Vastly improved ride and handling dynamics, especially on pavement; base V6 offers strong performance and good fuel economy; Quadra-Lift suspension allows multiple personalities.
Old -- albeit smooth -- five-speed transmission, exterior design works too hard to look like a crossover, optional navigation system not user-friendly.
Families looking for a functional midsize hauler have many choices today, especially with so many all-wheel-drive crossovers in the four-door utility marketplace. But if buyers want or need true multidimensional capability and performance, the choices are relatively few. And if they want it at a reasonable price, the choices are fewer still. This is where the all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee is hoping to make a stand.
As a brand, Jeep is quick to admit consumer tastes have shifted to carlike crossover family haulers of late, yet the company remains optimistic its newest vehicle, with a new high-tech engine, stiffer chassis, more versatile suspension and a completely new look inside and out, could be the SUV that brings people back to the best-of-both-worlds formula. And after what we've seen and driven, Jeep might be on to something.
To address this shift, Jeep invested in significant engineering upgrades by revamping the Grand Cherokee's chassis, interior and body designs, as well as pricing the vehicle aggressively. The base 4x2 Laredo trim starts at $30,995; the upscale Limited 4x2 starts at $37,495; and the Overland 4x2 starts at $39,495. And because Jeep wants the vehicle to have broader appeal, there are hundreds of options and packages to choose from, so everyone from base model buyers to luxury aficionados can order and configure the exact Grand Cherokee they want.
The new Grand Cherokee offers two powertrains -- one familiar, the other all-new. The standard engine is the much-anticipated all-aluminum 3.6-liter 24-valve Pentastar V6, rated at 290 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 260 pound-feet of torque at 4,800 rpm. We were impressed with the new engine, but we're a little puzzled by Jeep's choice to mate it with an off-the-shelf five-speed transmission. We like the tight gearing but there aren't enough gears to take full advantage of the new engine's wide power band. We look forward to the installation of the all-new eight-speed transmission we've heard is coming.
EPA fuel economy estimates are 16 city and 22 highway mpg for the all-wheel-drive versions, with 16/23 for rear-wheel-drive models. To serve its hard-core towing buyers, Jeep will still offer the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 with MDS (multidisplacement system or cylinder shutoff) in both 4x2 and 4x4 configurations.
One of the most significant changes to the new Grand Cherokee is in the chassis and four-wheel-drive system, where it now shares some of its parts with the Mercedes-Benz ML SUV (Jeep was owned by DaimlerChrysler during the early development days of this vehicle). A more rigid chassis works in concert with the new front and rear independent suspension to bring the Grand Cherokee's ride and handling dynamics to stunning new levels on pavement (when compared to the previous model). Likewise, the same (optional) airbag suspension that helps make the Grand Cherokee such an athletic on-road performer is also the same suspension that helps give it (as many might expect) strong off-road capabilities as well.
Jeep allows for a wide variety of drivetrain options for the Grand Cherokee with two-wheel drive, all-wheel drive (which, for some reason, Jeep identifies as a four-wheel drive) and two different four-wheel-drive options available. The new Quadra-Lift (air suspension) and Quadra-Drive II 4x4 system (now called Selec-Terrain) are likely to keep this new Grand Cherokee at the forefront of true 4x4 capability for quite a while. In this arena, think of the Grand Cherokee as a much less expensive Range Rover Sport.
Inside, all-new seats have been sculpted and designed to save space while providing solid side and lower back support. Front seats offer six-way adjustment as well as heating and cooling functions, depending on the option package. The rear seats are wider, offer more bottom cushioning and give passengers 4 more inches of knee room (thanks to the longer wheelbase).
Likewise, the rear seats will recline up to 18 degrees to allow for more comfort and easier viewing of the outdoors (when optioned with the oversize two-piece sunroof) or the DVD screen. Additionally, interior noise levels have been substantially improved thanks to added interior insulation, glass coatings and exterior aero engineering. However, we did notice some A-pillar wind noise intrusion from our early production test units.
We've noted the new suspension already, but it's worth mentioning again that the four-wheel independent suspension offers a significant ride comfort improvement over the dated previous setup. And we strongly suggest that more performance-oriented shoppers test-drive the airbag system while setting the Selec-Terrain controller to "Sport." Thusly configured, you'll get a number of powertrain, suspension and computer controls changing their parameters to give the usually sedate SUV much sportier and exciting response and handling dynamics.
Even though this new vehicle casts a slightly larger shadow, visibility from the driver seat is not obstructed in any unusual way. Rounded front corners on the hood make judging exact distances a learning process, but back-up sensors and a rearview camera (when equipped with the optional navigation system) ease parking and boat launches. We also like that the second-row seats fold practically flat and allow for more than 68 cubic feet of maximum cargo capacity. The spare tire is now stored inside the vehicle (instead of under as before), beneath the cargo floor for easier, cleaner access and storage.
The navigation system, however, was less user-friendly. We found ourselves having trouble zooming in and out with the onscreen touch pad. It's a little disappointing to see no real improvements here or in screen size when Ford, GM and others are pushing cleaner, easier-to-use systems in competitive vehicles.
Design/Fit and Finish
It's likely the quality of the interior will be where 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee designers recapture most of their lost customers. Layout changes to the center stack and storage areas are huge improvements that offer big visual and functional impact. Driver and front passenger areas are more sculpted and inviting, with radio, navigation and climate controls easily seen and operated.
The new center stack and instrument panel are closer to the driver and passenger, so all controls are now within arm's reach. Likewise, the newly formed dual-barrel tach and speedometer readouts have large and readable fonts, and the information center is easily accessible with steering wheel controls, providing plenty of engine, trip and 4x4 system data. Likewise, materials choices and textures work well together with the new layout, and seams and mating surfaces are much tighter than we've ever seen on any Grand Cherokee, or other Jeep product for that matter. Overall fit and finish quality shows a big improvement.
Who should consider this vehicle
Potential 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee shoppers should understand this new generation is more than just a better four-wheeler. On-road and off-road capabilities have been extended, and even if a potential buyer isn't much interested in pushing those new and improved capabilities to their fullest extent, there is value in knowing the extra buffer is there. For those who find the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee appealing but require more passenger or cargo abilities, this platform will likely yield a seven-passenger variant in the future.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overview Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2011 Grand Cherokee featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
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Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2011 Grand Cherokee 4.3 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2011 Grand Cherokee.
Review Guys please be careful with going only on external appearances and marketing techniques (I am not implying the first reviews made by auto magazines as they get only a “first impression” point of view). I am based in Dubai and bought a Jeep Grand Cherokee (Limited) 2011 in July 2011 and was very impressed by it. I even went around promoting the product to my friends and family so much that even my brother in Australia bought a new one. Moreover I was even planning for a Dodge charger as my next car. My best buddy too has almost booked a new Jeep GC 2012. Unfortunately it has lived to its reputation of very poor reliability. I have been experiencing software and GPS issues from day one. The pad of the parking break came off in 5 months’ time and dealer said it was not covered under the warranty clause and I had to pay for it. Luckily for me the service consultant gave me such a shoddy service that the charge for the same was written off as a measure to compensate for the inconvenience caused to me. (I do not want to give details of the same as it was addressed by the service manager) I took the vehicle on an Oman trip (no off-roading and I have never used it for off-roading) around 6 months after buying the car and it wouldn’t start after doing an uphill (again on good tarred road.)I had taken it to the dealer and they said everything is ok. Now the vehicle has developed some engine issues as the Engine fault light (also called as MIL (Malfunction Indicator Light)) comes on. I cannot understand how a new vehicle can have so many issues? I have been perfect with its service and have allowed only the authorised dealer to even touch it. The dealer technicians cannot seem to find what the issue is with and had reset the computers so that the MIL light goes off. Yesterday the light came back on. Worst of all is I am left without a vehicle for all these days and they refuse to give a spare vehicle. I had also called Chrysler Middle East who promised to get back on the issue but with no luck (they did not even call back). The car spent 3 days at the work shop and I guess it is only fair that I am given a replacement car. The warranty conditions in the US covers this factor wherein the dealer should arrange a replacement car (if the car develops issues during the warranty period and KM limit). This clause unfortunately has been conveniently removed for the Middle East. I even searched the net on the same and came across lots of negative feedback on Jeep GC (the new model) at American forums where they are more transparent. I really wish reliability issues were brought up so that other buyers are not caught off-guard after shelling out so much money for a product that only looks good. I honestly regret for not having gone for a Pajero or a Japanese car. This is the first time I ventured for an American vehicle and I consider it the biggest follies of my life (by the way I used to own a Mitsubishi Pajero which I sold to buy the Jeep). So much of American tax payers ‘money has gone to revive the Chrysler Group and I think the people of America deserve more dedication from this group to upkeep the reputation and trust of the consumers towards American products (especially cars), in the international market. Another warning; please do not go by what the sales persons at the Trading Enterprises say as they are extremely economical in the “truthfulness” area. To all aspiring Jeep owners, my suggestion is to do a research on the net before buying this vehicle.
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The 2011 Jeep Grand-cherokee earned a 4-star overall safety rating from NHTSA and "GOOD" ratings from the IIHS in the following caregories: Side Impact Test, Roof Strength Test, Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint, Moderate Overlap Front Test Results, and a JD POWER overall quality rating of 4.0 out of 5. Among Edmunds' many tools and resources for finding your perfect car are detailed safety ratings and analysis from NHTSA, IIHS, and JD Power, including overall ratings, frontal barrier crash ratings, side impact tests and crash ratings, rollover test results, roof strength tests, rear crash protection and head restraint ratings, side barrier ratings, combined side barrier and pole ratings, and more.
Available Jeep Grand Cherokee 2011 Submodel Types: SUV, SRT, SRT8, SRT-8
Available Trims: Limited, Laredo, Overland, Summit, Trailhawk, Altitude, SRT, SRT8, High Altitude, Sterling Edition, SRT-8, Limited 75th Anniversary, Sport, Laredo 75th Anniversary, Special Edition, 75th Anniversary
Exterior Colors: Bright White Clear Coat, Granite Crystal Metallic Clear Coat, Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl Coat, Diamond Black Crystal Pearl Coat, Billet Silver Metallic Clear Coat, Bright Silver Metallic Clearcoat, Velvet Red Pearl Coat, Brilliant Black Crystal Pearlcoat, True Blue Pearl Coat, Maximum Steel Metallic Clear Coat, Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl Coat, Stone White Clearcoat, Rhino Clear Coat, Black Clearcoat, Mineral Gray Metallic Clearcoat, Walnut Brown Metallic Clear Coat, Inferno Red Crystal Pearlcoat, Ivory 3 Coat, Light Graystone Pearlcoat, Black Forest Green Pearl Coat, Cashmere Pearl Coat, Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearlcoat, Dark Charcoal Pearlcoat, Red Rock Crystal Pearlcoat, Midnight Blue Pearlcoat, Luxury Brown Pearl Coat, Maximum Steel Metallic Clearcoat, True Blue Pearlcoat, Jeep Green Metallic Clearcoat, White Gold Clearcoat , Black Forest Green Pearlcoat, Blackberry Pearlcoat, Bright White Clearcoat, Dark Khaki Pearlcoat, Graphite Metallic Clearcoat, Light Khaki Metallic Clearcoat, Steel Blue Metallic Clearcoat, Modern Blue Pearlcoat, Deep Auburn Pearl Coat, Redline 2 Pearl Coat, Deep Beryl Green Pearlcoat, Steel Blue Pearl Coat, Steel Blue Pearlcoat, Inferno Red Tinted Pearlcoat, Light Pewter Metallic Clearcoat, Olive Green Metallic Clearcoat, Winter Chill Pearlcoat, Natural Green Pearlcoat, Stone White, Dark Garnet Red Pearl Coat, Onyx Green Pearl Coat, Patriot Blue Pearlcoat, Recon Green Clear Coat, Champagne PC, Moss Green, Rugged Brown Pearlcoat, Silverstone Metallic Clearcoat, Woodland Brown SG, Bright Platinum Metallic Clearcoat, Deep Lava Red Metallic, Everglade Pearlcoat, Flame Red Clearcoat, Moss Green Pearlcoat, Onyx Green Pearlcoat, Patriot Blue Pearl Coat, Shale Green Met Clearcoat, Taupe Frost Clearcoat Metallic, Taupe Frost Metallic Clearcoat, Woodland Brown Satin Glow
Interior Colors: Black premium leather, Black leather, Black cloth, Black/Light Frost Beige premium leather, Black/Ruby Red leather/sueded microfiber, Dark Slate Gray cloth, Brown/Light Frost premium leather, Medium Slate Gray cloth, Dark Graystone/Medium Graystone cloth, Brown premium leather, Black leather/sueded microfiber, Black alcantara, Black/Light Frost Beige leather, Khaki cloth, Medium Slate Gray, Dark Slate Gray, Dark Graystone/Medium Graystone premium leather, Dark Frost Beige/Light Frost Beige leather, Dark Khaki/Light Graystone leather, Dark Sienna Brown/Black leather, New Saddle/Black leather, Black/Light Frost Beige cloth, Indigo Blue/Brown premium leather, Dark Slate Gray/Light Graystone premium leather, Brown leather, Khaki, Black leather/suede, New Saddle/Black Interior leather, New Saddle/Black premium leather, Agate, Taupe, Dark Khaki/Light Graystone, Dark Khaki/Light Graystone premium leather, Black/Ruby Red leather, Black/Light Grey leather, Dark/Light Slate Gray, Sandstone, Dark Frost Beige/Light Frost Beige premium leather, Black/Dark Olive premium leather, Black/Sepia leather/sueded microfiber, Medium Slate Gray leather/suede
Popular Features: Fold Flat Rear Seats, Rear Bench Seats, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, AWD/4WD, Trip Computer, Tire Pressure Warning, Stability Control, Power Driver Seat, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Aux Audio Inputs, Auto Climate Control, Bluetooth, USB Inputs, Post-collision safety system, Parking sensors, Back-up camera, Alarm, Heated seats, Remote Start, Leather Seats, Power Liftgate/Trunk, Sunroof/Moonroof, 6000lb Towing Capacity, Navigation, Keyless Entry/Start, Mobile Internet, Automatic Emergency Braking, Towing Hitch, Upgraded Headlights, Cooled Seats, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Blind Spot Monitoring, Electronic Folding Mirrors, Adaptive Cruise Control, Upgraded Engine, Pre-collision safety system, Lane Departure Warning, 5000lb Towing Capacity, Upgraded Stereo, 3500lb Towing Capacity, Rear Entertainment System