Jeep has unveiled the third-generation Grand Cherokee, completely redesigned and promising much-needed improvements in quality and on-road dynamics while retaining exceptional off-road ability. The GC remains a five-seater but is slightly longer, wider, roomier, and-no surprise-heavier, weighing 4100 to 4600 pounds.Power comes from two V-8s and a V-6. Chrysler‘s 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 appears in a Jeep for the first time, making 325 horsepower and 370 pound-feet of torque. It can deactivate four cylinders for better fuel economy. The Liberty‘s 210-hp 3.7-liter V-6 replaces the ancient 4.0-liter straight six as the base engine. In between, the 4.7-liter V-8 returns, minus five horsepower and an equal number of pound-feet of torque, for 230 hp and 290 pound-feet. All three engines use a five-speed automatic.
Rear-wheel drive and three any-time four-wheel-drive systems are offered. The base setup, Quadra-Trac I, has no low range. Quadra-Trac II adds a low range. Both offer brake-activated traction control. Quadra-Drive returns, adding electronic control of the limited-slip differentials on both axles.
Other chassis features include an independent front suspension (a Grand Cherokee first), five locating links for the live rear axle (up from three), and bigger brakes. A so-called Dynamic Handling System, available only with the 5.7-liter V-8, has anti-roll bars that decouple when the steering wheel is pointed straight, for a smoother ride. Stability control also is offered for the first time.The 2005 Grand Cherokee goes on sale this fall.