2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee at 2009 New York Auto Show

  • Competes with: Ford Edge, Nissan Murano, Chevy Equinox
  • Looks like: A sleek, sophisticated SUV — but not a Jeep
  • Drivetrain: 280-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 or 360-hp, 5.7-liter V-8 with five-speed automatic; two- or four-wheel drive
  • Hits dealerships: 2010

Chrysler is on the brink of doing anything from filing for bankruptcy to completely collapsing as a business. Its business happens to be building cars, trucks and SUVs, and the Jeep brand has been especially good at designing SUVs that its loyal fans enjoy. With the 2011 Grand Cherokee’s urban style and revised unibody platform, the brand may be straying too far from what made it what it is to Jeep loyalists.

The style is quite sophisticated and can hold its own with the Ford Edge and Nissan Murano in the looks department. However, while it looks slick, we can’t help but wonder what Jeep fans are thinking right now. Is this an SUV that screams Jeep?

The new unibody construction likely means a much better ride on the road than the old Grand Cherokee. It’s based on the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, after all. We’d assume the Grand Cherokee will still pass the Rubicon Trail test and be “trail rated,” but questions will remain. We give Jeep credit for introducing the very off-road friendly Wrangler Unlimited four-door a few years back, which allows the Grand Cherokee to be more of a soft-roader. There's a new suspension system the company promises will make it off-road capable with adjustable settings, but it's clearly aimed at general car shoppers.

How does it do on this front? Not so good -- at least on paper. The 2011 Grand Cherokee will get a much more powerful V-6 base engine putting out 280 hp, compared with the outgoing model’s 210 hp, while getting slightly better mileage: 16/23 mpg city/highway, up from 16/21 for the two-wheel-drive model. Its power bests the Edge and Murano by 15 hp, but the competition's mileage is better, at 17/24 and 18/23 mpg, respectively.

New CAFE standards go into effect for the 2011 model year, and we’re wondering if a company without one 31-plus mpg model in its lineup can afford not to get better mileage in a base model. A Hemi V-8 will also be available, making 360 hp and 390 pounds-feet of torque. Mileage is 14/20 mpg for two-wheel-drive V-8 models.

Three trim levels will be available at launch: the base Laredo and mid-level Laredo can be had with either engine, while the top Overland trim only comes with the Hemi V-8.

The numbers paint a bleak picture for what otherwise looks like a pretty nice SUV. The interior certainly seems like a big improvement, and there are many creature comforts that we’re seeing in other top models.

Bi-xenon headlights come standard on Limited and Overland trims, while options include a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, power liftgate, and adjustable headlights that adjust to meet outdoor conditions. Safety options like blind spot warning and rear cross-traffic detection systems, adaptive cruise control and a forward collision system are all available.

We’ll have more in-person impressions later this morning. There are more photos below you can check out now.

Comments 

Ken L.

Looks clean, looks classy, looks sophisticated… it looks good. Problem is that it’ll be from Chrysler, damn it! I don’t think hard core off roaders’ care too much that the Grand Cherokee is going soft, since the Wrangler will still have 4 doors and the optional Rubicon trim level.

Ken L.
I'm so conflicted on it because it does look good. The mileage and model year/release date just kill me though.

Happymantis

I find it sad that the domestics have to be on the verge of bankruptcy before they introduce cars that can attract import buyers like me, the Grand Cherokee looks phenomenal and it doesn't seem like a haphazard job like the previous generations! Where were vehicles like this when I was in the market for a new vehicle?!

Hybrit

The rear looks a lot like the BMW X5, but the overall design is nicer than the Beemer. I'm with Dave on the issue of MPG.

VIk

Dave- when you say "How does it do on this front? Not so good, at least on paper." are you referring to the vehicle's offroad capability? Do you have wheel travel / approach/departure angle #s?

Also, how is the new unibody different from the old unibody?

Personally, I think it looks like a great, modern evolution of the previous Grand Cherokee designs, except the rear end is distinctly non-Jeep (looks more like an X5, as a previous poster said).

sophisticated car, suv gives us comfortable and safer

Louise

I love it! I am in my 6th year of my second Grand Cherokee, and I am excited to know that next year I can have this new look. I have been waiting for something in the SUV market to get excited about. I just hope the Jeep brand stays around with or without Chrysler.

Original sheth

This does NOT compete with the equinox or Murano. First of all its based on a RWD platform and secondly it has an optional V8. This vehicle is likely many hundreds of pounds heavier than the Chevy or Nissan. This competes with the Explorer (for now), Pathfinder and 4Runner. The mileage of this vehicle is on par with its real competitors.

The interior of this vehicle is better than anything I have seen from Honda and shames the Pilot. Chrysler has taken a lot of flak for interior quality but this is a HUGE step forward.

Original sheth

"The rear looks a lot like the BMW X5, but the overall design is nicer than the Beemer. I'm with Dave on the issue of MPG."

You don't buy an SUV like this if MPG is your primary concern. It's mileage is on par with the M class, Toureg, Cayenne, 4Runner, H3, Pathfinder, etc. There aren't any SUVs with true off road capability that get great mileage.

^True. I wasn't as concerned with the mileage as much as the off-road capability. People who are off-road enthusiasts that buy a Jeep Grand Cherokee often don't complain about the MPG, but more about the off-road handling. People who are suburbanites that buy a Jeep Grand Cherokee to best their next door neighbor in the cross cul-de-sac sprints, will complain about the MPG. The latter can all but be ignored.

A good design that modernizes the Grand Cherokee. I wish they would release the Cherokee or... the Wagoneer!

David in Houston

Back end screams Dodge Journey, to me.

Jesse

I like the current model better - it's more rugged looking.

This one says "drive me to the suburbs and park me in the garage"

Sorry we had a typo in the mileage its 16/23 mpg. not 15/23 mpg

Kent

I currently own a 2008 Grand Cherokee and although I like the vehicle very much my one gripe is the interior ....it has a cheapness about it. The new GC looks like they have really updated the interior along with a very attractive exterior design. Hopefully Jeep will survive so we can have a shot at buying one of these in the next couple of years.

OS,
Explorer is going away in a year as a 4x2. This might be the last one of its kind. We list competitors to be broad and usually compare on price, cross-shopping, domestic/import, size, engines etc.
Jeep still sells a majority of V-6s in the JGC. Take a pill.

Vik,
Yeah you're right I rearranged the language so it would be less confusing. This is what happens when you're writing until midnight.

Tony

"...I am excited to know that next year I can have this new look..."

That's if Jeep is still around

Original sheth

DaveT:

I don't believe that imports only compete with imports and domestics with domestics. The JGC has little in common with the Equinox. It has a lot in common with the Pathfinder and 4Runner, both of which offer V8s. The new Equninox comes with an I-4 has and has ZERO off road pretentions. I know you don't react well to suggestions but I think it's reasonable to say that the JGC doen't compete with the Equinox or Edge simply because it's an American SUV. Based on engines and price this definitely isn't aimed at a soft roading FWD crossover. Considering the equipment on this truck I would think it's going to top out well over $40k.

Original sheth

"The new unibody construction likely means a much better ride on the road than the old Grand Cherokee. It’s based on the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, after all."

Is this based on the M class? I have never heard that before and the JGC has been unibody for quite some time.

They can probably pinch out a couple more MPGs with a good german 6 speed AT. If they can get one of those urine powered diesals in there and get the mileage up to 27 I'd consider it for a family car. But those are some serious ifs.

I want Jeep to stick around so I can buy a Wrangler in a few years.

Julio

Have to agree with Seth on this one, Dave. The Equinox and Murano are car based Crossovers and the Cherokee is a track based REAR wheel drive SUV. 4 Runner, Explorer and Pathfinder, heck even the Kia Barrego are it's targets. The Equinox is up against the Rogue, Rav4, CRV, etc while the Murano goes up against the Highlander, Traverse, Nitro, Edge, Pilot, etc. No hate on my end. But the practicality of what is listed just didn't make sense on my end. You guys have your reasons for it, so I know I can't control it. But I think what I listed sounds more on par. Keep up the good work, tho.

George

What is with the 5 speed automatic, wasn't Chrysler supposed to be making their own 8 speed automatic?

H

"the brand may be straying too far from what made it what it is for its loyalists"

Everything other than the Wrangler is "straying too far" to the loyalists and even the fact that they offer the Wrangler as a 4-door is considered blasphemy. Besides 99% of JGC owners never use its off-roading capabilities.

Funny how you don't mention CAFE when BMW introduces their new gas-swilling X5 and X6 variants because their numbers are pretty bleak too and nobody tell me the line about if someone can afford one of them they won't care about the fuel efficiency.

This competes with VW Toureg, Pathfinder, and the X5, ML-class, GX470 to a certain extent...all premium RWD SUV's, not FWD CUV's.

Can you find any more reasons to blackball what otherwise looks to be an excellent new vehicle?

H,
Nope. Crappy mileage in the high volume, sold to soft roaders V-6 pretty much does it.

Nissan found no one wanted it's Pathfinder V-8. We're looking into recent take rates on V8 JGCs now, but I'd guess it's pretty low.

I think I was pretty even handed with the write up and gave them lots of credit for the design and capabilities.

I'm also a former JGC owner. Or my wife is.

Original sheth

Dave:

This vehicle gets 1-2mpg worse city mileage than lighter FWD crossovers with no offroad ability. That is not a significant difference. Its mileage is not lower than the 4Runner or Toureg or even the V6 M class. How can you ignore that and focus only on smaller FWD crossovers? This vehicle gets poor mileage just like its counterparts. It actually gets better milage than most comparable European vehicles. If this vehicle has "crappy" mileage how would you classify the M class or X5 or Toureg?

Original sheth

"Nissan found no one wanted it's Pathfinder V-8. We're looking into recent take rates on V8 JGCs now, but I'd guess it's pretty low. "

Autoblog's review said Jeep expects far more buyers to opt for the V6 in the new model. They said 75% of current models are sold with V8s.

H,

Efficiency is typically only an issue if an American brand rolls out an SUV. Last year the auto media spent a lot of time doubting GM's decision to launch a camaro in the "era of $4/gallon gas" and now we know that it's more efficient than numerous imports. Meanwhile BMW and RR can roll out new gas guzzling SUVs and I have not seen one comment about gas prices, eco friendliness or bad timing.

Jimmy

A beautiful clean design, inside and out- but where's the hybrid option or turbodeisel option that provides plenty of power but increased mileage. Chrysler isn't learning much from its troubles from what I see. Both of the engine options I mentioned are readily available- there's no logical reason they can't be a choice.

DodgeFan

Impressive evolution of interior, it was never bad but not great either. I glad its getting a good review, needs to turn it into sales.

JM

Original Seth-
I am not disagreeing with you, but I'd just like to put out there that 75% of the JGC's sales are V8's because there are two available, and the V6 is painfully slow, noisy, and thirsty. I wouldn't be surprised if you got better or the same mpg with the 4.7 V8 as you did with the 3.7 V6. That engine just needs to die.

Comments on the vehicle-

This looks VERY promising for Chrysler. The interior looks great, but lets just hope that is soft-touch and not hard plastic.
The M-class platform is a great one; handling, ride, and fuel economy are pretty good for such large and heavy vehicles. Also, the off-road performance should be fine for Jeep fans. Just because an SUV is car based, dont think that it can't perform off-road. The car-based Touareg 2 and LR2 both outperform many truck-based SUVs off road.

I hope that Jeep updated the 4.7L V8 and introduces it again. Its a healthy power bump up from the V6, but is still less powerful that the Hemi. That said, the Hemi in the 2009 Ram makes 390 hp, so there is still some room for improvement there.

The transmission needs more speeds though. 5 is too few for a 2011 vehicle, plain and simple. VW.Audi is putting 7- and 8- speeds in their new models, Nissan's 7-speed is new, Lexus' 8-speed is slowly trickling down, and Mercedes has had their 7-speed for years. Chrysler had a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission in one of there recent concept vehicles, so they'd be smart and would show that they are serious by employing that transmission on the 2011 JGC and the new Chrysler.

Do you guys have any specs on the engines, i.e. if they have direct injection, are pushrod or DOCH, etc?

Momto2boys

A V8 Jeep Grand Cherokee can tow without being a full-size SUV. Hopefully, the 2011 JGC will also have a third row option. However, the rear window looks fixed on the 2011 GJC. I love being able to open the rear window of my 2001 JGC to check on my 2 big dogs who travel in the back without having to open the liftgate (especially with a kayak on top and a travel trailer behind the JGC).

sheth

JM:

Infiniti just rolled out its 7 speed for 2009 in a few vehicles. Some models still have a 5 speed. Acuras use 5 speeds as well. Lexus has an 8 speed in exactly three models, most Lexus models have 6 speed transmissions. Jaguar, Audi, Land Rover and Cadillac are using 6 speed autos. I am not aware of any VW with more than 6 speeds in a conventional automatic.

The V6 is DOHC and the V8 is OHV. I believe the V6 is direct injected.

4Runner owner

I love the styling... now if only they would build a Jeep with the reliabilty of my 4Runner, I'd buy one in a heartbeat! Unfortunately, that's very unlikely to happen. So when it comes time to replace my current 4Runner, I'll probably be heading down to my local Toyota dealer to take a look at a new one again!

moro

Hope 4.7 V8 will be available, with VVT ans E85 fuel is "green". 310 HP is OK, could be more, and 10 kgf of torque extra than V6 are useful. A third row is necessary and technical possible considering total length of the car. Agree with 6 speed or more automatic gearbox, other the gain of power mean nothing if gearbox is slow.

MICHAEL

I think the new Grand Cherokee is nice, but I still think it's out of touch with other car makers, and price. I think the 2010 GMC Terrain has a nicer rugged look. Jeep really needs to change the front end more. Quality is a other issue with Chrysler. I have '01 Jeep Cherokee and it's been one problem after a other. A $40,000 dollar vehicle it sure does not look like it according to the pictures I have scene.

MICHAEL

I would buy one used if I was going to buy one, not worth new car value at all! Design still looks like the current one. Jeep please change the front end, before putting this vehicle in production

Rob

Looks great but I'm out. If they used their exisitng 3.0 L diesel engine and made it more efficient like in the benz this Jeep would be hard to beat. Otherwise it just another guzzler that looks nice, Sorry Jeep you are not getting it. Put an efficient 3.0 L diesel in there and I'll buy two.

Mike

Looks like it hasn't changed much. The design isn't groundbreaking and reminds me in the front of a Saab 9-7x. Obviously Chrysler was on a tight budget with this one. I hope the interior will be better in base models than the crappy cheap ones now. I would expect more from a $40k SUV than this thing. The JGC is overpriced in my opinion becuase it lacks the prestige of a luxury car co. but has a luxury price tag.

Randy

Looks nice, but if there are no US diesel or from ELSD I will not be buying another and I have had two 08 CRD's

very classy.. i like the color of the exterior... the interior parts was also impressive and very clean..

mopartner

I had a 06 Overland, it was outstanding,except for interior. Seats were hard as a brick. Sucked gas like a sponge ,or maybe that was my heavy foot,hemi's you gotta love'em. But this time I will order the V6. I had my share of fun and speed also owned a 06 Charger SRT8. Great car,but the worlds cheapest interior,ie door panels,center console and dash,seats were great. Look's like a winner.

Jeep Grand Cherokee is an amazing jeep with stylish look and feature,comfortable for sitting and travel,sequrity feature really good.

Thanks

Used Jeep parts

“Interesting post, we shall be following your blog more closely in future! Best Wishes”
http://www.jeep-suv-and-parts.com

RML, NZ

The current Jeep Grand Cherokee is a brilliant package of ruggedness and civilization - equally at home on the ski field, the boat ramp, the daily commute, the trail and the corporate parking lot. The 2011 model looks like a must have evolution. I'll definitely be supporting this iconic US brand that stands for something close to my soul. Toymotors just don't have the same vibe and mana.

Karl Kolb

I have a 2000 GC and I have been waiting for something special, I hope this is it. I have had a number of Jeeps - lets hope the new owner gets back to what Jeep is all about.

mommy

Very Nice! Hope Jeep stays around for a while cuz I will definitely get one JGC for my own graduation gift ^__^

One

Romantic . . .

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