Trucks, Jeeps

The 2011-2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee

grand cherokee colors

The 2014 Grand Cherokee was launched early in 2013, with an eight-speed automatic and large touch-screen. For 2013, the major change was the new Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk model. Also see Maserati Levant.

The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee was the first new-car launch of the New Chrysler. Journalists almost universally praised it, and it swept the car awards and put Chrysler back on the map.

The standard engine is the smooth 290 horsepower Pentastar V6, which gets just 1 mile per gallon less than the diesel-powered Mercedes ML350. The Hemi is optional across the board, and Europeans have a new 237-hp VM diesel.  In 2012, Hemi models moved to a six speed automatic (an updated version of Chrysler’s old five-speed); wheel and option package changes were made, as well. [Grand Cherokee engines]

The Dodge Durango is an extended-wheelbase version; and the architecture will be adapted by Maserati. [Allpar was first to report this, in November 2010.] The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 has different 20” wheels, different suspension components, and the 6.4 Hemi.

The independent front and rear suspensions have isolated cradles. Variable-rate rear springs improve on-road handling and comfort, and the spare tire is stored inside as opposed to underneath. Torsional rigidity has been increased 146%.

Jeeps on the mountain

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The 2014 Grand Cherokee is set to start production in January 2013; the 2013s will have a short run. This model will have a revised front end, with a revised set of shorter grilles, different bumpers, and probably different headlights; both interior and exterior are set to be “refreshed,” and we have been told to expect the eight-speed automatic (possibly phased in on the Hemi), the 8.4 inch touch-screen, and possibly a stop-start system and other measures to save fuel. The VM 3.0 diesel should finally show up for the 2014 model year, as well.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2011-2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee systems and engines

The front suspension is a long/short arm design; the rear is a multi-link design.


rear suspension

Phil Jansen, chief engineer on three generations of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, said that a central tire inflation was considered, but rejected; “The air suspension system operates at a very high PSI and a very low dew point (very dry air). To do this type of system would have brought compromises to the suspension's overall performance.”

The Quadra-Lift air suspension system, optional on 4x4s, has five height settings. Two are for off-road use (raising 1.3 and 2.6 inches above normal, to a maximum 11.1 inches of ground clearance), one lowers the car half an inch for better aerodynamics, one is normal, and one lowers the car by 1.5 inches for entry and exit.

Using a reservoir tank and pressures of 220 psi, Quadra-Lift operates four-corner air springs automatically, or via console controls, with 4.1 inches of travel and continuous load leveling. The Aero control is automatic and speed-controlled.

There is a front compressor in the system, but it’s only present for repressurizing the system after it has been serviced, while connected to a nitrogen tank (using a hose behind the rear seat); the system can be depressurized using a scan tool. The system can be temporarily deactivated by jacking up the car or putting it onto a lift; Chrysler recommends using Sport mode for wheel alignments (Aero mode if you’re doing an alignment using a scan tool.)

front suspension


2011 jeep grand cherokee

The Selec-Terrain™ traction control coordinates up to 12 powertrain, braking, and suspension systems, including throttle control, shifting, the transfer case, and stability control. It is included with the Off-Road Group and Hemi, and is standard on Limited and Overland, provided either Quadra-Drive or Quadra-Trac II is specified. The driver can choose between:

  • Sand/Mud: Traction control and Quadra-Lift are more sensitive to wheel spin, and torque is tuned; 50/50 torque split
  • Sport: Cuts the traction control back, lowers the Jeep by half an inch, and puts up to 80% of power to the rear wheels
  • Automatic operation with torque split at around 40/60 front/rear
  • Snow: Traction and Quadra-Lift tuned for snow-covered roads; the torque split is around 50/50
  • Rock: The suspension raises to the maximum 11.1 (some documents claim just 10.7) inches height and the transfer case, differentials, and throttle coordinate to provide low-speed control; around 50/50 torque split

The approach, departure, and breakover angles are all improved over the 2009 Grand Cherokee, along with maximum ground clearance (with the air suspension). These angles are superior to those of the 2010 Equinox, Highlander, Pilot, and 4Runner (except ground clearance without Quadra-Lift). See our specifications page for approach, departure, and breakover angles, compared with competitors.

Two off-road groups are available; group I includes Selec-Terrain, a four wheel drive transfer case with low range, tow hooks, and skid plates. Group II includes those features and adds QuadraLift. Off road groups are not available with 20 inch wheels; 18 inch wheels are substituted.

Four wheel drive systems

Quadra Trac I has full-time four-wheel drive, with a proven, light-weight single-speed transfer case, and a fixed torque distribution of 48/52 front/rear with brake-limited differentials.

Quadra Trac II has a two-speed transfer case; Throttle Anticipate senses quick movement in the throttle from a stop, and maximizes traction before tires slip. When a tire slips, all torque can be routed to the axle with the most traction.

Quadra Drive II has a rear (and rumored front in the future) Electronic Limited-Slip Differential which detects tire slip and sends torque to tires with traction. As with Quadra Tac II, in some cases, the Jeep will anticipate low traction and proactively limit or eliminate slip.

All 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokees equipped with either the off-road or the Quadra-Lift group are Trail Rated® — they passed off-road conditions in traction, ground clearance, maneuverability, articulation, and water crossing.

AGM battery

The battery uses Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) technology battery, which has stiffer separators holding the electrolyte in place; as a result, the cells do not leak even if the case is cracked, and the battery can withstand severe shock and vibration. It is a sealed unit, with relief valves running from its position under the passenger seat to the outside. The negative terminal can be removed for repairs on electrical systems (e.g. airbag replacement) by moving the seat forward and taking off the cover, which, according to Allpar member codypet, takes some work. There are remote jump-start posts under the hood.

belt routing' -->

The AGM technology increases efficiency and slashes the self-discharge rate to a third of conventional lead-acid batteries, but standard battery chargers cannot be used, due to the much more restrictive maximum charging voltage. The open circuit voltage is 12.65 volts or more. (Computer battery backups tend to use AGM batteries.)

Body and chassis

Mark Allen, stylist, wrote, “The ’99 WJ Grand Cherokee had a definite influence on the front end design of the ’11 WK.”

The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee’s ruggedness is achieved with more than 5,400 welds in the body alone. Torsional stiffness is 146% more than the current Grand Cherokee and is stiffer than the BMW X5 and Toyota Highlander for improved durability and reduced noise, vibration, and harshness. With more than 3,700 mm of arc welding and 100 m of structural adhesive to augment welding, this marks a 53% increase in spot welds, a 42% increase in arc welds, and a 38% increase in structural adhesive.

The new interior now features rich materials and elegant appointments, as well as more room for both passengers and cargo. An optional CommandView® dual-pane sun roof provides twice as much glass surface than a standard sun roof and extends from the windshield to the rear of the vehicle. The front panel may be opened rearward, providing additional light and fresh air to first-row passengers. The rear panel, which is fixed, allows light and open viewing for second-row passengers and comes standard with a power sun shade.

back seats

The vehicle’s 114.8-inch wheelbase is 5.3 inches longer, but overall length is just 1.8 inches longer; coupled with three inches more width, the the size changes should improve cornering as well as interior space. Larger front door openings (1.9 inches wider; 2 inches higher) and rear doors that open 78° (vs. the old model’s 67 degrees) provide better access to the interior.

Inside, premium seating includes room for five passengers. An available fold-flat front-passenger seat provides improved cargo storage room (Laredo models). Rear seats recline 12° and move forward 12° for 24° of variation.

The cargo bay behind the rear seats has 6.8 more cubic feet of room (36.3 cubic feet total), and includes a storage unit with a rechargeable flashlight and new grocery hooks on both sides. The spare tire compartment includes removable dual storage bins for secure storage of muddy gear or other items. A new power rear liftgate is available.

Quality features

Engineers will conduct approximately 7.5 million customer-equivalent miles for durability and reliability testing of the all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Testing and validation in various climates include road trips to a variety of locations including Yucca, Arizona, Baudette, Minn. and Morgantown, West Virginia. A full battery of lab testing includes full-frame fatigue testing and a road-test simulator. The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee has gone through more than 244 hours of wind noise and aerodynamic evaluations.

Phil Jansen wrote, “Early air suspension systems in the industry were not very reliable. Significant work on shock airbag durability, compressor capacity and airline routing was completed on the 2011 Grand Cherokee. We incorporated the reservoir and air lines inside to maximize system reliability.”

2011 jeep grand cherokee

More than 3.3 million customer-equivalent miles were recorded on Pentastar engine dynamometers prior to production. Severity testing was increased 50% versus previous Chrysler V-6 engines — which have had strong durability — to accommodate high-load applications including trailer-towing.

The reduction of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) was a key objective for every component during the design phase of the engine and was achieved by utilizing an advanced computer-aided engineering technique.

The use of a Quality Assurance Fixture (QAF) assures a high level of compliance at the start of production. The QAF allows engineers to look at the interior of the vehicle on a “simulated perfect body” which is a milled aluminum shell where all attachment points are matched exactly to CATIA modeling earlier in the program. This allows changes and design improvements earlier in the manufacturing process.


The company also employs techniques of Design for Six Sigma (DFSS), which is folding in "voice of the customer" data along with lessons learned to ensure that every vehicle is of the highest quality. The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee is the first new vehicle to have more than 100 DFSS projects.

Exterior design and Jeep Grand Cherokee aerodynamics

Every surface of the all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee is new and has been treated for aerodynamics, improving drag by 7% and resulting in a cD of 0.37, down from 0.404.

The removable lower front fascia delivers improved fuel economy, on-road performance and off-road capability. The lower front fascia features a large chromed appliqué (Limited and Overland models) that showcases available tow hooks.

Black appliqués on B-pillars give the day-light opening (DLO) an aerodynamic, modern appearance and a sleek profile. Optional chromed mirrors and door handles add to the profile and complement the full-chromed DLO surround on all models.

cargo bay

Taillamps wrap from the rear quarter panel to the back of the vehicle and create a solid form which achieves more of an upscale appearance. The treatment complements the front-end design and resonates with the rest of the exterior.

Seventeen-inch wheels are standard, with optional 18-inch and new-to-Jeep 20-inch wheels for 2011. Jeep Grand Cherokee models with a HEMI V-8 engine have 3.5-inch dual chromed exhaust tips, and those with the V-6 engine have a 3-inch single exhaust.

Mark Allen wrote: “For me, the ZJ [original Grand Cherokee] shows up first of all in the proportions, short front and rear overhangs ( you can't get that in a front-drive derived utility!), fast windshield and backlight, and flat roof. Details that are common are the thick D-pillar, trapezoidal wheel arches, [and] classic 7 slot 'harmonica' grille. Remember, the ZJ was originally intended as a replacement for the XJ series, it was the 1999 WJ that was designed from the start as a Grand Cherokee.”

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Jeep Grand Cherokee at Allpar

ZJ, WJ (Pure Jeep)WK (Joint Development)WK2 (Current)

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