Tim Robson has been testing the US convention that bigger is always better, behind the wheel of the 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee 75th Anniversary Edition. His review includes specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
Nevertheless, the Grand Cherokee still represents a valid choice for buyers looking for a roomy, comfortable and capable wagon that can tow with ease. Jeep’s new boss in Australia, Steve Zanlunghi, has told CarsGuide he wants to gets things sorted for Jeep owners, too, from a reliability and a servicing standpoint.
The 75th Anniversary Edition may look like a simple sticker and trim kit but, like the SRT Night version we tested in 2016, the 75 previews some new parts for the rest of the Grand Cherokee range to be rolled out in 2017.
Key amongst the changes is a switch to the same electric power steering system that debuted in the latest Chrysler 300 update in late 2015, while minor changes to suspension hardware will also migrate across to the rest of the line.
The Grand Cherokee is big, simple and honest, and it’s a design that resonates with people who aren’t into the fussier side of car design. The front end of the large Grand Cherokee has been lightly restyled with a narrower grille and new headlights, along with a revised lower bar design; some of the key changes to be applied to the broader range this year. The 75 also adds grey 20-inch rims along with bespoke badging.
Other than the front end, though, Jeep has resisted the urge to change the styling of the Grand Cherokee too much; the current car is rolling towards the end of its model life, and this late-life facelift is likely to be the last before a new model is previewed, most likely in 2018.
On the inside, the leather trim is finished with orange stitching throughout, along with embossed logos on the front seats. There’s also a new windscreen, designed to reduce cabin noise.
The Grand Cherokee is built for American audiences, and as such it wants for very little in terms of creature comforts. It’s got four cupholders front (illuminated, no less) and rear, four bottle holders and a myriad of storage spots around the cabin.
Based on the Limited model, the 75 also adds niceties like heated front and rear leather trimmed seats, a pair of USB ports and air vents for rear seat passengers, LED lighting throughout and more.
A key change is the swap to a more traditional T-bar shifter for the eight-speed automatic transmission. It replaces the much maligned – and subsequently recalled – toggle-style electronic shifter that made it difficult to know whether Park was properly engaged.
Sadly, this usability mod didn’t extend to the archaic foot-operated park brake that compromises left-foot comfort.
It makes 184kW of power and an impressive 570Nm of torque.
The seats themselves are not, as might be expected, large, soft and squishy; instead, they are broad yet well shaped and sufficiently firm to provide a high level of comfort on a longer drive. Personally, I’d like a little more seat base side bolstering, but by every other measure the front seats are great.
The rears, too, are comfy and supportive. The 60/40 split fold rear seats are adjustable for back angle, which is great, and have ISOFIX child seat mounts for the outboard chairs. It’s quite a climb up into the rear, though, thanks to the Jeep’s tall stature.
Equally, the 782 litre cargo area has a high lip to traverse while loading. Points for the automatic tailgate button being mounted on the c-pillar rather than the door frame; a person of, erm, lesser stature would struggle to reach it otherwise.
Space increases to a voluminous 1554 litres with the seats dropped via the handy cargo area switches.
Price and features
The $69,000 Limited in 3.0-litre six-cylinder diesel form sits third from the top of the Jeep line, and the 75th Anniversary Edition asks an extra $2500.
For your money you get a load of standard kit, including 20-inch rims, nine-speaker stereo, a digital dashboard, dual-zone air, LED taillights and HID headlights, heated wheel and front/rear seats, front and rear parking sensors with rear view camera, terrain selector and an 8.4-inch screen-based multimedia system with Bluetooth streaming and navigation (but no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto).
There’s also keyless entry, LED daytime running lamps and – somewhat curiously – a single-disc CD player.
Engine and transmission
We tested the 4x4 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel version of the 75; the upgrade can also be had in 3.6-litre V6 petrol and 5.7-litre V8 petrol versions of the Limited.
It makes 184kW of power and an impressive 570Nm of torque that peaks at just 2000rpm.
It’s backed by an eight-speed automatic transmission and a constant 4x4 drivetrain that can be adjusted via a centre console-mounted switch array that allows the user to tweak between five traction settings.
The drivetrain also sports a two-speed transfer case, and comes with hill descent control as standard. It’s rated to tow up to 3500kg of braked trailer, as well.
Jeep rates the 2949kg Grand Cherokee at 7.4L/100km on the combined cycle, and the dashboard showed we actually beat that figure, albeit by just 0.1L/100km, over 600km of testing.
The coil spring-equipped Limited uses struts up front and a multi-link system in the rear, giving the big car a comfortable yet controlled demeanor on the road.
It resists roll surprisingly well, too, which makes it a very pleasant companion for a longer drive.
The new electric steering system acquits itself well, feeling most un-electric most of the time. There’s sufficient weight underhand to feel confident that the big Jeep will go where you point it, too.
The traditional auto is a good match for the leggy, refined diesel, which really is the engine of choice in the Jeep range for towing and long distance work. In addition to the extra noise dampening work Jeep has done on the body, the oiler is quiet and sedate under all but the heaviest of right feet.
It’s a big beast, though, and the bluff nose can cause some inner city anxiety in tighter spots. Thankfully, all-round visibility is pretty good.
We didn’t take the Jeep too far off road; the 20-inch rims and tyres wouldn’t be our first choice of dirt equipment, and there is a distinct lack of underbody protection fitted as standard to the Grand Cherokee.
It will, of course, manage dirt, gravel roads and bush tracks with ease, as long as you’re properly prepared for the terrain.
It’s reasonably well equipped on the safety front, with eight airbags, lane departure warning, trailer sway control, adaptive cruise and brakes that can compensate for both loose-surface and wet-road panic stops.
It does miss out on items like emergency city braking and lane departure control.
The Jeep is covered by a three-year, 100,000km warranty, and service intervals are set at every 12 months or 20,000km.
Capped priced servicing is available, but it’s far from a transparent process for the average consumer. The company’s website links to servicing, for example, does not reveal the projected cost of the service, instead requiring the customer to lock into a service booking with the nearest dealership.
A previous test on a similar car revealed that servicing costs over five years totalled almost $6000.