First drive review: Does the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee kick some Land Rover butt?


Try to guess what vehicle I am describing below:

Available all aluminum 3.6 liter, 290 horsepower V6 that can produce 260 pounds of torque at 4,800 rpm AND has the potential for up to 23 mpg highway.


Try this:

A rotary knob south of the gear lever easily selects various terrain that this vehicle will adapt to. An optional Quadra-lift suspension system can lift this vehicle to around 11 inches of ground clearance. This system works automatically with the gizmo that you turned to select terrain.

4-wheel independent suspension with excellent articulation connects to an optional AWD or higher end, advanced 4WD system.

Still wondering?

Look below:


Think of a luxurious interior with lots of soft touch materials, ergonomically excellent layout, smooth road feel and nearly limo-like sound isolation. Consider the potential for all-terrain conquering ability along with a dummy-proof drive system. Think of high tech aluminum engine blocks, 5-speed transmissions and superb chassis balance.

You though I was talking about a new Land Rover LR4 – right?

Nope – I just got back from an exciting press event for the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee!

This is an all together, radically improved truck. Rear seat room has stretched about 4-inches, as has the wheelbase. There is more cargo room as the new, multilink suspension is far more compact than the older set up. The Jeep Grand Cherokee’s width expands 2-inches; but, despite all of these larger measurements, the Grand Cherokee is only an inch and change longer.

The sheet-metal is downright sexy with squared-off wheel arches and a silhouette nearly identical to the older model. It’s distinctive, tight and cannot be mistaken for any other vehicle. When equipped with the Quadra-Lift air suspension, the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee will hunker down a bit (automatically) when cruising down the highway. This aids in better aerodynamics. When parked, the Jeep drops further still – assisting in an easy exit.

Overland_JP011_075GC Two demographics are addressed with the new Jeep Grand Cherokee: upper-middle class folks who remember the Bay of Pigs and small families who need a SUV that doesn’t handle like a pig.

After the press event, I would say that Jeep nailed it.

This is a sharp handling vehicle that’s a match for many, flabby crossovers while embarrassing most off-roader machines.

Jeep says 4X4 base models start at about $32,000. I opted to jump into a base model and see how dismal the lower class was.

I am delighted to say, after hours behind the wheel, even the entry level model is very impressive.

The interior feels far more expensive than the price would indicate… when’s the last time you hear a statement like that referring to a Jeep?

Chrysler Group LLC’s new Pentistar 3.6 liter V6 engine delivers up to 23 mpg and can have a 500 mile range per tank.

What got me was the impressive drivability and power the Pentistar V6 provides.

  The 290 horsepower V6 never struggled and I felt the deep-down grunt every time I mashed the gas. Seriously, unless you need to tow over 5,000 lbs (its maximum towing capacity), the V6 is more than an adequate mill. In fact, I would highly recommend that the good people at Chrysler Group LLC shove this high feature V6 into every vehicle they have that uses a V6 – – soon.


Okay, the HEMI sounds much better (the V6 sounds flat) and it helps bring the maximum towing capacity up to a maximum of 7,400 lbs (7,200 with the 4X4) but it sucks a lot more gas. Jeep estimates 20 maximum highway mpg (2WD). Try the V6 before playing with the V8 – it’s cheaper, has lots of power and more economical.

If you have the bread to spend, have a look at the Quadra-lift suspension. It uses an air-lift bag at each corner to raise and lower the Jeep Grand Cherokee. It also doubles as an air stability system as it automatically levels out the Jeep (even when towing). It works in conjunction with the off-road electronics and is easily comparable to Land Rover’s unit.


In fact: I think the whole package is a great competitor for the Land Rover LR4. The only thing that separates the two (other than snoot value and Tata ownership) is Land Rover’s 3rd row seats. Seriously, the rest of the package can more than compete with the mighty LR4.

Think I’m kissing up to Jeep and the Chrysler folks?

Hell no!

I’m the owner of a Land Rover myself – and I love it.

Alas – – – the Jeep is better. 

Click HERE to watch a video review of the 2010 Land Rover LR4

Nathan Automotive media, racing, vehicle evaluation, wrecking yards, and car sales are just a part of Nathan Adlen’s vehicular past. He writes out of high octane passion! To read more reviews by Nathan Adlen or just to enjoy more of excellent writing please visit him on at his page HERE.

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