2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee Reviews
Once DaimlerChrysler's Hemi V-8 began appearing in more Chrysler Group vehicles, it seemed like only a matter of time before it might turn up in a Jeep product. That time has arrived, as the redesigned Grand Cherokee sport utility vehicle can be equipped with Hemi power.
The 2005 Grand Cherokee promises "best-in-class tractive capability and best-in-class power," according to Jeep. A new, more powerful 3.7-liter V-6 replaces the previous inline-six-cylinder engine. A 4.7-liter V-8 remains available.
The 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 incorporates a Multi-Displacement System that deactivates half of the cylinders during cruising and light acceleration. Depending on driving conditions, Jeep claims the MDS can increase fuel economy up to 20 percent.
Three new four-wheel-drive systems are available. Quadra-Trac I provides full-time all-wheel-drive operation, requiring no attention from the driver. Its transfer case splits torque 48/52 percent, front to rear. Quadra-Trac II is a full-time active four-wheel-drive system that has low-range gearing.
Quadra-Drive II includes electronic limited-slip differentials for heightened offroad capability. This is the first Jeep model to be equipped with electronic transfer case engagement, and the electronic limited-slip differentials are an industry first.
Grand Cherokees received new suspension and steering components. The new Jeep-designed independent front suspension promises a 10 percent increase in suspension travel. The turning circle has been reduced to just over 37 feet. A new five-link rear suspension is installed.
Available with the Hemi motor is a Dynamic Handling System featuring a hydraulically controlled stabilizer bar that's intended to reduce body roll in turns or tight maneuvers. Jeep says it also yields a smoother ride on straightaways.
An Electronic Stability Program is installed to improve directional stability in severe conditions; it's available in the Grand Cherokee for the first time this year. Sensors determine the appropriate brake and throttle adjustments to maintain vehicle stability. SmartBeam headlamps, an industry first, use a camera ahead of the inside mirror to keep high beams on as much as possible and vary their intensity.
The 2005 model's appearance is similar to the 1999 - 2004 Grand Cherokee, led by Jeep's signature seven-slot grille, which is flanked by round headlamps. The grille is body-colored on the Laredo model and chrome-plated on the Limited. The redesigned SUV's windshield is flatter and the hood is proportionally longer than before, with nacelles over the headlamps. A front air dam is installed for the first time.
Cladding is no longer used on the bodysides, which incorporate moldings embossed with the "Grand Cherokee" name. The SUV has what Jeep calls "powerful" wheel flares. Enlarged taillamps feature red and clear lenses. New rack-and-pinion steering is installed, and the track width has grown by 2.5 inches to 62 inches. Built on a 109.5-inch wheelbase, the Grand Cherokee is 186.6 inches long overall and 67.7 inches tall.
Headroom in the Grand Cherokee has increased. Five occupants fit inside, and the seats have increased travel. The driver faces a symmetrical two-tone instrument panel. The four-gauge instrument cluster has LED illumination with red pointers.
The Laredo gets standard cloth upholstery, and the seats in the Limited are two-toned leather with perforated inserts. A new, gated gearshift lever is used.
A reversible load floor panel in the cargo area improves versatility. This space features carpeting on one side and easy-clean plastic on the other. New premium options include a navigation radio with a 5.8-inch screen, rear-seat DVD entertainment system, a Boston Acoustics audio system, UConnect hands-free communication system, SmartBeam headlamps and rear-park assist. Cargo volume behind the rear seat is 34.5 cubic feet.
Under the Hood
Three engines are available: the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, rated at 330 horsepower and 375 pounds-feet of torque; a 3.7-liter V-6 that develops 210 hp and 235 pounds-feet of torque; and a 230-hp, 4.7-liter V-8. All engines work with one of two five-speed-automatic transmissions. Both transmissions incorporate Electronic Range Select, which permits manually selected gear changes.
Antilock brakes are standard. Side curtain-type airbags are optional for all models.
Depending on the engine, the latest Grand Cherokee exhibits three performance personalities. With the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, this Jeep starts off with a leap from a standstill, actually shoving occupant necks into the seat. Acceleration is less assertive at highway speeds, but the Hemi rises to the occasion on steep upgrades by downshifting as needed when you push the pedal, but it upshifts again rather quickly so you don't always savor the vigor for very long.
The V-6 is undeniably short of power going up steeper grades, but otherwise its performance is entirely sufficient for most drivers. After a sluggish startup, speed actually rises fairly rapidly. Jeep's 4.7-liter V-8 is an appealing compromise � closer to the V-6 than the Hemi, though more refined in responses than the V-6.
Ride comfort is appealing in each version. Surprisingly, the less-potent versions felt a bit more stable on twisting roads and mountainous inclines. Off-road, the Hemi edition eased through every forbidding obstacle. Seats are exceptionally comfortable, with good support and fair side bolstering. The backseat is rather comfortable with good headroom, but leg space is less ample than expected unless front seats are well forward.