What is it?
In an era where most SUVs have gone soft, the Grand Cherokee offers a beacon of hope for those who want their vehicles with backbone. The big Jeep retains the off-road ability that has become a hallmark of the brand, but adds a lot more refinement. Credible as a luxury car, the latest American offering boasts the best on-road manners that we have seen from the company, even if that still falls short of what German rivals offer.
There are two versions of the Grand Cherokee, both with the same 3.0-litre diesel engine that puts out 237bhp and 405 lb ft of torque. The Limited version uses a standard steel suspension set-up, while the Overland model uses the Quadra-Lift sports air suspension and performance brakes. The difference between the two is quite significant as the air suspension makes the ride and handling of the Grand Cherokee infinitely better. Even with this set-up, the Grand Cherokee never feels as agile as a BMW X5 but it is comfortable. The standard car inspires less confidence, pitching and rolling more through corners. What’s more, one has recently almost fallen over during testing for the infamous ‘Elk Test’...
The 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine is good. The 0–62mph sprint takes 8.2 seconds, making it quicker than the special-order 6.4-litre V8 petrol model. Top speed is 126mph and the Grand Cherokee is really at is best driving around town with its commanding driving position – or on the motorway, where, despite its bulk, ample torque and low noise levels make it an excellent cruiser.
On the inside
The interior of the Grand Cherokee doesn’t quite have the feel of a BMW or Audi cabin but it is well screwed together and when you consider that even the top spec model is thousands cheaper than its European equivalent it all looks like good value. Some of the plastics are quite flimsy, but there is more than enough wood and leather around to distract from this. A chunky steering wheel and powered tailgate give the Jeep an upmarket feel, while the Overland gets superior trim and seats.
Running costs are likely to be much better than before. The common-rail 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine offers decent fuel economy, with 34mpg on the combined cycle. Service intervals are 12 months or 12,500 miles, which should help keep costs down too. Remember that depreciation has traditionally been quite hard on this model, but residuals are likely to firm up with this new one as Jeep’s image is improving. The warranty is three years or 60,000 miles, which is average for the class.