By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.4
For the 2011 model year, Jeep ushers in its fourth-generation Grand Cherokee; one of the last products conceived during Chrysler's now defunct partnership with Daimler. The latest Grand Cherokee rides on an all-new platform that shares certain key components with the next-generation Mercedes-Benz ML, lengthening its wheelbase by more than five inches, but only slightly expanding overall exterior dimensions. As a result, the vehicle remains a dedicated five-seater unlike many of its competitors, which have added third row seating in recent years. Regardless of its modest commonality with the ML-Class, the Grand Cherokee feels like a distinctly Jeep product, offering improved levels of refinement and sophistication while retaining the key Grand Cherokee attributes of formidable off-road capabilities, rugged style and on-road competence.
If you want a traditional SUV that offers good outward visibility, a roomy and functional interior, and solid off-road chops, you'll like the Jeep Grand Cherokee. That said, buyers who never make use of its robust character will still find the Grand Cherokee impressively comfortable on road.
You may not like the Jeep Grand Cherokee if you need to carry more than five occupants – unlike many of its competitors, the Jeep doesn't offer a third-row option. Also, if you have no intentions of taking your vehicle off the road well traveled, you might prefer the enhanced comfort and fuel economy offered by the latest breed of on-road focused crossover utility vehicles.
Big changes for 2011 on the Jeep Grand Cherokee include improved interior space, an all-new V6 engine, an updated V8 engine and enhanced four-wheel drive systems. Jeep has also added a host of optional features not previously seen on the Grand Cherokee, including adaptive cruise control, a power rear lift gate and a blind-spot warning system.
Driving Impressions When driven off of paved roads, the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee impresses with its sure-footedness and abundance of traction. In addition to a trio of...four-wheel drive systems, each offering an increasing level of capability and sophistication, the Jeep's relatively compact dimensions allows it to squeeze through narrow passages that would stop other larger off-roaders. It is worth noting that the fourth-generation Grand Cherokee features an independent rear suspension instead of a live axle, resulting in more moments with a rear wheel in the air while off-roading; a less than ideal situation when rock crawling. With all that said, most drivers will never venture off road, and during normal driving on paved roads, the Grand Cherokee impresses with a comfortable ride, surprising levels of grip when cornering, decent steering feel and a quiet interior, even at freeway speeds. Our only real complaints are an excess of body lean during abrupt maneuvers and substantial dive under hard braking.
The optional Quadra-Lift air suspension is an excellent supplement to the Grand Cherokee's four-wheel drive systems. When raised to maximum height, the system creates 10.7 inches of ground clearance and improves approach and departure angles along with break-over height. The system can also lower the vehicle, easing entry and egress as well as improving aerodynamics at higher speeds, enhancing fuel economy.
Similar to a system already offered by Land Rover, Selec-Terrain lets the driver quickly adjust vehicle behavior for a variety of driving environments. With a twist of a single knob, the system tweaks torque distribution, as well as transmission and throttle behavior along with the stability control and the air suspension – if equipped – to maximize performance on snow, rocks, mud, sand or tarmac.
The cabin of the Grand Cherokee has always offered a premium experience, especially compared to other more stripped-down Jeep products, but the latest version takes that notion to a new level. Expanded use of soft materials, real wood trim and tasteful but attractive interior themes add an upscale persona to the otherwise simple and functional cabin. Passenger space is good in all seating positions, with rear seat passengers enjoying an extra four inches of leg room compared to the previous model. Cargo volume has also expanded, with 35.1 cubic feet behind the rear seats and nearly twice that amount available with the 60/40 split rear seats folded.Exterior
There's no mistaking the 2011 model as anything other than a Grand Cherokee, yet the newest iteration represents a far more sophisticated and modern interpretation of the vehicle's now familiar shape. Standard Jeep cues including a seven-slot grille, hexagonal wheel arches and minimal front and rear overhangs are enhanced with taut new body panels, creating a masculine chiseled look. In back, for the first time on a Grand Cherokee, buyers can select a power rear lift gate. Another new exterior add-on is a panoramic sunroof that bathes the interior with natural light but creates quite a bit of wind noise when open.
In its most basic form, the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee features cloth seats, rear-wheel drive, an eight-way power driver's seat, automatic headlights, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, and a six-speaker audio system with auxiliary input. Standard safety features include stability control, traction control, electronic roll mitigation, trailer sway control, six-airbags and active head restraints.
The base Jeep Grand Cherokee can be up-fitted with a wide variety of features in including leather seats, a power passenger seat, ventilated front seats, heat front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel and HID headlights. In terms of in-vehicle entertainment and communications, buyers can add a premium nine-speaker audio system, USB audio port, rear-seat DVD entertainment system, navigation and the UConnect hands-free communications system. Among the more high-tech options now available are rear parking sensors with a backup camera, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot alert and rear cross-traffic detection.
Engine choices include a 3.6-liter V6 and a 5.7-liter V8 engine, each equipped with a five-speed automatic transmission. V6 buyers enjoy decent acceleration along with a 5,000-pound tow rating, while those who opt for the V8 benefit from an increased tow rating of 7,400 pounds along with more spirited performance. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but the Grand Cherokee can be equipped with three different four-wheel drive systems, ranging from the simple full-time Quadra-Trac I system to the highly capable Quadra-Drive II system featuring a two-speed transfer case and an electronic limited slip rear differential.
290 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
260 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23 (2WD), 16/22 (4WD)
360 horsepower @ 5150 rpm
390 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (2WD), 13/19 (4WD)
By OKC on Tuesday, July 08, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 18,000overall rating 7 of 10rating details
Pros: "Beautiful exterior. Really sharp looking."
Cons: "Lags in take off unless in sport mode."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"Have had 4 recalls on various items. Still am having electrical issues, like the radio will just go off by itself, there is back static in the radio and I have also had the gauge panel go back several times while driving. The gas mileage is considerably lower than advertised. Also the digital clock does not keep time. I have to go into the settings mode about once a week and add a couple of minutes to get the readout corrected. Maybe it's just haunted. IDK. I have had the Jeep 15 months and am ready to trade for a non Chrysler product."
2 people out of 2 found this review helpful
By Tom on Monday, July 07, 2014
I owned and sold this car
Cons: "Everything Else"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"Overall I have to say I had better things to do with my life than nurse this poorly engineered car through the next 5 or more years. Check engine, suspect transmission, groans and creaks, recalls...don't waste your time and then get burned with horrible resale. Got a 4 Runner no rattles, issues or drama... put it in garage and can worry about more important things."
By Restore The Shoer on Tuesday, June 24, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 600overall rating 1 of 10rating details
Pros: "Bluetooth and XM (Didn't have them on my last car)"
Cons: "Engine, Transmission, Build Quality"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 1
"This is the worst car I have ever had. Coming from my 2006 VW Touareg V8 I feel like I have taken a major step backwards. The car handles like an old Buick and has absolutely no steering response. You feel nothing. The 3.6L Pentastar is noisy and slow. The transmission rushes to eighth gear and G-D forbid you have to merge onto a highway, you need to floor the rattle trap in order to get it to jump down to a passing gear. I can not wait for this car to go back on lease. To add to it the car does not feel safe and is poorly put together. The headliner is sagging with only 600 miles on it and I can already hear creaks. Wish I kept my VW. The Touareg was a real go anywhere SUV, the Jeep is a go-kart in comparison"
18 people out of 38 found this review helpful
By One and last on Thursday, June 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 12,000overall rating 6 of 10rating details
Pros: "Looks, ride, performance."
Cons: "Too many recalls, lower quality paint."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"After five recalls in one year it will probably be the last Chrysler product. It's a shame that a vehicle that drives, rides, and looks as good as this one does has so many flaws. Dealer has been very good, shame on the product."
5 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Tom in AZ on Thursday, June 19, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 24,900overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "Solid, roomy, classy, luxurous"
Cons: "A little pricey, V8 gas mileage not great"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"It will soon be 3 years that I have owned this vehicle, and except for a fluid leak when the vehicle was new, it has proven to be reliable and safe. I have really enjoyed owning it. It is solid, roomy, classy, and loaded with nice features. I can easily see why it is the most awarded SUV ever! Even though the Hemi V8 is powerful and responsive, I still get about 17 MPG around town. I have no regrets about buying it, and I wouldn't hesitate to do it again."
By ChrisM on Wednesday, June 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 350overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Fuel mileage, Gadgets, Ride, Audio system"
Cons: "None so far"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have not driven this automobile for very long, I will update this review later, if warranted. But my initial impression is only good. I am getting 25 MPG combined with the diesel engine and the performance is good. It is sometimes slow to accelerate when the 8 speed transmission is in a high gear, but that is easily overcome with more pressure on the accelerator. Shifts are very smooth and I am impressed by the fact that the transmission down shifts, on its own, when going down hill. As for the "costly" urea refills, you can get 2.5 gallons of the stuff at a well known big box store for $12. The DEF (diesel exhaust fluid) filler nozzle is next to the fuel nozzle which makes it easy to refill without going to the dealer, the DEF tank capacity is 8 gallons. This is my second Jeep, my first Jeep was a 2006 Commander, it had the 5.7L Hemi V8. I needed the towing capability, I was happy to see the 3.0L turbo diesel has the same towing capacity. I put 186000 miles on my Commander and the only repair I had to get, besides the normal consumables, was a replacement starter. The reliability of my Commander led me back to Jeep. I gave a 5 to the reliability rating only because I have driven the Grand Cherokee for only 350 miles so far (will update later)."
9 people out of 17 found this review helpful