Jeep Grand Cherokee VS Mercedes-Benz GLB
Jeep Grand Cherokee
- Excellent performance from SRT
- Great choice in line-up
- Advanced safety equipment not on all grades
- Cost of servicing is a little high
- Cabin could be more refined
- Butch exterior design
- Unrivalled practicality
- Comfortable ride
- Optional safety features
- Penetrating wind noise
- Prominent body roll
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.
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.
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
We all know by now Mercedes-Benz loves to fill a niche, and if it can't find a niche to fill, it will create one. So, please welcome its latest niche-filler, the GLB.
So, does the GLB operate in the 'Goldilocks Zone', or is it an answer to a question no-one asked? We put its mid-range GLB 250 variant to test to find out.
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
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.
Well, Mercedes-Benz has done it again, finding (or creating, depending on your position) a niche and filling it. But unlike some others that preceded it, this example is a good one.
Despite its safety and handling shortcomings, the GLB 250 looks the part, is undeniably practical and serves up surprising performance, which means it's a winner in our books.
Is the Mercedes-Benz GLB a jack of all trades but master of none? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
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.
That said, prepare yourself for a bit of a throwback, because the GLB 250 is about as faithful to the classic two-box design as it gets in 2020, which we absolutely love.
Up front, it's undoubtedly a Mercedes-Benz SUV, albeit with a much squarer appearance. Simply put, the GLB 250 looks butch.
We particularly love its simple LED headlights, classic grille and strong bumper, which make it look smart but capable.
Around the side, the GLB 250 is a typical small SUV with black plastic cladding covering its wheelarch extensions and connecting skirts.
The otherwise plain design is spiced up by a sporty set of alloy wheels (our test vehicle was fitted with 18-inch items with 235/55 runflat tyres) and an unusual kink in the glasshouse, around the C-pillar.
The GLB 250 is at its best at the rear, where it exudes presence, with the tough look punctuated by the droopy LED tail-lights and a prominent bumper, which houses a diffuser element flanked by dual exhaust tailpipes.
Inside, the GLB 250 quickly reveals itself to be a technological tour de force. And yes, if its cabin looks familiar, it's because its mechanical relatives (A-Class, B-Class, CLA and GLA) more or less have the same cockpit.
As expected, a pair of 10.25-inch high-resolution displays sit side by side proudly atop the dashboard, with one the central touchscreen and the other the digital instrument cluster.
Both are items powered by Mercedes-Benz's new-generation 'MBUX' multimedia system, which is arguably the best there is today thanks its speed and breadth of functionality and input methods.
The GLB 250 is properly premium where it counts. Sure, trainspotters will notice the black 'Artico leather' upholstery covering the steering wheel, seats, armrests and door shoulders is of the artificial variety, but it's inoffensive, unlike in some of its SUV siblings.
Soft-touch materials are used for the upper dashboard, leaving hard plastics for the lower sections, which is exactly what you'd hope for at this price.
While a black headliner lends itself to a dark cabin, brighter highlights come by way of the metallic trim used throughout, notably on the steering wheel, dashboard, doors and centre console. And let's not forget the sensational ambient lighting. It's very, very cool.
And mercifully, gloss-black accents are limited to the surrounds of the steering wheel, turbine-style front air vents, dual-zone climate controls and centre console. The less scratches and fingerprints the better, we say.
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.
Measuring 4638mm long (with a 2829mm wheelbase), 1834mm wide and 1659mm tall, the GLB250 is closer in size to the GLC than the GLA, making it a small SUV on paper only. And that only means good things when it comes to practicality.
For example, cargo capacity with the 50/50 split-fold third row stowed is strong, at 565L, but it can be increased to a massive 1780L with the 40/20/40 split-fold middle bench also out of action. If six or seven seats are in use, though, there's limited space to play with.
That said, the boot is still very well thought out, as evidenced by its massive aperture, lack of a load lip, and flat floor, which make loading bulkier items a lot easier. And yes, its load cover can actually be stored underfloor when not in use!
There are also four tie-down points, two bag hooks, a side storage net and a 12V power outlet to make things that little bit easier, while the rear seats can be operated from behind.
Speaking of which, let's cut straight to the point: Mercedes-Benz claims the third row can accommodate occupants that are up to 168cm tall thanks to the middle bench's ability to slide fore and aft by up to 140mm.
Therefore, my 184cm (6.0ft) frame is a little too tall, but I was still able to sit in the back, albeit not in complete comfort, with about a centimetre of legroom and negligible headroom and toe-room on offer.
The biggest challenge for any occupant is getting in and out in the first place, as the middle bench doesn't tumble forward for easy access. Needless to say, you're not going to look graceful here. Children can learn to deal with it, but adults won't be excited by the prospect.
So, the middle bench is where it's at, even when slid all the way forward. Behind my driving position, it provides about a centimetre of legroom, but this can be increased to a generous 8.0cm by sliding it all the way back.
Either way, plenty of toe-room is available alongside more than an 2.0cm of headroom – and that's with a dual-pane panoramic sunroof fitted.
The second row can accommodate three adults at a pinch, partly thanks to the short transmission tunnel that ensure there's just enough space for three pairs of fully grown feet across the two footwells. Children will be fine.
While we're on the topic, four ISOFIX and five top-tether anchorage points are on hand for fitting up to four child seats across the second and third rows, making the GLB250 a genuine option for families.
In-cabin storage options are numerous, with the central storage bin on the larger side despite housing a pair of USB-C ports, and the glove box is also pretty handy, even if it does have an odd shape. There's also a sunglasses holder in front of the rearview mirror.
The centre console's cubby doesn't lend itself to storage, though, as it's more or less taken up by two cupholders, another USB-C port and a wireless smartphone charger.
The front door bins can take one small and two regular bottles each, while their rear counterparts can carry one small and one regular apiece.
Second-row occupants are further treated to a fold-down armrest with another pair of cupholders, although they're of the retractable (flimsy) variety.
These passengers also have access to two USB-C ports, which fold out below a small cubby and a pair of air vents, which are located at the rear of the front centre console. There are also storage nets on the front seat backrests.
And don't make the mistake of thinking the third row misses out on the action, as two cupholders (one regular, the other small) divide the seats, which have their own USB-C ports and device straps to the sides.
Price and features
Jeep Grand Cherokee8/10
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.
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 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.
Priced from $73,900 plus on-road costs, the GLB 250 sits in the middle of the GLB range, above the $59,900 GLB 200 and below the $88,900 AMG GLB 35.
Standard equipment not already mentioned in the GLB 250 includes dusk-sensing lights, rain-sensing wipers, power-folding side mirrors, aluminium roof rails and a power-operated tailgate.
Inside, satellite navigation with live traffic, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, digital radio, a 225W sound system with nine speakers, keyless entry and start, power-adjustable comfort seats with heating and memory functionality, auto-dimming mirrors and illuminated scuff plates feature.
As with most Mercedes-Benz models, the GLB 250 has a long and expensive options list, so the purchase price can blow out quickly if you're a little too keen.
That said, aside from some safety equipment we'll cover momentarily, there's really not that much missing to begin with, making the GLB 250 the sweet spot in the GLB range.
Either way, our tested vehicle was finished in $1490 'Mountain Grey' metallic paintwork, which is one of six extra-cost exterior colour options.
As mentioned, the GLB 250 is a unique proposition, so it's only comparable rival, the $67,852 Land Rover Discovery Sport P250 SE, is from the segment above, despite its similar size.
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.
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.
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.
The GLB 250 is motivated by a peppy 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine that produces 165kW of power from 5500-6100rpm and 350Nm of torque from 1800-4000rpm.
Thanks to this combination, the GLB250 can sprint from a standstill to 100km/h in a brisk 6.9 seconds while on the way to its top speed of 236km/h. It also enables a maximum braked towing capacity of 2000kg.
Jeep Grand Cherokee7/10
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.
The GLB250's fuel consumption on the combined-cycle test (ADR 81/02) is 7.7 litres per 100 kilometres, while its carbon dioxide emissions are 173 grams per kilometre. Both claims are pretty solid.
In our real-world testing, though, we averaged 8.9L/100km over 180km of driving skewed towards country roads over highways. As such, it's a strong result, especially when you consider my lead foot.
For reference, the GLB 250's 60L fuel tanks takes 95RON petrol at minimum.
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 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.
Families are sure to be pleased by the way the GLB 250 drives, because it can be summed up in one word - comfortable.
A lot of the credit has to go to the GLB 250's independent suspension set-up, which consists of MacPherson-strut front and trailing-link rear axles with adaptive dampers.
The ride is sensational, with the GLB just wafting along on the highway. Take it onto a coarse-chip road and this quality does suffer, but not much. That said, road noise does become more of a factor on lower-quality tarmac.
It's worth reiterating that our test vehicle was fitted with 18-inch alloy wheels, which are an inch smaller than the GLB 250's standard set that come with lower-profile tyres (235/50), so the chances are our glowing review doesn't apply across the board.
There were also some noticeable underbody creaks when navigating speed bumps and the like, but hopefully they're just specific to our test vehicle.
What will be more consistent, though, is the wind noise generated by the side mirrors at highway speeds. It penetrates the cabin and disturbs its serenity more than any underbody creak ever could, so turn up the sound system.
Put the aforementioned adaptive dampers into their sportiest setting and body control improves somewhat, but you'll still be conscious of the GLB 250's 1721kg kerb weight.
Either way, grip is quite good due to the all-wheel drive system, which works hard to keep things on track. Its front bias is apparent, though, with the GLB 250 running wide of its line at times.
While it's not the sharpest handler, the GLB 250 is far from awful, partly thanks to the electric power steering's variable ratio set-up.
This system goes from lock-to-lock with ease at low speed, making parking manoeuvres much easier to perform, while it's far more stable at high speed.
However, it's not the first word in feel despite being well-weighted… until you make the mistake of engaging the GLB 250's Sport drive mode, which adds too much artificial weight.
Speaking of sporty, the GLB 250 is surprisingly fun in a straight line thanks to its strong engine and transmission combination.
I particularly enjoyed the 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine's mid-range, headlined by a useful 350Nm of max torque from 1800-4000rpm.
Once it comes and goes, though, it's a 'long' wait until 165kW of peak power kicks in from 5500-6100rpm, so best to up-shift early.
Doing so is very easy due to the new eight-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which serves up gear changes that are only smooth, but quick.
Engage Sport drive mode and the engine and transmission become that little bit sharper, with the former's throttle response improved, while the latter adopts more aggressive shift patterns.
That said, it's best to resist that temptation, as the GLB 250 is at its best when driven calmly, while it exudes family-friendly comfort.
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.
ANCAP awarded the GLB range its maximum five-star safety rating in 2019.
Advanced driver-assist systems extend to autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, traffic sign recognition, driver attention alert, tyre pressure monitoring, hill-descent control, hill-start assist, high-beam assist, park assist, a reversing camera and front and rear parking sensors.
What's missing? Front cross-traffic alert, steering assist and adaptive cruise control all form part of the $1990 'Driving Assistance Package', which was fitted to our test vehicle but should be standard for the money.
Other standard safety equipment includes nine airbags (dual front, front-side, curtain and rear-side plus driver's knee), anti-skid brakes (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and the usual electronic stability and traction control systems.
Jeep Grand Cherokee8/10
There's also life-time roadside assistance if the vehicle's serviced at a Jeep service centre.
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.
As with all Mercedes-Benz models, the GLB 250 comes with a five-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is the gold standard for the premium market. It also comes with five years of roadside assistance.
The GLB 250's service intervals are every 12 months or 25,000km, whichever comes first. It is available with a three-year capped-price servicing plan for $2650, but its pricing can be reduced by $500 if paid upfront alongside the vehicle.