Jeep Grand Cherokee review
The Jeep Grand Cherokee offers immense off-road capability, powerful engines and keen pricing compared with rivals
The Jeep Grand Cherokee has been in production for 21 years, while the current fourth-generation model was introduced in 2010. With an update in 2014, the range now comprises new looks and a revised diesel engine, which emits less CO2 than ever before.
The Grand Cherokee features plenty of hi-tech mechanical equipment, with four-wheel drive and low range gearbox standard across the range, while higher-spec models also get air suspension.
It has an incredibly generous standard kit list, with prices undercutting premium rivals such as the Volkswagen Touareg, BMW X5 and Range Rover Sport. The current range consists of Laredo, Limited, Limited+, Overland, Summit and performance SRT8 models.
Our choice: Grand Cherokee 3.0 CRD V6 Overland
Engines, performance and drive
There are three engines in the range: two diesels and one petrol. Things start off with the lower-powered 188bhp diesel, which is only available in the base Laredo model, and will go from 0-62mph in 10.2 seconds.
The most popular engine, however, is the 247bhp version. This model can sprint from 0-62mph sprint in just 8.2 seconds, with an all-new eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox that has replaced the five-speed automatic. Changes are quick and smooth, and this has helped improve the car’s impact on the environment, with better economy and lower emissions than before.
The steering is reasonably light for such a large car, and there’s a surprisingly tight turning circle, although the steering itself is devoid of feedback. Air-suspension is standard on Summit models, and while it’s reasonably comfortable at cruising speeds, there’s still some significant body roll in bends, while the low-speed ride is a little on the fidgety side.
Opt for the Limited model or below, which come with standard steel spring suspension, and bumps and potholes are more pronounced.
Where it excels is off-road, where the commanding driving position, high ground clearance and air-suspension make it adept at tackling the toughest terrain. All models get a Selec-Terrain control system, which is similar to the Range Rover’s Terrain Response system and allows you to opt for sand, mud, auto, rock and snow mode depending on the environment you’re driving in.
It's much more comfortable than its predecessor on road too, even on those enormous alloy wheels. The SRT version gets a 461bhp 6.4-litre V8 and can accelerate from 0-62mph in five seconds. Off-road ability comes second to handling in this variant and comfort is also sacrificed.
Thankfully, there are plenty of driving aids to help you get this 2,300kg 4x4 moving. Front and rear parking sensors and a reversing camera are standard, while adaptive cruise control helps keep your distance to the car in front with little input
MPG, CO2 and running costs
Things have definitely improved over the previous generation, but the Grand Cherokee is still unlikely to win any awards for helping the environment. The big V6 combined with the new eight-speed automatic gearbox means things have been improved, however. Economy is up from 34mpg to 38mpg, while emissions have dipped from 218g/km to 198g/km - meaning annual road tax is now £475 rather than £620.
Despite these changes, it’s still a little off the BMW X5 and Volkswagen Touareg. Those are very competitive figures for a car of this type, but all other ancillaries, like tyres, servicing and filters, will be expensive. This is not a cheap car to run. That's particularly true if you go for the SRT model, which will cost more than £1,000 in road tax for the first year and only manages 20.1mpg.
Interior, design and technology
The first thing that strikes you about the Jeep Grand Cherokee is its sheer size. It’s longer, taller and wider than many of its rivals, and the chunky styling does nothing to make it look any less imposing. The facelift for 2014 has added sharp-looking LED running lights that are similar to those seen on the Audi Q7, although Jeep’s trademark seven-bar grille is a distinctive styling touch that sits well with the Grand Cherokee’s chunky lines.
The rear also gets a mild makeover with tightened rear lights and more subtle finish. Top-spec Overland and Summit models come with huge 20-inch chrome alloy wheels as standard.
Climb inside, and the Jeep has a functional layout that is pretty easy to get along with. There’s a touchscreen infotainment system that’s shared with other high-end models from the Fiat group. The dashboard gets a TFT display in front of the driver that features a speedometer which can have selectable information displayed within it.
The cabin also comes with well finished silver trim and plush leather seats, while further down the centre console there’s a set of buttons and a rotary dial to adjust the suspension according to the terrain.
Practicality, comfort and boot space
Jeep quotes a 782-litre boot capacity for the Grand Cherokee, but this is to the roof, and space inside is surprisingly poor considering the car’s huge dimensions. The extending load cover is mounted quite low – the other two cars have covers that are level with the window line – so it doesn’t make the most of the possible space on offer.
Convenient extras include lowered access mode suspension. There’s a powered tailgate, too, although the button to close it is located in the boot, so you have to get
out of the way before it starts to shut.
The Jeep’s seat folding mechanisms are quite stiff, too, and a maximum boot capacity of 1,554 litres with them folded is less than you get in some rivals. Back seat space is good, with room for three across the back. The chairs recline, albeit rather stiffly, while there are air vents and two USB sockets in the back, too.
Up front, storage could be better, because the door bins are small and the centre armrest cubby is taken up by a CD player. Worse still, the pedal box is rather cramped, with no left foot rest, while the foot-operated parking brake is uncomfortably close to your shin.
Reliability and Safety
This is the fourth-generation Grand Cherokee and it’s been on sale since 2010,
but it hasn’t been without its problems. There have been many issues with electrical glitches affecting the gearbox and infotainment system, although most of these will have been rectified under warranty. However, Jeep dealers don’t have the best reputation, which can be a frustrating part of ownership.
The Grand Cherokee has been tested by Euro NCAP, although it was only awarded four stars. Adult protection was reasonable, while kit such as adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitors and a forward collision monitor are all standard.