2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Coming as no surprise, Jeep’s Grand Cherokee SUV is reportedly next in line to receive the smooth shifting--and fuel saving--ZF eight-speed automatic transmission filtering its way across Chrysler’s lineup.

Already finding a home in the Chrysler 300, as well as some Audi and BMW models, the ZF unit has been confirmed for the Dodge Charger and could be fitted to everything from the Jeep Grand Cherokee to Ram pickups.

Sources at Jeep have confirmed that the Grand Cherokee will receive it, but have also revealed that a more advanced nine-speed unit is also under investigation.

“Our approach to lowering CO2 is a deployment of lots of different technologies,” Jeep CEO Mike Manley recently revealed to Autocar. “Hybrids, improved aerodynamics, more diesels, eight-speed gearboxes and nine-speed gearboxes for front-wheel drive cars will all help us improve economy and CO2.”

Jeep’s European chief Joe Veltri has also revealed that the eight-speed unit is good for the Grand Cherokee’s entire lineup of V-6 and V-8 models, which means the high-performance Grand Cherokee SRT8 may also drop its five-speed auto in favor the new eight-speed unit.

When fitted to V-6 powered Chrysler 300s, the eight-speeder results in a four mpg increase that pushes highway fuel economy to an EPA-rated 31 mpg--up from 27 mpg highway over the five-speed equipped model. Inner city driving also nets a five percent gas mileage gain in the 300, now coming in at 19 mpg.

Expect similar gains for the Jeep Grand Cherokee once it receives the new ‘box, and you can bet the Cherokee's Durango sibling as well as the planned Maserati SUV will get it too.