Locally, much public attention has been focused on the facelift of the popular Jeep Cherokee. Now its big brother, the all-new Grand Cherokee (launched in New York last year) is to be launched in South Africa.

Locally, much public attention has been focused on the facelift of the popular Jeep Cherokee. Now its big brother, the all-new Grand Cherokee (launched in New York last year) is to be launched in South Africa.

DaimlerChrysler SA management board member for sales and marketing Fritz van Olst recently announced that, apart from the local launch of the Crossfire SRT-6 coupé and roadster (second quarter of 2005) and current North American Car of the Year, the 300 C, the company would also introduce the replacement of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which will offer full-time four-wheel drive, multi-displacement and dynamic handling systems and, of course, a lengthened list of premium interior appointments, around mid year.

As can be seen from these pictures, the front of the Grand Cherokee is decidedly more masculine than that of the current model, and its signature seven-slot grille is flanked by newly-designed halogen headlamps. The bonnet is now longer, the wheel arches more flared, and there is a greater distance between the centre of the front axle and base of the windshield.

In addition, the rear of the vehicle has larger lights with clear lenses.

Inside, the new Grand Cherokee features a two-tone instrument panel, revised door trim and new finishes. Seat track travel has been increased, and Jeep claims an increase in headroom over the vehicle’s predecessor. The cargo area has a reversible load floor panel that enhances versatility and storage. Items such as GPS Navigation, rear seat DVD, Boston Acoustics audio, UConnect hands-free communication system, smart beam and rear-park assist will be optional.

The first of the all-wheel drive systems that will be available on some Grand Cherokee models, Quadra-Trac I, utilises the NV140 single-speed transfer case to provide full-time four-wheel drive with no transfer case lever to shift or driver interaction required. Quadra-Trac II, in turn, incorporates the new NV245 transfer case that provides full-time active four-wheel drive, which the company claims “anticipates and prevents wheel slip for optimum traction. The NV245 also includes electronic shift with a low-range gear and neutral for towing Grand Cherokee behind another vehicle”.

Quadra-Drive II employs electronic limited-slip differentials, which replace the Vari-Lock progressive axles used on the Quadra-Drive system from previous generation Jeep vehicles, for quicker response to changing conditions and greater torque capacity, the manufacturer claims.

Under the bonnet, Jeep will offer a 5,7-litre Hemi V8 engine and a 3,7-litre s-o-h-c V6 (a replacement for the four-litre I-6 engine) in the new range’s lineup. The 4,7-litre SOHC V8 engine from the current range will be retained.

The Grand Cherokee will also offer the Chrysler division’s multi-displacement system (MDS). MDS deactivates half the cylinders of the 5,7-litre HEMI during cruising and light acceleration, and Jeep says the system will “increase fuel economy up to 20 per cent, depending on driving conditions”.

The 5,7-litre HEMI will reportedly deliver up to 90 per cent of peak torque from 2 400 to 5 100 r/min. Its electronic throttle control is said to tailor throttle response to pedal movement based on operating conditions, and maintains more consistent vehicle speed on rolling grades (when cruise control is active) than the former mechanical throttle control system.

Despite approximately seven per cent less displacement, the 3,7-liter V6 is claimed to produce more peak power than the four-litre unit it replaces, while developing comparable torque.

The 2005 Grand Cherokee has been fitted with an all-new independent front suspension, which Jeep claims “provides more precise steering and reduces vehicle weight and head toss”. Front suspension wheel travel is increased 13 percent over the previous generation vehicle, and works in tandem with five-link rear suspension geometry, which includes a track bar.

A dynamic handling system (DHS) is standard with the 5,7-litre HEMI engine. DHS delivers a high level of driver confidence by reducing body roll, resulting in sportier handling when turning, while providing a smoother ride when travelling straight ahead.

Also offered for the first time, ESP aids the driver in maintaining vehicle directional stability in severe driving conditions on different types of surface. Using signals from sensors throughout the vehicle, the system determines the appropriate brake and throttle adjustments for directional stability of the vehicle.

The carryover 545RFE five-speed automatic transmission used with the 4,7-litre V8 and 5,7-litre V8 HEMI has been refined for higher-quality shifts, Jeep claims. An all-new five-speed automatic will do duty in the 3,7-litre V6 models. Both transmissions will feature Electronic Range Select (ERS) driver interactive shift control.

The vehicles will be built at Magna Steyr assembly plant in Graz, Austria.

Original article from Car