well mannered, luxury off-road vehicle

2011, Jeep, Grand Cherokee

I got an all-inclusive tour of the newly redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee with Jeep's Klaus Busse, head of interior design Chrysler Group LLC while driving on US 101 past California's Silicon Valley on an iconic Northern California Summer morning.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is notably quiet, and comfortable in a drive-all-day well mannered, luxury off-road vehicle.

We are headed to the Hollister Hills state vehicle recreation area located in the Pacific coastal range 23 miles away, and at least 23 degrees warmer than Monterey bay, which is to the West.

The new color 'Blackberry Pearl Coat' metal-flake gleams and catches the attention of a passing Mercedes-Benz SUV driver and receives a thumbs-up while driving through Hollister, California on the way South to where the fun starts for this vehicle

Klaus Busse, born in Germany, schooled in Coventry England, notes the seemingly innocuous air conditioning outlets on the dash. "We're selling the next model to you." He explains how much thought, time and experimentation his interior design team gave to our vents of coolness. "The chicklets (what one grabs to move the outlets) are 1mm by 1mm by 1mm tall." Klaus demonstrates. "These chicklets are not flat but rounded for a sensuous touch and not cheap plastic feel. The customer will feel quality, solidity."

Busse goes on with the education and edification, "the edge of the map pocket to the door is another detail. By blowing air into the upper edge of the map pocket... gives you a nice ridge, a thick feel to the upper edge of the map pocket."

"Center console arm rest release switches." Busse states matter of factly, while placing his arm on the center console. They have a "river bed stone feel to these release buttons." Giving the driver or rider next to them a feeling of tactile quality.

Quickly after arrival at Hollister I'm alone in a Jeep equipped with Quadra-Drive II 4WD system (4x4 V-8 only) and Quadra-Lift air suspension system (4x4 only). I am about to make the blind turn at the top of the 55 degree inclined descent.

Optional, but really helpful, is this MP 3022 transfer case below me. The key is the vaiable torque split, front to rear wheels and key low rage ration 2.72.

I have 4x4 low selected in first gear with Jeep's newly implemented electronically controlled traction marvel of digital algorithms simply described as Selec-Terrain.

Jeep's Selec-Terrain is a simple large dial below the shifter in the central column. One selects one of the five modes, Sand/Mud, Sport, Auto, Snow or Rock, which will provide the best performance for any of those conditions.

I have been instructed to activate Jeep's Hill-start Assist and Hill-descent Control feature also. This wondrous software will control which and how much a wheel is braked on the steep descent coming.

There is only California blue sky ahead of me perched awaiting Tom's signal to crank the steering wheel to the right and enter the vertical drop.

Happy endings for machine and driver as Klaus Busse noted after I arrived back at Grand Jeep Cherokee tent atop Hollister's bluff of accomplishment. "Even a 12 year old could do it. You just steer." And Jeep's newly designed Grand Cherokee does the rest.

And it did.

There are four trim levels, E, X, Limited and Overland

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo E 4x2 $30,995

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo E 4x4 $32,995

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo X 4X2 $34,995

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo X 4X4 $36,995

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4x2 $37,495

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4x4 $39,995

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4x2 $39,495

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4x4 $42,995

3.6-liter V-6 VVT with 5-speed automatic gives you 290 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 390 lb.-ft of at 4,800 rpm torque. The 4X2 fuel economy is 16 city/ 23 highway, while the 4X4 miles per gallon are 16 city/ 22 highway. Unleaded 87 octane is required.

5.7-liter liter MDS V-8 VVT with 5-speed automatic gives you 360 horsepower at 5,150 rpm and 390 lb.-ft of torque at 4,250 rpm. The 4X2 fuel economy is 14 city/ 20 highway, while the 4X4 miles per gallon are 13 city/ 19 highway. Unleaded mid-grade 89 octane is required for these numbers.

By Mark 'Stretch' Batchelor

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Images of the 2011, Jeep Grand Cherokee

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Jeep's Selec-Terrain
Jeep's Selec-Terrain
great control over terrain
great control over terrain
rear view of vehicle
rear view of vehicle