Key elements have been made slimmer and wider for a more contemporary look.
Jeep's been watching the seven-seat SUV market and has decided it wants a piece of the action. Enter the Grand Cherokee L, a 5.2-metre, 2.2-tonne, three-row, 4WD SUV that aiming up at a more premium part of the large SUV market.
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with? 8/10
This three-row L, scheduled to go on sale mid-year, is the first of several versions of the Grand Cherokee set to arrive in 2022.
Our very own Chesto has driven the five-seat version in the US, specifically the plug-in hybrid 4xe, another first for the model, set to hit showrooms in the second half of the year.
But for now, the seven-seat L is the focus, offered in three grades starting at just over $80K, before on-road costs, and topping out at roughly $115,000.
Step up to the Limited and the media screen increases to 10.1-inch.
This is part of Jeep’s stated aim to move upmarket, and aside from the safety and drivetrain tech covered a little later, the entry-level Night Eagle at $82,250, before on-road costs, features suede and leather-appointed seat trim, eight-way electrically-adjustable and heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, sat nav, an 8.4-inch multimedia screen, a 10.25-inch instrument display, six-speaker audio (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity), three-zone climate control, a rear-view camera, keyless entry and start, adaptive cruise control, auto LED lights, 20-inch alloys, a power tailgate, and more.
Step up to the Limited ($87,950) and the media screen increases to 10.1-inch, the seat trim is even plusher ‘Capri’ leather, there’s a multi-memory seat function for the driver, the front seats are ventilated and the second row is heated, pull-up shades are added to the rear side windows, the audio system has three extra speakers with a 506W amp (and active noise control), plus there’s ambient interior lighting, and auto high beam.
20-inch alloys come standard across the range. (Limited pictured)
Opt for the top-shelf Summit Reserve ($115,450) and the rims are even bigger at 21 inches, the front seats are 12-way electrically-adjustable, open pore wood trim is added to the dash, doors, and steering wheel, the climate control is four-zone, the front seats feature a configurable massage function, the stereo is pumped up to a 19-speaker, 960-watt package, there’s a dual-pane sunroof above your head, and the ‘Palermo’ leather seat trim is quilted. There’s more, from Berber floor mats to a hands-free tailgate, but you get the idea.
Overall, despite a solid asking price, generous standard equipment helps substantiate a category competitive value package.
Is there anything interesting about its design? 7/10
A decade. That’s how long the previous Grand Cherokee was on sale in Australia, Which is ages, but also testament to the quality of that fourth-generation car’s design.
And there are echoes of it in this new model’s exterior. The overall proportions are similar, although the track is increased by 36mm, and the overriding impression is that key elements have been made slimmer and wider for a more contemporary look.
For example, the headlights, LED on all models, are shorter, but longer, while the signature seven-bar Jeep grille has been truncated a little and stands more upright.
The overall proportions are similar to the previous Grand Cherokee. (Limited pictured)
Key elements have been made slimmer and wider for a more contemporary look. (Limited pictured)
Character lines along the side of the car are softer, and the rear follows the same slimline philosophy. But it’s inside where the biggest steps have been taken.
The dash layout and hardware have been transported from the relative Dark Ages to a clean and simple approach dominated by this broad centre console, topped by a sleek media screen.
The screen measures 8.4 inches in the entry-level Night Eagle, stepping up to 10.25 inches in the upper grades.
Character lines along the side of the car are softer than the previous generation. (Summit Reserve pictured)
The rear follows the same slimline philosophy. (Summit Reserve pictured)
The latest, configurable, digital instrument cluster enhances the low-key tech vibe, and there’s a sensible mix of on-screen controls and physical dials and buttons. That said, there are a lot of buttons across the lower part of the centre stack and steering wheel.
The rest of the interior is a blend of simple lines and a subtle colour palette, including piano black highlights. It feels more mature and premium than the car it replaces.
How practical is the space inside? 9/10
When it comes to practicality, thoughtful, family-friendly touches include large door apertures, with the doors themselves opening right out to 64 degrees, as well a second row seat able to move fore and aft to balance passenger and/or cargo space.
Up front there are big bins in the doors with space for large bottles, a pair of decent size cupholders in the centre console, a two-tiered storage box between the seats that doubles as an armrest, and a covered wireless charging bay in front of the gearshift.
For connectivity and power there are two USB-A and two USB-C ports, as well as an ‘aux in’ socket, and a 12-volt outlet.
Jump into the second row, and sitting behind the driver’s seat set for my 183cm position, I enjoyed heaps of headroom and hectares of legroom, remembering it’s possible to slide the middle seat forward to give third row passenger more room, or increase load space.
When it comes to practicality, there are plenty of thoughtful, family-friendly touches throughout. (Limited pictured)
The second row has heaps of headroom and hectares of legroom. (Limited pictured)
Access to the third row is helped by a roll and fold function in the second row. (Limited pictured)
Even with all seven seats upright, boot space is 487 litres. (Limited pictured)
With the second and third rows down you've got 2395L. (Limited pictured)
Again, there are generous pockets in the doors with space for large bottles, map pockets on the front seatbacks, a fold-down centre armrest containing two cupholders, and rear seaters have their own ventilation control.
The dual USB-A and USB-C ports are repeated in the back, and there’s a 230-volt AC socket for three-pin plugs.
Access to the third row is helped by a roll and fold function in the second row, and once back there space is generous and the amenities are civilised.
I could sit bolt upright without any head clearance issues, and legroom is good. There are bottle holders on each side, adjustable ventilation in the C-pillars, small storage pockets, and yet more USB outlets.
And how’s this for a parent’s dream? ‘Fam Cam’ (optional on the Limited and standard on the Summit Reserve) is an adjustable rear seat monitoring camera able to switch between all second and third row positions. No more craning around and taking your eyes off the road to check what’s going on back there.
Up front there is plenty of storage. (Summit Reserve pictured)
It’s possible to slide the middle seat forward to give third row passenger more room, or increase load space. (Summit Reserve pictured)
In the third row, space is generous and the amenities are civilised. (Summit Reserve pictured)
Even with all seven seats upright, boot space is 487 litres. Fold the 50/50 split third row and that grows to 1328L, and with the second (40/20/40 split) and third rows down you’ve got 2395L, enough room to start a boutique furniture moving business.
The loading height is user friendly, there are multiple tie-down hooks and a 12V outlet, there’s no lip to get over the top of, and a power tailgate, standard on all grades and hands-free on the Summit Reserve, is always welcome.
The Grand Cherokee L is rated to tow a braked trailer up to 2.8 tonnes, although that’s reduced to 2.3 tonnes in the Summit Reserve, partly due to the standard air suspension. And off-roaders rejoice, the spare is a full-size (18-inch) steel rim.
What are the key stats for the engine and transmission? 7/10
All versions of the Grand Cherokee L are powered by a 3.6-litre naturally-aspirated V6 petrol engine producing 210kW at 6400rpm, and 344Nm at 4000rpm, driving all four wheels through an eight-speed auto transmission and a transfer case - single speed on the first two models and two-speed on the Summit Reserve flagship.
The evergreen Pentastar V6 is a naturally-aspirated, all-alloy, quad-cam design featuring dual variable valve timing and sequential-injection.
All versions of the Grand Cherokee L are powered by a 3.6-litre naturally-aspirated V6 petrol engine. (Summit Reserve pictured)
If you want more grunt? Yes, there’s a 5.7-litre Hemi V8 available in this new Grand Cherokee. But it’s in the States, not here. There’s no diesel option, either. But as mentioned earlier, a plug-in hybrid, the 4xe (four-by-e) is coming later in 2022.
How much fuel does it consume? 7/10
Jeep’s official fuel economy figure for the Grand Cherokee L on the combined cycle is 10.6L/100km, the 3.6-litre V6 emitting 243g/100km of CO2 in the process.
Given the specific on and off-road combination of the launch drive we’ll wait until we can evaluate the car over a longer period to quote an ‘on test’ number.
Worth noting stop-start is standard, and in the name of weight saving, the car’s bonnet and tailgate are aluminium. Still weighs around 2.2 tonnes, though.
The tank holds 104 litres, which using the quoted consumption number, translates to a range of around 980km.
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating? 8/10
The Summit Reserve adds Level 2 driving assistance features as well as a 360-degree camera view.
The Grand Cherokee L is yet to be assessed by ANCAP, but Jeep has upped its active safety game with standard crash-avoidance tech including, AEB with cyclist and pedestrian detection, lane keep assist, ‘Intersection Collision Assist’, adaptive cruise, as well blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, traffic sign recognition, tyre pressure monitoring, and ‘Drowsy Driver Detection.’
The Summit Reserve adds Level 2 driving assistance features, a 360-degree camera view, self-parking assist (parallel and perpendicular), and more.
If an impact is unavoidable, there are eight airbags on-board - dual front, front side, front knee, and full-length side-curtain.
There are three child seat top tethers across the second row, with ISOFIX anchors on all three positions. And there are top tethers on both third row seats.
Warranty & Safety Rating
5 years / 100,000,000 km
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered? 6/10
Jeep covers the Grand Cherokee with a five-year/100,000km warranty, which is behind the five-year unlimited kays cover which is pretty much standard in the mainstream market now.
But you do receive 12 months complimentary roadside assistance, which is renewed for another year every time you service your vehicle at an authorised Jeep dealer.
Jeep covers the Grand Cherokee with a five-year/100,000km warranty. (Limited pictured)
Service is recommended every 12 months or 12,000km, and capped price servicing is available for $399 annually for the first five years. Not bad for a car of this scale and complexity.
What's it like to drive? 8/10
In driving the new Grand Cherokee the first thing you recognise is the Pentastar V6’s characteristic induction sound. That’s not to say it’s overly loud, just familiar.
But in terms of what it delivers, nearly 90 percent of the engine's peak torque is available from 1800 to 6400 rpm, so you’ve got that mid-range pulling power which is as nice on the highway as it is around town, but also good for people that are into towing.
The eight-speed auto is nice and smooth, as well, and even though it’s a conventional torque-converter unit, manual shifts through the steering wheel paddles are quick.
You can certainly feel the scale of this car. (Limited pictured)
Suspension is multi-link front and rear, with the top-spec Summit Reserve picking up air suspension and active damping. Major components are alloy to reduce unsprung weight but you can certainly feel the scale of this car.
It’s 5.2 metres long and weighs roughly 2.2 tonnes, so you’re guiding this sizeable machine along the road. It’s not an involving drive, we’re not in sports car territory here. But it feels stable and predictable in cornering, and body control is well buttoned-down.
The electrically-assisted steering’s weight is nice from parking speeds right up to freeway velocity, but road feel through the wheel is relatively modest.
It feels stable and predictable in cornering, and body control is well buttoned-down. (Summit Reserve pictured)
In terms of the seating position, you do feel as though you’re sitting up and on, rather than down and in the front seats. But when it comes to support, after hours behind the wheel, including off road, the front chairs remained comfortable.
This is a big vehicle, that will often have a boat, van, or something else substantial hitched to the back of it, and the brakes are suitably specified.
Big discs are ventilated all around, clamped by two piston calipers at the front and singles at the rear, and on the off-road section of the launch drive we were by necessity leaning on the brakes for long periods of time.
After hours behind the wheel, the front chairs remained comfortable. (Limited pictured)
You could occasionally smell that they were working hard, but the pedal remained firm all day, without a hint of fade.
Speaking of off-highway performance, as part of its development program Jeep tested this new Grand Cherokee in remote parts of Australia, with more than 60,000 km under the wheels of various prototypes. Likely a big help in setting up the local spec.
And that spec is, four-wheel drive in all models, as well as a single-speed transfer case in the Night Eagle and Limited, with the latter also featuring the ‘Selec-Terrain’ traction management system, controlling torque split (up to 100 per cent of drive to either axle), as well as the brake calibration, steering, suspension, throttle, transmission, transfer case, traction control, stability control, and ABS settings.
In typical Jeep fashion we attacked challenging fire and forestry trails on the launch drive and a couple of things emerged. (Summit Reserve pictured)
The Summit Reserve boasts a two-speed transfer case, with low-range reduction, as well as traction management and air suspension with electronic adaptive damping.
The air suspension incorporates five height settings - Normal, Off-road 1 (40mm lift), Off-road 2 (60mm lift), Park (46mm lower), and when in sport, Aero (21mm lower).
In typical Jeep fashion we attacked challenging fire and forestry trails on the launch drive and a couple of things emerged.
The Summit Reserve boasts a two-speed transfer case, with low-range reduction.
First, on street-focused tyres this car does incredibly well off-highway. And second, the ‘Quadra-Trac II’ 4x4 system with low-range capability in the Summit Reserve, combined with the crawl control function, makes a significant difference. You find yourself feeling that bit more composed and confident tackling very rough sections.
Also in the Summit Reserve, a low-set, forward facing camera allows you to see what’s actually happening at the front wheel via the central media screen, and in the Off-road 2 setting the car feels like it’s up on stilts and able to tackle anything in its way.
And for those that really want to get amongst it, the body clearance data is below.
Running clearance (mm)
Approach angel (degrees)
Breakover angle (degrees)
Departure angel (degrees)
Wading depth (mm)
Jeep’s aim with this car is to lift the Grand Cherkee to a more premium level, and that’s about brand equity and badge credibility as much as it is the vehicle itself.
The seven-seat L has stepped up in price, but also in practicality, refinement and equipment, while maintaining serious off-road ability.
Does it have what it takes to tempt people away from, say, the German Big Three? That’s a tough ask, but this Jeep certainly has more of what it takes to make that a real possibility.
For mine, the entry-level Night Eagle is the pick. Well equipped, heaps of safety and plenty of off-highway prowess.
Note: CarsGuide attended this event as a guest of the manufacturer, with travel, accommodation and meals provided.
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