Chrysler has just released pricing and packaging details on the all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Due to arrive in dealers next month, this completely redesigned sport utility will be pivotal in determining the future success not only of the division but of Chrysler itself. The new Jeep Grand Cherokee will be available in three distinct trim levels -- Laredo, Limited and premium Overland -- all with the choice of rear- or four-wheel drive. In addition to a longer and stronger standard feature set, the new Grand Cherokee will carry a sticker that starts nearly $500 below the existing base 2010 model.
Residing beneath the sleeker, more sophisticated sheetmetal of this 2011 iteration is a far stiffer, stronger unit body that envelops a larger, better-appointed and far quieter cabin than the one found in the current Grand Cherokee. A modest 1.8 inches longer and 3.0 inches wider than before, the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee benefits most from a 5.3-inch wheelbase stretch that yields four inches of additional rear leg room and 17 percent more cargo capacity in its spacious rear bay. All-new front and rear suspension endow it with superior ride comfort while the eagerly-anticipated, super-efficient 290-horsepower/3.6-liter Pentastar V6 base engine that makes its corporate debut here delivers 11-percent better fuel economy and provides a 7,400-lb base towing capability. For those needing even more of a good thing, all 2011 Grand Cherokee variants also will offer the 360-horse/5.7-liter Hemi V8 and a Trailer Tow Group as options.
Three for the road -- on or off
Anchoring the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee lineup is the Laredo, which opens at $30,995 for the 4x2 version and $32,995 for the 4x4. Although those numbers are $495 and $465 less than their 2010 counterparts, these new-gen Grand Cherokees come with an impressive roster of goodies that includes numerous power assists, SIRIUS Satellite Radio with Travel Link and Keyless Enter-and-Go in addition to dynamic aids that encompass the Quadra-Trac I full-time system in the 4x4 version and anti-lock brakes with rough-road detection, Electronic Stability/Traction Control, Roll Mitigation, Hill Start Assist, Trailer-Sway Control and 17-inch alloy wheels across the line.
Stepping up a notch, the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited opens at $37,495 -- a $765 trim from 2010 -- while the Limited 4x4 that nets Jeep's more sophisticated Quadra-Trac II system with its Selec-Terrain feature starts at $39,995, or $205 less than its predecessor. This latest Limited's more expansive standards roster includes items like leather-covered and heated front and second-row seats, auto climate control, premium audio, a Garmin GPS navigation system, CommandView dual-pane panoramic sun roof, rear back-up camera and rear park assist along with 18-inch aluminum wheels, Bi-Xenon High Intensity Discharge auto-leveling/adaptive headlamps and rain-sensing wipers.
Topping the range, the newly-minted 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland model commands $39,495 in rear-drive configuration and $42,995 in 4x4 form but add its own primo features, starting with Quadra-Lift adjustable air suspension that can raise ride height by 4.5 inches on the 4x4 and 20-inch alloy rims. On the comfort/convenience front, this flagship offering brings a premium interior treatment with Nappa leather-trimmed and heated seats, ventilated front buckets, loads of additional wood/leather trim bits, a power tilt/telescope steering column, and a power rear liftgate.
Chrysler has a lot riding on the fate of the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, the first all-new vehicle it will release since linking up with Fiat and emerging from bankruptcy. While buyer response time will be the ultimate arbiter here, at first glance, it appears the automaker has managed to create a successor that's more than worthy of assuming the name -- and legacy -- of one of the world's most iconic sport utility vehicles.