Grand Cherokee now comes, for the first time, with a two-wheel drive (2WD) option. It’s only available in a single variant – the entry-level petrol Laredo. The latter also comes with 4WD as do all of the higher-specced variants – Limited, Overland, Summit and SRT8.
Styling is less angular than other Jeeps and the big SUV has a neat and conservative look, characteristics that undoubtedly have attracted the new breed of Jeep buyers to it.
The higher-specced variants add progressively more chrome and get larger wheels (20-inch for those above Laredo which gets 18-inchers). The new Platinum Summit variant, added to the range earlier this year, gets even more chrome while the SRT8 is stands out with its black front grille and rear tail light surrounds.
High-intensity discharge (HID) bi-xenon headlamps and LED daytime running lights (DRL) are standard across the Grand Cherokee range.
Surprisingly for a vehicle of its size Grand Cherokee can only seat five occupants – many of its competitors can carry at least two more.
There’s a real quality look and feel throughout the interior with plenty of room for five full-size adults to spread out travel comfortably over long distances. There’s plenty of storage space for that type of journey, 782 litres with the rear seatbacks in place and 1554 litres with them folded.
The Laredo has climate-controlled air; a customisable electronic instrument array; leather trimmed steering wheel; cloth seats, with the fronts being power adjustable and heated; and auto-dimming interior mirror.
Grand Cherokee Limited adds leather trim; memory functions for the front seats; heating to all seats as well as the steering wheel; and a powered tailgate. Overland gets Nappa leather on the seats; wood and leather trim on the steering wheel; a body coloured lower facia with chromed inserts; and a dual panoramic sunroof.
Three engines are offered. Laredo, Limited and Overland all get the choice between a 3.6-litre Chrysler Pentastar V6 petrol and an Italian-made 3.0-litre V6 common-rail turbo-diesel. Summit is diesel-only while the high-performance SRT 8 is powered by a 6.4-litre V8 petrol. More about the latter as we area about to test a special model to be introduced to the range.
There’s plenty of power and torque from all three engine. The V6 petrol generates 210 kW and 347 Nm (at 4300 rpm); the diesel 177 kW and 550 Nm (at 2000 rpm); with the V8 topping the range with 344 kW and 624 Nm (at 4100 rpm).
An eight-speed ZF automatic transmission is used on all Grand Cherokee models, with a medium-duty unit in the Laredo 2WD and heavier duty ones in the 4WDs. Paddle shifters are fitted to all models.
All Grand Cherokee 4WD models use the Jeep Selec-Terrain system that provides the choice of five different driving programs (Auto; Sand; Snow; Mud; and Rock ) for specific conditions.
The Quadra-Lift air suspension system operates automatically to adjust to required ride height conditions. It can also be adjusted manually by the driver and provides five height settings for optimum ride performance.
Standard in all Grand Cherokee models are seven airbags including protection for the driver’s knees; ABS brakes with brake assist; electronic stability program with electronic rollover mitigation (ERM); traction control; active high-beam control; daytime running lights; dusk sensing headlights; reversing camera; hill-holder; and tyre pressure monitoring.
Overland, Summit and SRT models also get advanced safety features including adaptive cruise control; forward collision warning with crash mitigation; reversing camera; blind spot monitoring; cross traffic monitoring; automatic cruise control; automatic emergency braking; and hill ascent/descent control.
Grand Cherokee uses the Uconnect for its connectivity features. The 2WD Laredo operates through a 5.0-inch touchscreen, all others through an 8.4-inch touchscreen. Features vary according to the model but include DAB+ digital radio where available, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, satellite navigation, and voice recognition.
Although Jeep is now under Italian ownership, Grand Cherokee still shows its American heritage with a relatively soft ride which suits it ideally for the environment of the new breed of Jeep owners. Throughout the motorway sections of our test it cruised effortlessly with the combination of powerful engines and the smooth eight-speed auto transmission.
New buyers need to be aware that this is a big vehicle and needs to be treated as one, so a shopping centre carpark should be included in their test drive.
Our test vehicle was in the diesel Limited. We were able to give it some semi-serious off-road work during the recent East Coast Low weather event where it proved its versatility over sslippery and hilly terrain. The Quadra-Trac II 4WD systems provides selectable electronic traction and using the low range setting as well as hill ascent and hill descent we were able to plough through some greasy and rocky sections without mishap.
During our week-long test we averaged 9.2 litres per 100 kilometres compared to the listed 7.5 L/100 km.
Another plus for long-distance touring is that, with the exception of the SRT, all Grand Cherokee 4WD variants have a towing capacity of 3500 kg.
Jeep Grand Cherokee with its excellent on-road comfort and capable performance is aimed primarily at recent converts to the Jeep brand, and judging by its sales success there are plenty of them. Nevertheless it will also appeal to the rusted-on Jeep lovers who can confidently take it into what they see as its natural off-road habitat.
AT A GLANCE
Laredo 3.6-litre petrol 2WD five-door wagon: $47,000 (automatic)
Laredo 3.6-litre petrol AWD five-door wagon: $52,000 (automatic)
Limited 3.6-litre petrol AWD five-door wagon: $62,000 (automatic)
Overland 3.6-litre petrol AWD five-door wagon: $72,000 (automatic)
SRT8 6.4-litre petrol AWD five-door wagon: $90,000 (automatic)
Laredo 3.0-litre turbo-diesel AWD five-door wagon: $59,000 (automatic)
Limited 3.0-litre turbo-diesel AWD five-door wagon: $69,000 (automatic)
Overland 3.0-litre turbo-diesel AWD five-door wagon: $79,000 (automatic)
Summit 3.0-litre turbo-diesel AWD five-door wagon: $87,000 (automatic)
Note: These prices do not include dealer or government charges. Contact your local Jeep dealer for drive-away prices.
SPECIFICATIONS (Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 3.0-litre turbo-diesel AWD five-door wagon)
Capacity: 2.987 litres
Maximum Power: 177 kW @ 4000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 550 Nm @ 1800 rpm
Fuel Type: Diesel
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.5 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 218 g/km
DIMENSIONS, WEIGHT AND CAPACITIES:
Length: 4822 mm
Wheelbase: 2915 mm
Width: 1943 mm
Height: 1781 mm
Turning Circle: 11.6 metres
Kerb Mass: 2191 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 94 litres
Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc
Three years / 100,000 km