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Car Review

Jeep Grand Cherokee review

£82,830
610
Published: 06 May 2024
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A plug-in hybrid drivetrain adds new flexibility and ability to Jeep’s renovated, go-anywhere-in-comfort SUV

Good stuff

Easy to get on with, frugal when charged up, thoughtful interior, comfortable

Bad stuff

Too multi-purpose for its own good, European rivals more polished on road, far from cheap

Overview

What is it?

It's the grandest Jeep sold in Europe, and it comes only with a plug-in hybrid powertrain. It's about the same size as a Mercedes GLE or Range Rover Sport. It's all-new, with a redesigned monocoque and many fresh tech features.

In America the Grand Cherokee can also be had as a LWB three-row, and with pure-petrol engines, and even as a RWD. But not in Britain, where it's five seats and plug-in 4WD only. Jeep doesn't want to be seen as a nameplate of supersized gas guzzlers, nor of faux-by-fours.

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The plug-in hybrid drivetrain (called 4xe in Jeep speak) broke cover on the Wrangler a couple of years ago and quickly became a market favourite even in petrol-friendly America. Part of the reason is credibility in the one thing that makes a Jeep a Jeep: off-roading. The silent, controllable torque of a four-wheel-drive electric machine is quite something.

What’s it for, sports or utility?

In an age where lots of SUVs aim for sportiness, this definitely doesn't. If you want to take it into the rough, or do some towing, it's right at home. But most of the time of course it'll be on the road, and Jeep has trimmed it pretty plushly and loaded it up with tech and gadgetry.

Among the trim levels is Trailhawk, which bundles all the off-road features: chunky tyres, LSD at the rear, a decoupling front anti-roll bar, and skid plates. Then there's Summit Reserve, which is the lux version, touting McIntosh hifi, a HUD and another display in front of the passenger where you'd expect the glove box lid to be.

Come on then, tell me about the engine.

You mean powertrain. Under the bonnet is a 2.0-litre 4cyl petrol engine of 272bhp working in tandem with 143bhp electric motor for a useful aggregate of 375bhp and 470lb ft. 0-62mph happens in 6.3 seconds, should you ever feel the need to floor it.

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In completely irrelevant news, the top speed is 130mph (Trailhawk tops out at 118mph); more pertinent is knowing that you can drive up to 83mph in Electric mode without waking the engine.

This isn't one of those hybrids where the one axle is driven by petrol and the other by electricity. Here, they both drive all wheels, for full Jeepular traction. Independent clutches allow either or both to drive the eight-speed auto ‘box and transfer case, and thence to the wheels. The transfer case allows you to choose normal high ratios for the road, or a low set for off-road crawling.

It’s a PHEV, so there must be e-range.

Indeed there is. A 17.3kWh battery pack is good for 31 miles in the official tests, which might translate into 20-25 miles in mixed driving. Or it supplements energy from petrol to make it stretch further; Jeep reckons on a total range of 434 range. It can also harness regenerated energy captured when slowing down.

On WLTP the Grand Cherokee hits about 100mpg depending on spec. But as with any PHEV real-world it entirely depends on how frequently it's plugged in. And running costs depend on the price of electricity.

What about the driving?

The engine isn't that refined but with electric backup you're mostly not stressing it. There's plenty of power for most needs.

There's an oddness to the steering, with a dead central band, that gets too quick once you've turned slightly. So you sometimes put too much input into a heavy car that really needs driving smoothly. It rolls less than you might expect but pitches if you're not smooth.

Still, a well-judged ride matters and it's got one, at least with the air-suspended version we tried. Twin it with the plushest cabin and you’ve got the 4x4 world's answer to glamping.

What's the Grand Cherokee up against?

If you're heading off-road then you should be looking at the Land Rover Defender, Mercedes G-Class and Ford Bronco (outside the UK, of course). All handily tested side-by-side at this very link, along with the Jeep Wrangler. The Toyota Land Cruiser has since entered the arena of course, and the Ineos Grenadier is the new kid on the block. That one’s only really good for hardcore excursions, mind.

None of those are PHEVs though, and they sit a league above in terms of ability. Chances are you will be mostly on-road with this, so think BMW X5, Audi Q7, Range Rover; that sort of territory.

Typically, it all rather depends on how much money you're prepared to throw at the problem. Which brings us to the price. You won’t get into a Grand Cherokee for less than £70k these days, peaking at £85,615 for the fully tooled Summit Reserve trim. Seems expensive.

What's the verdict?

At least it’s not just another fake sporty SUV, and its trail-conquering ability gives it genuine clout

PHEV powertrains are a popular choice for those who buy big SUVs. Just take a look at the badges on X5s, GLEs and the like. The Jeep Grand Cherokee 4xe takes that potential frugality and adds another dimension: supreme off-road smarts.

The question is, how often are you going to deploy them? If ‘a lot’, then surely you want a far more task-specific 4x4; if ‘not much’, are you really going to shun the posh SUV mainstream for it? Jeep itself doesn’t expect to shift many more than 300 of these in the UK, so niche is the Grand Cherokee’s pitch.

Still, at least it’s not just another fake sporty SUV, and its trail-conquering ability gives it genuine clout that most can only dream of. That’s to Jeep’s immense credit. There's lots of space, equipment and capability, so we can see the appeal. But ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ springs to mind.

The Rivals

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