Each terrain setting intelligently adjusts traction control and coupled with Quadra-Lift, another Jeep first which is an air suspension system that raises the vehicle using a compressed air tank and air compressor, the driver can achieve world-class capability and tackle virtually any terrain challenge whether in the snow in the city or in the backcountry on a rock embankment.
One of the few complaints we had with the previous model Grand Cherokee was the low approach and departure angles of the vehicle which resulted in limited drivability on hill ascents and descents. The benefit of the Quadra-Lift air suspension system, as well as hill descent technology which adjusts vehicle torque while descending extreme angle hills, was apparent when we drove our Overland model Grand Cherokee through various obstacles off-highway. With an increased approach angle of 34.3 degrees, as well as increased departure angle of 29.3 degrees (compared to 32.3 and 27.5 degrees respectively), the vehicle tackled every challenge we threw at it with extreme ease. This definitely is one very capable Jeep worthy of its “Trail Rated” badge.
As for powertrain, the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee features two very capable options: an all-new flexible fuel Pentastar V-6 engine which delivers far more power and torque than its previous 3.7L predecessor (290hp and 260 lb.-ft of torque), and a 5.7-Liter Multi-Displacement System (MDS) V-8 engine that mates the growl of a V-8 with plenty of power and performance.
The all-new Pentastar V-6 engine provides more than adequate power with an 11 percent increase in fuel economy – up to 23mpg and an average of 500 miles on one tank of gas – that will appeal to a broad consumer market who values fuel efficiency . Towing capability is impressive with the capacity to handle loads up to 5,000 lbs and while the five-speed WSA580 transmission delivered smooth shifts on our road test, we wouldn’t mind seeing a six-speed version of the transmission in future models.
What we found most appealing in the V-8 option is the impressive 7,400 lbs of towing capacity. The driver can tow just about anything needed for work or play and can do so knowing the vehicle features Variable Valve Timing that delivers performance and fuel efficiency in conjunction with the Multi-Displacement System.
The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee is hands-down our pick for 4×4 of the Year. We are beyond excited about the future of Jeep and what its merger with Fiat will bring to the table, and we believe the all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee has redefined not only the “luxury” SUV market but in essence, has raised the bar for all other vehicles within the Jeep umbrella. One thing is for certain: once you drive the all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee, you’ll never want to drive another SUV again.
* Published by JPFreek Jeep Adventure Magazine – The leader in Jeep and adventure enthusiast publications.