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2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD - First Drive & Review

Front View
Jim Allen | Writer
Posted February 1, 2007
Photographers: Courtesy of Daimlerchrysler

A Thrifty Powerhouse

The Grand Cherokee 3.0L CRD handles the trail as well as its gasoline-powered brethren. It's not built for hard-core trail running, but it's extremely capable when judged against its peers.

There's a very old saying about the Man Upstairs ... He giveth and He taketh away. Well, after just a year in the lineup and 11,000 units, the Liberty KJ CRD gets taketh away for '07. What should help dry the diesehaulic's tears is that we have been giveth the Grand Cherokee WK CRD diesel.

To answer your first question, no, the 2.8L CRD diesel from the Liberty has not been transplanted into the Grand Cherokee. The Grand gets a silky-smooth 3.0L V-6 that cranks out 215 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. If your eyebrows crawled to the back of your head, it's probably from realizing that's one more lb-ft than the burly 5.7L Hemi V-8. That grunt allows it to share the same maximum tow rating with the Hemi, 7,200 pounds. The 3.7L V-6 and 4.7L V-8 gas engines are rated at 3,500 and 6,500 pounds, respectively.

Rain that ended only hours before the test gave us the perfect opportunity to do a fording test at DCX's Michigan test track. The CRD handled it without a whimper. (Maybe a gurgle or two.)

The 3.0L turbodiesel is a relatively new development. It features an electronically controlled, common-rail, high-pressure injection system with double overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, and a 4,500-rpm redline. This slightly undersquare engine is on the top tier of diesel tech. It's had a couple of years in the European markets for debugging, fitted to the same Jeep platform there, as well as to the Euro version of the Chrysler 300C. The engine is fully compatible with the new ULSD (Ultra Low Sulphur Diesel) regulations and has an exhaust particulate filter (get used to them) and holds an impressive 10 quarts of lube oil.

The 3.0L CRD delivers an EPA rated 19 city/23 highway mpg in the WK. That's a bit down from the 22/26 the Liberty cranked out, but the Grand Cherokee is hauling around an extra thousand pounds. Plus, considering that the EPA adjusts the raw test numbers down 10 percent for city and 22 percent for highway driving, we think the feather-footed drivers out there could probably get those numbers up considerably. As it stands, Jeep claims you can get at least 425 miles out of a full 21.1-gallon tank of fuel. That will outlast even Joe Ironbladder.

Much of the drivetrain is similar to the standard WK, including the C-200-F 7.9-inch front IFS diff and C-213-R 8.3-inch rear solid axle (the modern version of the Mopar 8.3). The front and rear electronic limited-slips come with the Quadra-Drive II options, and standard open diffs with Quadra-Trac II. The transfer case is the same full-time NVG-245 with both systems. The CRD comes with nicely low 3.73:1 gears. The big drivetrain difference with the CRD is the tranny. It's mated to the German-engineered and -built W5J400 automatic that's specially tuned for the diesel. There is no manual trans option.

We're sometimes ashamed at our inability to remain objective in the face of cool technology. The wunnerful Jeep navigation system has an extra tidbit we found fascinating. When you back up, a small camera mounted in the license light housing shows the path behind. The yellow lines are the approximate path of the tires. Yeah, this could be useful on the trail, but it's probably intended more for child and pet protection.

We had a chance to drive both a Hemi-powered WK and the CRD, and the differences in acceleration ain't like the proverbial tortoise and hare. The butt-dyno says the diesel we tested had the edge from zero to 30 mph. With 376 lb-ft on tap from 1,600 to 2,800 rpm, it ought to, but whatever the Hemi gains further up the rpm range, the diesel isn't as far behind as you would expect. It does tend to get a bit winded at higher rpm, but like many Euro-diesels, it does a pretty good gasser imitation. That includes the noise and vibration department. Yeah, it's a tad more rough than the gassers, but this is a diesel almost anyone could easily live with. Handling and braking of the 3.0 CRD on the street is on par with the other WK models.

Off the highway, our test rig easily handled the DaimlerChrysler test track. It 'wheeled like the other WKs we've driven, but with a lot more low-end grunt to play with. The course uncovered what we hope, and were told, is just a glitch. In low-range, the throttle is excessively sensitive. Talk about the herky-jerkies! Also, when trying to left-foot brake, the throttle-by-wire freaked out and kept pulling back on the power. Only one rig was available for trail tests, and it was a preproduction test beater with some serious test miles behind it. The engineer riding along told us the programming for the system was being refined to be more trail-friendly. We hope so.

If you like diesels, you'll love the Grand Cherokee 3.0 CRD. Especially if you're looking for a daily driver that's capable of being 'wheeled comfortably. If you're new to diesels but are attracted to the combination of performance and fuel economy in a good-sized SUV, you have nothing to fear. This is a diesel with manners and refinement on a level that can only come from a connection with Mercedes. One major disappointment is that, due to stricter diesel emissions standards, 3.0 CRD option is available for purchase in only 45 states. Not included are Maine, New York, Vermont, Connecticut, and California. A future Bluetec version could change that.

P.S.: You JK Wrangler fans can now start dreaming of this engine getting mounted in our favorite new bobtail.

Type: 3.0L DOHC 24V V6
Construction: Sleeved aluminum block and heads, balance shaft
Valvetrain: Double overhead cams with hydraulic roller followers; four valves per cylinder
Bore & stroke (in): 3.27 x 3.62
Compression ratio: 18:1
Max hp @ rpm: 215 @ 3,800
Max torque (lb-ft)@ rpm: 376 @ 1,600-2,800
Injection system: Direct high-pressure Bosch, with pilot injection
Oil capacity (qt): 10
Coolant capacity (qt): 14
Emission controls: Oxy-catalyst, diesel particulate filter, Lambda sensors, and EGR

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