£48,880 - £49,880 Price range
Reviews of the Jeep Grand Cherokee aren’t great. The experts all agree that it’s a gigantic improvement over the last model, but many say it still isn’t as good as rivals like the BMW X5 and Volkswagen Touareg.
This Jeep remains excellent off-road, however, and the on-road handling and ride is vastly improved over its predecessor. Cabin quality has taken a step up too, even if it can’t quite match the class leaders yet.
The physical bulk of the Grand Cherokee pays dividends on the inside, where rear legroom has increased by 100mm over the previous model, and the boot has increased in size to an acceptable 457-litres. There’s plenty of room in the front as well, the driving position is comfortable, and the dashboard is stylishly laid out.
On closer inspection however, the shiny bits are in fact cheap plastic, and the ergonomics are nowhere near as well thought out as they are in German rivals. Despite improvements brought about in the 2013 facelift, which did address these gripes to some degree, the Jeep still lags behind.
It’s no Porsche Cayenne, but the taut Grand Cherokee acquits itself well amongst the competition. It’s quiet enough at a sustained cruise, even on the larger 20-inch wheels that are available as an option.
There’s surprisingly good levels of grip, it handles the bends adequately well considering it’s so softly sprung, and the ride is excellent, even more so with the optional air-suspension.
Jeep offers two variants of the 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel in the Grand Cherokee – one producing 191hp, the other 250hp. Most testers recommend the more powerful version, as it is more capable of hauling around the Jeep’s 2272kg bulk. Those with a little more humour (and deep pockets) can opt for the SRT model, which squeezes a hugely powerful V8 under the hood.
In 2013, the Cherokee range recieved a new eight-speed automatic gearbox, which not only is a vast improvement over the old five speed unit, but also suits the character of the engines better.
The torquey 3.0 ‘Common Rail’ V6 diesel is likely to be the most popular engine choice for Grand Cherokee buyers. It produces 237bhp and 406lb ft of torque, which propels it to 60 in 7.9 seconds, a figure blunted somewhat by the ancient yet adequate five-speed automatic gearbox.
In standard trim, the Cherokee rides slightly lower than you might expect for such a ‘rugged‘ car, meaning it could potentially ‘bottom out’ over harsh terrain. This can only be solved by spending an extra £7200 on the ‘Overland‘ specification, which comes which height adjustable air suspension. The ride is otherwise excellent, while it takes corners with significantly more composure than its predecessor.
Many of the big SUVs receive the full five-star rating from Euro NCAP these days, but the Cherokee, disappointingly, falls short. A four-star rating isn’t horrific, but it really should do better. Crash investigators marked it down due to compromised pedestrian safety, the lack of speed-limitation devices and a broken driver’s seat mounting (this has since been fixed).
There are a reasonable number of airbags shared among the passengers, and the likes of blind spot warning systems are welcome, but the more advanced safety tech found in its rivals are notable only by their absence.
Considering it’s size, the Grand Cherokee is surprisingly good value. You get plenty of kit as standard, such as leather seats (all be it of fairly poor quality), a fantastic stereo, electrically-adjustable everything, a hard drive to play music from, and a reverse parking camera.
Resale values are poor, so factor how long you plan to keep the car into your decision. the much-recommended air-suspension is available as an optional extra, as is sat-nav. However, critics think the optional system is awful, best avoid it and buy a TomTom. If you plan to go ‘off-road’ avoid the SRT model, even the slightest of incline will rip that chin-spoiler right off…
For the first time, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is a viable, full size 4×4. In the face of stiff competition, though, it doesn’t quite measure up. Almost Jeep, almost…
The 3.0-litre diesel engine will be expensive to run, despite being fairly quiet and refined. All versions get plenty of equipment as standard, the Overland specification is worth going for as it has air-suspension, which improves the ride comfort.