Future Cars

2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee

At the Chrysler Group, the thinking seems to be that gimmicks and new features (rather than build quality and good design) are key in the car business. Between Hemi, Stow ‘n’ Go, Swivel ‘n’ Go, MyGig, and Chrysler’s many other catchphrases, the U.S. patent office probably has an entire division dedicated to the carmaker’s name games. Enter the 2008 Trail Rated , available with–take a deep breath now–MyGig, Hemi, ParkView, ParkSense, SmartBeam, Selec-Trac II, Command-Trac, and Sirius Backseat TV. The new Grand Cherokee doesn’t look much different–only a few changes have been made to the grille, bumpers, and headlights–but salespeople will have a few more pitches ready at Jeep dealerships this year.

Undoubtedly, people will be talking about Sirius Backseat TV, making its debut here in the Grand Cherokee. Using an in-vehicle satellite receiver and two small roof-mounted antennas, the system pipes in a video feed that will keep the kids quiet on longer trips. Why? Because Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, and Cartoon Network are the three channels available with the service which, by the way, will be exclusive to Chrysler vehicles for the entire 2008 model year. Chrysler’s popular MyGig hard drive is also offered.

In the realm of mechanical improvements, two new engines have been slotted into the five total offerings. The first is a 3.0-liter common rail diesel V-6 that Jeep announced last summer. It’s available with Limited or Overland models. The Limited’s standard V-8 is the other fresh powerplant, and it was revealed first in the ’08 Dodge Dakota at the 2007 Chicago show. The new 4.7-liter replaces a V-8 of the same displacement, but power has been increased by twenty-four percent to 291 hp. Torque output of the more efficient engine is 322 lb-ft, and it is also E85 capable. The 2008 Grand Cherokee hits dealers this fall.

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