The arranged Italian/American marriage of Chrysler and Fiat is just getting underway, so don't look for a Fiat 500 at your Dodge dealership in the immediate future. In fact, don't look for anything new this fall aside from heavy-duty variants of the Dodge Ram. A much-neede replacement for the Jeep Grand Cherokee is on its way, but it won't arrive until well into 2010.
2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee
NEW: Pretty much everything, except the name and the Hemi.
NOTEWORTHY: It goes without saying that Chrysler's first (and only) major product launch following its bankruptcy needs to be a successful one. At least the early-2011-model Jeep Grand Cherokee has a fighting chance, thanks to its large helping of Mercedes-Benz ML-class componentry.
Designers massaged the Grand Cherokee's angular styling into a curvaceous yet instantly recognizable Jeep that is slightly wider and longer than the current SUV, but it's under the skin where this model differs most from its predecessor. The 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 is still optional across the model line, but base models receive the new corporate Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 that delivers more horsepower (280 versus 210) and minor improvements in fuel economy. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and selectable four-wheel drive, of course, remains an option.
Impressive features include the optional five-mode Quadra-Lift air suspension, adaptive cruise control, and extensive crash-avoidance equipment. We'll have a better idea of how they all work, combined with the highly anticipated multilink independent rear suspension, once we get behind the wheel prior to its May rollout.
ON SALE: May
BASE PRICE: $33,000 (est.)
3.6L V-6, 280 hp, 260 lb-ft;
5.7L V-8, 360 hp, 390 lb-ft;
rear- or 4-wheel drive