The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4X4 Review

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

SEE ALSO: Jeep Buyers Guide

By John Heilig

Model: 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4X4
Engine: 5.7-liter V8
Horsepower/Torque : 360 h @5,150 rpm/390 lb.-ft. @ 4,250 rpm
Transmission: Multispeed automatic
Wheelbase: 114.8 in.
Length x Width x Height: 189.8 x 84.8 x 69.4 in.
Tires: P265/60R18
Cargo volume: 35.1/68.7 cu. ft. (rear seat backs up/down)
Fuel economy: 13 mpg city/19 mpg highway/14.9 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 24.6 gal.
Curb weight: 5,210 lbs.
Sticker: $45,240 (includes $780 destination charge and $3,340 in options0

The Bottom Line: The Jeep Grand Cherokee is a civilized sport utility that has inherited the legendary Jeep off road capability, It’s also a pretty luxurious vehicle even if you have no intentions of hitting the Rubicon Trail.

While the Jeep Wrangler has an enviable reputation for its off-road capabilities, it’s still just a blink away from the World War II combat Jeep. Oh sure, in the ensuing 55 years it has been civilized to some degree, like adding seat belts and air bags, but it’s still the old war horse at heart.

The Grand Cherokee has always been the most civilized of Jeep’s product line. Now, with the addition of Quadra Trac II, it gains the off roadability of the Wrangler, but in a package you wouldn’t mind, and might actually want to take to the theatre.

The new Grand Cherokee’s base architecture was allegedly set in place during the years when Chrysler was a part of DaimlerChrysler. There is some M-Class in the GC, but not enough to remove the vehicle’s basic American character.

The first thing you notice as you settle into the well-sculpted front seat is the wonderfully thick wood-and-leather steering wheel. Those of us who still remember those thin cross section and large diameter steering wheels of the 50s will enjoy this wheel. A pleasant addition is that it’s heated, which makes driving on cold mornings less uncomfortable.

Turn on the 5.7-liter V8 engine with the pushbutton start and there’s another great feeling; the sound of HEMI power. The engine is rated at 360 horsepower, and it’s more than enough for any on-road activities. There is some engine noise on hard acceleration (and we did accelerate hard a couple of times), but it’s not annoying and the engine quiets down once you’re in cruising mode.

Once out of the driveway and on the road, you’ll notice that the Grand Cherokee has excellent road manners. It is smooth, quiet and responsive without the harshness you sometimes find in a good off-roader.

Four-wheel drive functions are controlled through a knob on the center console. You can choose among 4WD low, downhill control, sport, snow, automatic, and sand/mud. In addition, there’s a switch to the right of this knob that allows you to raise or lower the GC, depending on where you’re driving. It will also lower automatically if you’re in high-speed mode on an Interstate.

Driver and passenger amenities abound. As I said earlier, the front seats offer good side support. The outboard rear seats offer decent side support, and have excellent leg- and knee-room. There’s also a relatively flat rear floor if you want to carry three adults back there. The rear seat backs fold flat, 60/40, to increase cargo capacity from 35.1 cubic feet to 68.7. Both numbers are pretty decent, even for a sport utility.

In the cargo area is the latest goodie to appear on vehicles these days; Autonet. This turns the Grand Cherokee into a rolling WiFi. While I wouldn’t advocate surfing the net while driving, it’s nice to have that ability when you stop.

Among the better features are adaptive cruise control that maintains a safe spacing between you and the car in front. Every time I use ACC I’m disconcerted when the vehicle slows down with n o input from me. Then I realize what’s happening and take appropriate action.

The Grand Cherokee also has a blind spot monitoring system. This alerts the driver by means of a light that there is a vehicle in the blind spot. If you don’t notice the light and put the turn signal on, it’ll beep at you.

As I alluded to earlier, the addition of QuadraTrac II makes the Grand Cherokee a worthy off-road vehicle that can probably handle the toughest of off-road challenges. While I didn’t have the opportunity to check it, I believe the commercials.

So if you need a vehicle that can go off-road, or can handle mud and snow with aplomb, or will allow you to cruise the northern stretches of Outer Banks beaches in comfort and style, than the Jeep Grand Cherokee may be what you’re looking for.

(c) 2010 The Auto Page