By David Colman
Hypes: Primo Looks, Handling, Practicality
Gripes: Flat-Backed Seats, Manual Steering Wheel Adjust
It took 4 days before I realized that this Jeep was not black, but green. “Black Forest Green,” to be exact, a shade so elusive that it only reveals its verdance in direct sunlight. Unlike its paint – which has a visual sweet spot about one millimeter wide – the Grand Cherokee’s sweet spot is a mile wide. Here’s a do-everything SUV from a company that still has the guts to offer it with a spanking V8. In fact, you can optionally order not only the 360hp, 5.7 liter V-8 of our test Jeep, but also a 6.4 liter V-8 which produces 470hp in the SRT8 model. For those of you more concerned with economy than performance, Jeep’s base motor for the Grand Cherokee is a 3.6 liter V-6 good for 290hp, as well as a just-introduced 3 liter diesel which makes 240hp, 420 lb.ft. of torque, and returns 28 MPG.
Although combined city/highway fuel economy of the 5.7 liter V-8 is a modest 15 MPG, this engine, coupled to a 6-speed automatic, is a perfect match for the Cherokee’s 4,470 lb. curb weight. The V-8 option adds $2,195 to the Jeep’s $43,595 base price. But the engine upgrade also includes a bevy of valuable extras that are essential if you plan to tow: 220 amp alternator, heavy duty ABS disc brakes, heavy duty engine cooling, and trailer tow group IV, which includes hitch and wiring. Another worthy option included on our test Jeep is the electronic limited slip rear differential ($695) which overcomes traction loss in the standard Quadra-Drive II 4WD system.