Jeep Grand Cherokee Review
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is a big SUV that’s better than previous Jeeps, but it still isn’t as complete a package as you can find in some of the alternatives.
What's not so good
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The Jeep Grand Cherokee is as big as Jeeps get, and the company’s biggest SUV is an alternative to models such as the Land Rover Discovery, Audi Q7 and BMW X5.
Compared to the more adventurous styling of the smaller Cherokee, the Grand Cherokee is rather more understated, although it’s still very much a Jeep. The classic seven-slot grille alone makes that clear.
It’s also a big car, but the sheer size of the Jeep Grand Cherokee pays dividends on the inside. There’s loads of room in the front, while the wide range of adjustment on the driver’s seat and steering wheel helps pretty much anyone find a decent driving position.
The central touchscreen and TFT display between the dials give the cabin a reasonably modern feel, but the overall level of class and quality inside isn’t up with what you’ll find in an alternative BMW or Audi – even if it is far better than Jeeps of old.
Likewise, there’s more room in the back of this Jeep Grand Cherokee than in any previous model, but it’s not the biggest car of its type. If the front-seat passengers push their seats back, a couple of six-footers in the back will struggle for space. And, unlike some of the alternatives, the Grand Cherokee is only a five-seater. You don’t have the option of adding a pair of optional seats in the boot to make it a seven-seater.
At least, the boot’s 457-litre capacity is pretty decent, although – as you might have guessed – not the best.
Where the Jeep is right at the top of its class, though, is off-road. If you want to get well off the beaten track, you’ll need to get something with a Land Rover badge to get any further away from civilisation.
On the road, the Jeep Grand Cherokee isn’t quite so near the best, but it’s not too bad. It’s quiet enough at a sustained cruise on the motorway and the soft suspension absorbs most lumps and bumps pretty well – especially on models with air suspension.
The Grand Cherokee may be as American as apple pie, but that’s the trouble. Over here in Europe, we have rather different tastes...
Around town, you’ll appreciate the light steering – which helps when you’re manoeuvring – but it’s frustrating that it needs a lot of turns when you’re in tight spots. To make matters worse, the steering is still disconcertingly light at higher speeds, and if you up the pace a bit, the body of the Grand Cherokee rolls around more than it would in something like a BMW X5.
Every version of the car comes with the same transmission – a 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel that drives the car through an eight-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive. And, once you’re past the slight sluggishness when pulling away, the car drives nice and easily. The gearbox works well with the diesel engine, moving smoothly from gear to gear and strong enough to get the Grand Cherokee shifting along at a fairly surprising speed, given how big and heavy it is.
Another surprise is what good value the Jeep Grand Cherokee is. For a start, it comes with plenty of equipment, such as leather seats, a fantastic stereo, electrically-adjustable everything, a hard drive to play music from, and a reverse parking camera. Despite all that, it looks relatively cheap compared to the most obvious alternatives, although it’s worth choosing a more expensive model with air suspension.
On the other hand, this big American car won’t hold on to its value as well as the European alternatives and its four-star Euro NCAP safety rating is disappointing when most other big SUVs get a full five stars these days.
Overall, that’s very much the story with the Grand Cherokee. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t quite measure up to the very best of the alternatives.