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First Drive: 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Bringing back the panache, swagger…and styling.

by on Jul.06, 2010

The boxy look is gone with the all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Jeep has always had a certain panache and swagger that reaches all the way back to the original off-roaders that American soldiers fell in love with during World War II.

For decades, that gave the Chrysler brand a leg up over its competition, so much so that it often had to remind folks that Jeep wasn’t synonymous with SUV.  But something happened in recent years, and the awkward and ungainly design of the last-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee, the brand’s flagship, didn’t help.

Now comes an all-new update, and during a couple days of driving through Northern California, we were pleased to discover that Chrysler has managed to endow the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee with the sort of refinement and style that is going to impress potential buyers and make competitors wary.

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In an era when more and more makers are moving away from classic sport-utility vehicles in favor of car-based crossovers – as Ford will do with the launch of the 2011 Explorer – Chrysler has held firm with the hybrid unibody/truck approach its used on all versions since the original Grand Cherokee.  That means the 2011 Jeep retains its impressive off-road capabilities. It can still charge over rugged country and up steep hills with the kind of agility that has always appealed to Jeep loyalists.