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Jeep Grand Cherokee


Jeep Cherokee

Summary

Jeep Grand Cherokee

What a time to be alive people. There have never been more SUVs to take your pick from. But while many are excellent, there sure are a lot out there that are a bit... samey, and conservative, a little domesticated.

And even though they might have several different flavours in their model line-up they don't really differ much from each other. Well, Jeep's Grand Cherokee is a bit different.

First it's made in the United States of America, in Detroit, and that's becoming a rarity these days. Next, the line-up is like a kooky gang of super heroes all with different powers.

There's the monster high-performance V8 one which can out accelerate and out handle many sports cars; the tough off-road one that can lift itself higher than its rivals with its air suspension; there's posh one, the popular one nearly everybody buys and the rear wheel drive one hardly anybody does.

We recently went to the Australian launch of the updated Jeep Grand Cherokee where we drove the SRT hi-po beast and the latest member of the super hero family – the tough Trailhawk off-roader.

Safety rating
Engine Type3.0L turbo
Fuel TypeDiesel
Fuel Efficiency7.5L/100km
Seating5 seats

Jeep Cherokee

The presence of a strong medium-sized SUV is of vital importance to any mainstream automotive brand at the moment. And if you do have one, to get bums on seats it needs to be absolutely on point across the spectrum.

Jeep is, according to its masters, in the midst of a renewal, with all new vehicles expected across its line by the end of 2020. The next cab off the rank is the Cherokee – codenamed KL – which launched in Australia in 2015 to a less than enthusiastic reception.

Up against sales powerhouses like the Mazda CX-5, Nissan X-Trail and Toyota RAV4, the Cherokee needs to be good looking, good value and offer good performance. How does the 2019 update stack up?

Safety rating
Engine Type2.4L
Fuel TypeRegular Unleaded Petrol
Fuel Efficiency8.5L/100km
Seating5 seats

Verdict

Jeep Grand Cherokee7.9/10

Not many SUV brands out there have ranges offering a variety of vehicles as wide as the Grand Cherokee line-up. These are comfortable, good looking, and in nearly all cases, capable off-roaders – particularly the Trailhawk.

The sweet spot of the range is the Limited. It's excellent value, and there's no wonder it's so popular. The SRT is also hard to go past if you're after more of a sledgehammer – at almost $10,000 under 100K it's bang-for-your-buck that can't be beaten.

Is the Jeep Grand Cherokee the best large SUV under $100k? Let us know what you think in the comments below.


Jeep Cherokee7.4/10

The latest Cherokee hasn’t resonated with buyers of mid-sized SUVs yet, but this facelift may bring some more potential buyers out of the woodwork – especially those looking for something with a bit of off-road ability.

Jeep is working hard to turn its reputation for poor service around as well, and its warranty and service plans are longer than those of the biggest Japanese players.

Would you prefer your SUV to have more of an off-road focus? Tell us in the comments below.

Design

Jeep Grand Cherokee8/10

New one look like the old one? Yup, the styling changes are almost unnoticeable, but the trademark seven-slot grille is slimmer, the front bumper has a new design and the fog lights use LEDs.

The Grand Cherokee's look is distinctive with its big toothy grille, high waistline and pumped up guards. It's an American muscle SUV – especially the SRT with its nostrilled bonnet, enormous air intakes, blacked-out face and red Brembo brake calipers.

The new Trailhawk rivals the SRT for attention-seeking-but-still-functional bling with its red tow hooks and badging. Look closely and you'll see small profiles of a WW2 Willys MB Jeep on the wheels, which is a cool touch.

The Grand Cherokee's cabin is comfortable but more functional than stylish, higher grades feel plush with their leather seats and wood trim finishes.

The Grand Cherokee's dimensions reveal all variants apart from the SRT to be 4828mm long and 1943mm wide. The SRT is longer at 4846mm and wider at 1954mm across the hips.

The heights vary depending on the variant with the Laredo and Limited standing 1802mm tall, while the Trailhawk and Overland are 1792mm. The SRT is hunkered down lower at 1749mm.

The Trailhawk and Overland have an approach angle of 36 degrees, a departure angle of 27 degrees and a breakover angle of 22 degrees. Those trump the angles for the Laredo and Limited which are 26 degrees for approach, 24 for departure and 19 for the breakover.

The SRT will still be competent off-road but its approach angle of 18 degrees, a departure angle of 22, and a breakover angle of 18 means it's more suited to less challenging dirt and gravel roads.


Jeep Cherokee7/10

Thank the Lord, the ugliness is no more. There’s a difference between unusual and terrible, and the previous Cherokee - in my eyes at least - had fallen out of the ugly tree and hit every single branch on the way down. Hard.

Jeep was all too aware that the challengingly styled Cherokee had a perception problem; in fact, Fiat Chrysler Australia chief Steve Zanlunghi told us that the number one reason people chose not to buy it was because of the way it looked.

So gone is the divisive split and inverted headlight design, replaced with something that is much more closely related to the Grand Cherokee. Narrow LED headlights and a classic seven-slot grille are complemented by a new lower bumper bar and LED daytime lamps, while there’s also a new composite bonnet.

New LED tail-lights and a composite tailgate join a new bumper skin on the rear, while roof rails are now standard, along with a push-open fuel door and capless filler. It now looks much more resolved, although the excess of chrome trim on the nose does age the car prematurely.

While the interior basics are still the same, Jeep claims it’s worked hard on the ‘touch and feel’ stuff; better quality plastics, bigger oddments trays and nicer trims.

Vinyl replaces cloth on the door cards, and the electronic park brake surround has been rejigged to increase the size of the phone tray, but other than that, the interior remains largely as it was.

Practicality

Jeep Grand Cherokee8/10

All Grand Cherokees are five seaters. Legroom in the back is just enough… for me. I'm 191cm tall and the only reason I can sit behind my driving position is because of the concave design of the front seatbacks – and that gives me a gap of about 20mm. Headroom is great back there.

Up front there's stacks of head and shoulder room, although the driver's footwell feels a little cramped with the transmission tunnel above the bellhousing seeming to eat into the space.

There's a decent boot with a capacity of 782 litres and under the floor is a full-sized spare with storage space around it - you'll also find a rechargeable torch in the cargo area which 'clicks' into the boot wall.

Storage throughout the rest of the cabin is good with two cupholders in the fold down centre armrest in the back and another two up front. There's a deep centre console bin and bottle holders in all doors.


Jeep Cherokee7/10

The Cherokee is one of the larger medium SUVs in the burgeoning segment, with about 80mm extra length over the CX-5.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t extend to more room inside the cabin. The second row of seats can be a cramped place to sit, especially if the occupants are even slightly taller than average.

Throw in a small rear door aperture and – if you have one fitted – a crazily low sunroof headliner, and the back can soon becomes cramped for teens and grown-ups. The seat backs can be reclined to help out here, though.

On the up side, the Cherokee has three ISOFIX baby seat mounts, which is unusual, as well as rear vents and a pair of cupholders in a pull-down armrest.

Bottles can also be added to the four doors, and there’s a decently sized centre console bin behind two front cupholders.

Front seat occupants fare well enough, with decently bolstered and supportive seats. However, the driver’s position is more than a little compromised, thanks to a huge, bulbous protrusion on the transmission tunnel that gets in the way of your left leg, and there’s nowhere to rest your left foot. Surely a plastic footrest for RHD markets wouldn’t be a big expense.

The wheel is comfortable enough, but could extend towards the driver another 15 or 20mm, and I inadvertently opened the powered tailgate a couple of times when trying to start the car; both buttons are round and located in places where such buttons should be.

Boot capacity has been increased by 84 litres to 784 litres by way of a two-level boot floor, though bear in mind this is measured via the SAE standard, and not the VDA standard used by virtually everyone else.

A full-size steel wheel serves as a spare for all variants.

Price and features

Jeep Grand Cherokee8/10

The Grand Cherokee line-up kicks off with the only two-wheel drive in the range – the $47,500 Laredo and above that everything else is four-wheel drive (4WD).

There's the $52,500 petrol Laredo 4x4 (the diesel version is $5500 more); then the popular Limited which lists at $62,500 ($5500 more for the diesel); the diesel-only Trailhawk at $74,000 is a new off-road hero variant; then there's the plusher $80,000 Overland with the same engine, and finally the high performance, petrol-only SRT for $91,000.

All V6 petrol engine variants have increased by $500 over the outgoing model, while the diesels stay the same – apart from the Overland which has risen by $1000. The SRT has also gone up by $1000.

Jeep Australia has confirmed that the range will be joined by the Trackhawk super SUV in late 2017 which will tower over the rest of the line-up in price and performance.

At the most affordable end of the range the Laredo grade comes standard with 18-inch alloy wheels, an 8.4-inch touchscreen (5.0-inch in the 4x2), 7.0-inch instrument cluster display, reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, power adjustable and heated front seats, proximity unlocking and start button, auto headlights and wipers, and dual-zone climate control.

The Limited grade picks up the Laredo's features and adds 20-inch alloy wheels, a power tailgate, leather seats, a nine-speaker Alpine stereo, sat nav, dark-tinted rear glass, heated steering wheel and dual exhaust.

The Trailhawk gets all of the above but swaps the wheels for 18-inch alloys with Kevlar-reinforced tyres, and adds under-body skid plates.

The Overland gets the Limited's features and adds a panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control, auto parking, ventilated front seats, plus a wood and leather steering wheel.

The SRT gains the Overland's features and adds a flat-bottomed steering wheel, leather and suede seats, launch control, active noise cancellation and adaptive damping.


Jeep Cherokee7/10

Jeep claims it’s in a space called ‘access premium’ – think premium economy – that offers extra kit on its cars at a more affordable price. It sees itself rivalling the likes of the Honda HR-V and Hyundai Santa Fe, rather than the CX-5.

The updated Cherokee will maintain the status quo when it comes to the model mix, with the entry level Sport keeping its $35,950 (plus ORCs) price tag.

For that, you’ll get a five-seat SUV with a 130kW 2.4-litre naturally aspirated petrol engine, backed up by a nine-speed automatic gearbox driving the front wheels.

As well, you’ll also score LED headlights and tail-lights, a 7.0-inch 'Uconnect' multimedia system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, leather-wrapped wheel and gear knob, roof rails and a comprehensive suite of driver aids over and above the outgoing model.

That suite of driver aids includes high-speed forward collision warning with AEB and pedestrian emergency braking, advanced lane departure warning and rear cross-traffic alert.

It only has cloth trim, regular lights and wipers and single-zone air, though, so you’ll need to look at the Longitude ($41,950 plus ORCs) for more of the good stuff.

It adds AWD to the 2.4-litre four-cylinder powertrain, as well as auto lights and wipers, a multi-mode traction management set-up, powered front seats, parking sensors, a powered tailgate with foot activation (only if the wind is blowing the right way and Jupiter is in crescent moon ascending, if our brief and fruitless testing is anything to go by) and push-button start with keyless entry.

Add $5000 to get into the Limited, and you’ll get a proper low-range 4x4 drivetrain hooked up to a 3.2-litre V6 petrol engine, leather upholstery with heated and vented front seats, 18-inch rims, a larger 8.4-inch multimedia system with sat nav and a colour screen between the dash dials, along with adaptive cruise control and auto parking.

Topping the tree is the $48,450 Trailhawk, Jeep’s self-rated offroad-ready version of the Cherokee that complements the Wrangler and Grand Cherokee Trailhawks.

It’s the more rugged version of the Limited, and its triple-diff 4x4 drivetrain also includes a low-range transfer case, the ability to lock all three diffs, hill ascent and descent control, taller suspension, unique bumpers and underbody skid plates, offroad-spec rims and leather/cloth seats.

The Trailhawk makes up about 10 per cent of the model sales at present – given there’s only been 324 sold all year so far (as opposed to 16,000 for the CX-5), it’s still not a big number.

On balance, the Cherokee starts further up the ladder price-wise than its rivals, but there’s value to be found in the additional off-road performance – and the new additions have come at zero cost over the old car.

Engine & trans

Jeep Grand Cherokee9/10

The engine line-up for the Grand Cherokee is straightforward. The petrol engines for all but the SRT are an upgraded version of the previous model's 3.6-litre V6 with 3kW more power for a total of 213kW. Torque stays put at 347Nm.

All diesel engines are a 184kW/570Nm 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6, which is carried over from the previous model.

The SRT is special – under that nostrilled bonnet there's 6.4 glorious litres of naturally aspirated V8 Hemi making 344kW/624Nm. Jeep has left this one untouched from the previous model, too.

Shifting the gears in all grades is the super-smooth eight-speed ZF automatic transmission.

The Trailhawk and Overland have Jeep's 'Quadra-Drive II' 4WD system which makes them more capable off-road then the Laredo and Limited with their 'Quadra-Trac II' permanent 4WD.

The major difference between the 4WD systems being that Quadra-Drive II has an electronic slip differential while the other uses traction control and braking to counter slippage. The SRT has the 'Quadra-Trac Active On-Demand' 4WD system.


Jeep Cherokee7/10

The 2.4-litre 'Tigershark' engine makes 130kW and just 229Nm of torque, while the heavier 3.2-litre 'Pentastar' V6 offers up 200kW/315Nm.

All variants use the Chrysler-designed ZF-sourced nine-speeder, which has seen its transmission maps updated for this facelift.

There are effectively three drivetrain types; front- and all-wheel drive for the four-cylinder Sport and Longitude, and 4x4 for the Limited and Trailhawk, both of which use the V6.

The 4x4 system is 8.0kg lighter than previously, too.

Hill descent and ascent is standard on the V6-powered cars, while 'Select Terrain' offers up Auto, Snow, Sport and Sand/Mud settings. Trailhawk adds extra elements including a rock crawling mode, as well as a mechanical locking rear diff, and electronic locks for the centre and front diffs.

Towing isn’t exactly a forte, though all will deal with a small van or boat. The base car will haul 1500kg, while the other three can handle 2200kg of braked trailer each.

Fuel consumption

Jeep Grand Cherokee7/10

The most fuel-efficient petrol Grand Cherokee is the rear-wheel drive Laredo which according to Jeep returns a combined consumption number of 9.9L/100km.

But wait – the 4WD petrol Laredo's official figure is 10.0L/100km, same with the petrol Limited. New to the V6 petrol is a stop-start system which would be super-helpful in achieving that figure.

The diesel Laredo, which is 4WD, has a claimed combined fuel consumption number of 7.5L/100km. Ditto for the diesel Limited, Trailhawk and Overland.

After an hour of driving in the Trailhawk on highways and country roads our trip computer was reporting 11.7L/100km.

The SRT likes a drink. The V8 petrol engine has a claimed combined figure of 14.0L/100km and that's why the SRT didn't make it into the top five most fuel efficient SUVs list.


Jeep Cherokee7/10

Claimed fuel consumption figure for the smallest engine is 8.5 litres per 100km on the combined fuel economy cycle, 9.8L/100km on the V6 Limited and 10.2L/100km for the Trailhawk.

A 90km highway stint in the latter saw a dash figure of 12.1L/100km, while a similar distance in the Limited yielded 11.8L/100km.

All variants use a 60-litre fuel tank, and will accept regular unleaded fuel. The lightest Cherokee weighs 1590kg and the heaviest is 1889kg.

Driving

Jeep Grand Cherokee8/10

The Trailhawk and the SRT were the only variants available to test drive at the launch of the updated model.

The program was pretty intensive with an off-road leg, a stint at a racetrack and plenty of road driving in between.

The hilly off-road course we took the Trailhawks through wasn't the most challenging, but the rain changed that a bit making the grassy slopes and clay ruts as slippery as ice.

With the Trailhawk in low range and on its highest air suspension setting giving us 260mm of ground clearance we wriggled our way through the off-road course fairly easily. There were some steeper sections which required a bit of brute force and momentum to combat slippery clay and gravity but the Jeeps soldiered through without any dramas, and plenty of hilarious fun.

The Trailhawk's Kevlar-reinforced tyres weren't needed on this soft stuff, but there are thousands of kays of tyre-killing tracks with rocks like spear heads lying in wait all over Australia where they'd be handy.

Grand Cherokees all have a unibody construction, so if you're looking for more of a hardcore off roader in the Jeep range then the body-on-frame Wrangler may be a better bet.

The Trailhawk comes with Jeep's 'Off-Road Pages' app which allows you to monitor suspension, traction and Hill Ascent Control speed.

The unibody construction gives the Grand Cherokee a more car-like ride and on the road the Trailhawk was comfortable and composed, although that air suspension is a little floaty.

At 100km/h the Trailhawk lowers itself for better aerodynamics, but there was a decent amount of body roll when pushing hard through corners… unlike the SRT.

The SRT's suspension is set up for higher performance with Bilstein adaptive dampers and hollow stabiliser bars front and rear. Sport and Track modes firm the suspension for better handling along with making the throttle more responsive.

I've driven the SRT on racetracks and the road before, but some quick laps around New Zealand's Pukekohe Park circuit brought back the grin that only 2.4 tonnes of metal seeming to defy all the laws of physics can induce.

That naturally aspirated V8 Hemi is a lazy beast that seems to take it's time to wind up rather than deliver the same brutal kick of the twin-turbo V8 in a Mercedes-AMG GLE63, still 0-100km/h in a claimed 4.9sec is quick. What it lacks in spontaneity it makes up for in theatrics – the gurgle at idle is delicious and it gets angrier the more you kick it in the guts.

The launch control function in the SRT is foolproof, too. Just press the button which looks like a dragstrip 'Christmas tree' on the centre console, place your left foot on the brake and plant your right foot on accelerator – release the brake and enjoy the jump to hyperspace… well, almost.


Jeep Cherokee8/10

Over a 200km-odd drive route in the Limited and Trailhawk V6s, the Cherokee reinforces its position as a more rugged and ready SUV. It lacks the absolute precision and poise of more road-oriented rigs, but – and particularly in the case of the Trailhawk – shows its chops when the going gets a bit steep and slippery.

The V6 I sampled is adequate rather than enthusiastic, and it doesn’t make soul-stirring noises, but it’s linear and reasonably responsive underfoot. I found the throttle to be a bit sticky underfoot, which made smooth pull-aways a pain at times, but its relationship with the nine-speed auto is a good one.

The Cherokee’s electrically assisted steering verges on being too light and vague, but body roll suppression is really impressive, especially across the front axle, while ride quality is excellent.

A quick – or slow, in this case – lap of a genuinely rugged off-road course shows that the Trailhawk is more than a rebadging exercise. With bespoke bumpers, underbody protection and proper off-road tyres, the smaller form factor of the Cherokee Trailhawk would make for a very handy full time off-roader for a couple, if ultra-long range touring wasn’t a consideration.

Safety

Jeep Grand Cherokee7/10

The Jeep Grand Cherokee has been awarded the maximum five-star ANCAP rating. All Grand Cherokees have seven airbags, a reversing camera, trailer sway control, but only the Overland and SRT grades come standard with advanced safety equipment such as AEB and lane departure warning. The equipment can be optioned on all grades from the Limited up.

You'll find three top tether points and two ISOFIX points in the second row.

There's also a full-sized spare wheel under the boot floor.

The update has brought two more advanced safety items – blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert but these are only standard on the Overland.


Jeep Cherokee8/10

Active forward collision warning and AEB, advanced lane departure wanring and rear cross traffic alert are now standard across the four-model line-up. Adaptive cruise is optional on the Longitude and standard on the Limited and Trailhawk.

LED headlights are also standard across the line, as well as six airbags, rear view camera with guidelines and parking sensors (from the Longitude up).

Jeep is currently in a wait-and-see situation with its ANCAP rating, which currently sits at a maximum five-star rating under last year’s rankings, but it expects to be issued a similar score from the safety body.

Ownership

Jeep Grand Cherokee8/10

The Grand Cherokee is covered by Jeep's five-year/100,000km warranty – an offer which was announced earlier this year.

There's also life-time roadside assistance if the vehicle's serviced at a Jeep service centre.

Servicing is recommended annually or every 12,000km for the 3.6-litre engine variants and is capped at $425 for the first, then $625 for the next, $425, then $725 for the fifth year.

For the 3.0-litre diesel servicing is recommended annually or every 20,000km and capped at $665 for the first, $1095 for the second, then $665, then $1195 and at five years it'll be $665.


Jeep Cherokee8/10

Jeep offers a five-year/100,000km warranty program that includes five years of roadside service and fixed price servicing.

Service intervals are 12,000km or 12 months, and five years of servicing on all drivetrains equals $2650 (August 2019).