2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Consider the pressure. Fiat chief Sergio Marchionne calls the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chrysler's first all-new model since Daimler ownership, its most important launch this year. More important than the Fiat 500 -- which goes on sale in North America this fall -- displayed alongside it at the April 2009 New York Auto Show.

The hard-core Jeepinisti who consider upside-down "If you can read this, turn me over" window decals basic equipment haven't forgiven Daimler for the Jeep Compass and Patriot, and they're bound to be apprehensive of a new Grand Cherokee built on Mercedes' M-Class platform. Grand Cherokee remains a two-row, five-passenger SUV, while the '12 Dodge Durango on the same platform takes the Commander's place in Chrysler/Jeep/Dodge/Ram dealerships as a three-row unibody SUV.

Grand Cherokee gives up its live rear axle for four-wheel independent air suspension. It gains 2.6 inches in width, raising the question of whether it can still handle the narrowest paths of the Rubicon Trail.

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited Rear Three Quarters Static Passenger
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While we can't vouch for the Rubicon, Chrysler took us to Moab, Utah, where "sport" in this sport/utility is the way it traverses thin paths of slippery rock and deep sand at speeds perhaps as high as 12 mph. Our Hemi-powered Overland with Uconnect Internet access and panoramic sunroof did everything doorless Wranglers could do, and most everything Gary Fishers could do on this offroad paradise. With the air suspension raised 2.6 inches, the Grand Cherokee's moderately high and wide stance and precise steering makes rock crawling at Moab easy for a sub-expert off-road driver. Jeep faithful can breath a sigh of relief.

Carryover four-wheel-drive systems include the automatic Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II with a two-speed transfer case, and Quadra-Drive II with rear Electronic Limited-Slip Differential. The Quadra-Lift air suspension can be lowered up to 1.5 inches and raised up to 4.1 inches, via the new Select-Terrain system (see sidebar), included with both IIs. The wider stance provides better roll control Jeep says, minimizing head toss on- and off-road. Neither of two pre-production models suffered any body creak on even the steepest, bumpiest climbs and descents.
By Todd Lassa / http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/suvs/1008_2011_jeep_grand_cherokee_drive/index.html

The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee continues its successful run with new underpinnings. This new Mercedes-Benz-shared platform gives it a car-like ride on pavement, but properly equipped, it'll go off road with the best of 'em. Automotive journalist Scott Newell takes a test drive in the hills outside San Francisco.

Off-road in 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited with journalists at launch held in San Francisco. Trails at Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area. June 13-14, 2010.

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