The 2005-2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee is the first generation to move away from the rounded look that defined the Grand Cherokee for so long. It is also slightly larger, with much needed improvements in its interior room. Still, the 2005-10 Grand Cherokee remains true to its roots, shunning the temptation to add a third-row seat and retaining its multiple 4-wheel-drive systems (4WD) for off-road use.

Why You Want It

Due to significant changes in the Grand Cherokee's suspension, the 2005-2010 models offer superior on-road performance. The old live axle front end is replaced by a more sophisticated A-arm suspension, giving the Grand Cherokee a vastly better ride and more car-like handling. Jeep also made huge strides in quieting the cabin and eliminating squeaks and rattles. But, none of these changes come at the expense of the Grand Cherokee's off-road abilities, which only seem to improve with the introduction of the Quadra-Drive II system and a 5.7-liter HEMI V8. Also tempting is the limited production CRD (Common Rail Diesel) model that provides V8-like acceleration with fuel economy ratings in the mid to high 20s.

Notable Features & Options

Most Grand Cherokees are going to have features such as air conditioning, power windows and cruise control, with the Limited and Overland models gaining such luxuries as heated leather seating and navigation. But, the most important option to a Jeep buyer is its four-wheel-drive system (4WD) and with the 2005-2010 Grand Cherokee, there is a choice of three different setups. The most basic is Quadra-Trac I, which is a permanently engaged 4WD system lacking a neutral or low range gear. There are no buttons or levers to push, a single speed transfer case automatically splits torque in a 48/52 front/rear bias as needed. This is system is only available on the V6 models. Quadra-Trac II, which is standard on 4WD models with the V8, adds an active transfer case with a neutral position for when you need to tow the Grand Cherokee behind another vehicle; it also uses a number of inputs from various wheel sensors along with the electronic traction and stability control to send power to the wheel with the best traction. Finally, there is Quadra-Drive II that uses the same active transfer case as Quadra-Trac II, but adds electronic limited slip front and rear differentials and manual activated 4Lo range. If serious off-roading is your intention, Quadra-Drive II is the system you'll want.

Model Milestones

2006 - The SRT-8 is added as is the ultra luxury Overland trim. Electronic traction and stability control are made standard and Quadra-Trac II is made available on Laredo models.

2007 -Side curtain airbags are made standard and a new 3.0-liter diesel engine is offered. New options include a rear-view camera and remote start.

2008 - The 4.7-liter V8 gets a major overhaul resulting in improved horsepower and fuel economy. Hill Descent Control is made standard on models with the Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II, while Hill Start Assist and Trailer Sway Control become optional. HID headlights and SIRIUS Backseat TV are added to the Limited and Overland's option list.

2009 - The 5.7-liter HEMI V8 gains more horsepower, while the short-lived 3.0-liter diesel is phased out. The SRT-8 gains an optional nine-inch DVD view screen with reconfigurable display for showing g-force, 0-60 mph times, mile times and braking.

2010 - The Overland trim is dropped.

Engines and Performance

Between 2005 and 2010, the Jeep Grand Cherokee offers five different engine choices. Base Laredo models feature a 210-horsepower 3.7-liter V6, with a 4.7-liter V8 as optional. The 4.7-liter engine is standard on the Limited trim and its horsepower varies over the years from 235 hp in 2005 to 305 hp after 2008. The 5.7-liter HEMI V8 puts out 330 horsepower (that figure jumps to 357 in 2009) and is standard in Overland models and optional on the Limited. A 3.0-liter diesel engine borrowed from Mercedes-Benz makes a brief appearance between 2007 and 2009. This engine produces 215 horsepower but has a whopping 375 lb-ft of torque; the not-intended for off-road use SRT-8 trim possesses a massive 6.1-liter HEMI V8 good for 420 horsepower.

Fuel economy for the Grand Cherokee is far from spectacular, with the V6 engine offering figures around 16 mpg city and 20 mpg highway, and the 4.7-liter V8 barely breaking 14/19 mpg. The 5.7-liter HEMI offers nearly identical fuel economy as the 4.7-liter, give or take 1 mpg. The 3.0-liter diesel engine delivers the best fuel economy at 18 mpg city and 23 mpg highway, while the SRT-8 turns in the worst numbers of 11/14 mpg.

Recalls, Safety Ratings and Warranties

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, has issued the following recalls for the 2005-2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

2005 - A recall was issued for models with the 3.7-liter V6 concerning possible contamination of the automatic transmission with water from the A/C condenser causing shuddering and possible failure of the torque converter.

2006 - A recall was issued for a possible defect in the driver's airbag inflator connector.

2006-07 - A recall was issued for possibly faulty programming of the anti-lock brakes that may cause a momentary delay in braking when coasting uphill.

2007 - A recall was issued for faulty anti-lock brake software that may cause the rear brakes to lock up under certain conditions.

2007-08 - A recall was issued for possible improperly manufactured front brake calipers that could fracture, thus interfering with the brakes ability to slow or stop the vehicle.

2008 - A recall was issued for a possible defective front control module that could result in stalling while driving.

2009 - A recall was issued for possible reversed wiring in the steering column control module driver airbag connector. In the event of a crash, the driver's airbag may not inflate.

2010 - Recalls were issued for a possible defective passenger side front airbag, possible defective brake booster input rod (could lead to brake failure), a possibly defective rear track bar, and defective ignition module that may allow the key to be removed before the vehicle is placed in park.

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.

As for safety, NHTSA gives the 2005-2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee excellent marks, scoring five stars in the frontal and side-impact crash tests, and four stars in the rollover test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the Grand Cherokee its best rating of GOOD in the offset front end and roof strength tests, but only a MARGINAL rating in the side impact test.

Jeep provides a 3-year/36,000 mile basic and powertrain warranty on the 2005-2007 Grand Cherokees. In 2008, the powertrain warranty changed to an unlimited year/mileage lifetime warranty, but only for the original owner. In 2010, the powertrain warranty changed again to 5-years/100,000 miles and is fully transferable at no extra cost. If you want to extend the factory warranty coverage, you might consider purchasing a Certified Pre-Owned Grand Cherokee from a participating Jeep dealer. Jeep CPO vehicles are late model cars no more than five years old and with no more than 75,000 miles. After a 125 point inspection, a CPO Grand Cherokee gets a 3 month/3600 mile Maximum Care warranty (this protects you from little things that might go wrong right after your purchase), and a 7 year/100,000 mile (2010 and newer) or 6 year/80,000 (2009 or older) powertrain warranty that begins from the time the vehicle entered service. You can also upgrade your warranty to a more comprehensive plan anytime during its lifetime. CPO cars also come with a free Carfax report, 24-hour road side assistance and even a rental car allowance should repairs to your Grand Cherokee take more than one day to perform.

Word on the Web

There are dozens of Jeep enthusiast sites filled with pages of praise and sometimes scorn for the 2005-2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Most owners who enjoy camping and off-roading love the big Jeep, especially those with the Quadra-Drive II system. But, we found more than a few complaints about long-term reliability of the transmission, AWD system and some minor electronic glitches. Consumer Reports seems to substantiate these complaints, scoring the 2005-07 model with less than average scores, but giving the 2008 and later models average to better than average scores. Poor fuel economy, even on the V6 is another gripe, but owners generally praise the Grand Cherokees comfort, versatility and amenities.

Competitive Set (say something about each, strengths and weaknesses)

Ford Explorer - The Explorer has room for seven people, gets slightly better fuel economy and on the whole is less expensive than the Grand Cherokee.

Toyota 4Runner - The 4Runner has a much better repair and reliability record, not to mention superior resale. Its four-wheel-drive system is not as sophisticated as the Grand Cherokee's, but it still gets the job done.

Land Rover LR3 - The Land Rover LR3's sophisticated AWD system can go places even the mighty Grand Cherokee cannot reach. The LR3 also has more interior room, not to mention a premium name and status.

Auto Trader Recommendations

If you can find one, we'd opt for the Grand Cherokee Limited with the 3.0-liter CRD diesel engine. Short of that, stick with the 2008 and newer cars for their improved reliability ratings, and look for the 5.7-liter HEMI which offers more power than the 4.7-liter engine with nearly the same fuel economy. Off-roaders will want to seek out models equipped with Quadra-Drive II.

author photo

Joe Tralongo started in the industry writing competitive comparison books for a number of manufacturers, before moving on in 2000 to become a freelance automotive journalist. He's well regarded for his keen eye for detail, as well as his ability to communicate complex mechanical terminology into user-friendly explanations.

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