An all-new Grand Cherokee has been launched in New York and features various full-time four-wheel drive -, multi-displacement - and dynamic handling systems, an electronic stability program and premium interior appointments.

An all-new Grand Cherokee has been launched in New York and features various full-time four-wheel drive -, multi-displacement - and dynamic handling systems, an electronic stability program and premium interior appointments.


CARtoday.com reported this week that DaimlerChrysler SA had begun promoting vehicles in its Jeep range as “Trail Rated” – that is complying with a level of off-road requirements that all Jeep 4x4s must meet… Of all the models in the Jeep range, the Grand Cherokee probably trades least on its off-road capabilities, but the manufacturer will nevertheless offer three full-time four-wheel drive systems with its new luxury SUV.


The first, Quadra-Trac I, utilises the NV140 single-speed transfer case to provide full-time four-wheel drive with no transfer case lever to shift or driver interaction required.


Quadra-Trac II incorporates the new NV245 transfer case that provides full-time active four-wheel drive, which the company claims “anticipates and prevents wheel slip for optimum traction. The NV245 also includes electronic shift with a low-range gear and neutral for towing Grand Cherokee behind another vehicle”.


Quadra-Drive II employs electronic limited-slip differentials, which replaces the Vari-Lock progressive axles used on the Quadra-Drive system from previous generation Jeep vehicles for quicker response to changing conditions and greater torque capacity.


Under the bonnet, Jeep will offer a 5,7-litre Hemi V8 engine and a 3,7-litre SOHC V6 (a replacement for the four-litre I-6 engine) in the Grand Cherokee lineup. The 4,7-litre SOHC V8 engine from the current range will be retained.


The manufacturer also claims that the Grand Cherokee will be the first SUV to offer the multi-displacement system (MDS). MDS deactivates half the cylinders of the 5,7-litre HEMI during cruising and light acceleration and Jeep says the system will “increase fuel economy up to 20 per cent, depending on driving conditions”.


The 5,7-litre HEMI will reportedly deliver up to ninety per cent of peak torque from 2 400 to 5 100 r/min. Its electronic throttle control (ETC) system is said to tailor throttle response to pedal movement based on operating conditions, and maintains more consistent vehicle speed on rolling grades when cruise control is active than the former mechanical throttle control system.


Despite approximately seven per cent less displacement, the 3,7-liter V6 is claimed to produce more peak power than the four-litre unit it replaces, but develop comparable torque.


The 2005 Grand Cherokee has been fitted with an all-new independent front suspension, which Jeep claims “provides more precise steering and reduces vehicle weight and head toss”. Front suspension wheel travel is increased 13 percent over the previous generation vehicle and combines with five-link rear suspension geometry, which includes a track bar.


A dynamic handling system (DHS) is standard with the 5,7-litre HEMI engine. DHS delivers a high level of driver confidence by reducing body roll, resulting in sportier handling when turning, while providing a smoother ride when travelling straight ahead.


Also offered for the first time, ESP aids the driver in maintaining vehicle directional stability in severe driving conditions on different types of surface. Using signals from sensors throughout the vehicle, the system determines the appropriate brake and throttle adjustments for directional stability of the vehicle.


The carryover 545RFE five-speed automatic transmission used with the 4,7-litre V8 and 5,7-litre V8 HEMI has been refined for higher-quality shifts. An all-new five-speed automatic will do duty in the 3,7-litre V6 models. Both transmissions will feature Electronic Range Select (ERS) driver interactive shift control.


From the outside, the front of the Grand Cherokee features the signature seven-slot grille flanked by newly-designed halogen headlamps and the rear has larger lights with clear lenses. A closer look will reveal the bonnet is now proportionally longer, the wheel arches are more flared, and there is a greater distance between the centre of the front axle and base of the windshield.


Inside, the Grand Cherokee new interior features a two-tone instrument panel, door trim and new finishes. Seat track travel has been increased and Jeep claims an increase in headroom over the vehicle’s predecessor. The cargo area has a reversible load floor panel enhance versatility and storage. GPS Navigation radio, rear seat DVD, Boston Acoustics audio, UConnect hands-free communication system, smart beam and rear-park assist – will be available on the new Jeep Grand Cherokee as well.


For the US market, the 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee will go into production in Detroit in the third quarter this year. According to a Jeep release, assembly for markets outside North America (including right-hand drive countries) will begin in the first quarter of 2005 at the Magna Steyr assembly plant in Graz, Austria.


DCSA’s media manager for Chrysler and Jeep, Guy Kilfoil, said it was not known when the new Grand Cherokee would become available in South Africa.


“Because Jeep’s assembly plant in Austria is still tooled to produce the current Grand Cherokee, one can assume the vehicle will not be available in South Africa anytime soon,” said Kilfoil.


“But to give you an indication (of when the model might arrive), the local launch of a new Jeep product would ordinarily take place about a year after the model’s introduction to the US market,” he added. So can we expect Jeep’s new flagship by the third or fourth quarter of next year? CARtoday.com will keep you posted.