On or off-road the diesel is great and interior is refined
When you slide behind a steering wheel with that familiar Jeep badge in the centre, you know you’re in a vehicle that is tough.
With the latest Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo, another attribute you can add is a fair degree of luxury.
Car Showroom tested the Grand Cherokee Laredo powered by the 3.0-litre V6 common rail turbocharged diesel engine that is sourced from Mercedes-Benz.
What You Get
At 4750mm in length, this is a largish mid-size, five-seat SUV with American style – particularly inside. Jeep freshened the exterior styling as part of the latest facelift and the new grille/front fascia and new 17” alloy wheels are significant enhancements.
It’s a permanent all-wheel-drive via Jeep’s Quadra-Trac II? active system.
Jeep upgraded the Grand Cherokee’s interior as part of the facelift and this is evident in the new dashboard with aluminium style feature panels and a new tilt/telescopic steering wheel with switches for the vehicle information system. We like the tyre pressure monitoring system – every SUV should have one.
There is also a new center console and we particularly like the slide-out center cupholders for rear seat passengers.
Seats have a stylish cloth trim and the drivers’ seat has eight-way power adjustment with lumbar support.
There is dual-zone climate control air-conditioning and a six-speaker radio/CD with U-connect and an auxiliary jack.
With the rear seat (60:40 split) in place, the cargo capacity is 978 litres or 1909 litres with the seat folded.
A clever idea is the reversible floor panel in the load area – carpet on one side and washable plastic on the other.
Exterior & Styling
With its relatively long bonnet profile and meaty 17-inch alloy wheels, the Grand Cherokee presents a commanding look, softened a tad by the new headlights and fascia. You know this vehicle has been designed for serious off-road work as the entire lower part of the front fascia can easily be removed for heavy-duty dirt track action.
Jeep’s 7-slot grille is traditional and has been lengthened as part of the styling upgrade.
As you would expect from a company with Jeep’s SUV experience, thoughtful features abound:
? The wheel arches and lower body have been shaped to prevent stone damage when off-road ? Laredo models have black bodyside and beltline mouldings to further protect the paint from off-road incidents ? At the rear, a black moulding on top of the rear bumper protects against damage from loading/unloading the cargo area.
Rear styling is a further refinement of the Cherokee’s distinctive appearance – this American-styled Jeep stands-out from the pack of Japanese and Korean mid-size SUVs. We think it’s a good-looker.
On The Road
The Grand Cherokee drives all four wheels via a five-speed automatic transmission with sequential manual changes if required.
We tested the CRD V6 common-rail turbo-diesel and it’s one of the best diesels you’ll find with 160kW and 510Nm – very impressive for a V6. Zero to 100km/h takes nine seconds and Jeep says the combined cycle fuel economy is 10.2l/100kms.
The standard 4WD system is Jeep’s Quadra-Trac II? with a two-speed active transfer case and Brake Traction Control System (BTCS). Torque is transferred to individual wheels as needed by the BTCS which modulates brake pressure to a slipping wheel and directs torque to the wheels with the best traction.
If you’re into serious off-road work, Jeep offers an optional Quadra Drive II? System ($2,100) which includes heavy-duty tyres and skid plates.
For off-road enthusiasts, the Grand Cherokee has an approach angle of 23.3 degrees, a breakover angle of 20.6 degrees and a departure angle of 27.1 degrees. The water-fording depth is 508mm.
For those who tow, the Grand Cherokee offers Trailer Sway Control as standard to improve trailer stability. Sensors monitor the vehicle’s movement and if the yaw sensors recognize sway, brake pressure is applied to the front wheels and then alternated from side to side - while reducing engine torque - until the sway in under control.
The Grand Cherokee’s towing capacity is 3.5 tonnes.
Hill Descent Control, Hill Start Assist and ESP (Electronic Stability Program) are standard.
Despite all this technology, first-time SUV buyers will not feel intimidated as the Grand Cherokee is easy to drive, easy to park in tight city locations and delivers a smooth, refined ride.
Handling is slick – the independent front suspension and five-link rear end work well on paved roads and on the loose stuff as well.
Visibility is good – the grab handles mounted on the A-pillars are a very stylish execution and even though the pillars are thick, the view is not restricted.
Just one niggle: some of the Car Showroom team found the rear seat is a tad short in under-thigh support.
There are some brilliant vehicles in the Jeep-Chrysler-Dodge lineup and the Grand Cherokee is one of them. It’s definitely one of our favourite mid-size SUVs.
In a segment jam-packed with Japanese and Korean vehicles, we like the ‘American-ness’ of the Grand Cherokee – it’s styling, interior feel and refinement.
The Grand Cherokee Laredo has a recommended retail price of $60,690 – and that buys you a lot of SUV.
Toyota’s Prado’s reputation is not a fluke and the GXL diesel (a four cylinder) is priced at $59,401.
Nissan’s Pathfinder is also worth a look (again the diesel is a four cylinder) and the ST-L version carries a sticker of $62,990. Nissan’s automatic transmission is a four-speed.
Smaller in size, the Kia Sorrento and Hyundai Santa Fe while considerably cheaper, only have four cylinder diesels certainly don’t have the off-road capability (or towing capacity) of the Grand Cherokee.
Performance; styling; toughness; ability
Rear seat support