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Car reviews - Jeep - Grand Cherokee - 5-dr wagon range

Launch Story

Jeep logo5 Jul 2005

By MARTON PETTENDY

JEEP’S redesigned Grand Cherokee has rolled into town brandishing a bold new look and Australia’s first taste of Chrysler’s new 5.7-litre HEMI V8.

On sale from July, the American brand’s third-generation luxury SUV flagship is priced from below the luxury vehicle tax threshold at $56,490.

For the extra $1000 over its forebear (and a $7000 premium over the most expensive Cherokee mid-sizer), that buys the new Laredo V8 auto, powered by a 170kW/410Nm 4.7-litre SOHC two-valve V8 with a new exhaust that improves fuel consumption by seven per cent.

Next in the range is a Mercedes-sourced 3.0-litre common-rail direct-injection turbo-diesel 72-degree DOHC V6 that produces 160kW and a lusty 510Nm, to be available in August from $59,090.

Like the 4.7 V8, the all-alloy diesel is also available in top-shelf Limited guise for a further $10,000. It replaces the previous Grand Cherokee’s 2.7-litre five-cylinder oil-burner.

Chrysler Jeep Australia (CJA) will not import the V6 petrol version of the new Grand Cherokee, which is also produced at Magna Steyr’s upgraded contract plant in Graz, Austria.

Of course, biggest news is the availability of the new 5.7-litre HEMI V8, which delivers 240kW at 5000rpm and 500Nm of torque at 4000rpm.

Like the carry-over 4.7 PowerTech V8, the HEMI comprises an alloy cylinder block, cast-iron cylinder-heads with hemispherical combustion chambers, sequential multi-port fuel-injection and dual three-way catalytic converters to help it meet strict Euro 4 emissions standards.

Interestingly, however, it employs pushrods to actuate its 16 valves. And while the 4.7 runs on 91 RON regular unleaded, Jeep recommends 95 RON premium fuel for the HEMI.

Available only in Limited form at a range-topping $71,990, the 5.7 makes Grand Cherokee the first SUV to employ cylinder deactivation technology, and its Multi-Displacement System (MDS) is claimed to reduce fuel consumption by up to 20 per cent.

By deactivating four cylinders (one, four, six and seven) during steady speeds or under low acceleration, combined average ADR8101 fuel consumption is cut to 15.4 litres per 100km. This compares to 14.9L/100km for the 4.7 and just 10.2L/100km for the 3.0 CRD.

While the HEMI is good for 0-100km/h acceleration in a claimed 7.4 seconds, the CRD is next quickest at nine seconds, ahead of the 4.7’s 9.5.

Like the V8s, which offer an upgraded version of the previous 5-45RFE five-speed auto, the diesel now also sports a five-speed transmission, this time a W5A580 auto.

Both offer a manual-shift mode and, of course, a low-range reduction ratio of 2.72:1, activated by a single-pull console lever.

As before, all Grand Cherokees employ a permanent all-wheel drive system, with a default 52 per cent of torque directed rearwards and a switchable yaw-sensing traction and stability control system as standard.

While the Laredo 4.7 employs the Quadra-Trac II AWD system (comprising an electronically controlled clutch pack coupling in its centre differential and open diffs at front and rear), all other variants use the Quadra-Drive II system with electronic limited-slip diffs at both ends.

Although still a five-seater, the new Grand Cherokee is now built on unitary (monocoque) architecture that’s claimed to be 60 per cent stiffer than the bodyshell it replaces. Aerodynamic efficiency is also improved, but remains average at 0.41Cd.

It features new short and long-arm independent front suspension (with 10 per cent more travel at 225mm), new five-link rear suspension (with 224mm of travel) and new variable-ratio rack-and-pinion steering that delivers a super-tight 11.2-metre turning circle with just 2.85 turns lock-to-lock.

All variants comprise 17x7.5-inch five-spoke alloy wheels and bigger brakes, now featuring 328x30mm ventilated front discs with twin-piston callipers and 320x14mm solid rear discs with single-piston callipers.

The new Grand is 139mm longer at 4750mm, 12mm wider at 1870mm, 24mm lower at 1740mm and rides on a 90mm-longer (2780mm) wheelbase and 64mm-wider (1575mm) wheel tracks, providing a substantially larger footprint.

Vital off-roading statistics remain impressive, including ground clearance of 209mm, an approach angle of 34.1 degrees, departure angle of 27.0 degrees, breakover angle of 20.4 degrees and a water fording depth of 508mm at 16km/h.

Kerb weights have increased by around 40kg, ranging between 2157kg for the 4.7 and 2209kg for the 5.7, and Jeep claims best-in-class towing capacity of 3500kg.

Featuring a bold new interpretation of Jeep’s hallmark seven-slot grille, more pronounced trapezoidal wheelarches, a "faster" windscreen, shorter glasshouse, a longer bonnet, flip-up rear glass and Mercedes-style scallop-capped headlights, the unmistakable new Grand is claimed to deliver big strides in performance and on-road dynamics – without sacrificing its lauded off-road ability.

Inside, the significantly larger, more flexible and less cluttered cabin offers 978 litres of cargo space behind the 60/40-split folding rear seats and 1909 litres with the rear pew folded.

While that’s somewhere between its major rivals like Touareg (2100 litres) and X5 (1540 litres), Jeep claims best-in-class front legroom, hip room and shoulder room.

Among other improvements are new halogen headlights claimed to be 40 per cent more efficient, faster power windows, better dust sealing, improved internal airflow and new Mercedes-based seats that slide an extra 50mm fore and aft and feature dual-density foam with extra lateral support.

Dual-zone climate-control, eight-way power-adjust seats, tyre pressure monitoring system, ABS, TCS, ESP, seatbelt pretensioners and full-length side curtain airbags are standard across the range.

Limited variants add Jeep-embroidered two-tone leather trim, unique 17-inch wheels, power folding wing mirrors, seat and mirror memory, a leather-clad multi-function steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, electrochromic interior mirror, rear parking sensors, heated front seats and a six-speaker Boston Acoustics sound system with 276-watt digital amplifier and six-CD stacker.

CJA hopes to sell 1000 Grand Cherokees in the second half of 2005 and about 1500 examples in 2006, with the CRD comprising at least 35 per cent of sales.

On sale in the US since 1992, the current Grand Cherokee has found more than 17,000 Australian homes since 1996.

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