The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Photo by Don Bain

Close-up: The 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Having known owners who are avid evangelists for the top of the line Jeep, we decided to give the 2011 Grand Cherokee Limited 4X4 a thorough test in its true element – the Rocky Mountains at altitudes over 8,000 ft. Those who dwell at such altitudes and those who regularly commute between businesses or homes in the city and mountains have long considered the Grand Cherokee the reliable standard of mountain life and mobility.

Now nearing the end of its 20th model year, the largely reinvented premium SUV has a lot of new features never dreamed of when Jeep created this market segment so many years years ago.

“With the all-new 2011 Grand Cherokee, Jeep has created the benchmark, premium SUV,” said Mike Manley, president and CEO for the Jeep Brand, Chrysler Group LLC. “Unique innovations such as our new Quadra-Lift air suspension system and Selec-Terrain traction control systems separate Jeep from the crowd and take the new Grand Cherokee to the next level of 4x4 capability. The new generation of the iconic Jeep Grand Cherokee delivers the perfect blend of on-road refinement, superb craftsmanship, world-class design, improved fuel economy, innovative features and legendary, real-world capability.”

What’s amazing is Mike isn’t exaggerating. The terrain selector correlates chassis height and drive configuration for specific conditions – mud, snow, sand or rock. This is a feature formerly found only on pricey Range Rovers.

A sport mode lowers the vehicle into its most aerodynamic stance and converts it to two-wheel drive, allowing the new Grand Cherokee to get up 19 mpg on the open road out of the 5.7-liter V8 MDS VVT power plant.

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