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2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee


    About mid-April, DaimlerChrysler dropped off a new Grand Cherokee for us to run around in. So, unlike any good soccer mom (more like dad), we loaded up and hit the trails with our V6-powered runabout. Nope, no HEMI in this dude. Someone back at DCX PR headquarters missed the page on the order sheet titled: Options.
     Lack of monster V8 notwithstanding, the Grand Cherokee proved to have a pretty capable powertrain, even in entry-level form. The 210hp 3.7-liter V6, first seen in the Liberty, makes its way into the GC lineup as the base engine, and powerplant of choice for our Deep Beryl Green Pearl tester. Pop the hood and you can see that there is plenty of room for an additional 2 cylinders and 2 liters (i.e. HEMI). Actually, there is almost enough room to stand in the engine bay and change the oil. Kudos to Jeep engineers for superb placement of the oil filter, likely the most accessible location we have seen yet! The V6 performs its duty well, in concert with the excellent 5-speed auto, albeit a bit buzzy at high rpms. Stomping on the gas won’t get you there very quick, but it will get you further on the gas you have. The 4.7-liter V8 is sure to handle the mass of the GC a bit better, and there are no doubts in anyone’s mind that the HEMI equipped models just plain haul! Along with the V6, our GC came with the most civilized offering of Jeep’s sophisticated traction systems, the Quadra-Trac Full-Time 4wd. Unfortunately for us, this one was missing the serious goods, such as low range gearing or locking differentials. Low or not, the Jeep handled itself well through AT’s back forty on our lightly traveled trails.
     The lack of Jeep’s beefier setup curbed our enthusiasm for venturing further into the wilderness this time, leaving the really sticky stuff for another occasion. The system did, however, handle loose gravel and sand commendably, as well as thick, snow-crushed brush. Along part of our venture we did manage to slip into one rather soggy spot, but nothing which caused any grief getting out of. Besides, the GC looks more natural with mud caked along the sides. Approach and departure angles are decently steep, especially once the lower wind deflector on the front bumper has been removed, via five plastic clips, and safely stored in the back seat, being careful not to get mud, dirt, or miscellaneous other debris on the furnishings. Vitals such as exhaust pipes and muffler are tucked up high, so as to avoid rock damage. Even the rear has two steel beams angled up from the rear tires to the bumper so as to prevent getting hung up on rocks, and ripping off, say maybe a plastic bumper. Yeah, that would be bad we thinks.
     Style wise, I think the engineers forgot to invite the designers to the design meeting, because this thing is boxy. Nonetheless, the space is functional. Lines are very crisp and square, and it feels roomy inside. There is no mistaking the Grand Cherokee for a Liberty. Round foglamps and domed headlamps are about all that break away from the norm. Wide, square shoulders and an angle-cut liftgate give it an aggressive stance. Especially in some of the more powerful models, such as the SRT-8, where SRT dropped the 6.1-liter V8 HEMI under the hood to create a real beast, but that is for another time perhaps (DCX, notice we are winking!). Rolling stock consisted of 235/65 all-season tires wrapping handsome five-spoke 17” aluminum wheels.
     Of course, as far as Dye and I are concerned, any good chariot needs a comfortable cabin, though I am sure that there are diehard rock-crawlers out there who will disagree. Either way, the Grand Cherokee doesn’t disappoint. Our Laredo came with a khaki cloth-trimmed interior. The seats were particularly supportive with thick bolsters keeping occupants in place while bouncing over rocky terrain. Editor Dye noted that they held him nice and tight, but larger drivers might find the fit a bit snug. Control layout was logical, with HVAC and radio sourced directly from DCX parts bin. Dashboard materials were easy on the eyes and fingers, though there are a lot of lines running this way and that. Fit and finish seemed decent as well. It was agreed upon, however, that the printed aluminum-look trim was a bit cheesy. Thumbs up for aluminum trim, thumbs down for print, general smile for effort.
     All in all, the Grand Cherokee is looking to be a dependable runabout. This Quadra-Trac application won’t get you up aggressive slippery slopes or bounding over boulders, but it will come in handy in those freak winter snowstorms in April. Unfortunately, the GC will most likely spend the majority of its life hauling groceries and kids vs. traversing streambeds. Which is why our Laredo package makes so much sense. At $32,695, our GC was comfortable for the family or the commute, yet capable enough to get through the trails to the cabin up North.

The Good:
Capable drivetrain, comfortable interior, clever packaging.
The Bad:
V6 is just adequate, no low-range with standard Quadra-Trac, cheesy printed interior trim.
The Verdict:
Overall a pleasing vehicle to drive, this one just needs a few options, and, perhaps a HEMI!


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