Launched last year Jeep’s Grand Cherokee L (for long wheelbase) offers three rows of
seats for the first time.

It has been a long time coming for a car that has struck an emotional chord with
Aussies, but until now has been off limits to those with larger families. There’s just one
hitch and that is apart from one diesel Compass, all Jeeps now come with a petrol
engine in what has long been a diesel-dominated section of the market.

Jeep has hybrid and electric powertrains on the way, but the first of them won’t get here
until probably the end of the year which could be problematic for the iconic American
car maker.

At 5204mm in length, with a wheelbase of 3091mm and tipping the scales at 2270kg,
the Grand Cherokee L is a big sucker. Nowhere is this size more apparent than in its
long profile, but it’s a looker.

With more of an on-road focus, it comes in four flavours, starting with the Night Eagle
priced from $82,750 plus on-road costs. It’s followed by the Limited, from $88,750,
Overland, from $103,250 and top of the line Summit Reserve, from $119,450.

Premium paint adds $1750, a sunroof $2450 (Night Eagle), dual-pane sunroof and
head-up display $4250 (Limited), while head-up display, wireless phone charging, night
vision and front passenger interactive display are bundled at a cost of $5500 for the
Summit Reserve.

Our test vehicle, the Summit Reserve finished in standard bright white, came with all
the options, pushing it to $130K plus by the time it hits the road.

Standard kit across the range includes climate air, leather-trimmed, heated and power-
adjust front seats with electric lumbar adjustment, auto LED headlights and a height
adjustable power operated tailgate.

By the time you reach the Summit it has 21-inch polished alloys, four-zone air,
ventilated, 12-way adjustable front seats with memory and massage function that are
hand-wrapped in quilted leather, open-pore waxed walnut wood finishes and power-
folding second and third-row seats.

There’s also auto high beam, auto lights and wipers, power-adjust steering column, a
digital rear view mirror, front and rear parking sensors, parallel and perpendicular
parking, and adaptive cruise control with stop and go.

Grand Cherokee L is covered by a five-year, 100,000-kilometre warranty, along with
lifetime roadside assistance when serviced by Jeep.
Service is $399 a pop, with intervals spaced at 12,000km or 12 months.

Infotainment includes a slick 10.1-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, voice control, built-in
navigation, AM/FM and DAB+ digital radio, plus wireless Apple CarPlay and Android

Summit also includes a bespoke 950 watt, 19-speaker McIntosh audio system
specifically tuned to the vehicle’s layout.

Night vision projects a greyscale image of the darkened road ahead in the centre of the
instrument cluster and might be helpful in avoiding kangaroos and the like.

And here’s a first – an interactive, front passenger touchscreen is integrated into the
front of the glovebox. It allows the passenger to stream music wirelessly to the audio
system, view the GPS map and send destinations directly to the centre touchscreen.

The display features a special coating that allows only the front passenger to view it
while the vehicle is in motion.

The centre console bristles with media options including wireless charging, 4 x USB (2x
USB-A and 2 x USB-C), HDMI and Aux ports, together with a 12-volt outlet.

There are also 4 x USB charge ports for second and third rows and another 12-volt
outlet in the cargo area.

It doesn’t matter which grade you choose, they’re all powered by the same 3.6-litre
Pentastar petrol V6, with 210kW of power at 6400 rpm and 344Nm of torque on tap
from 4000 rpm.

The V6 is paired with an eight-speed conventional automatic, with drive to all four
wheels, steering wheel mounted gear change paddles and auto engine-stop-start to
help save fuel.

Grand Cherokee’s five-star safety rating expired in December.

Safety kit includes multiple airbags, a surround view camera and autonomous
emergency braking (with cyclist and pedestrian detection).

There’s also blind spot monitoring with rear cross-path detection, active lane
management, drowsy driver detection and traffic sign recognition.

The Australian SUV market is a diesel one and has been for a long time. As diesel is
being phased out, petrol-electric hybrids are becoming the default position for large
SUVs like this one.

But for some brands, Jeep included, the transition is not happening quickly enough and
it has been caught in the middle, forced to offer a big, thirsty petrol V6 rather than
withdraw from the marketplace.

Fuel consumption from the 87-litre tank is rated at 10.6L/100km. That’s on a good day
and therein lies the problem. Ouch.

In the Summit, drive is to all four wheels as required via a Quadra-Trac II Active 4×4
System with high and low range gearing, Selec-Terrain off-road modes and Quadra Lift
Air Suspension with semi-active damping.

Didn’t notice a ‘Trail-rated’ badge however.

Cylinder deactivation would have been handy and the V6 has certainly been
engineered to comply, but alas it is not offered.

Further, this particular engine has been around for more than a decade and features
sequential, multi-port fuel injection rather than more efficient direct injection. Having
said that, it goes okay, with plenty of punch, but it’s not what we’d describe as quick.

It’s more a case of having a look-see, then winding it up before deciding whether to

Maximum torque does not arrive until around the 4000-rpm mark and it shows in its
lack of response out of the gates.

Sport mode is offered and you can change gears manually using the paddle shifts, but
the paddles are small and difficult to reach for those with short fingers.

The air suspension automatically adapts to different terrain, as well as dropping the car
to allow easier entry and exit and sitting low on the freeway to optimise aerodynamics.
The converse applies off road where the system can raise the body to avoid obstacles.

At its highest setting it provides 276mm of ground clearance and a wading depth of

But to be honest we never really contemplated taking this particular model bush
bashing and frankly we’d be surprised if anyone does, not with easily damaged 21-inch
wheels and pricey Continental rubber – despite its 4×4 credentials.

Air suspension may be useful in rough terrain, but on anything but well-formed bitumen
we found the ride in the car harsh and unforgiving, transmitting the smallest
imperfections through the wheels to the cabin.

Grand Cherokee L is 127mm longer than the five-seat version and 175mm longer than
the model it replaces, with independent front and multi-link rear suspension.

Despite its size it has a rather low 2813kg tow rating.

The cabin exudes class with quilted leather and real wood inlays. But we’d be happier
with the standard black interior rather than the very American tobacco-coloured wood
and upholstery.
Both the second and third row of seats can be dropped at the push of a button and in
the case of the third-row pack flat when not required.

But you need to clear the floor in front of the second row to access the rear seats and
deploying the third row requires grappling with a rather cargo compartment cover
before you can do so (and finding somewhere to stow it).

A fully digitised instrument cluster offers a bewildering array of options, but you
shouldn’t have to go looking for distance to empty.

The McIntosh sound system is impressive, but the digital radio signal drops out a lot.
Other niggles include a jerky throttle, brakes that bite hard at the slightest provocation
and a lane assist system that intervenes and often brakes at inappropriate moments.

After more than 800km of easy, mainly country kilometres, we were getting
10.9L/100km, which is not far off the manufacturer’s claim. Around town however we’d
expect the figure to be in the mid 13s, depending on how you drive.

Although it has a sizeable tank, it doesn’t take long before the fuel gauge is begging for
more. Thankfully, in one small concession, it accepts standard 91 RON unleaded.

No thanks. It’s big and classy, and has more toys than an amusement park. But the
Grand Cherokee L uses too much fuel and the ride quality leaves a lot to be desired
once you leave the freeway.

Looks: 8/10
Performance: 7.5/10
Safety: 8/10
Thirst: 6/10
Practicality: 7/10
Comfort: 7/10
Tech: 8/10
Value: 6/10
Overall: 7.2/10


Night Eagle, $82,750
Limited, $88,750
Overland, $103,250
Summit Reserve, $119,450

Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your
local Jeep dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS: (Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve, 3.6L six-cylinder petrol
V6, eight-speed automatic, high and low range on demand 4×4)

Capacity: 3.6 litres
Configuration: Six-cylinder V6
Maximum Power: 210 kW @ 6400 rpm
Maximum Torque: 344 Nm @ 4000 rpm
Fuel Type: Unleaded petrol (91 RON)
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 10.6 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 243 g/km

DRIVELINE: Eight-speed automatic, high and low range on demand 4×4

Length: 5204 mm
Wheelbase: 3091 mm
Width: 2149 mm
Height: 1817 mm
Turning Circle: 11.58 metres
Kerb Mass: 2270 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 87 litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc

Five years / 100,000km

About Chris Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.
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