||1.14:1 ||1.000 ||1.16:1 |
| Fifth ||None ||0.834:1 ||0.67:1 ||0.67:1 ||None ||0.87:1 ||0.839 ||0.86:1 |
| Sixth ||None ||None ||None ||None ||None ||0.69:1 ||N/A ||0.69:1 |
| Reverse ||2.29:1 ||3.357:1 ||3.00:1 ||2.21 ||2.21:1 ||3.40:1 ||2.764 ||3.39:1 |
|Axle ratio ||4.10:1 ||3.357:1 ||3.73:1 ||3.73:1 ||3.73:1 ||3.73:1 ||3.357 ||3.27:1 |
|Transfer case ||Two-speed part-time ||Two-speed part-time ||NV245 two-speed electronic full-time ||NV242 Selec-Trac full-time ||Two-speed, part-time ||Two-speed electronic full-time ||Two-speed part-time ||Two-speed full-time |
|Low-range ratio ||2.64:1 ||2.596:1 ||2.72:1. ||2.72:1 ||2.72:1 ||2.93:1 ||2.625:1 ||2.66:1 |
|Crawl ratio ||33:1 ||33.35:1 ||30.43:1 ||30.43:1 ||28.8:1 ||45.57:1 ||33.85:1 ||36.1:1 |
|Frame ||Three-piece, welded ladder frame ||Boxed steel ||Jeep Uniframe ||Jeep Uniframe ||Steel ladder frame ||Integrated body-frame monocoque ||F-Alpha fully boxed steel ||Unibody |
|Body ||Body-on-frame ||Body-on-frame ||Unitized ||Unitized with frame ||Open steel body ||Zinc-coated steel ||Body-on-frame ||Unitized |
|Front ||IFS with gas shocks/torsion bars ||Double-wishbone IFS ||SLA independent, gas coilover shocks; elect. limited slip ||A-arms, coil springs with gas shocks ||Live axle, coil spring with gas shocks ||Double-wishbone IFS with long-travel air springs ||Double-wishbone IFSwith coilover shocks ||Double-wishbone IFS with adjustableair suspension and threeadjustable damping settings |
|Rear ||Five-link; variable rate air springs ||Double-wishbone IRS ||Live Axle,link-coil with gas shocks; elect. limited slip ||Live axle, A-arms, coil springs, gas shocks ||Live axle, coil springwith gas shocks ||Double-wishbone IRS with long-travel air springs ||Double-wishbone IRSwith coilover shocks ||Four-link IRS with adjustable air suspension and threeadjustable damping settings |
|Type ||Variable ratio recirculating ball ||Rack-and-pinion, engine speed sensitive ||Power, rack-and-pinion ||Power rack-and-pinion ||Power recirculating ball with damper ||Power-assisted rack-and-pinion ||Power rack-and-pinion ||Servotronic power |
|Turns (lock-to-lock) ||3 ||3.6 ||2.85 ||3.6 ||3.4 ||3.32 ||3.54 ||2.9 |
|Ratio ||15/13:1 variable ||19.5:1 ||15.8:1 to 13.9:1 variable ||18.2:1 ||16.8:1 ||Variable ||20.4:1 ||14.7:1 |
|Front ||12.8-inch disc with dual piston calipers ||12.6-inch ventilated disc ||12.9-inch vented disc, two-piston caliper ||11.3 vented disc with single caliper ||11.0 vented disc ||Power-assisted ventilated 13.3-inch disc ||11.65-inch disc ||13.77-inch disc |
|Rear ||13.0-inch disc with dual piston calipers ||12.6-inch ventilated disc ||12.6-inch disc with single-piston caliper ||11.2 solid disc with single caliper || 9x2.5-inch drum ||Power-assisted ventilated 13.8-inch disc ||12.12-inch disc ||12.99-inch disc |
|Systems ||Four-channel ABS ||ABS, EBD, VDC, BA ||Four-channel ABS ||Three-channel ABS (optional) ||N/A ||Four-channel ||Four-wheel ABS with HDC, HAS, EBD ||Four-wheel ABS |
|Wheels (in.) ||17-inch cast aluminum ||18x8 J aluminum alloy ||17x7.5 ||16x7 aluminum ||15x8 cast aluminum ||18x8 aluminum alloy (SE) ||16x7JJ aluminum alloy ||18x8J alloy |
|Tires ||LT315/70R17 BFGoodrich A/T ||P265/70R18 BSW Conti-Trac ||P245/65R17 Wrangler SR-A AT ||P225/75R16 All Season ||30x9.5R15LT Goodyear Wrangler GSA ||255/55R19 mud+snow ||P265/75R16 BFGoodrich ||255/55R18V All Season |
|FUEL ECONOMY |
|EPA city/highway ||Exempt (over 6,000 GVWR) ||13/18 ||14/21 ||22/27 ||14/18 ||14/18 ||15/21 ||17/23 |
|Actual combined, city/highway/trail ||10.10 ||13.51 ||12.40 ||20.98 ||14.02 ||13.80 ||14.9 ||16.45 |
|Best tank ||13.3 ||18.08 ||16.30 ||23.5 ||16.8 ||15.80 ||17.2 ||18.88 |
|Worst tank ||9.8 ||10.07 ||10.10 ||19.2 ||12.40 ||11.50 ||11.0 ||13.98 |
|Weight (lb.) ||6,400 ||5,631 ||4,735 (est.) ||4,306 ||3,721 ||5,426-5,796 ||4,697 ||5,825 |
|Wheelbase (in.) ||122.8 ||123.2 ||109.5 ||104.3 ||103.3 ||113.6 ||112.2 ||112.4 |
|Overall length (in.) ||203.5 ||206.9 ||186.6 ||174.4 ||167 ||190.9 ||187.6 ||187.2 |
|Overall width (in.) ||81.2 ||78.8 ||84.3 ||71.6 ||66.7 ||75.4 ||72.8 ||75.9 |
|Height (in.) ||81.2 w/roof rack ||77.7 w/roof rack ||67.7 ||70.2 ||70.9 (soft top) ||74.1 ||72.9 w/roof rack ||68.0 |
|Track (in.) ||69.4/69.4 ||67.5/67.5 ||62.0/62.0 ||60.0/59.7 ||58.5/58.5 ||63.2/63.5 ||61.8/61.8 ||65.2/65.7 |
|Minimum ground clearance (in.) ||10.0 (coil)/10.5 (air) ||10.77 @ front diff ||8.0 @ rear axle ||6.4 @ front skidplate ||8.3 @ rear axle ||10.6 @ rear axle ||9.2 ||6.8 to 11.8 in low range |
|Turning diameter, curb-to-curb (ft.) ||43.5 ||41.0 ||37.1 ||35.9 ||36 ||37.6 in off-road mode ||39.2 ||38.1 |
|Approach/departure angles (deg.) ||40.4 (coil); 41.7 (air)/36.5 (air) with spare carrier ||29.4/22.5 ||34.1/27.1 ||36/31.5 ||43.1/27.7 ||37.2/29.6 in off-road mode ||32.6/32.6 ||33/33 |
|GVWR (lb.) ||8,600 ||7100 ||5,785 (est.) ||5,650 ||800 ||7,121 ||6,000 ||6,788 |
|Payload (lb.) ||2,200 ||1,469 ||1,050 ||1,150 ||800 ||1,695-1,325 ||1,239 ||963 |
|Maximum towing capacity (lb.) ||6,700 ||8,900 ||7,200 ||5,000 ||3,500 ||7,716 in low range ||6,000 ||7,716 with trailer brakes |
|Seating ||5 ||7 standard/8 optional ||5 ||5 ||4 ||5 standard; 7 optional ||7 ||5 |
|Fuel capacity (gal.) ||32 ||28.0 ||20.5 ||20.5 ||19 ||22.8 ||21.1 ||26.4 |
|Claimed interior volume (sq.ft.) ||32.7 ||61.2 ||67.4 w/rear seats folded ||69.0 ||28.5 ||87.4-90.3 ||49.2 with 3rd row seats folded ||71 with seat folded |
|RTI (ramp travel index) ||524 ||331 ||456 ||N/A ||607 ||588 ||284 ||444 |
|0-30 mph (sec.) ||3.58 ||3.09 ||2.58 ||4.85 ||N/A ||3.83 ||2.55 ||2.49 |
|0-60 mph (sec.) ||11.60 ||8.66 ||7.94 ||13.94 ||N/A ||11.00 ||8.19 ||7.55 |
|Quarter-mile (sec. @ mph) ||17.96 @ 77.92 ||16.76 @ 84.75 ||15.99 @ 84.54 ||19.93 @ 72.08 ||18.73 @ 69.59 ||18.31 @ 78.64 ||16.31 @ 82.64 ||15.89 @ 86.95 |
|Braking 60-0 mph (ft.) ||165.75 ||135.12 ||142.43 ||148.73 ||N/A ||157.51 ||130.26 ||135.47 |