Road & Travel Magazine

Auto Advice & Tips
Auto Buyer's Guides
Car Care Maintenance
Climate Views & Videos
Auto Awards Archive
Insurance & Accidents
Legends & Leaders
New Car Reviews
Planet Driven
Road Humor
Road Trips
RV & Camping
Safety & Security
Teens & Tots Tips
Tire Buying Tips
Used Car Buying
Vehicle Model Guide

Travel Channel
Adventure Travel
Advice & Tips
Airline Rules
Bed & Breakfasts
Cruises & Tours
Destination Reviews
Earth Tones
Family Travel Tips
Health Trip
Hotels & Resorts
Luxury Travel
Pet Travel
RV & Camping
Safety & Security
Spa Reviews
Train Vacations
World Travel Directory
Bookmark and Share

Jeep Grand Cherokee - 2005 SUV Buyer's Guide

by Martha Hindes

Jeep Grand Cherokee
Jeep Grand Cherokee

Settling into the leather seating, the friend's response was immediate. "Ah, this feels like my Jeep. I miss it. I'm going to have to get another one." Remembering a favored former set of wheels is one thing, but going beyond memory into the next must-have mode is quite another. With the total redesign of the Grand Cherokee for 2005, Jeep might have pushed the magic "gotta have" button for a lot of folks who strayed.

This new ground-up iteration is classier, more capable (and a tad costlier, depending on incentive wars) than the long-in-the-tooth model it replaced. The Grand Cherokee look is still there -- sort of -- but definitely cleaner and more refined. A straight, high beltline underscores smaller side windows for a more solid appearance. Subtly reshaped sides avoid the splatter of off-road tire debris. Its face, as expected, remains anchored by the sacrosanct seven-slot grille.

In the excitement category, some unexpected guts are added to the model. How does Grand Cherokee with an optional HEMI V-8 sound? Yes, Jeep offers the legendary and much sought-after 5.7-liter powerplant as one of two new engine choices. Besides that, count the changes: Two new transfer cases (for on-road and off-road authority), all-new suspension, first-ever rack and pinion steering for responsive turning, an all-new five-speed automatic transmission. Power in the base model Laredo comes from a 3.7-liter, 210-HP V-6, new for the Grand Cherokee. Standard for the upmarket Limited is the upgraded 4.7-liter, 230-HP V-8.

Thoughtful amenities aren't missing either. It's immediately apparent with just-right touches of wood and chrome, and with storage and cupholders sensibly placed. Leather throughout, sunroof and a drop down, headset-muting DVD, as tested, confirm its high-toned status (with a sticker of $40,515). Lux also comes from rain sensing wipers, smartly restyled instrument gauges, six-speaker Boston Acoustics audio and a nav system integrated MP3 player.

For safety, there's an "energy management" body structure, standard tire pressure monitors and optional side curtain airbags. While we didn't have a chance to take it truly off road, even rough pavement and gravel road handling was smooth and responsive with the hint that authority was there if one needed to transverse a ditch -- or a mountain pass. Our take on the new Grand Cherokee? Crisp, responsive, a joy to drive.