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First look: Jeep renews Cherokee

All change: Redesigned Cherokee is bigger in all key areas.

Jeep unveils an all-new Cherokee and a refreshed Grand at the New York show

10 Apr 2007

JEEP came out with all guns blazing at last Thursday's New York motor show opening by revealing a redesigned version of its mid-sized Cherokee and a facelifted iteration of its flagship luxury SUV, the Grand Cherokee.

The revised Grand brings an upgraded 4.7-litre entry-level V8 and new features, some of which won't be available when it's launched here around late this year. The all-new Cherokee lands Down Under in the first quarter of 2008.

As we revealed last week, the overhauled Cherokee (known as the Liberty in the US) is based on a bigger new platform borrowed from sister company Dodge and its new Nitro SUV, which also donated its new independent front suspension, five-link rear suspension and rack-and-pinion steering.

While the new suspension and steering systems are claimed to improve on-road ride and handling, the new Cherokee's off-road ability is also said to be enhanced via the US availability of two four-wheel drive systems: part-time Command-Trac and the new full-time Selec-Trac II system – both of which are claimed to be "Jeep trail rated".

Cherokee's 3.7-litre SOHC V6 gets the same upgrade as Nitro and now delivers slightly more power (157kW) and torque (319Nm). Fuel consumption is claimed to have improved. Cherokee continues with four-speed auto and six-speed manual transmissions. We'll get both the revised 3.7 V6 petrol and CRD turbo-diesel engines.

Though details are scarce, Jeep says both cargo space and seat comfort have been improved, most likely along similar lines to Nitro. Other improvements over the current Cherokee, which was released in 2002, include a tyre pressure monitoring system and a world-first "Sky Slider full-open canvas roof".

New Cherokee options will include remote starting, rain-sensing wipers, memory seats/mirrors and express up/down windows. Two Cherokee specifications will be offered (Sport and Limited), both of which will offer standard ESP stability/traction control with Electronic Roll Mitigation, ABS and brake assist.

Also borrowed from Nitro (and other Dodge models) is the 2008 Cherokee's MyGig Multimedia Infotainment System, which integrates audio, navigation, entertainment and hands-free communication systems via a touch screen or voice commands to operate the 20-gigabyte hard-drive.

Outside, the 2008 Cherokee appears to have returned to the square shape of the current model's predecessor. Officially, it "takes on a more rugged, classic Jeep look that is sure to captivate the attention of current Jeep Liberty owners and broaden its consumer appeal".

9 center imageMeantime, the 2008 Grand Cherokee brings a new version of Jeep's trusty 4.7-litre V8, which now offers 30 per cent more power (227kW), 10 per cent more torque (453Nm) and improved fuel consumption and refinement.

It will join four other engines in the 2008 Grand Cherokee line-up, which Jeep says is the only SUV range to offer five different engines.

The 4.7 remains standard on the Limited grade, which is also available with 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 and 5.7-litre HEMI V8 engines, while a 3.7-litre V6 is standard on the base Laredo. The 6.1-litre HEMI V8 remains reserved for the SRT8.

The revised 4.7 borrows the HEMI V8's cylinder-heads and now features two-sparkplugs-per-cylinder, increased compression, improved port flow, new camshafts and a new valve-lash adjuster system. Along with a smoother idle, a revised induction system, lighter-weight piston/conrod assembly, lower accessory drive speed and electronic throttle control are claimed to further improve refinement.

In the US (but not in Australia) the 2008 Grand Cherokee will also be available with the SIRIUS Backseat TV option, which displays three childrens' TV channels via an in-vehicle satellite video receiver and two small roof-mounted antennas.

SIRIUS Satellite Radio can also be heard and, when in park, the updated Grand Cherokee's optional front MyGig screen will also display TV programs.

Other new Grand features include self-levelling High Intensity Discharge headlights, which are claimed to provide about three times the light output of conventional reflector lamps, a ParkView reversing camera, ParkSense reversing sensors, SmartBeam headlights, rain-sensing wipers, memory seats/mirrors, iPod connectivity and 18-inch chromed aluminium wheels.

Three new safety systems will also debut on the 2008 Grand, including Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist and Trailer Sway Control. Standard on all models, HDC operates in 4WD Low mode, in both forward and reverse.

Finally, cosmetic changes include a longer grille, more circular headlights, lower foglights and a two-piece front fascia, the lower section of which can be removed for off-road work.

Inside, there's a new two-tone instrument panel featuring bright accents, soft-touch surfacing, updated styling and brighter LED illumination. A new reach and rake-adjustable steering column will also be standard, along with a new steering wheel that features two-tone leather and bright chrome accent rings for Limited variants.

New door panels with more comfortable armrests, plus a new floor console with improved cup-holders and a leather-wrapped, chrome-accented parking brake lever, round out the changes.

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