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Jeep delivers a grander Cherokee

Leaner: Top-shelf Jeep scores a cleaner new V8, but banishes its petrol V6.

Jeep's MY08 Grand Cherokee is here, complete with cheaper new V8 and pricier SRT8

1 Aug 2008

JEEP’S flagship Grand Cherokee has been upgraded with a number of features now expected in a top-end vehicle, as well as a new 4.7-litre V8 engine that provides more performance while returning better fuel economy.

Prices have dropped by between $1000 and $3000 for the volume-selling Limited models, but the cost of entry to the Grand Cherokee family has risen as a result of Chrysler Australia dropping the two entry-level models from the line-up – the Laredo V6 petrol (which was priced at $51,990) and Laredo V8 ($53,990) models.

The cheapest Grand Cherokee is now the Laredo CRD with its Mercedes-Benz 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 engine, which is now priced from $59,490 (an increase of $500).

Jeep’s new 4.7-litre V8 is a development of the previous engine, but now has two spark plugs per cylinder – as does the range-topping 5.7-litre Hemi V8 – a higher compression ratio, improved cylinder-head porting and induction, and lighter pistons and connecting rods.

9 center image The result is a 31 per cent increase in power (up from 170kW to some 223kW at 5650rpm) and an 8.5 per cent increase in torque (from 410Nm to 445Nm at 3950rpm), while Chrysler claims that fuel consumption has dropped by more than five per cent (it was previously rated at 14.9L/100km).

As well as providing welcome improvements in performance and economy over its disappointing predecessor, the new 4.7-litre V8 is also said to be quieter due to a slower accessory drive speed and smoother at because of a new camshaft design as well as a new valve-lash adjuster system.

Although the bigger Hemi V8 remains unchanged, drivers will now know when its cylinder-deactivation system (which is not employed on the 4.7) is working thanks to the inclusion of an on-screen display showing it operating as a four-cylinder to save fuel when full power is not required.

The standard five-speed automatic transmissions mated to all three engines are unchanged.

Model year 2008 Grand Cherokees gain a number of interior enhancements, including a new multi-media system (called the MyGIG Multimedia Entertainment System) that can support built-in navigation, reversing camera display, and entertainment and communication system.

This system features touch-screen or voice command controls, a voice-memo recorder feature, and includes a 20-gigabyte hard-drive that can store more than 100 hours of music.

Limited-spec models not only get the new infotainment system but also a reversing camera, rear park assist, rain-sensing wipers, memory seats and mirrors and iPod connectivity.

A new telescoping as well as tilt-adjustable steering wheel is the central feature of the two-tone interior and includes controls for the information centre.

Other interior enhancements include revised cupholders in the centre console and redesigned door armrests, as well as revised instrumentation with brighter LED illumination and more upmarket gauges in the Limited models, which also gain a leather-bound handbrake.

Prices for the Limited models are $64,990 for the 4.7-litre V8 (down $1000), $67,990 for the diesel (down $1000) and $67,990 for the 5.7-litre V8 (down $3000 and now matching the diesel on price).

Also new is the standard fitment of three active drive systems – hill start assist, trailer sway control and hill descent control (although the latter two features are not available on the high-performance SRT8 version).

Hill descent control works in both forward and reverse gears, limiting the speed to between 1.6km/h and 12.0km/h depending on the gear and thereby assisting the driver in tricky terrain. Once the HDC button is engaged, the system engages and disengages automatically according to the conditions.

Hill start assist allows the driver up to two seconds to go from the brake to the throttle on a steep incline without rolling backwards.

The 2008 Grand Cherokees are identified by a wider grille, rounder headlights and foglights that are mounted lower to improve visibility (but only in fog, people – please turn them off the rest of the time because they dazzle other drivers). The front fascia is now a two-piece design so the lower part can be removed before heading off-road.

Jeep upgrades SRT8, too

AS PART of a refreshed Grand Cherokee line-up, Chrysler Australia has also made improvements and added equipment to the high-performance 6.1-litre SRT8 flagship model for the 2008 model year.

But the biggest change for the SRT8 is the price, which rises by $4000 to $89,990, even though the lesser Grand Cherokee models have mostly reduced in price by as much as $3000.

In addition to the 2008 range’s newly introduced ‘MyGIG’ multimedia infotainment system – which provides the SRT8 with satellite-navigation and a reverse parking camera for the first time – the sports model also gains a sunroof and wider forged alloy wheels (20x9.0-inch at the front and 20x10-inch at the rear).

The updated front end design includes the wider grille and rounder headlight design of the regular 2008 Grand Cherokees, but the SRT8 uniquely gets bi-Xenon high-intensity discharge lamps that provide a claimed three times as much illumination. The headlights also have an auto-levelling function.

Chrysler has also refined the aerodynamic shape of the front fascia to improve lift and drag while providing extra cooling to the enhanced brakes and high-performance engine.

Inside, the SRT8 benefits from many of the improvements introduced in the regular model, with Jeep pointing out “softer surfaces and a richer look and feel”, a dark slate grey interior colour, accent stitching, new instrument panel and centre console, a unique SRT-designed leather-wrapped steering wheel, and new cluster graphics and bezel finishes.

Developed by Chrysler Group’s Street and Racing Technology (SRT) organisation in the United States, and the group’s first four-wheel drive vehicle, the SRT8 arrived in Australia in August 2006.

It is powered by a 6.1-litre version of Chrysler’s famed Hemi V8, which is not only bigger than the regular 5.7-litre unit but also has a high compression ratio, redesigned cylinder-heads and better flowing intake and exhaust systems to provide higher revs and more power.

Power is rated at 313kW and torque at 569Nm (unchanged from the superseded model), allowing a 0-100km/h sprint time in the “low five-second range”, which is quite impressive for a vehicle that is close to 2.2 tonnes.

Mated to a standard five-speed automatic transmission, the engine delivers its power to all four wheels permanently – though only five-to-ten per cent of drive is directed to the front wheels under normal driving – via an SRT-developed transfer case and heavy duty driveshaft.

Braking is handled by black Brembo four-piston calipers front and rear clasping ventilated disc rotors measuring 360x32mm at the front and 350x28mm at the rear.

Other SRT features include a 300km/h speedo, sports suspension with one-inch lower ride height, some carbon-fibre interior trim, heavily bolstered sports seats and a rear aim dam with cut-outs that highlight the dual four-inch exhaust outlets.

Arriving in Jeep dealerships later this month, the 2008 SRT8 is claimed to be the quickest SUV in Australia priced under $100,000.

2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee pricing:
Laredo 3.0 CRD (a) $59,490
Limited 4.7 V8 (a) $64,990
Limited 3.0 V6 CRD (a) $67,990
Limited 5.7 V8 (a) $67,990
SRT8 6.1 V8 (a) $89,990
2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee options:
Premium paint $370
Quadra-Trac II 4WD system $2000
Sunroof $2455
MyGIG, sat-nav and premium audio (Laredo) $2750
Satellite-navigation (Limited) $2750

Read more:

First look: Jeep juices up Grand Cherokee

GoAuto can help you buy a new Grand Cherokee

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