Jeep’s luxury large SUV, the Grand Cherokee, has been around since 1993. Now in its fourth generation it has grown bigger, taller, and more luxurious without losing its impressive reputation for off-road ability.
There’s quite a range of models and engines available so I won’t cover them in detail. The range starts with the RWD Laredo 4×2 at $64,990 with a 3.6l petrol engine and the Laredo 4×4 at $76,990 with a 3.0l V6 turbodiesel. Then there’s the Blackhawk at $81,990 with the same 3.0l diesel and 4wd. Next up is the Limited tested here with either the 3.0l turbodiesel or 5.7l V8 petrol for $89,990. Then the Trailhawk diesel at $94,990 followed by the Overland with the V8 or turbodiesel at $99,990. Finally there’s the SRT at $114,990 with a 344kW/624Nm 6.4l V8 which can push the 2200kg SUV to 100kph in the mid 4 seconds. The new even more mental SRT Trackhawk will also be coming to New Zealand.
Standard across the range are reversing camera with sensors front and rear, 7 airbags, Cruise control, tyre pressure monitoring, ESC, trailer sway control, capless fuel filler, dual zone climate, keyless entry and start, heated front seats, auto lights and wipers, auto high beam, hill hold, power front seats, bi-xenon headlights, LED DRLs and fog lamps, acoustic windscreen and front door glass, and many other features.
The Limited spec adds power boot lid, remote start, heated steering wheel and rear seats, auto dimming side mirrors, electric steering wheel adjustment, hill descent control, as well as various exterior changes and trim pieces.
There are thirteen colours available two reds, a blue, two browns, black, white and various greys. All pretty muted shades but they suit this big car well.
When I got the details through for our test car I saw that it was brown. I’ve been pretty vocal in the past in my dislike of brown cars so I was a bit concerned. When I saw the car in person it looked black at first glance, with a really nice deep metallic fleck, and the brown showing through where the light hit the paint. The look of the colour varied depending on the light and it looked great on the Grand Cherokee.
It’s certainly an imposing, handsome vehicle with that classic Jeep grille and big, chunky arches. The 20” wheels suit it perfectly and don’t look over-large as I thought they might.
There are two pretty serious, chunky metal tow hooks in each bumper which add to the serious off-road image.
This is a luxury SUV, and the interior certainly lives up to that. The materials all feel good quality, with nice feeling plastics, gold metal trims and chrome highlights. There’s a strip of black wood-effect trim running along the doors and across the dash which looks good, and can be optioned in different colours, even real wood. It all ties together really nicely. In the dark everything lights up in an ice blue colour, even the cup holders.
There’s a large 8.4” square central touch screen which runs Jeep’s UConnect system. This is used for the stereo and reversing camera as well as to control various functions of the car. More on this later. There are physical knobs for volume and track/radio search and the main functions of the dual zone climate control. The controls for the heated front seats and heated steering wheel are only available through the screen, but when the car is started they come up on the screen for a short while so you can activate them easily.
At the bottom of the centre console there’s a spring-loaded flap that flips up to reveal the USB, aux, SD card and charger slots as well as a deep fur-lined cubby that even fit my enormous phone. Unusually these days there’s a cigarette lighter included with the car and a small removable ashtray in the driver’s door bottle holder.
There’s a large storage cubby/armrest between the seats with a clever double lid incorporating a phone holder shelf. There’s a charger socket inside and Jeep have thoughtfully left holes to run a wire either to the phone holder or out of the cubby entirely without trapping them in the lid.
The wheel and shifter are both leather-clad and are great to touch, with a solid feel. There are paddle shifters behind the wheel, which are milled from solid metal, and polished, and they feel wonderful to touch. I kept stroking them as I was driving!
On the face of the wheel are buttons for the cruise control and for setting up and changing the dash functions. Unusually the stereo controls are on the back of the steering wheel spokes and can be operated with your fingers. It’s a bit unusual at first but soon becomes second-nature.
Other unconventional controls include a foot-operated parking brake where the clutch would be in a manual car, and a quite complicated stalk on the left of the wheel which controls wipers, rear wiper and indicators in one clever unit.
The dash display is pretty cool, most of it comprising a large central full-colour screen, which has great contrast and is really clear. To each side are half-circle gauges for rev counter on the left, fuel and temperature on the right. The central display is designed to make up the rest of each circle and it ties in very well. This has many functions including massive digital speedo, analogue speedo, compass, fuel usage, trip computer, satnav directions, media information, the list goes on. A small digital speedo and compass heading show across the top in all modes. This can all be customised as well.
Both front and rear seats are very comfortable, with good side support in front, and seat heaters front and rear. The front seats are electrically adjustable in eight directions plus four-way lumbar support, and there are two memories for the driver’s side. The steering wheel also adjusts electrically in four directions.
Open the electrically-operated tailgate and you’re faced with a huge space – over 1000 litres – with nice metal sliders in the boot floor. It looks great and has hooks at the sides, tie-down loops and storage cubbies. There’s a rechargeable LED torch set into the side. The close button is on the left wall of the boot rather than the tailgate which is great if you’re not that tall. The rear seats are 60/40 split and fold completely flat. The mechanism is really neat – pull a handle and the base slides forward, headrests fold down and the seat drops flat. The space you’re left with is vast – nearly 2000 litres, and it’s long. Long enough for me to lie down in the space with room to spare – I tried it! Who needs a campervan?
You might think that the size of the Grand Cherokee would make it tricky to drive, and it does feel pretty big when you’re behind the wheel, but not as big as I expected. It’s surprisingly easy to manoeuvre and park. The reversing camera is very good quality and shows moving lines as well as a dotted vehicle centre line. Input from the front and rear parking sensors show on the dash display when needed.
After pairing my phone with the bluetooth, which was a quick and easy process, I set off down the road. The 3.0l V6 turbodiesel makes its 570Nm of torque from 2000RPM. From a standstill the Cherokee seems to take a fraction of a second to prepare itself then fairly launches its 2200kg forward. Gear shifts from its 8-speed transmission are really smooth, so much so that I hardly noticed them at all most of the time.
The suspension is smooth, very smooth indeed. I didn’t expect a big off-road capable SUV to be so comfortable. At low speeds over awkward driveway angles or lumps it can feel a bit jiggly, but on the road at any speed it just seems to float along. And this doesn’t translate to loads of body roll either. I expected that, but on twisty roads the Cherokee handles really well, with flat cornering and a decent amount of steering feel. It really doesn’t feel anything like I expected, in a good way.
Another thing I didn’t expect was how quiet it is. Sure it’s a luxury car but with 20” wheels and 265 profile tyres you expect a bit of tyre roar. But no, there was hardly any. The same with wind and engine noise. It’s positively peaceful inside the Grand Cherokee.
This enables you to fully appreciate the 9 speaker Alpine sound system (with subwoofer and 506 watt amp). It really does sound excellent, and even at full volume there’s no distortion. Not that I could stand it that loud for more than a few seconds!
Lighting is also excellent. The Cherokee has bi-xenon headlights with auto high beam, and it works perfectly with excellent light output. The side LED puddle lights are also super bright and are really useful at night.
My original plan was to take the Grand Cherokee off-road to see if it really is as good as they say. The idea of driving through mud and rivers in leather-clad luxury really appealed to me. But instead we decided to take it up to the snow, as growing up in Wellington, my daughter hadn’t seen snow before. Just a 650km day trip!
We really couldn’t have chosen a better car. The Grand Cherokee performed beautifully. On the open road that torque is fantastic, making the drive effortless. Much of the trip was done with the cruise control on, set to 100. There were several times when I wished we had the next model up with the radar cruise. The Overland is $10k more but all the extra safety tech is there – lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, radar cruise, blind spot warning. These really should be added to the lesser models I think.
The Cherokee handled almost every corner on the main highways at 100 with no hint of any drama, or complaints from my family who sometimes get car sick. I did put it into Sport mode for a while which made a noticeable difference to handling and steering, but a little voice from the back seat started to complain about feeling a bit funny. So back into the normal comfort mode it went.
In the end we didn’t get to drive in any snow, or anything more off-road than a gravel car park, but we did get to have a snowball fight and my daughter filled her gumboots with ice. When we got back to the car I started it up to warm the cabin and as it was 3 degrees outside it automatically turned on the heated wheel and driver’s seat. Nice!
If we had been off-road there would have been a chance to play with the various settings for mud, snow, rock etc, the low ratio gears, and the cool off-road app selectable from the main screen which gives all sorts of extra information like altitude, steering angle, drive information, even transmission temperature.
We started the trip with the average fuel consumption reading 12.9l/100km, because I’d done 100km of shorter trips and cold starts. Adding the 650km run to the mountain brought it down to 7.8 – pretty close to the stated combined figure of 7.5l/100km.
There are a lot of SUVs in this price bracket so for comparison I’ve just gone for diesels.
|Brand / Model||Engine||Power||Fuel L/100km||0-100km/h||Price Highest to Lowest|
|BMW X5 xDrive30d||3.0l 6 cylinder turbodiesel||190kW/560Nm||6.2||6.9s||$132,350|
|Audi Q7 YTDi||30.l V6 turbodiesel||160kW/500Nm||6.2||7.3s||$113,900|
|Infiniti QX70||3.0l V6 Turbodiesel||175kW/550Nm||9.0||N/A$||$99,990|
|Volvo XC90||2.0l 4 cylinder turbodiesel||173kW/480Nm||5.7||7.8s||$97,900|
|Jaguar F-Pace Prestige||2.0l 4 cylinder turbodiesel||132kW/430Nm||5.3||8.7s||$95,000|
|VW Touareg||3.0l V6 turbodiesel||150kW/450Nm||7.4||9.0s||$89,990|
|Mercedes Benz GLC||2.2l 4 cylinder turbodiesel||125kW/400Nm||5.4||8.3s||$89,990|
|Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited||3.0l V6 turbodiesel||184kW/570Nm||7.5||8.2s||$89,990|
|Landrover Discovery Sport HSE||2.0l 4 cylinder turbodiesel||132kW/430Nm||6.1||8.9s||$89,500|
|Toyota Landcruiser Prado||2.8l 4 cylinder turbodiesel||130kW/450Nm||8.0||N/A||$88,490|
|Ford Everest Titanium||3.2l 5 cylinder turbodiesel||143kW/470Nm||8.5||N/A||$87,990|
|Hyundai Santa Fe Limited||2.2l 4 cylinder turbodiesel||147kW/440Nm||7.7||N/A||$82,990|
The pros and cons
What we think
The Grand Cherokee does exactly what Jeep claim, and it does it well. It’s comfortable, quiet, well-equipped, and a thoroughly comfortable grand tourer. It’s also big and high, and good off-road. If I was buying one I’d have to find the extra $10k for the Overland spec though, radar cruise is a must. Plus you get a panoramic glass roof. I love those!
Rating – Chevron rating 4.5 out of 5
|Vehicle Type||Large 4WD SUV|
|Starting Price||$64,990 + on-road costs|
|Tested Price||$89,990 + on-road costs|
|Engine||3.0l V6 turbo diesel|
|Transmission||8 speed automatic|
|0 – 100 kph||8.2 seconds|
|Length x Width x Height||4828 x 1943 x 1802mm|
|Cargo Capacity||1028 Litres seats up|
1934 litres seats folded
|Fuel Tank||93 litres|
|Fuel Efficiency||Advertised Spec – Combined – 7.5L / 100km|
Real World Test – Combined – 7.8L / 100km
|Towing Capacity||750kg unbraked|
|ANCAP Safety Ratings||5 stars|
|Warranty||3 Year / 100,000km warranty|
3 Year / 100,000km roadside assistance