2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

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2011 Grand Cherokee Overview

Everything about the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee is new and excellent, including a lowered price. There's a new DOHC V6 that's smooth and powerful, making 290 horsepower and getting 16-23 mpg. There's a new super-stiff chassis with well-tuned independent front and rear suspensions that provide a comfortable ride on any surface, with solid and secure cornering. The new Grand Cherokee offers more interior space, especially four more inches of rear seat legroom and more cargo capacity. It's 3 inches wider for better handling and more hip room, with a wheelbase that's increased by 5 inches while overall length is only increased 1.8 inches, thanks to a reduced front overhang.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Interior Design 2011

The interior is stylish and made with high quality materials, especially the leather seats in the Laredo models. The 60/40 rear seats recline for comfort enabling passengers to look up at the sky through the optional Panoramic sunroof that extends over both rows of seats; and the front seat folds flat to carry long things like kayaks or two-by-fours.

The styling moves uptown, with a sloped windshield and backlight, sculpted sides, and cleaner lines everywhere. Nothing is missed in the standard safety equipment.

The standard engine is a sweet new 3.6-liter V6 with double overhead-cams making 290 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque. We preferred it. The big 5.7-liter V8 Hemi is still an option for all models. All models come with a five-speed automatic transmission.

Styles 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee comes in three models, each with a choice of two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive.

Grand Cherokee Laredo and 4WD come with cloth seating, fold-flat front passenger seat, power eight-way driver seat with four-way lumbar, LED lighting, reclining rear seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, halogen headlamps, roof rails, flipper liftgate glass, foglamps, 17-inch aluminum wheels, trailer sway control, keyless ignition, electronic vehicle information center, 12-volt auxiliary outlets. Laredo X upgrades to leather seating, heated front seats, 18-inch aluminum wheels, nine-speaker 506-watt CD/DVD/HDD/MP3 audio, rearview camera, hands-free communication, 115-volt power outlet, and remote starting.

Grand Cherokee Limited and 4WD add heated rear seats, bi-xenon headlamps with auto leveling, dual-pane panoramic sunroof with power shade, navigation, rain-sensitive windshield wipers. Also touches of brightness like: silver strakes in rear cargo area, door sill scuff pads with bright insert and Jeep logo, body-colored fascias with bright insert, bright door handles, bright exhaust tip. The V8 is optional.

Grand Cherokee Overland and 4WD feature an air suspension system and Nappa leather seating with piping, ventilated front seats, wood and leather heated steering wheel with memory, cargo net, power liftgate, premium audio with navigation and SIRIUS travel-traffic information, 20-inch aluminum wheels. The V8 is optional.

Exterior Design 2011 Grand Cherokee

Every inch of sheet metal is new, although it's still so unmistakably Grand Cherokee that it's not going to turn heads. Few will say, Wow, look at that new Jeep, although they probably should, because it's so much cleaner. The real Wow will come when they drive it.

The lines are more fluid than before, and are 8.5 percent more aerodynamic, with a Cd of 0.37, lowered from 0.40 after 250 hours in the wind tunnel. This brings better economy, with less interior noise. It has a wider stance and shorter nose with less front overhang, giving it a subtle look of substance. It's a fast windshield, meaning more sloped than before.

And it definitely has substance, being longer and heavier, stretched in the wheelbase by 5.3 inches, although it's only 1.8 inches longer overall thanks to less front overhang. It's also 3 inches wider, for better handling and more interior space.

The seven-slot chrome grille is defined by six chrome slats over the black slots, while the headlamps sweep like winglets out from the top corners. Smooth frontal fascia with black air dam, recessed to lessen drag, and tidy small foglamps in trapezoid pockets. Aerodynamic belly pans run the full length of the chassis, chasing fuel mileage.

The sides have big rectangular concave sculpting, as if it's a place where Jeep meets BMW, and slightly trapezoidal wheel arches, a distinctive if still subtle touch. The side glass is straight and unaffected, with black B pillars, darkly tinted glass and stainless steel trim.

Jeep says the rear styling gives a nod to the 1963 Wagoneer that started it all, and it's true (although we wonder how many besides us will remember Mom's '63 Wagoneer in high school that we snuck to the drag strip in the next state, one Sunday afternoon, and ripped off crowd-pleasing 4-wheel-drive hole shots).

The backlight balances the slope of the windshield, although, retro touch notwithstanding, the entire rear view looks like that of a thousand other full-size SUVs. That's because function rules, as it should; when SUV rear-end styling gets fancy, visibility is often lost. The taillamps are bigger and extend into the liftgate, with four backup lights whose beams improve the video view of the rear back-up camera, an area where some cars are lacking.

There's an aerodynamic body-colored spoiler, level with the roof and over the sloped liftgate, and it looks good. We also like the flipper glass window in the liftgate, which has a convenient opening handle. The vehicle locks with the press of a button on the door handle, like at the tailgate. This is nice.

The body-colored parts in the Laredo (mirrors, door handles, ding strip) look better than the chrome trim on the upscale Overland, whose 20-inch wheels with five thick spokes just look big and bright and unimaginative. Far more Jeeps will be Laredo models (65 percent, expects Jeep) with 17- or 18-inch wheels, which look better.

There are some new colors, including a dark green that's non-metallic, bringing a welcome and rugged touch, like a nod to the Wrangler.

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Conclusions

The 2011 Grand Cherokee has a great new chassis, engine, suspension, styling and interior. Like the Dodge Viper that brought Chrysler back from the brink of bankruptcy nearly two decades ago, this Grand Cherokee has the potential to do the same. It's that good. Completely new save for its optional carryover V-8 engine, the 2011 Grand Cherokee has traveled leagues in refinement while not losing its vaunted off-road capability. But don't worry, you'll get used to rock crawling in luxury almost immediately. says Road and Track Chrysler is not blowing smoke when it says that craftsmanship has returned.

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