Considering the Grand Cherokee is a ~2000kg SUV, the 2.0L turbo petrol feels overworked and tries too hard to keep up with the power demand.
Driving the Jeep Grand Cherokee 2.0L Petrol AT:
Start the engine and you will appreciate the refinement of this engine. It is barely audible inside the cabin when idling and even on the outside only a soft rumble can be heard. Get started and the petrol engine feels smooth. Throttle response is nice and linear unlike some of the turbo petrols where it feels spiky and oversensitive. With a light foot, you can drive smoothly around the city at low to medium speeds. There is good power on the crane to close gaps in traffic. However, given that the Grand Cherokee is a ~2000kg SUV, the 2.0L turbo petrol feels overworked and tries too hard to keep up with the power demand. It will get the job done, but it doesn’t feel easy.
The size and weight of this SUV is very evident when driving in a city like Mumbai. You get that proper BIG car feeling with the long hood visible from the driver’s seat. In tight lanes you have to be careful with the size and the parking sensors go off quite often. As expected, taking tight U-turns is not an easy task. The steering is not very light and driving around town is certainly a quick workout.
Highway cruising is something you’ll enjoy doing in the Grand Cherokee. Especially since most motorways have 100 km/h and 120 km/h speed limits. You can cruise along nicely in 8th gear at 100 km/h & 120 km/h while the engine spins at a relaxed 1,500 rpm and 2,000 rpm respectively. The engine has a strong mid-range and the power between 3,000 to 5,000 rpm is enough for quick overtaking on the motorway. Put your foot down for an overtaking and the 8-speed gearbox from ZF quickly downshifts. You will be in the meaty part of the powerband which is quite fun. The engine doesn’t pull as hard at the top end and sounds very strained too. The gearbox does not allow the speed to go above ~6,200 rpm, which is something very common with turbo petrol engines. Overall, the outright performance is good and adequate for most driving conditions. The engine doesn’t like to be pushed too hard and you really have to keep working the paddle shifters to get some performance out of it.
Jeep has tuned the 8-speed transmission from ZF well. It’s responsive when you need it, and the shifts are smooth too. The gears have been placed at a good distance and you can put the paddle shifters to good use. Sometimes you feel the downshifts while slowing down, but overall this is a nicely tuned gearbox. You also get a convenient auto hold function that many owners will appreciate in the city. The Selec Terrain system offers five terrain modes – Auto, Sport, Rock, Snow, Mud/Sand. We mainly drove in the Auto and Sport modes and the difference between them is not that big. Throttle response in Sport mode is a bit sharper, but you can get along without fuss in Auto mode. As this was primarily an on-road driving experience, we were asked to avoid all off-road driving and were not allowed to explore any other off-road modes. The Grand Cherokee in India also doesn’t get the more capable versions of the Quadra-Trac 4WD system that comes with features like a low range, air suspension or a locking differential.
The car is equipped with Advanced Driver Assistance Systems or ADAS which includes features such as emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind spot detection, passive pedestrian protection, drowsy driver detection, park assist, active lane management and intersection collision assistance systems. We didn’t get enough time to test all of these, but blind spot detection works pretty well even with bicyclists and bicyclists. The active file manager is turned ON by default every time you start the car, and you have to manually turn it off each time by pressing the button on the dash (TWICE!) which is quite annoying. The car detects lanes intuitively and the steering correction is quite strong. I preferred to have this turned off.
Noise, Vibration and Harshness (NVH)
Overall insulation and engine refinement is very good. The cabin remains quiet as you drive around town. Out on the highway, you start to hear wind and tire noise when driving at 100 km/h.
Mileage and fuel economy
A turbo petrol engine, 2000+kg curb weight and automatic gearbox are some of the things that should make it clear you won’t get excellent fuel economy figures. You get automatic start-stop which should help save some fuel at traffic signals, but that’s about it. Count on figures in the range of 4-6 km/l. The fuel tank capacity is 87 litres.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee rides on multi-link independent suspension front and rear. You don’t get air suspension like on some of the higher variants of the international model. It rides on massive 20-inch wheels and is shod with 265/50 R20 tires like the previous generation car. Driving around town at low speeds, the ride quality is absorbing. The suspension works quietly, but there is a noticeable amount of movement inside the cabin. The recommended tire pressure is 36 PSI and at this pressure many of the road’s inconsistencies are felt inside the cabin. We dropped the pressure to 32 PSI and it seemed to handle small road bumps a little better. However, the intrinsic properties remain the same. Big potholes are handled quite well which is expected from a Jeep. On the highways, vertical movements are noticeable. At highway speeds, the undulations of the road will cause the car to bounce and it is better if you take off in advance to soften the blow.
Handling & dynamics
The Grand Cherokee is not an SUV that loves curves. It’s big and long and there’s plenty of body roll. Add to that the bounce makes it more of a challenge to go through the corners. Have a little speed going into a corner and you never really get much confidence pushing the car hard. Hit a bump in the middle of the corner and it will throw off the balance of the car and you will have to make quick corrections. The car doesn’t really like fast changes of direction either. Better to stick to calm driving in this car and not test the limits of ghats.
The steering isn’t too light at city speeds, and it doesn’t really weigh up enough at highway speeds. There is little feedback and steering feel is average.
The brakes work as expected under everyday driving conditions. They are a bit boyish, but you get used to them quite easily. Heavy braking will result in some nose diving. But overall, the brakes do a good job of stopping this large SUV. There is also an emergency brake assist that brakes suddenly if a pedestrian gets in front of the car. It also gets a feature called ‘Rain Brake Support’ which is activated when driving in the rain. This is when the ABS pump periodically pushes the brake pads against the discs to keep them dry. This ensures that when the driver brakes in wet weather, the discs are dry enough to perform as expected.
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