2005-2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee Hemi and diesel car reviews
The 2005-2007 Grand Cherokee introduced a more angular look to the Grand Cherokee, along with a massive dose of technology. Electronic front and rear differentials lock or unlock instantly, and a new independent front suspension (whicih Jeep pioneered in the 1962 Wagoneer) feels equally at home off road and on. The ancient engine choices - the AMC straight-six, the 318 - are gone, and two new engines with far more power than anything ever to be used in a Jeep are optional, with an active suspension.
Engine choices range from mild to wild, with the Hemi topping the charts at 320 horsepower; it only cost a couple of miles per gallon over the 3.7 liter V6 and 4.7 liter V8, but provided a whole new level of responsiveness. The Bosch-developed Mercedes diesel engine in the 2007 models gives a whole new level of oomph, theoretically while improving mileage quite a bit. The active suspension helps the Hemi and diesel power to be manageable in what is at heart an off-roader, but the heavy weight of the Grand Cherokee makes gas mileage less than it should be, and some of the steps taken to increase economy make the vehicle seem less ideal.
Overall, the current Grand Cherokee has a smoother ride and better on-road handling than past models, yet is more capable on the trail. It feels nimble around paved turns but can still cross a stream; it can outrace some sports cars, but can also go into low-gear four wheel drive for 5 mph rock climbs.
With Hemi and diesel models, a hydraulically controlled active stabilizer reduced body roll while smoothing out the ride when travelling straight by decoupling the front and rear stabilizer bars when they are not needed. The active suspension and fast-acting automatic four-wheel-drive were very helpful in keeping the Hemi tamed around corners, where normally we'd experience considerable skidding and a swing-out tail; but even without the electronic doodads, the Grand Cherokee handled surprisingly well. Ride is not bad, smooth on smooth roads, able to deal with nasty cement and dirt surfaces, but it is still firm and you feel sudden shocks if they're large enough. On old cement roads, the cabin was not shaken by the cracks and minor potholes, but passengers did hear the subsonic reports.
Even though there are lots of electronics to keep the Jeep stable, it seems to do just fine on its own. The heavy vehicle feels fairly nimble and sure-footed around sharp turns and can handle curves at surprisingly high speeds, doing well on emergency maneuvers as well. Taking a turn on broken pavement at fairly high speed, we were surprised by the firm-footedness of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, with just a little protest from the tires from time to time.
The Hemi's multiple displacement system works imperceptibly, shutting off or activating cylinders in .04 seconds, allowing it to have gas mileage fairly close to the much less powerful 4.7 liter V8 (due for a power upgrade in 2008), and, according to 2008-model-year type measurements, just one or two miles per gallon from the V6, which produces a respectable but far smaller 210 horsepower and 235 lb-ft of torque (which puts it on par with the first Grand Cherokee V8 engines). Gas mileage is fairly poor, but that's true for all truck-based SUVs. On the lighter side, the Grand Cherokee is a lot quicker (with the right engine), more nimble, and fun to drive than many competitors, especially the Ford poseur trucks. That said, the massive Chevy Suburban 4x4 with the 5.3 liter V8 gets about the same mileage as any gas-powered Grand Cherokee: 14 city, 19 highway, using 2008 EPA testing.
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