Looking for snow on the ground in central Texas is like hoping for a car as a Christmas gift, don’t get your hopes up. Unfortunately, I was not lucky on either account this year. It’s a shame we didn’t get any snow to test the traction settings of the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, with its new Land Rover-like terrain selection system glaring up at us.
This is the first Jeep product to emerge after the Fiat / Chrysler alliance. It shows, as this Grand Cherokee has one of the best fit and finished interiors I’ve ever seen in a Jeep product. I’m not a big Mopar fan, but most of my family are loyal Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge drivers. I have grown up with the vast imperfection of these products. Jumping into this 2011 was like jumping into a Mercedes-like SUV.
There is a good reason for it feeling like Mercedes quality. The architecture of the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee is based on that of the M-Class. Anything from the comfort of the ride to the feeling of the steering closely resembles that of the M-Class. The live axle of the previous generation was tossed in favor of an independent multilink suspension. As a result, Jeep calls this Grand Cherokee “the most capable ever.”
The new Pentastar V-6, the engine our tester was equipped with, is a 3.6 liter pushing 290 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. That’s an increase over the 3.7 V6 of 80 hp and 25 lb-ft of torque. Hooked to a 5 speed automatic gearbox (the only option), this V6 Grand Cherokee can tow a load up to 5000 pounds. The other option is the 5.7 liter hemi pushing 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. That will up your towing to 7400 pounds.
Although we don’t yet have the option for an SRT8 variant, Chrysler has said it should appear in the next year or so. Nonetheless, a V8 option is a dwindling one in this segment. The 4 Runner can no longer be bought with a V8, and more manufacturers are sure to follow.
Keeping you insulated from the rough terrain you’ll be thrusting yourself toward, the air suspension delivers adequate comfort. The body roll is well controlled and the road noise is almost non-existent, even on the freeway doing 70mph.
The price of this Grand Cherokee is no joke. Our tester was a 4×4 Limited edition with the V6, leather, navigation, heated front and rear seats, panoramic moon, and the whole nine yards. This will set the buyer back an easy $40,000. At this price you’re competing above the Honda Pilot and Mazda CX-9, and below the Land Rover LR4 and Volkswagen Touareg. That’s really not a bad place to be, in our minds, as this is one of the best Jeep products we’ve ever had the pleasure of driving.