Even rival brands have been watching the Jeep Grand Cherokee closely since the current generation model arrived…watching as the big American captured increasing sales. Now Jeep has raised the bar again with the new Jeep Grand Cherokee arriving with better looks, a standard eight-speed automatic transmission and a ground-breaking entry-level 2WD model.
That’s bad news for rivals – Toyota’s Prado only offers a five-speed auto – and the news gets worse when you factor-in prices. In fact, as much as the Grand Cherokee has to offer, it’s value-for-money where it is winning the hearts of Australian SUV buyers.
Lots of space, a choice of petrol or diesel engines, refined on-road and ‘Jeep-like’ off-road…you get a lot of car for your coin in the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Overview
That Jeep Grand Cherokee value-for-money strength is admirably illustrated by the high-performance range-topping SRT model which, with 334kW/624Nm from it’s 6.4-litre Hemi V8, plus abundant technology and luxury looms as a credible rival for the $179,400 Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG (386kW/700Nm) or the $183,700 BMW X5M (408kW/680Nm). The Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT runs variable Bilstein dampers and an eight-speed automatic transmission to a six-speeder for the BMW X5M or a seven-speeder for the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG but is stickered at only $77,000.
And Jeep has recognised the shift in tastes in the large SUV market by introducing a new entry-level two-wheel Laredo model priced at $43,000.
The full lineup is:
Laredo 4x2 3.6l V6 petrol $43,000
Laredo 4x4 3.6l V6 petrol $46,000
Laredo 4x4 3.0l V6 diesel $51,000
Limited 3.6l V6 petrol $56,000
Limited 3.0l V6 diesel $61,000
Limited 5.7l V8 petrol $61,000
Overland 3.6l V6 petrol $66,000
Overland 3.0l V6 diesel $71,000
Overland 5.7l V8 petrol $71,000
SRT 6.4l V8 petrol $77,000
Jeep Grand Cherokee Engine
Jeeps four engines carry-over – the 210kW/347Nm 3.6-litre V6 petrol, 259kw/520Nm 5.7-litre V8 petrol, 344kw/624Nm 6.4-litre V8 for the SRT and the 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel which boasts output boosted to 184kW/570Nm (from 177kW/550Nm).
All petrol engines are compliant with Euro6 emissions standards and the turbo-diesel (which comes from VM Motori in Italy) is Euro5+.
But the big news for the new Jeep Grand Cherokee is the standard ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. As well as standing out from similarly priced rivals, the eight-speeder means the Jeep Grand Cherokee actually beats many high-priced rivals in offering the refinement and enhanced fuel consumption of the eight-speed transmission.
Towing capacities are 2812kgs (V6 petrol), 3500kgs (V6 diesel or 5.7-litre V8 petrol) or 2949kgs (SRT)
Jeep Grand Cherokee The Interior
There’s a distinct shift up-market inside the new Jeep Grand Cherokee. Materials have been improved, ergonomics are better and it’s very contemporary.
First-up there is a new three-spoke, leather-wrapped steering wheel (sporty flat-bottom for the SRT, a real wood insert for Overland) and to the left is a new centre console with a leather-wrapped electronic gear shifter for the eight-speed auto. Also new is the centre stack with a Uconnect 5.0-inch (Laredo 4x2) or 8.4-inch touch-screen which offers up to 100 different customisable views.
Laredo models run a black cloth interior off-set by ‘Black walnut’ or ‘Frost Beige’ inserts.
Steeping up to the Limited model brings Black Capri leather again with a selection of insert colours.
The Overland model we drove introduces Black Nappa leather and Black Zebrano timber inserts.
Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT goes further with Black Nappa leather with perforated suede and grey accent stitching or new Laguna leather with perforated suede in Sepia with sliver accent stitching. The range-topper also scores carbon fibre trim for the dashboard and door panels.
Of course the Jeep Grand Cherokee offers plenty of space front and rear and cargo capacity is likewise impressive – 782-litres with the rear seat in-place or 1554-litres when folded.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Exterior & Styling
In developing the fresh new looks of the Grand Cherokee, Jeep’s plan – like the interior – was to shift up-scale. A more premium look but with the hallmark Jeep styling cues.
So while the legendary seven-slot grille is shorter than the previous version, the characteristic trapezoidal wheel arches are unchanged.
At the front, changes are marked. Most noticeable are the good-looking new slimmer lights – standard HID bi-xenon lights to be precise with LED DRLs which give an impressive illumination (SRT gains adaptive HID bi-xenons with LED lighting).
As well there are new fog lights and a new fascia.
For the rear, Jeep’s designers delivered a re-sculptured tailgate with larger glass, different fascias according to model grades, new bumpers, a larger rear spoiler for enhanced aerodynamics and larger LED tail-lights.
Limited and Overland models score dual exhaust tips.
There’s also new-design alloy wheels - 18-inch for Laredo, 20-inch for Limited and Overland (Mineral Grey highlights for the latter and more aggressive style 20-inch for the SRT).
Speaking of the SRT, it gets the full-on muscle look with a black grille and surround, a similar black treatment at the rear and a unique spoiler design.
Jeep Grand Cherokee On The Road
CarShowroom got behind the wheel of a Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland with the 5.7-litre V8 powerplant. At $71,000 it is one grade down form the high-performance SRT model and boasts handy technical inclusions for the drivetrain, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, enhanced exterior looks including handsome 20-inch alloy wheels, the massive dual-pane panoramic sunroof, interior leather, Alpine audio system with the 8.4-inch satellite navigation screen and the wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel.
All of that makes the Toyota Prado ($77,490 for the VX or $90,990 for the Kakadu) look a tad pricey.
On-road the Jeep Grand Cherokee impressed with its astounding refinement – Jeep has the 259kW/520Nm 5.7-litre V8 nicely matched and cruising at highway speeds was commendably quiet. When we tackled the twisty stuff again the Grand Cherokee was hard to fault with nice response when shifting gears manually and real poise and balance when turning-in.
For this performance we can in part thank a relatively complex multi-link rear suspension system which Jeep fits to the Grand Cherokee. With twin-tube shock absorbers (including load-levelling for towing) and an aluminium lower control arm, its sophistication matches the best European designs and again reinforces the value-for-money package of the Grand Cherokee.
Jeep also fits a state-of-the-art electronic stability control system which includes yaw rate and acceleration sensors and electronic roll mitigation.
And despite its size, the Jeep Grand Cherokee surprises with its manoeuvrability – the relatively small 11.6-metre turning circle and reversing camera make parking a snack.
So, for driving dynamics, it must be said the new Jeep Grand Cherokee matches even the highly-praised European rivals and of course backs that up with hallmark Jeep off-road agility.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Challenges
Good as our Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland was with its high-tech Quadra-Drive II 4WD system including an electronic differential and clutch pack, at the very limit in high-speed switch-backs and low-speed hairpins, Ford’s Territory is just a bit more nimble.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Verdict
We rated the previous Grand Cherokee highly – compared to the superseded model it displayed massive gains in dynamics, refinement and quality. And, with a steady diet of Asian and European vehicles in this segment, we liked the ‘American-ness’ of the Grand Cherokee (the different exterior looks and interior comfort).
Now Jeep has lifted its game to new heights with the new Grand Cherokee – highlighted by that eight-speed auto – a world-class SUV in terms of refinement and driving dynamics. Add to the equation Jeep’s legendary off-road prowess and the total package is certainly compelling.
Locally, the Fiat-Chrysler Group has again shown its intent with a standout value-for-money story for the new Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Jeep Grand Cherokee The Competition
Toyota Prado leads the sales race in this segment, despite its hefty starting price ($55,990 for the entry-level four-door). Prado’s 127kW/410Nm four-cylinder turbo-diesel is seriously outmuscled by the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s 184kW/570Nm V6 but things even-up in V6 petrol (202kW/381Nm for Toyota’s 4.0-litre to 210kW/347Nm for the Jeep). Jeep has the Grand Cherokee jam-packed with kit (for example the eight-speed automatic transmission to a five-speed for the Prado) so you need to carefully cross-reference inclusions across the various model grades to make a fair comparison.
The Territory is a vital car for Ford so the ‘Blue Oval Boys’ have the competent locally-made contender pin-sharp in the pricing department ranging from $39,990 to $62,740. Ford says the upcoming upgrade for the Territory remains on-track and for on-road dynamics it just edges the Jeep Grand Cherokee to be the best in this price range. However there’s no doubt the current Territory’s interior style isn’t a match for the latest Grand Cherokee.