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What it Is
Jeep Grand Cherokee Preview – 2007 New York Auto Show: Jeep’s venerable Grand Cherokee has been a mainstay of its SUV lineup for 15 years, but fell out of favor as consumers moved away from dedicated off-roaders and toward cushy crossovers. A redesign for 2005 improved paved-road comfort at the expense of dirt-road capability, but buyers weren’t convinced. Cheap interior materials didn’t help. Thus, the 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee gets a significant refresh designed to appeal to both consumers and enthusiasts while giving the cabin a more upscale look and feel.
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Why it Matters
Imperiled Chrysler needs to shake its moneymakers, and the 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the company’s more profitable vehicles. By adding consumer-friendly features, additional off-road capability, and making the interior a place people actually want to spend time, Jeep is taking the right steps toward restoring the Grand Cherokee’s luster.
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What’s Under the Hood
For 2008, Jeep Grand Cherokee buyers have two new engines from which to choose. There’s a new 3.0-liter common rail diesel engine with Bluetec technology sourced from Mercedes-Benz, and a reworked 291-horse 4.7-liter V8 with more power, more torque, better fuel economy, and flex-fuel E85 capability. Last year’s 3.7L V6, 5.7L V8, and 6.1L V8 continue. To improve the Grand Cherokee’s off-road performance, Jeep has added Hill Descent Control that works in 4-Lo whether the JGC is moving forward or reversing, a Hill Start Assist feature that holds the brakes for two seconds while the driver gets on the gas, and Trailer Sway Control for more stable towing.
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What it Looks Like
Look closely and you’ll see that Jeep has revised the 2008 Grand Cherokee’s front and rear styling. In front there’s a new two-piece fascia that allows off-road enthusiasts to take the lower half off before tackling extreme terrain, a revised seven-slot grille, and rounder headlights. This year, Jeep offers auto-leveling HID headlights to buyers of the top level trims. New wheels spruce up the Grand Cherokee’s profile, while in back there’s a new bumper and an optional ParkView reversing camera.
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Families are gonna love the 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Exclusive to Chrysler, the optional Sirius Backseat TV feature will entertain the kids with Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, and Cartoon Network programming captured by an in-vehicle satellite receiver and two roof antennas. TV shows can also be displayed on the optional MyGIG dashboard screen when the Jeep is parked. MyGIG, new to the Grand Cherokee for 2008, is a navigation, audio, entertainment and communications system with a 20-gig hard drive that can store up to 1,600 songs. Cabin refinement is up thanks to two-tone décor and an upscale soft-touch dash pad. Other new goodies include a standard tilt and telescopic steering wheel, new LED gauges, and optional rear heated seats.
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What Jeep Says
Jeep is a bit confused about what constitutes a full-size SUV, mentioning several times in its press release that the Grand Cherokee qualifies as one when, with a maximum cargo volume of 67.4 cu.-ft., this is clearly a small SUV. “With a choice of five engines, three four-wheel-drive systems and more premium amenities than ever before, the 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee sets the benchmark for full-size SUVs just as it did when it debuted in 1992,” said John Plecha, Director – Jeep Brand Marketing and Global Communications.
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What We Think
The general consumer has moved on, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s heyday is over. Crossovers don’t fit the Jeep brand, and trying to move that needle without delivering Trail Rated performance is a fool’s errand. Thus, the update to the 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a smart one. New technology and design promises better off-roading performance, and new features deliver improved day-to-day comfort and usability. Even the quality of the interior materials is better. Pitched as an equally capable, equally luxurious, more reliable and less expensive competitor to everything from a Land Rover LR2 to a Porsche Cayenne, the Grand Cherokee makes sense.
Photos courtesy of DaimlerChrysler
Photos courtesy of DaimlerChrysler
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