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The 2005-2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV details and buyer guide

2008-2010 Grand CherokeeReview1999-2004 • 2011-20132014-? Jeep Grand Cherokee

2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee buyers guide

The 2005-2007 “WK” Jeep Grand Cherokee was the first completely new Grand Cherokee since the original, which had originally been created to be a successor to the classic “XJ” Jeep Cherokee. The vehicle was a joint effort with Mercedes, and as a result ended up with the U.S.’s top safety rating, but a relatively numb feel, a low-cost interior, and arguably lower off-road capability.

The 2005 Grand Cherokee did provide some power boosts, with a choice of four engines: the Hemi, 4.7 V8, 3.7 V6, and (for a time) a 3-liter Mercedes V6 diesel. The 3.7 came with a Mercedes five-speed automatic, while the V8s all had a Chrysler five-speed automatic with dual second gears (for six speeds in total). The Hemi brought an additional 60 hp and 40 lb-ft of torque over the 4.7 High Output V8 with no gas mileage penalty; the V6 brought an extra 15 hp and 5 lb-ft of torque over the prior year.

2005 grand cherokee

New for 2005 were an active suspension, electronic differentials, and an independent front suspension. New gadgets, from DVD to navigation to automatically-lowering headlights, rounded out the package. For 2007, a diesel was added (see below); for 2008, the 4.7 got a major power boost, features were added, interior and exterior styling was tweaked, and other minor changes were made.

An SRT version used the 6.1 liter Hemi (with 420 horsepower) and four wheel drive to outperform competitors costing twice as much; it was fast even by SRT standards, with 0-60 in under five seconds, and was the second fastest SRT (falling behind the Viper). It was also surprisingly popular, and paved the way for the even-more-successful second generation SRT Grand Cherokee.

6.1 liter SRT engine

Grand Cherokee engines

mercedes dieselThe base price for diesel-equipped Grand Cherokees started at $38,475, including destination; it was available with both rear and four wheel drive, on Limited and Overland, in 2007 only. The Bosch-developed Mercedes engine produced 215 hp (160 kW) @ 3,800 rpm and 376 lb.-ft. torque (510 N•m) @ 1,600-2,800 rpm and got an estimated fuel economy of 20 miles city and 25 miles highway for 4x2 models and 20 miles city and 24 miles highway for 4x4 models. Towing capacity was 7,400 pounds, and driving range of about 450 miles led the class. See our review of the Grand Cherokee diesel.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD was fueled with B5 (5%) biodiesel at the assembly plant.

The 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine provided best-in-class power along with better gas mileage, thanks to the multi-displacement system which shut off half the cylinders when they were not needed. The speed of the system (switching in .04 seconds) made its operation imperceptible, while raising gas mileage by up to 20%; 90% of peak torque was available from 2,400 to 5,100 rpm. Electronic Throttle Control provided more consistent speeds under cruise control than the old mechanical throttle control. The Hemi was tuned to 325 horsepower and 370 lb-ft of torque - more torque and less horsepower than in Ram trucks and cars.

2004 - 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee Engines

4.0 I-6 (2004)1621195230
3.7 V-6 (2005)1621210235
4.7 (2004)1520235295
4.7 (2005)1420230290
4.7 H.O. (2004)1520265330
5.7 (2005)1421325370

The 3.7-liter single-cam V-6 replaced the 1970s-vintage 4.0 straight-six engine, providing higher peak power and torque at the cost of low-end responsiveness; the engine was lighter, smaller, quieter, and reportedly cheaper to make.

The 4.7-liter V-8 was updated, with dual knock sensors and new engine calibrations. Noise and vibration were reduced through the use of composite valve covers, changes to the air box and resonator, and improved dampening of the heat shields. The engine produced 230 hp (172 kW) @ 4700 rpm and 290 lb-ft (393 Nm) of torque @ 3700.

2005 Grand Cherokee automatic transmissions

The five-speed Mercedes automatic transmission (W5A580) used with the V-6 had partial engagement in third, fourth, and fifth gears to improve shift feel, economy, and transmission cooling; like other modern Chrysler automatics, including the 545RFE, the shift schedule adapted to the driver's style, road situations, and other factors.

jeep grand cherokee SUV side viewThe 545RFE five-speed automatic transmission used with V8s had refinements for higher-quality shifts and increases to the Grand Cherokee's towing capacity, including a quieter solenoid, and a turbine damper to cut noise and vibration. It continued to provide dual second-gear ratios. The 545RE had three planetary gear sets and one overrunning clutch, with an electronically controlled torque converter clutch.

Both transmissions featured Electronic Range Select (ERS) interactive shift control for the first time on Grand Cherokee; the driver could manually select each gear by moving the shifter left and right from the “drive” position.

A new stamped steel transfer case skid plate mounted to the transmission cross member and fuel tank skidplate to provide off-road protection to the transfer case.

2005-2007 Grand Cherokee Suspension and Steering

The company switched to an independent front suspension for better steering control on bumpy roads. A former Jeep/Truck engineer wrote:

The Grand Cherokee went away from the link-coil front suspension partly for smoother on road manners, and to cater to the pressure from the auto writers. However, a big reason was to be able to stuff the entire powertrain and suspension up into the body [at the assembly plant] in a fraction of a minute, which they couldn't do when the ZJ (original Grand Cherokee) started out (as the XJ Cherokee replacement, to be built on the XJ line). The XJ, ZJ, and WJ were laboriously assembled with the links, springs and axles coming up from below; the engine, transmission, and transfer case were swung in on a hook from above, as you would do at home (including the banging and cursing). The WK update was a boon to manufacturing efficiency.

The DHS uses the steering angle sensor, center of gravity lateral accelerometer, and upper lateral accelerometer to determine when the stabilizer bar is necessary. Actuators pressurize the bar links when it is needed; otherwise, the actuators float and the bar can travel to the limits of the links.

Front suspension wheel travel was increased 13% (over an inch) over the 1999-2004 Grand Cherokee. The independent front suspension reduced head toss, saved 100 pounds of unsprung mass, and provided more precise steering, and a lower center of gravity. The main losses in moving from the older, cheaper suspension design was lower dynamic ground clearance and the ability to relatively easily “lift” the suspension.

Nodular iron lower control arms were shaped for higher ground clearance; forged upper control arms increased durability. The setup used coil-over shocks.

height=254The 2005 Grand Cherokee rear suspension was an evolution of previous Jeep multi-link systems. Four tubular control arms combined with a tubular track bar for total rear-axle control. The shock absorbers were positioned more vertically than in past models for greater body control and reduced head toss.

Grand Cherokee's new rack and pinion steering system imparted a more precise steering feel translated to the driver through fewer linkages than a recirculating ball steering system.

Chrysler’s hydraulic-control active stabilizer system was tagged “Dynamic Handling System (DHS)” and came standard with the Hemi engine. It reduced body roll, while providing a smoother ride. The Jeep DHS effectively decoupled the front and rear stabilizer bars except when they were needed for cornering.

The first Jeep electronic stability control system, essentially Mercedes’ setup, helped drivers to maintain directional stability in severe driving, especially on poor surfaces. The system used sensor data to calculate brake and throttle adjustments when needed, calling in the electronic throttle control and antilock brake systems.


interior - 2005 jeep grand cherokeeThe seven-slot grille was painted body color on Laredo, and chromed on Limited. The hood, air dam and exterior mirrors were developed in Chrysler’s wind tunnel in Auburn Hills to minimize wind noise and maximize aerodynamics.

The body was designed to protect the sides from road debris thrown off by the tires, replacing the old model’s cladding. Badges were now injection-molded and chrome-plated.

A new interior included a two-tone instrument panel, new door trims and upscale interior finishes. Laredo seats were covered in cloth, with optional leather, while Limited seats were two-tone leather with perforated leather seat inserts. Gaps were reduced and parting lines minimized; storage bins were added.

Jeep cargo bay - 2005 Grand Cherokee - reviewThe four-gauge instrument cluster had LED illumination with red pointers. A new gated automatic transmission shifter had a chrome bezel; on models with a two-speed transfer case, the manual case lever was replaced with an electric “T-handle” lever (lifting it toggled between regular and low mode).

In the cargo area, a reversible load door panel was carpeted on one side and with easy-to-clean plastic on the other. The plastic side included a large shallow tray.

4x4 systems reviewed

Three full-time four-wheel-drive systems were available:

Quadra-Trac® I

Full-time on-demand four-wheel drive with no driver interaction.

Quadra-Trac® II

Used the new NV245 transfer case for full-time active four-wheel drive, with electronic shift and a low-range gear and neutral setting.

Quadra-Drive® II

Included Electronic Limited Slip Differentials (ELSD), replacing the Vari-Lock progressive axles for quicker responses and greater torque capacity.

Quadra-Trac I

The NV140 transfer case split torque 48/52 percent (front/rear) for nearly even distribution of engine power. The case was compatible with the Brake Traction Control System (BTCS).

Quadra-Trac II

The Quadra-Trac II 4 x 4 system for 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee used the NV245 active transfer case and brake traction control.

The transfer case took sensor input to determine tire slip and take corrective action. The system also used Throttle Anticipate, sensing quick movement in throttle from a stop, and took steps to maximize traction before tire slippage even occured. Torque was transferred to the individual wheels as needed by the BTCS to maintain traction. When the system senses tire slipped, it modulated brake pressure to the slipping wheel, which directed torque to the tires with the best traction.

Quadra-Trac II had an electronic shift mechanism and a neutral position for towing behind another vehicle.

Quadra-Drive II

The Quadra-Drive II Jeep 4 x 4 system combined the NV245 full-time transfer case with Electronic Limited Slip Differentials (ELSD). In some cases, it anticipated low traction and adjusted to proactively limit or eliminate slip.

The NV245 active transfer case included a center differential coupled with an electronically controlled clutch pack, varying it from a completely open state to completely locked, and infinite possibilities in between. The 4-Low gear ratio was 2.72:1.

A key component was the electronic limited slip differential (ELSD), an industry first application, which used electronically controlled clutch packs to automatically and instantly vary from slip to lock at each axle. This maximized traction when needed without any of the on-road drawbacks normally associated with such a robust 4 x 4 system.

All components of the system worked together, continually monitoring needs, to provide smooth and automatic application of the components. For example, the ELSD released the clutch packs in the front axle during turns to allow differentiation and prevent crow hop.

4.7 chrysler v8

Other amenities

Other 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee amenities (some of which were optional) included:

Common Jeep Grand Cherokee problems

On early Grand Cherokees, built before March 20, 2005, the radio antenna may accidentally ground itself, hurting the radio signals. This can be fixed by a dealer relatively quickly. 

Other early Grand Cherokees (built before May 1, 2005) may have had problems with the door glass sticking, moaning, binding, or tracking poorly; there were various adjustments and repairs listed in a Jeep service bulletin to fix this (TSB 23-023-05).

The Mercedes transmission was apparently extremely sensitive to fluid quality and would shudder badly when the torque converter clutch was applied with even a 0.5% water dose. The temporary fix was to flush the fluid thoroughly (Chrysler recommended a triple flush) and put in a new filter; the long-term fix was to apply RTV (form-a-gasket) to the base of the transmission fill tube to avoid contimination. If the fill tube was incorrectly installed - that was, if the seal was not perfectly flush with the transmission housing — that must be fixed first, so it was completely flush. It could take up to two hours. The warranty covered it, according to TSB 21-011-05.

Finally, a squeak coming from the outside door handle may be caused by a plastic clip that attached the latch rod to the door handle; a dealer can regrease it using special grease. This was resolved after April 11, 2005 on domestic models and May 15 on international models. 

The door trim panel retainers were to be replaced every time the door is removed; use part 06507686AA.


The 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee was produced at the Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit, starting in the third quarter of 2004. Assembly for markets outside North America began in the first quarter of 2005 at the Magna Steyr assembly plant in Graz, Austria.

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