Jeep Grand Cherokee review
The Jeep Grand Cherokee mixes brash US styling with a powerful engine and lots of kit, but it's not cheap
Launched this year, the latest version of the enormous Jeep Grand Cherokee has given the big off-roader a newfound sense of sophistication. There are two engines to choose from: a 3.0-litre V6 diesel, and a high-performance V8 HEMI in the SRT. The Grand Cherokee features plenty of hi-tech mechanical equipment, with adjustable air-suspension and Quadra-Trac four-wheel drive standard on all models. Despite its enormous proportions, the Jeep has just five seats, but with an incredibly generous standard kit list, it undercuts premium rivals like the Land Rover Discovery and Volkswagen Toureg by a significant margin.
Our choice: Grand Cherokee 3.0 CRD V6 Overland
With its trademark chrome seven-bar grille, it's hard to miss the Grand Cherokee on the road. The imposing squared-off looks have unmistakable roots in the US, and the top-spec Overland version comes with huge 20-inch alloy wheels as standard. It's not the most sophisticated looking machine, but certainly has a strong on-road presence. The interior leaves a little to be desired though. Although the main surfaces - dashboard, steering wheel, door inserts - are all covered in leather, some of the plastics feel cheap, and can't match the luxuriousness of even a base-spec Range Rover. However the flagship Overland spec does make up for this with an extensive equipment list that includes a 30GB music drive, a heated steering wheel, sat-nav and a panoramic sunroof.
The Grand Cherokee is currently offered with just one engine, but there is also a high-performance SRT model too. Fortunately the standard 3.0-litre V6 diesel is a strong performer, with a healthy 237bhp and 549Nm of torque. That translates a benchmark 0-62mph sprint in just 7.9 seconds. There are drawbacks though, as this engine becomes strained and noisy at higher revs, and the five-speed automatic gearbox is slow to respond. 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. 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.
All Jeeps come with a three-year or 60,000 mile warranty, and the new version shares a lot of its mechanical underpinnings with the new Mercedes M-Class, so buyers should have little to fear in terms of breakdowns. There were some recalls on the previous generation, but the new Grand Cherokee is much improved, inside and out. Although Euro NCAP are yet to crash test it, the Jeep is likely to perform well – the old car managed a four-star rating.
As you'd expect, there's plenty of room in the back of the big Jeep. Filled to the roof, there's a massive 782-litres of luggage space, with a pair of extra storage bins on either side of the spare wheel beneath the boot floor. It comes fitted with a retractable tonneau cover as standard but, with this in place, the Jeep's boot can seem a bit shallow. Drop the back seats and that space rises to 1,554-litres – that's a little behind the Land Rover Discovery but still more than enough to meet most people's needs. Space in the back is also excellent, with reclining and ventilated rear seats on top-spec models. Parking can be an issue and there are occasions where the Jeep can feel a little unsuited to narrow UK roads.
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 diesel returns 34mpg combined, and emits 214g/km of CO2. 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 over £1000 in road tax for the first year and only manages 20.1mpg.