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Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4x4 diesel instills confidence 

August 03, 2012
Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4x4 diesel instills confidence

Over three months of towing the GoSee Jayco Sterling 21 ft caravan in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and the ACT the redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo diesel instills confidence.

The brand has come a long way. Jeep is the quintessential American Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), with all-terrain roots dating over 70 years and including the 1940's and World War II.

Australians have a long-standing aquaintance with Jeep. For example your correspondents father bought a Jeep from a 'Yank' for two bottles of beer when he was soldiering on Bougainville, Papua New Guinea in 1944 to1945. He valued the Jeeps survival abilities, he said. My late mother and I valued his, the bloody business of Bougainville was a terrible survival test for Australian and American troops.

Now in the brave world of excellent value in the automobile market the new Grand Cherokee Laredo Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) takes Chryslers Jeep to completely new value and luxury finish levels. The good looking Jeep is a worthy contender in the premium motoring and towing segment of the market.

The latest GoSeeAustralia tow tug is a Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel Laredo 3.0-litre turbo, direct-injection V6 diesel 4x4 with five-speed automatic transmission, it develops 177kW/550Nm. GoSee was attracted by the overall specifications and the $53,913 Chrysler drive-away price we paid.

There is an impressive list of useful kit comes standard and the price includes our pick from the options grab-bag.

Chrysler gives the Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel Laredo a 3500kg towing capacity with up to 350kg on the towbar. Chrysler has model, engine and towing kit conditions and requirements which should be checked with the dealer and understood before hooking up to tow. But in essence Chrysler now sets the warranty bar with its straight forward responsible approach for vehicle makers who claim towing abilities for their products.

The Grand Cherokee comes with Trailer Sway Control which Chrysler feels will do the safety job up to 2500kg. The Grand Cherokee also has an automatic self-levelling system which cuts in at 100kmh.

But Chrysler is keen to meet the needs of caravanners and accepts the established role of popular Weight Distribution Hitches (WDH) and anti-sway products in caravans and trailers. So regardless they will stand by their warranty.

The official Chrysler figures for the Grand Cherokee diesel are 350kg on the ball max and 3500kg trailer max.

Please note that Chrysler requires a a Weight Distribution Hitch (WDH) for towing loads which exceed 2268-2270kg. The 2kg difference depends on which set of specs are read.

The key to towing safely is that Chrysler will stand by warranty up to the maximum axle loading weights stated in the Owners Manual.

GSA Jayco carries the flag
GSA Jayco carries the flag

This means the affect of loading the Grand Cherokee with people and luggage must be factored into the Gross Vehicle Mass (GVM). The Owners Manual says up to 650kg in the Grand Cherokee.

The Aggregate Trailer Mass (ATM) of the caravan or (boat, horse, tradie) trailer should come from a weighbridge and the loaded weight on the towball should also be known and the result of a weighbridge or digital scales check.

ATM is the combined weight of the trailer and its full load when it is not coupled to a tow vehicle. All new trailers built since August 1989 must have a plate listing, amongst other things, the trailers Aggregate Trailer Mass, although some trailer plates will also show its Tare Weight (the unladen weight of the trailer) and its Gross Trailer Mass (GTM).

GTM is the weight of the fully loaded trailer that is imposed on the trailers axle when it is coupled to the tow vehicle.

Drivers must ensure the towing vehicle has sufficient capacity to tow the trailer when it is fully laden. Ball Load is the amount of weight the fully laden trailer imposes (vertically) on the tow bar of the tow vehicle. There is no requirement to list Ball Load on the trailers plate, but if the plate lists the trailers Gross Trailer Mass (GTM), the difference between the ATM and GTM will be its Ball Load. Ball Load, like other towing specifications, must not be exceeded.

Some manufacturers provide Axle Load specifications for their vehicles. Most commonly this becomes important where the vehicle is capable of carrying a load over the rear axle, in addition to the load imposed by the trailer (the ball load).

In cases where the total of the Ball Load and the load in the vehicle exceeds the allowable Axle Load, it will be necessary to reduce the load carried or rearrange the trailers load. All Jeep tow bars are heavy duty, the company says.

Millie and Scamp take to caravanning.
Millie and Scamp take to caravanning.

The vehicles specifications will always be the maximum the vehicle can legally tow, even if the tow bar is rated for a higher load. However if any of the tow bar specifications are lower than those given for the vehicle, the tow bars specification will override the vehicles specifications.

Chrysler does not specify reduced speed limits when towing.

The flexible options provided by Hayman Reese electronic brake controller units and towing equipmentare respected by Chrysler.

The Australian Grand Cherokee comes with Middle Eastern standard cooling system which includes transmission coolers.

The previous diesel powertrain used in the Grand Cherokee was a Mercedes-Benz unit and although it had the same 3.0-litre displacement as the new CRD powerplant from Italian specialist VM Motori, it was not as powerful nor as efficient.

The new 3.0-litre CRD turbo diesel engine produces 177 kW at 4,000 rpm with 550 Nm of torque at 1,800-2,800 rpm. This is 10 percent more power and eight percent more torque than the engine it replaces. But rated fuel economy for the new 3.0-litre turbo diesel engine is an impressive 8.3 litres/100km on the combined cycle as a stand alone unit. This is an improvement of 19 percent over the previous diesel engine.

The GoSee extended towing evaluation of theGrand Cherokee and the Jayco Sterling 21 footeris being handled by Newbie caravanners who are Old Hands around caravan parks.

GoSee Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel hooks up with Jayco Sterling 21ft
GoSee Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel hooks up with Jayco Sterling 21ft

Polly, Milena and Scamp, the Family Beast, are new caravanners who are recently retired caravan park operators of some 25 years experience, not Scamp he is an 11 year old Jack Russell/Maltese dog, previously responsible for park security.

This team took charge of GoSeeAustralia's 2012 Jayco Sterling 21 Caravan. They are tasked to document and comment on their experiences for the coming year or so as they transition from caravan park operators to caravanners who travel with a little dog.

The Jeep was chosen to be our new caravanners tow tug following a recommendation to consider made by GoSee's CEO who had noted Chrysler Jeeps enduring support and sponsorship of the caravanning industry and the positive consumer comment he was hearing on the road , Bob (Polly) Farmer said.

I followed through and checked the credentials of the Jeep Grand Cherokee oil burner, as suggested, and found the Jeep was a technically valid option as 'tow tug' for the Jayco 21 footer, it was attractively priced and had an impressive equipment list: 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel engine, 5 Speed Automatic Transmission with Electronic Range Select, Quadra Trac 4WD system, Electronic Stability Control (ESC), fog lamps, rear liftgate with flipper glass, Keyless Enter-N-Go, Bi-Xenon High Intensity Discharge (HID) headlamps with auto-levelling and headlamp washers, Media Center 431radio, leather trimmed seats (option) with eight-way power driver's seat, leather wrapped steering wheel with manual tilt and telescoping steering column, cruise control, 18-inch polished cast aluminium wheels, selec-terrain vehicle management system, Rain-Sensitive Wiper System, Dual Zone Climate Control, Park view Reversing Camera.

Bob Farmer checks GoSee campsite
Bob Farmer checks GoSee campsite

Additional features fitted are:

Leather seating; Off road Adventure Group ll - Fuel tank, transfer case, underbody and front suspension skid plates, Quadra Drive ll 4WD system, rear Electronic Limited Slip Differential (ELSD), 3.45 axle ratio, 230mm rear axle, 265 / 60 R18 All-season tyres, 18 x8-inch polished aluminium wheels.

Quadra lift Air Suspension - Raise the vehicle up to 104mm higher for a maximum ground clearance of 271mm or lower the vehicle 38mm for easier entry, exit and loading. The system also raises the vehicle from back to front to help keep headlights safely focused downward at the road ahead.

Polly's behind the wheel impressions as a 'Tow Tug' from a new to caravanning driver:

The Jeep has been in the care of GoSee's apprentice caravanner for about 12,000km. After a 2500km get familiar period, following delivery of the vehicle, the apprentice, in the care of GoSees CEO, (the Octopus - he likes to keep a tentacle (hand-interest) in all things GoSee for the first two weeks and later 'all by himself', well, nearly by himself he was in the company his wife and their family beast Scamp, with Go Sees new Jayco Sterling 20 Series, 21.65-4 Caravan hitched to the Jeep.

The apprentice has toured the Jeep and Jayco caravan from Jayco's Dandenong Victoria manufacturing facility to:

a. Eldorado Caravan Park, Geelong, Vic; b. Lake Fyans Holiday Park, the Grampians, Vic; c. Calder Caravan Park, Mildura, Vic; d. Broken Hill Tourist Park Broken Hill, NSW; e. Free Bush Camp, 50 or so km past Wilcannia, NSW; f. Bourke, NSW; g. Lightning Ridge, NSW; h. St George, Qld; i. Dalby, Qld, Where the Octopus sent the apprentice off Solo; j. Coolum Beach Caravan Park, Coolum, the Sunshine Coast, Qld; k. Family, Bundaberg, Qld. (All Caravanners should have family strategically positioned throughout Australia); l. Back to Coolum Beach Holiday Park, Qld; m. Family, Brisbane, Qld; n. Blue Dolphin Holiday Park, Yamba, NSW; o. River, NSW; p. Forster, NSW; q. Shoal Bay Holiday Park, Port Stephens, NSW; r. Go See Headquarters, Canberra, ACT; q. To be continued.

1554 litres of cargo volume Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo
1554 litres of cargo volume Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo

The apprentice who, while being a virgin caravanner has had experience driving rigid trucks and 4WD vehicles in a previous life, has formed a very positive view of the Jeep Grand Cherokee Lorado diesel as a tow tug for caravanning.

From the travel list previously mentioned itis evident that the Jeep has towed a medium to large Jayco Sterling caravan through a diverse range of roads, from flat straight outback highways to Great Divide undulating country roads and busy national major highways, the Jeep exceeded expectations towing the GoSee Jayco Sterling caravan with relative ease.

Travelling the flat sealed a bit rough highways back of Bourke, the Jeep towed the Jayco Sterling with easy efficiency. The Jayco Sterling caravan was, identifiably, held firmly in place by the Hayman Reese Weight Distribution Hitch (WDH) system and the caravan felt beautifully - but maybe too firmly - in place.

The Hayman Reese anti-sway cam system was added to the towing technology mix for the Jeep / Jayco tug and tow combination at Lightning Ridge some 10 days into the apprentice's introduction and induction to caravanning. The improvement to towing was significant:

a. The over firm feel of the tow / tug hitch was now a balanced on road drive / tow experience where the self levelling technology of the Jeep Grand Cherokee was able to properly function without opposing force from the Hayman Reese weight distribution system (WDH) restricting the Jeeps electronic system's best efforts.

The tug / tow dynamics were now very much in harmony. This produced a very good tow / tug set up which improved to be a great fully balanced - Jeep Grand Cherokee - Hayman Reese Weight Distribution and Anti Sway - Jayco Sterling 20 Series 21.65-4 tug / tow 4WD and caravan combination.

b. The additional flexibility allowed the Jeep to better transfer power to the road in a very sure-footed way via the constant 4WD. The best traction came when putting the caravan on site and when pulling off road into roadside stops and river or recreation areas for sight-seeing and meal breaks.

GoSee Sterlings  ready to tour Jayco May 1 2012
GoSee Sterlings ready to tour Jayco May 1 2012

In towing the GoSee Grand Cherokee Laredo cruises at 95kmh (about 1900rpm) with the Jayco Sterling 21ft caravan on the drawbar. Loaded the Jayco Sterling 21 footer is 2500kg on weighbridge scales and it loads 270kg on the towball.

GoSeeuse a new Medium Hayman Reese towing Weight Distribution Hitch (WDH) kit with the 21 footer. To give the broadest possible evaluation possible we towed from the Jayco factory in Dandenong South, Victoria to Lightning Ridge, New South Wales where we added the latest Hayman Reese anti-sway cams for the next stage of the evaluation which took the rig to Bundaberg, Queensland and then back to Wodonga, Victoria via Sydney, Fyshwick and Banks ACT.

GoSee lets the 5-speed auto box make all the decisions. This produces impressive efficiency from a tow tug with a serious 2500kg caravan load to handle.

The heaviest fuel consumption so far is 17 litres per 100km into a strong headwind. The lowest fuel use is 13.2 litres per 100km with a tailwind. Towing between Sydney and Canberra fuel use ranged from 14.2 litres per 100km in the flatter highway running to 14.9 litres per 100km in steep, hilly sections. In flat towing with no wind the Grand Cherokee Laredo returns 14.1 litres per 100km.

An electronically-controlled five-speed automatic transmission is standard with the 3.0-litre CRD diesel engine and the thirstier 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 petrol engine.

Chrysler says that when properly equipped 3,500 kg can be towed with the 3.0-litre CRD diesel engine or 5.7-litre HEMI petrol engine. A Trailer Sway Control (TSC) feature detects excessive trailer sway and takes action by automatically reducing engine power and applying the right amount of braking to the appropriate wheels to counteract the sway of the trailer.

Chrysler says their Trailer Tow Group of vehicle choices includes a Class IV receiver hitch, trailer tow wiring harness and Trailer Sway Control (TSC). Chrysler says its policy is to only fit heavy duty towbars to its vehicles.

The new Jeep Grand Cherokee offers trailer tow capability of up to 2,268 kg on models equipped with the Pentastar V6 petrol engine. This also applies to the cheaper Cherokee which retains the look and profile of Jeeps all-round rugged and off-road tradition.

GoSee Jeep with Medium Hayman Reese WDH
GoSee Jeep with Medium Hayman Reese WDH

The interior of the Grand Cherokee is by designer Klaus Busse who was with Mercedes-Benz for about 10 years. He is now head of interior design for the Chrysler Group.

The driving position in the Grand Cherokee is similar to that of a BMW X5 or Range Rover Sport. A downside is the lack of a six-speed automatic box for more flexibility and smoothness when accelerating and even better fuel economy at highway cruise speeds.

Optional Quadra-Lift air suspension, allows drivers to raise the ride height of the Jeep for 271mm of ground clearance. Park Mode lowers the vehicle by 38mm. With Quadra-Lift fitted the vehicle automatically adjusts itself for level travel above 100kmh, Chrysler says.

Editors Note: GoSee found a significant improvement in the handling of the Jeep Grand Cheroke Laredo after fitting the Hayman Reese anti-sway cams. GoSee believes as the fitting of the cams eased the Weight Distribution Hitch (WDH) by half a link in the tensioning chains the Grand Cherokees automatic height levelling and Trailer Sway Controls worked better with the Hayman Reese towing gear.

GoSee is working through fitting issues with Hayman Reese engineers in relation to the anti-sway cams and the outcomes will be the subject of a another more detailed Information Article.

Editors Note: The Cherokee petrol 4x2 is worth a look for towinglighter caravans and trailers. It runs a 3.7 litre petrol V6 and develops 314Nm at 4000rpm, costs about $30,000 on the road and is rated to haul 2270kg on a ball weight of 227kg.

There is also a 2.8 turbo diesel option. This is smaller than the 3 litre diesel 550Nm 1800 to 2800rpm option in the Grand Cherokee but still develops a healthy 460Nm between 1600 and 2600rpm in a design which reflects Jeeps rugged outdoors traditions.

Diesel engines always cost more to build but fully optioned, with sunroof, at $45,000 the Cherokee interests GoSee as another value unit.

Specifications Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 3 litre V6 Turbo diesel.

Displacement 2,987.

Power 177kW at 4000rpm.

Torque 550 at 1800 to 2800rpm.

Compression ratio 16.5:1.

Service interval 10,000km.

Fuel Cycle - (Urban, Extra-Urban, Combined) = 10.3/7.2/8.3.

Transmission: auto 5-speed. Electronic range select, adaptive electronic control, Brake-Pack Interlock and electronically modulated torque converter.

4WD Quadra-Trac 11 NV245 active full time.

Turning diameter kerb to kerb 11.6.

Fuel tank capacity diesel 93.1 litres.

Kerb weight 3 litre turbo diesel 2,272 - 2,355kg.

Max Gross Vehicle Rating 2,949kg.

Trailer towing capacity 3litre V6turbo diesel up to 3500kg.

Tongue (towball) load limit 3litre V6 turbo diesel up to 350kg.

Chrysler requires a Weight Distribution Hitch (WDH) for towing loads which exceed 2268-2270kg.

Cargo volume with rear seats down 1554 litres. With seats up 782 litres.

Approach angle ( three settings) 26deg, 25deg, 30deg. Departure angle 24deg, 23 deg, 27 deg.

Breakover angle 19 deg, 18 deg, 23 deg.

Seats 5.

Battery 800amp maintenance free in 3litre V6 diesel.

Body uniframe: all steel sheet metal and structural members welded and bonded into a single unit.

The GoSee team is working on evaluating two new company Jayco Sterling Caravans they are:

Behind the Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo diesel 4x4 -21 ft Jayco Sterling with slide-outs.

Off the Jayco factory weighbridge (Tare - dry weight). 2387kg. Ball. 149 kg. These weights are being double checked with Jayco as they make the smaller caravan heavier than our 23 footer.

Loaded (full tanks and gas bottles) ATM 2640 kg. Ball down weight 272 kg.

Medium Duty Hayman Reese Weight Distribution kit is fitted plus the latest proactive Anti-Sway cams from the Hayman Reese engineers.

Behind the GoSee Toyota Sahara Turbo Diesel 100 series -

23 ft Jayco Sterling with slide-outs.

Off factory weighbridge. (Tare - dry weight) 2374 kg. Ball down weight. 167 kg.

Loaded (full tanks and gas bottles) ATM 2700 kg. Ball down weight 302 kg.

All up weight (tow tug and caravan on road with two people and their gear inside the tug) 6160 kg.

Towing aids: New Heavy Duty Hayman Reese Weight Distribution (WDH) kit is fitted plus the latest proactive Anti-Sway cams from the Hayman Reese engineers.

Editors Note: GoSee is working up the numbers on a direct comparison betweenour six-year-old Toyota Sahara TD 100 Series and the Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4x4 turbo diesel. This Information Article will be posted to the Home Page this month as part of the Jeep, Toyota, Jayco Sterling caravan evaluation series. As tow tug cost is the obvious first point of difference GoSee will report on the nearest Toyota 200 Series model to the Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4x4 we are using.

Hayman Reese towing safety aid kits now being evaluated by GoSee:

Heavy Duty 800 lb suited for 275 365 kg ball weight. On Jayco Sterling 23 with Toyota Sahara 100 Series Turbo Diesel 4WD auto tow tug.
Medium Duty 600lb suited for 135 275 kg ball weight. Grand Cherokee Laredo 4x4 auto diesel tow tug. On Jayco Sterling 21 footer. Both Jayco Sterlings have slide-outs.
Medium Duty WDH (up to 275 kg ball weight). On Jayco Westport with Holden Colorado auto LT-R VCDi 3 litre 4x4 diesel daul-cab.
Plus two sets of proactive Hayman Reese Dual Cam Sway Controls. Jayco Sterling 23 and 21 footers.
Plus safety chain extender brackets on Jayco Sterling 23.

The GoSee Toyota Sahara 100 series TD and Colorado LT-R are fitted with DPChip to enhance their towing efficiency.

Previous GoSee tow tugs which benefitted from being fitted with DPChip were a GoSee Holden 4WD 3litre Turbo Diesel LX manual Rodeo twin-cab ute and the GoSee Holden Captiva LX 2 litre auto diesel SUV. The DPChip is available for all EFI diesel 4wd's and independently alters both fuel and fuel timing to optimise the entire engine map.
More efficient use of the fuel system and correct fuel timing are important factors not only for achieving the best economy but to control peak exhaust gas temperatures for optimum engine durability.

The rig is well balanced with HR gear and anti-sway towing aids
The rig is well balanced with HR gear and anti-sway towing aids