In 2009, Jeep offered its full-size Grand Cherokee SUV with four engine choices, two of which were Hemi powerplants: a 5.7-litre version and, with the high-performance SRT8, a high-performance 6.1 litre. There was also a much tamer 3.7- litre V-6 and a turbo-diesel V-6.
The turbo-diesel was manufactured by Mercedes-Benz and was a hangover from the ill-fated Daimler-Chrysler amalgamation. It was used in the Sprinter van and elsewhere in Mercedes' lineup; you could also make the argument that this engine was the best thing that ever came out of that collaboration.
While it may not have had the raw horsepower of the V-8 engines, the turbo-diesel delivered almost as much torque as the smaller V-8, and had better fuel economy. Much better. It was certainly a more sensible choice than the gasoline-fuelled and surprisingly lethargic V-6. Displacing 3.0 litres, it utilized common-rail diesel technology and delivered 215 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque.
It's level of refinement was – and is – remarkable. Where big diesel engines tend to rattle and rumble (although they are better than they used to be), this unit was smooth and refined, with a discreet muted idle and a nice, linear power delivery. It also gave the Grand Cherokee a towing capacity of some 3,266 kilograms.
Standard equipment on the '09 Cherokee included Jeep's Quadra-Trac 4WD system, and for serious off-roading, you could order a range of goodies, such as hill descent control, hill start assist, and underbody skid plates. 4WD high and low range was accessed via a floor console-mounted button and you could get into high range pretty much any time. A five-speed automatic was the only transmission choice.
Depending upon the model, you got heated front and rear seats, Sirius radio, a navi system, a power sunroof and power-adjustable pedals. Standard equipment also included another Mercedes holdover: an ignition key that starts the vehicle as soon as you turn it, without the driver having to hold the key. The turbo-diesel came with various other goodies, such as leather interior and a power sunroof.
Don't look for a 2010 version of the Grand Cherokee with the turbo-diesel, incidentally. The 2009 edition was actually the 2008 model, carried over, and after '09, that was it for the diesel engine.
One safety recall from Transport Canada to report and it concerns a possible glitch in the front airbag sensor, which may not have been connected properly and could fail to deploy correctly in the event of a front-ender. This recall applies to a range of other Chrysler/Jeep products, incidentally. To this we can add a recall for the Rock Krawler aftermarket suspension kit, which could come loose when things get wild and wooly and cause the driver to lose control.
The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a modest four technical service bulletins on file for the 2009 Grand Cherokee. These include an emissions warranty clarification and software issues with the Power Control Module, both of which are easily rectified.
Consumer Reports is on the fence with this one. While it seems to have issues with the climate control system and power equipment, it does rate this vehicle highly in areas such as powertrain and the electrical system. It gives the Grand Cherokee an "average" grade for predicted reliability. Some comments from owners: "Diesel is terrific," "Bad blind spot" and "Could use a little more back seat room." Frightening fuel consumption and an overly harsh ride are two common complaints.
As is the case with many Jeep products, the Grand Cherokee has a following of dedicated enthusiasts. Websites such as nagca.com (North American Grand Cherokee Association), and JeepsCanada.com have lively forums with technical advice and all kinds of information.
Expect to pay anywhere from the low-$20,000s to the mid-$30,000s for a three-year-old Grand Cherokee. The gas V6 model is the cheapest, and the hot-rod SRT8 Hemi by far the most expensive. The turbo-diesel is $2,000 pricier than base models, but these are not as abundant as the others.
2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Original Base Price: $41,245; Black Book: $21,725-$34,975; Red Book: $22,450-$30,425
Engine: 3.0 litre turbo-diesel V-6/3.7-litre V-6/5.7-litre V-8/6.1-litre V-8
Horsepower/Torque: 215 hp/376 lb-ft for turbo-diesel; 210 hp/235 lb-ft for V-6; 257 hp/ 389 lb-ft for 5.7L V-8; 420 hp/420 lb-ft for 6.1L V-8
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Fuel Economy (litres/100 km): 13.9 city/10.1 highway (gas V-6); regular gas
Alternatives: Toyota Highlander Mercedes-Benz ML, GMC Yukon, Chrysler Aspen, Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Explorer, BMW X5, Volkswagen Touareg, Porsche Cayenne