The Jeep brand has turned 70, and is celebrating by offering five 70th Anniversary Edition models across its lineup.
The Grand Cherokee, Liberty, Compass, Patriot and Wrangler all get special editions for Jeep’s birthday. We tested the Anniversary Edition of the 2011 Grand Cherokee, and while the special trim on the new Jeep was nice, it’s everything else that makes a difference.
The Grand Cherokee is redesigned for 2011 and gets a sportier, more refined look. Also offered are three 4 X 4 systems that offer as much offroad capability as you need. Quadra-Trac I delivers full-time 4WD without any driver input, Quadra-Trac II has a two-speed transfer case that can increase or decrease power to each axle as needed, and Quadra-Drive II, which can also increase or decrease power to each rear wheel as slippage is detected.
Quadra-Trac II and Quadra- Drive II also have standard Selec-Terrain, a “Land Roverish” all-terrain system that allows the driver to choose from five driving settings: sand/mud, sport, auto, snow and rock. With Jeep’s new Quadra-Lift air suspension system that adds up to 4.1 inches of lift, the Grand Cherokee is among the best vehicles available off-road. But that’s not enough to satisfy today’s crowd of thrill-seekers. They want it all: style, off-road capability and a dynamite interior. Style, I guess, is in the eye of the beholder. Off-road capability cannot be argued with the new Grand Cherokee. And a dynamite interior? Yes. Absolutely.
The materials inside are softer and have a more upscale look, especially in the 70th Anniversary model. The 8-way power leather seats are heated and perforated and trimmed in contrasting cording . Stitched in colorful fabric on all four seatbacks is the anniversary logo. The front passenger seat is 4-way adjustable and the rear seat and headrest fold flat with a single flip of a lever. Keyless entry and pushbutton start are standard, and if you ask me should be standard on just about every car. So should dual-zone air conditioning, which is available in the Grand Cherokee.
Connectivity in the cabin is all anyone could want. There’s optional voice recognition for navigation and entertainment options, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, SIRIUS Backseat TV, as well as Uconnect navigation, phone and web. Sound is delivered via six speakers, upgraded to nine in the optional customer preferred package. That option also gets you 20-inch wheels and a range of other features.
The Grand Cherokee is a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. In the government’s new and tougher safety tests, the vehicle gets five stars in frontal and side crashes for all seats except the front passenger seat, which gets four stars.
Powering the fairly heavy Grand Cherokee is a pair of engines: the standard 3.6-liter V-6 with 290 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,800 rpm, and an available 5.7-liter V-8 that cranks out 360 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,250 rpm. Mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission, our test vehicle had the V-6, which proved plenty capable for everyday driving. If you routinely need to tow things than 5,000 pounds, however, the V-8 is the choice.
The Grand Cherokee with the V-6 will get you 16 miles per gallon in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. The V-6 is flex fuel capable and gives drivers a range of up to 500 miles before a fill-up is required.
The base price of the 70th Anniversary special edition 4 X 4 is $32,215. The $5,555 customer preferred package option and a navigation system brought the bottom line to $38,990, including destination charges.
Whether you take the Grand Cherokee off-road to the camp or downtown to a Broadway show, this vehicle gets the job done.