With its relatively small price tag, the new Grand Cherokee has some surprising features.

Story By Mick Matheson

Fifty-odd grand is a bargain for Jeep’s all-new Grand Cherokee. You wonder how they do it. This is a 4WD with a genuinely upmarket feel, a host of high-end features, no shortage of comfort, a relatively frugal petrol engine and almost all the off-road ability you expect of the American brand. It makes many wagons in its price range look distinctly under-done.
The Grand Cherokee looks pricey. The sporty, BMW-esque style retains Jeep’s seven-bar grille and trapezoidal wheel arches. Leather, a fair level of soundproofing and a decent quality of finish enhance the sense of luxury. The quiet petrol engine helps, too, making a pleasant change from the dominance of diesels in fourbies these days.
The new Pentastar 3.6-litre V6 debuts in the Grand Cherokee. It’s been designed for better economy and is a vast improvement over the engines that turned us on to diesels. It’ll use about 12.L/100 kilometres on the freeways, not bad for a 2.1-tonne car. In heavy off-road use, where petrol engines are at their worst against diesels, it uses about 15–30 percent more fuel than equivalent oil-burners, far less than we’d expected.
There is a 209-kilowatt powerplant with a solid 353 Newton metres of torque, which is far more satisfying than your typical turbo-diesel. The five-speed automatic is responsive, too, keeping the revs in the power zone. Choose sport mode in the new Selec-Terrain system and the combination works harder still. Selec-Terrain lets you change driving modes by turning a knob on the centre console. As well as sport and auto, it has three off-road modes: sand and mud; snow; and rock. In tandem with the new Quadra-Lift air suspension system, each mode gives different characteristics for power delivery, individual wheel braking and ride height. In the Quadra-Trac II 4WD system, there are no locking differentials and the electronically controlled wheel-braking system works to transfer drive to whichever wheels have traction. It’s pretty good, but no match for mechanical lockers when the going gets really tough.

This story excerpt is from Issue #75

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2011