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Monday, January 11, 2010

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee


Despite always being a unibody vehicle, like many body-on-frame SUVs, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has been largely shown the door by a raft of new crossovers that have played to consumers looking for improved on-road performance. Oh, back when the current WK model was new for 2005, then-DaimlerChrysler made a splash with a new double-wishbone suspension that was better able to soak up tarmac imperfections, but some hardcore brand loyalists felt betrayed because the improved ride came at the expense of axle articulation. Not wanting to risk offending brand acolytes with their new 2011 model, Jeep faced a pair of seemingly divergent goals: Improve off-road ability while making the vehicle more attractive to a wider, street-oriented mainstream audience. In other words, as Chrysler's vice-president of design Ralph Gilles put it to us, Jeep's mission was to "put the 'Grand' back in Grand Cherokee." Jeep's solution to its two-audience conundrum is the model you see before you, and while it shares lots of familiar cues, in the metal it looks at once far more aggressive than the exiting lantern-eyed WK, and ultimately more crossover-like. While it retains iconography like the seven-slot grille, the new headlamps have a meaner look thanks to a furrowed-brow appearance granted by the new hood. Perhaps the most dramatic departure is the profile view, where a new CUV-like tapering greenhouse takes up residence above a dramatically scalloped bodyside graphic. According to Gilles, the door panel indent is so pronounced that the company says they were "one step away from needing a compound hinge" to pull it off. If that profile looks longer to you, that's because it is – the wheelbase has swelled by four-inches, with that extra space dedicated completely to rear-seat passengers (+ three inches) and cargo room (+ one inch). The rear end is all-new as well, with a cleaner license plate surround and more horizontally oriented tail-lamps that emphasize the Grand Cherokee's wider width. Loyalists take note: Your pass-through rear glass has been retained.

This new model has a longer wheelbase and a more refined, crossover-like aesthetic. How exactly is that going to appeal to the mudpluggers in the audience? Well, Jeep has added a bounty of new off-road minded technology, in addition to new powertrains and a stiffened structure. Starting with the engine choices, the volume model is expected to be the company's new flex-fuel "Phoenix" V6. The variable-valve timing equipped 3.6-liter engine nets 280 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm – a substantial 33% bump in horsepower and an 11% boost in torque over the departing V6. Backed by a carryover five-speed automatic, it is also a more efficient powertrain, with a claimed 11% increase in fuel economy. This new six-cylinder is scheduled to appear in many more products, potentially showing up in seven or eight different applications. Jeep officials expect the V6 to account for more than 50 percent of Grand Cherokee sales, a big switch over the WK GC, which skews more than 75 percent in favor of the V8.

Source : Chrysler's


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