About the 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited with a Hemi Engine

01
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Introduction to the Grand Cherokee Limited

2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited Hemi
2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited Hemi. photo by Colin Hefferon

The Grand Cherokee was completely re-designed and re-engineered for 2005. Trappings, performance and handling are now at least equal to upscale off-shore brands. The Jeep brand is legendary but still has limited cachet in North America. Nevertheless, this new model represents great value for the dollar and first-rate executive-type transport. Three engines are offered – a V-6 and two V-8s, including the stupendous 5.7L Hemi V-8 with MDS. MSRP (Limited 4x4): $32,675; Warranty: 3/36,000.

02
of 05

First Glance at the Grand Cherokee

2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited Hemi
2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited Hemi. photo by Colin Hefferon

For 2005, the Grand Cherokee is brand new from the ground up. While it might lack a bit of the cachet of some of the off shore brands, it concedes nothing to them in the way of build quality and all-round capability. You can get it with 4-wheel or 2-wheel (rear) drive.

To bring this new Grand Cherokee more into sync with current design trends, DaimlerChrysler designers moved up the beltline and reduced the glass-to-body ratio. The corners and sides were also squared off. All of which tends to give the vehicle a more solid, more substantial appearance compared with its predecessor. Yet it is still instantly recognizable from every angle as a Grand Cherokee.

Signature features of the Grand Cherokee like the seven-slot grille and the trapezoidal wheel openings were carried over into the new vehicle. The hood, air dam and side mirrors evince hours of development time in the wind tunnel. The heavy cladding used on the previous model was replaced with a more slab-like bodyside shape. Apparently this new shape better protects the sides of the vehicle from road debris tossed up by the big tires.

The Grand Cherokee was introduced to America in 1992. It was the world’s first luxury SUV, alas.

03
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In the Jeep Grand Cherokee Driver's Seat

2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited Hemi
2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited Hemi. photo by Colin Hefferon

The interior was also completely re-thought for 2005 with occupant comfort and convenience emphasized. It’s a huge improvement over the last generation. New European-style seats – extra firm and ergonomic – were developed specifically for the Grand Cherokee and designed to ensure comfort on long distance drives.

Luxury clues abound. The touch points – the sound the switches make, the fit and finish, the textures and lighter colors – all contribute to the perception of quality. A new four-gauge instrument cluster with LED lighting and featuring black gauges surrounded by chrome accent rings and red pointers are easy to read even in difficult lighting conditions.

Only the glass on the rear hatch opens with the remote. I guess this could be handy once you got used to it. I never did and continually popped the glass when what I wanted was to unlock the lift gate. The rear seats very easily fold down flat for increased cargo capacity.

The Grand Cherokee is now available with family essentials like rear seat DVD entertainment unit, new 276W Boston Acoustics sound system with six-disc CD/MP3 and dual zone HVAC.

Strangely enough, safety essentials like side air bags and full-length side curtain air bags are extra-cost options.

04
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On the Road in the Jeep Grand Cherokee

2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited Hemi
2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited Hemi. photo by Colin Hefferon

My test car was a Limited model with Quadra-Drive II 4WD – a very sophisticated system which automatically transfers power to the wheel(s) with the best traction. This system features electronically controlled front and rear differential locks, which eliminates many of the on-road drawbacks normally associated with a 4x4 and electronic stability control. Although a competent 235hp, 4.7L V-8 is standard, my test car also came with the optional 5.7L Hemi V-8 with MDS. This is a terrific engine. The MDS technology shuts off four of the cylinders in situations when they are not needed. If you're shuffling along in heavy traffic, for example, or cruising on the thruway, you don’t need the power from all eight cylinders. So the system shuts off four of them. But the instant you press harder on the gas, the engine computer activates the other four cylinders and before you can say, “Cadillac 4-6-8”, you’ve got all the power you’ll ever need.

The Hemi's all round performance is astounding (0-60 comes up in under 7 seconds). Quarter mile times are in the 15second range. This blows the doors off all but a few sport sedans. Problem is, you’re tempted to drive with a heavy foot all time, which drops the EPA mileage estimates into the toilet.

05
of 05

Journey's End

2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited Hemi
2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited Hemi. photo by Colin Hefferon

The 2005 is a vast improvement over the last model, which could get pretty squirrelly at speeds over 70mph, especially when there was a hint of crosswind. Handling in the new model is exemplary thanks to a fundamental re-think of both the front and rear suspension architecture and components. The ride is firm but never harsh due in large part to the significantly increased wheel travel. Which, by the way, also improves the already class-leading off-road capability.

My major concern with the Grand Cherokee is its real world fuel economy. This is a heavy vehicle and, even with the 3.7L V-6, mileage promises to be lousy. OK, gas at the pumps is still cheap but for how long? Industry experts say the real all-in cost of getting it to the pumps – most of which cost is now absorbed by the US taxpayer – is over seven dollars ($7.00) a gallon.

SUVs sold in Europe invariably come with a diesel engine. For 2006, European-spec Grand Cherokees get a new 3.0L common-rail clean diesel. I had the opportunity to test one last fall on the Mercedes-Benz track near Stuttgart. It’s a spectacular engine with tons of torque, which means great all-round performance. And, it promises fuel economy in the 30mpg range. I hope we get it here.