For 2006, the Jeep Grand Cherokee offers two new models: the luxurious Overland, and the stinky-fast SRT8. Changes for 2006 include the Quadra-Trac II four-wheel-drive system and an off-road package available for the 3.7-litre V6 Laredo model.
The Grand Cherokee is available with four engine choices: a 3.7-litre V6, 4.7-litre V8, 5.7-litre Hemi V8, and the 6.1-litre Hemi V8 that’s exclusive to the SRT8. Three four-wheel-drive systems are available: Quadra-Trac I, a single-speed transfer case that splits the torque 48/52 front to rear; the Quadra-Trac II, with a two-speed active transfer case; and Quadra-Drive II, which features a full-time transfer case with electronic limited-slip differentials which distribute torque to wheels with traction if wheel slip is detected.
The Grand Cherokee Laredo uses the V6 mated to a five-speed automatic transmission and Quadra-Trac I, and includes ESP, four-wheel disc brakes with ABS, tire pressure monitoring system, one-touch up/down windows, air conditioning, 17-inch wheels, eight-way power driver seat, 60/40 folding rear seat, engine immobilizer system, keyless entry, cargo storage with water-resistant storage compartment, roof rack cross rails and CD with auxiliary input jack.
The Limited uses the 4.7-litre V8, five-speed automatic and Quadra-Trac II. It adds leather-faced seats, ParkSense warning system, power-adjustable pedals with memory, rain-sensing wipers, leather-wrapped wheel, auto-dimming rearview mirror, four-way power passenger seat, six-CD/MP3 stereo, power sunroof and garage door opener. The 5.7-litre V8 can be swapped for the 4.7-litre.
The Overland uses the 5.7-litre V8 and Quadra-Drive II, and adds platinum accents, leather and wood steering wheel, side airbags, trailer tow group, two-tone ultra-suede and leather-trimmed seats, leather-wrapped centre console armrest and Overland logo embroidered on the seats.
The SRT8 features the 6.1-litre V8 with a unique transfer case designed to handle the extra torque, SRT-tuned suspension, lowered ride height, 20-inch aluminum wheels, four-piston performance Brembo brake calipers, unique from fascia, performance front seats, carbon-fibre-finish and aluminum accents, and a unique cluster with 300 km/h speedometer.
Jeep has come a long way from its military roots; with the Overland, the Grand Cherokee is aiming at the higher end of the SUV market, while the company claims the SRT8 is quicker than the Porsche Cayenne Turbo or BMW X5. At the lower end, the V6 and smaller V8 lack the power of some of its rivals, and you have to move up to the 5.7-litre to get some real grunt. Interior space is also an issue, and the Grand Cherokee is a relatively tight fit for its exterior size; fold the rear seat on both vehicles, and the Dodge Magnum offers more cargo space.