The successor to the vehicle considered by many to be the world’s first luxury or comfort-oriented SUV, the Grand Cherokee has carried on the 1963-91 Jeep Wagoneer tradition since 1992.
Launched in its fifth generation earlier this year, the latest Grand Cherokee is the biggest, most refined, spacious and luxurious yet, even as Jeep revives the Wagoneer nameplate as a full-size body-on-chassis SUV. That said, the new uni-body Grand Cherokee is now better positioned to compete with European premium SUVs, using the Stellantis group’s modern Giorgio platform, shared with the Alfa Romeo Stelvio, rather than its 2010 predecessor’s Mercedes-derived platform.
The fifth-generation Grand Cherokee, offered in two lengths, is the first available with a 3-row 7-seat configuration, driven in an L-shape. An evolution of the design direction of its predecessor, the new Grand Cherokee’s headlights are narrower, heavier and more moody, while its signature 7-slot grille is similarly narrower and more upright, with a protruding and predatory shark-nose angle. Longer and with a smoother waistline, the new Grand Cherokee has a more formal and upscale look, while the taillights are now also significantly narrower.
Elegant and eager
The extended wheelbase Grand Cherokee L is 5.2 meters long and has a luxurious and classically proportioned stance, with short front and long rear overhangs. Subtly bulging square wheel arches deviate from length and short wheel arch tip to bonnet top length gives it a sleeker and more elegant profile. Beneath its well-proportioned and bulging hood line, the Grand Cherokee is initially available with 3.6-liter V6 or 5.7-liter V8 engines for the region currently. An optional plug-in hybrid 2-liter is available elsewhere, while high-performance SRT variants are expected but as yet unconfirmed.
The powered Grand Cherokee L 3.6-liter V6 is positioned far back in the engine bay to achieve an ideal 50:50 weight distribution and is powered by Jeep’s familiar and highly regarded naturally aspirated Pentastar engine. Developing 290 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 260 lb/ft of torque at 4,400 rpm in this application, it is estimated to propel the 2,128 kg Grand Cherokee L through the benchmark 0-100 km/h acceleration in around 8.5 seconds. The Pentastar engine is high-revving, smooth and eager to the 6,700rpm limit and provides good throttle control to input power steps. Delivery is eager and progressive and is responsive from idle and into the midrange.
Safe and composed
Still, the Grand Cherokee’s high-revving engine earns much of its torque early and through a wide range, and it’s mated to a smooth and responsive 8-speed transmission to harness available power for quick and versatile performance on the move. At demanding high altitudes and steep slopes, meanwhile, the Grand Cherokee is better served by engaging “sport” mode or keeping revs high through manual paddle shifters. Refined and quiet normally, a purposeful mechanical tone becomes more audible near its rev limit, however, rather than some Italian cousins more exotic soundtracks.
A modern monocoque SUV with multi-link suspension all around, the Grand Cherokee L is a comfortable and confident ride with deft handling that belies its size and weight. With a balanced weight distribution and just the right level of suspension, the Grand Cherokee L turns into corners with nice composure and maintains good overall body control, despite its tall ride. In outbound corners, its rear-biased four-wheel drive and weighting simultaneously mean you can briefly, progressively and predictably kick out the rear end to adjust a cornering line with stability control disengaged.
Comfort and commitment
A more agile vehicle than expected, the Grand Cherokee L’s limited-slip differential helps allocate power where it’s needed for increased safety and agility on the road, and to maintain grip off-road. Braking is simultaneously very effective and fade-resistant, but a bit more initial pedal feel would be welcome. Meanwhile, the electronic brake force distribution keeps the Grand Cherokee L level and provides safety and reassuring engagement through curves, but something more “dive” could provide a more intuitive feel for sudden straight braking. The Grand Cherokee also has forward collision warning with brake assist and 12 airbags,
Comfortable, refined and easy to drive, the Grand Cherokee L is a natural long-distance cruiser. Smooth, stable and reassuring at speed, the Grand Cherokee L’s ride quality is among the best in class, forgivingly absorbing all but the thorniest lumps and bumps, even with standard mechanical suspension and optional 265/50R20 low-profile tires. Steady and vertically well controlled over imperfections, the Grand Cherokee L feels buttoned down on rebound and over peaks and dips, dismounting larger bumps gracefully and without the excessive suspension compression or stiffness of some rivals.
Spacious and stylish
Offered in four trim levels including the highly luxurious Reserve spec, which includes height-adjustable air suspension and low ratios, the mid-range Limited spec drive is still not far behind with its stylish high-end interior, equipment and capabilities. With selectable driving modes that optimize different parameters for different terrains, the Grand Cherokee L Limited also has generous ground clearance of 215mm and 20.6° approach, 18.2° break-over and 21.5° departure angles. It is spacious and practical and can simultaneously tow up to 2,818 kg, carry a payload of 635 kg and hold between 490 and 2,390 liters of cargo, depending on seat configuration.
A long, large 7-seat SUV with excellent front- and middle-row seating that surpasses most larger American full-size SUVs, the Grand Cherokee L’s maneuverability in tight spaces is aided, however, by large mirrors, park assist, a rearview camera and large screen and even waist for good visibility in class. Additional safety equipment usefully includes blind-spot and cross-path detection, while access to the cabin is generous and the rear seats are useful enough. Upmarket inside in materials, design and finish, it also has plenty of storage space, a good driving position, nice woodwork and user-friendly infotainment system with dedicated off-road gauges.
- Engine: 3.6-liter, in-line V6
- Bore x Stroke: 96 x 83 mm
- Compression ratio: 11.3:1
- Valve train: 24 valves, DOHC, variable valve timing
- RPM limit: 6,700 rpm
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic, four-wheel drive, limited-slip differential
- Ratios: 1st 4.71 2nd 3.14 3rd 2.11 4th 1.67 5th 1.29 6th 1.0 7th 0.84 8th 0.67 ; R 3.3
- Final Drive/Low Gear: 3.45/2.72
- Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 293 (297) [218.5] @6,400rpm
- Specific Power: 81.3BHP/litre
- Power to weight: 137.6 BHP/tonne
- Torque, lb/ft (Nm): 260 (353) at 4,400 rpm
- Specific torque: 97.9 Nm/litre
- Torque to weight: 165.8 Nm/ton
- 0-100 km/h: about 8.5 seconds (estimate)
- Fuel capacity: 87 liters
- Length: 5,204 mm
- Width: 1,979 mm
- Height: 1,815 mm
- Wheelbase: 3,091 mm
- Track: 1,660 mm
- Ground clearance: 215 mm
- Cargo floor height: 817mm
- Operating weight: 2,128 kg
- Weight distribution, F/R: 50/50 percent
- Load: 635 kg
- Towing capacity: 2,818 kg
- Approach/Break/Departure Angles: 20.6°/18.2°/21.5°
- Aerodynamic drag efficiency: 0.357
- Seating capacity: 7
- /2nd/1st row: 490-/1,330-/2,390-litres
- Steering: Electric rack and pinion
- Turning circle: 11.6 meters
- Twist ratio: 15.6
- Lock to lock: 2.9 turns
- Suspension: Multilink, coil springs
- Brakes, F/R: Ventilated perforated discs 354x28mm/350x22mm
- Caliper, F/R: 2-/1-piston
- Tires: 265/50R20
- Price, on the road: JD75,000 (without insurance)