SEE ALSO: Jeep Buyer's Guide
SPECIFICATIONS Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price $ 29,270 Price As Tested $ 36,530 Engine Type OHV 12-valve 4.0 Liter L6 w/SMFI* Engine Size 242 cid/4000 cc Horsepower 195 @ 4600 RPM Torque (lb-ft) 230 @ 3000 RPM Wheelbase/Width/Length 105.9"/72.3"/181.5" Transmission Four-speed automatic Curb Weight 4107 pounds Fuel Capacity 20.5 gallons Tires (F/R) 235/65R17 all-season Brakes (F/R) Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS) Drive Train Front-engine/four-wheel-drive Vehicle Type Five-passenger/five-door Domestic Content 88 percent Coefficient of Drag (Cd.) 0.45 PERFORMANCE EPA Economy, miles per gallon city/highway/average 16/20/17 0-60 MPH 9.5 seconds Maximum payload capacity 1100 pounds Maximum towing capacity 5000 pounds * Sequential multi-port fuel injection
(No one is sure where the name "Jeep" came from or what it meant when it came into being says Bob Hagin. Matt Hagin says it means luxury, comfort and off-road ability when it's attached to the Grand Cherokee.)
BOB - There's several different version of the origin of the name "Jeep," Matt, but in 60 years, it's evolved from meaning a General Purpose (GP) military four-seater that was the most basic transportation possible to a brand-name that's attached to some very classy off- roaders. The Jeep Grand Cherokee is the king of the line and while our Laredo model isn't the top version, it's still pretty fancy and doesn't have to take a back seat to any of the current crop of sport/utility vehicles. And typical of today's trend towards buying an off-roader SUV and then not driving over anything more challenging than a curb, the Grand Cherokee can be bought with either two- or four-wheel-drive.
MATT - In several ways, it's pretty archaic mechanically. On both two-wheel and four-wheel versions, the front suspension is a non- independent solid axle carried on coil springs while the solid rear axle is mounted on leaf springs. But if the drive axles are vintage, the three four-wheel drive systems a Grand Cherokee buyer can chose from are very sophisticated. Our test rig was equipped with what Jeep calls "Quad Drive" which is a full-time system that can apply as much as 100 percent of the available torque to just one wheel if that's the only one that has grip in bad weather. The 4-by-4 Grand Cherokee can also be had with "Quadra Trac" which is full-time too but it can only transfer torque to the front or back axles. The third system is "Select Trac" which is either two-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive, and the mode is selectable by the driver. It's almost as tough to chose a drive system on a Grand Cherokee as it is to select it's color.
BOB - There are a couple of engine choices too which makes picking the "right" combination even tougher. Jeep did away with the baseline four-banger in the Grand Cherokee a couple of years ago and now the standard engine on our Lorado model is the in-line six that traces it's roots back at least two or three decades. It's ancient technology too, being all-iron and operating its two-valves per cylinder via pushrods. But if the mechanicals of the engine are vintage, its electronic controls are very high-tech. The engine has been certified as ultra-clean in the five states that have this as an "official" classification. Its 4.0 liters puts out 190 horses and its 225 pound/feet of torque at 3000 rpm makes it capable of towing 5000 pounds.
MATT - The engine of choice for the person who's going to do some serious towing will be the new V8 that the optional powerplant for the Grand Cherokee. It's was an all-new design last year and it's fairly up to date. Its overhead cams are chain-driven which I personally prefer over belt-drive, and the heads are aluminum. With an extra 40 horses, the Grand Cherokee V8 breaths easier doing family towing chores. Our tester had the optional Up Country package which included tougher all-terrain tires, a full-sized spare tire with a wheel that matches the other four, a skip plate set and a couple of tow hooks up front.
BOB - The profile of the Grand Cherokee shows it's direct lineage from those early Cherokees of the past and with a drag coefficient of .45, it's about as aerodynamic as a tool shed. The interior is pretty comfortable and ours had the Customer Preferred Package which included leather low-back bucket seats. It's interior is a bit on the narrow side but not so much as to be crowded. It's more at home carrying four occupants than five especially on an extended trip. I liked the flexible interior "stuff" net that's tucked away in the left rear quarter panel and there's lots of little cubby holes scattered around for maps, sun glasses and other personal items. According to the press kit the Grand Cherokee is also assembled in Austria in left and right-hand drive.
MATT - These new Jeeps are lots easier to drive than the old rock- crushers you had to pilot 47 years ago, Dad. They looked uncomfortable.
BOB - They were, but at 19, driving them on dirt roads or rice paddies was an adventure. If I tried it now, I'd need an ambulance.