Grand Cherokee goes independent
Chrysler’s unveiled a raft of images ahead of its Stateside launch of the new Grand Cherokee on Friday.
3.6l V6, 5.7l V8
Despite the company’s recent financial malaise the Jeep brand remains central to Chrysler’s survival and as such the fortunes of its headline SUV – Grand Cherokee – are vitally important.
Styled to be less conspicuous, the new Grand Cherokee is 45mm longer and 76mm inches wider than the model it replaces. Surfacing is cleaner and although it retains the signature chrome grille the Grand’s styling is now more elegant.
As with all Jeep products standard equipment levels promise to be comprehensive with the new Grand Cherokee set to roll off dealer floors with Blind-spot/Rear Cross-path detection, Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Collision Warning, on-board TV and an Internet router.
Jeep says the cabin surfacing has been improved with premium soft-touch materials. We still see a lot of silver plastic though.
Bye-bye solid rear axle
Mechanically the fifth incarnation of Jeep’s Grand Cherokee sees a change to fully-independent suspension at both axles (the rear live axle is no more) which should upset hard-core off-roaders, yet Land-Rover’s Discovery 4 and Mercedes-Benz’s ML are similarly suspended.
The presence of Jeep’s five-setting adjustable Quadra-Lift air suspension (sourced from Merc’s ML) and a new Selec-Terrain off-road management system should ensure the Grand retains some of the Jeep brand’s fabled off-road ability.
Similar to Land-Rover’s pioneering terrain-response system, Grand Cherokee’s Selec-Terrain has five settings (Sand/Mud, Sport, Auto, Snow and Rock) which adjust the throttle, transmission shift-regime and traction control interplay to ensure optional traction.
In terms of off-road grading three levels of the Quadra-Trac system are present in the new Grand Cherokee. The default specification Quadra-Trac I is a simple full-time all-wheel drive set-up without a reduction ratio low-range transfer case.
Quadra-Trac II adds the requisite transfer case hardware and the ability to proportion all available drive to the axle with most traction.
The Quadra-Trac III system adds an electronic limited-slip rear differential which employs the ABS system’s sensors to apply braking to a wheel with slip, thereby ensuring drive is redirected to the opposing wheel with superior traction. Both the Quadra-Trac II and III systems feature Select-Terrain as standard.
Jeep's version of Terrain Response should appease off-road enthusiasts doubting the new Grand Cherokee's credentials due to its independent rear axle set-up.
Efficient V6 power
In terms of engines Jeep has binned the 4.7l V8 in favour of a new Chrysler Pentastar V6.
Although it’s not a direct-injection engine the 3.6l Pentastar features an impressively oversquare internal architecture (96mmx83mm bore and stroke dimensions) which enables a 7 200r/min engine speed ceiling. Outputs are quite keen too, with 209kW available at 6 400r/min and 353Nm at 4 800r/min enabling a tow rating of 3.2t.
Jeep says the new V6 will best entry-level engines from the fourth generation Grand Cherokee by 11% in terms of fuel economy.
For those Grand Cherokee loyalists who prefer their cars with a V8 beat, the option of a 5.7l Hemi engine worth 265kW and 528Nm exists. The very rapid (yet very pointless) SRT8 moniker is expected to be carried over to the latest Grand Cherokee too.
When right-hand drive markets receive Grand Cherokee early in 2011 its offering should be expanded with compression-ignition power, although the diesel engine is likely to be sourced from VM Motori instead of preferred supplier Mercedes-Benz, no doubt due to Fiat's newfangled presence on the Chrysler board.