2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee: Introduction
The mere existence of the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Edition is a true testament not only to the persistence of Chrysler’s engineering team but it is also a reminder of how many times Jeep’s parent company has somehow magically risen from the ashes. The 2011 model year has truly seemed to be the most unlikely year for Jeep and Chrysler as models like this all-new Grand Cherokee are bringing the once-troubled automaker back from the financial brink.
Prices for the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee start at $30,215, but our top of the line Overland Edition model easily crossed the $40,000 mark thanks to its tremendous number of luxury features, a 5.7 liter Hemi V-8 and some humongous yet utterly essential 20 inch alloys that looked terrific. Note this Grand Cherokee also boasted heated/cooled front seats as well as heated rear seats in addition to a heated steering wheel and power operated rear liftgate. So there was no “roughing it” by any stretch of the imagination when we took the wheel of this 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Edition.
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee: Exterior
While you can be amazed by the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland’s amazing off-road ability, traditional SUV buyers will no doubt be swooning over the classically proportioned yet not overly muscular styling lines that run from the headlamps to the rear. This is easily the best looking Grand Cherokee since the original model debuted to replace the aging Cherokee during yet another one of Chrysler’s big comeback tours.
Granted, this 2011 model is somewhat larger than before but this SUV masks its bulk well and puts forth large gains in rear seat and cargo room to even out the score. An airier greenhouse also makes the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee far easier to see out of than last year’s model, which felt akin to sitting in a birdhouse built by a legally blind carpenter. People over six feet tall will be comfortable for long trips in the back seat as legroom is generous.
Now, this last concern is all down to a matter of personal preference and taste but the top of the line Overland Edition 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee has so much chrome adornment that it looks as though it accidentally drove through the Home Shopping Network studios and got assaulted by a crazed saleswoman toting a bedazzling gun. To our eyes, a little less chrome and more body color trim on the “body” of the Grand Cherokee would be preferable. If you love chrome, though, you’ll love this Overland Edition.
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee: Interior
Owners of previous generation Grand Cherokees, or any Jeep for that matter, will simply be blown away by the quality of materials and fastidiousness of build found in the cabin of this once rather haphazardly assembled SUV. The wood trim may be a little too glossy for some but it looks better than the stuff you find in some Lexus models. The interior trim assembly tolerances could give Lexus a run for its money now, too. Yes, the words Jeep and Lexus have been uttered in the same sentence so clearly the end times are near. Just warning you.
Just in case the end comes... don’t worry as the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Edition comes equipped with all manner of luxuries like in-dash navigation, a nine-speaker premium audio system with subwoofer, an air suspension system that can adjust the ride height for easy entry (or boulder crawling), Blutetooth, USB/iPod integration, a power moonroof, durable leather trim, Xenon headlamps, a back-up camera and a terrain adjustable full time all-wheel drive system all for $44,910 (with destination).
Cargo room is also ample with 36.3 cubic feet behind the second row of seats and 68.5 cubic feet with the second row of seats folded nice and flat. And if the feeling of interior trim quality and overall fit and finish of the 2011 Grand Cherokee doesn’t give you peace of mind then there is always Jeep’s three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and five-year/100,000-mile powertrain coverage to help you sleep at night.
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee: Performance and Safety
It may look like a traditional Grand Cherokee and off-road like its many forebears, but this SUV drives nothing like the tippy and sloppy vehicles owners had come to expect over the years. While there is still some numbness around the center with the steering, it no longer offers up all of the sensation and feeling of Courtney Love after a doctor’s visit. Admittedly, slow gearing at the helm of your SUV is an advantage off-road but some Jeeps like the Liberty make it difficult to judge even the tightness of a U-turn.
While this 2011 Grand Cherokee could no doubt tackle some pretty rough terrain with its adjustable ride height suspension (also perfect for lowering entry height for an older dog), the Quadra Drive 2 4-wheel drive system and the new multi-terrain adaptability knob, most of these SUVs will spend their time in suburbia picking up kids from karate and hitting local PTA meetings.
So this new, more linear steering in conjunction with a marked decrease in body roll all equate to a more enjoyable to drive Grand Cherokee around town. You know, pretty much where it will be most of the time anyway unless you are crazy enough to not care about denting this $40,000 Overland Edition’s pretty chrome bling job.
Thanks to an all-new platform that will underpin the next Mercedes M-Class and that is already so impressive in the similarly transformed 2011 Dodge Durango, the Grand Cherokee now has what we dare say is a very supple and controlled ride. Freeway cruises even over the worst Southern California freeway stretches proving to be quiet, calm and relaxing. Interior noise levels are impressively low and to our ears seemed about equal to those of some luxury brand SUVs we have recently tested.
Sadly, that is the one fault of the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Edition with the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 because, unlike how it rumbles under the hood of a Ram pick-up, here this engine is the picture of near Lexus quiet and refinement. Who buys a 5.7 liter 360 horsepower/390 lb. feet of torque V-8 unless they want a bit of drama in their life besides the impressive 6.7 second 0-60 time?
Tow capacity for the 2011 Grand Cherokee 5.7 V-8 is an impressive for this class 7,400 pounds and should accommodate most anyone’s needs. But in all honesty after having driven a 2011 Durango with the Pentastar 3.6 liter V-6, we can safely say that there isn’t much need for the Hemi engine as the V-6 can handle 5,000 pounds. It also offers up plentiful power, if not quite to the degree of the 5.7 liter.
As a family hauler, the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee has the stuff to keep you and your loved ones safe. It has been named a “Top Safety Pick” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) just in case you have an accident on a deserted forest trail or in the Neiman Marcus parking lot.
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee: Conclusion
It’s easy to see why so many people are buying the new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and while we loved the effortless thrust of the Hemi V-8, we didn’t love the 11 miles per gallon it gave us in return. A wiser ownership proposition is a Grand Cherokee with the 280 horsepower 3.6 liter V-6 that returned nearly 18 miles per gallon in the larger Durango. But if you need a Hemi, at least take heart knowing that it runs on regular unleaded just like the V-6.
So what if you just can’t live without the throaty burble you so love from Hemi powered cars, trucks and SUVs? Is the march towards refinement a quick trip towards the death of character in Jeeps? Don’t count on it. 2012 holds the release of the all new SRT-8 version which will boast a 6.1 liter V-8 engine with 465 horsepower and 465 lb. feet of torque. And we sort of suspect it will be loud.
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