2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee, yippee!

Most SUV's don't go off road and aren't even built to go off-road, but the ones that can, sure are fun! Lot's of chrome on this 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland, so it looks good climbing trails. Rumors are that Chrysler is planning to stretch the Grand Cherokee in the future, and I hope they don't. The 04 Dodge Durango grew larger with the new model, but the Grand Cherokee is so nimble it would be a shame to lose a true off-road SUV to a longer version. Don't do it Dodge!

The Overland model is the top of the line Grand Cherokee with a 4.7L V-8 and the 5-speed automatic used with the Dodge Ram 1500 and above. Leather and moon roof are standard. The options were Trailer Tow Group 4, cross-bars on the roof rail, (this use to be standard, but most SUV manufactures now charge for it), block heater, AM/FM DVD, GPS navigation at $1200, power pedals and my favorite for only $150 was the Tire Pressure Monitoring Display. This option has a sensor transmitter in the valve stem that gave a readout on the overhead console screen on all four tires. This is great, I could tell what the air pressure was in each tire. The pressure would fluctuate 5 psi from morning till night. I checked screen display with my pro truck tire gauge and it was accurate. This would be nice on a truck and trailers, knowing when a tire was low before it got hot enough to blow.

The Grand Cherokee is a popular towing vehicle. Equipped properly it can surprise you. The Power Tech HO 4.7L V-8 standard in the Overland is rated at 260 horsepower and 330-lb.-ft of torque. The 5-speed 545RFE auto has 2 overdrives for increased gas mileage, but for towing you need to shut OD off as it shifts too often under load. The Overland 4x4 model comes with Quadra-Drive, combining Quadra-TracII and Vari-Lok axles. Very sophisticated and a climbing animal. This engine was very fast by itself, but pulling a 2 horse steel trailer over long 6% grades took the acceleration away. 2nd gear is a dual range but from 3rd to 4th, (the 1rst overdrive) was a big gap for towing power.

Short hills worked good and level ground pulling a trailer is off course ideal. Having a short wheelbase as a true SUV, rear coil springs and being a uni-body like a car and not a body-on-frame like a pickup truck, limits what size and weight of trailer you can safely tow. This Jeep had a 3.73 rear axle ratio and a maximum towing capacity of 6500#'s. This is maximum trailer weight, dead weight like hay or corn. Live weight as with a high center of gravity horse would be safer at a lower max trailer weight. The class 4 hitch receiver that comes with the trailer tow group, sticks out better that the older models. Good for attaching your draw bar without using your creeper.

The first year with GPS as an option, spoiled me. I could see a display of my elevation, longitude, latitude, maps of where I was, wanted to go or just what's ahead. On the baseline road south of Akron CO, I could see it was 40 degrees parallel just like on the maps at school. GPS can really be a time saver showing you the streets that are coming up just ahead or you can completely plot your course and just follow the arrows on the screen. When you don't follow the arrows, the computer tries to find another route to get to your destination and if you keep ignoring the arrows, the computer gives up and tells you to "turn a u-turn stupid".  Here I am trying to mess with a talking computer, it had no sense of humor. The GPS is better than video games for traveling entertainment. But you want to get it adjusted before your trip because it can be a dangerous distraction like a teenager driving and talking on a cell phone..

The press vehicles get tp go where I go, which was to the wheat field at harvest. I drove the combine, though 30 years old along with the truck at the Vorce farm south of Otis CO. Good thing farm equipment can last 3 decades since the crop prices haven't changed much in the same amount of time. The 2004 $41,000 SUV seemed a little out of place in the same field. You know wheat wouldn't pay for it.

The EPA mileage rating on this Grand Cherokee was 15 in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. My average fuel economy was a combined 16-18 mpg. Pulling a trailer brought it down to 15 mpg and I got all the way up to 20 mpg cruising 75+ mph on the interstate. I liked the rain sensitive windshield wipers. I wish the control buttons like lights, fog lights, cruise control etc. were lit. It takes more than a few days for me to remember where everything's at in the dark.

Unibody with two boxed full length tubes as sub-frames, one step above a car sub frame. This contributes to more ground noise and vibration but allows more ground clearance and a low step-in height. The Grand Cherokee has a boxed sheet metal imitation frame welded to the floor pan. Not as strong a truck body-on-frame but it allows a lower center of gravity, good on a true off-roader. I appreciate not climbing up to get in. The Grand Cherokee is very maneuverable off-road as well in a parking lot. Add that to the rugged good looks and you have part of the formula that makes them so popular.

Hitch receiver, Class IV part of the Trailer Tow Group is bolted to the boxed full length sub-frame.

Beautiful Midnight Blue Pearl Coat and chrome and chrome! The chrome grille, engine guard, tow hooks, wheels and door guards accentuated the paint for the classy look. I didn't want to get it dirty, but the trails just kept calling me.

Travalong Bandit 2-horse steel straight-load is a versatile trailer. One wide tailgate with a movable divider gives even a nervous horse an easy target.

Nice looking combination. The rig does turn tight too.

Doors on the nose of the Travalong access the saddle racks.

Maneuverable fun-mobile

A special thanks to Parker Trailers for the Titan at www.parkertrailers.com

Come by for a visit at www.MrTruck.com

Copyright 2003 H. Kent Sundling and MrTruck.net. All rights reserved including digital rights.

Till next time, Good Truck'n.
Kent Sundling (MrTruck)

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