Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve Reviews | Our opinion


JEEP has introduced its first seven-seat Grand Cherokee large SUV to the Australian market this year, the Grand Cherokee L is offered in three grades – Night Eagle, Limited and Summit Reserve – priced from $82,250 plus on-road costs.

The American marque says that in addition to having “extensive use of premium materials and an exacting attention to detail”, the seven-seat L’s interior offers “generous second-row legroom and improved ingress and egress thanks to larger door openings”, as well as “unparalleled capacity in the third row and increased load capacity of up to 2395 litres”.

No arguments there…

Australian Grand Cherokee L models are powered by a familiar 210kW/344Nm 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 petrol engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard.

Torque is directed to all four wheels via either Quadra-Trac I or Quadra-Trac II drivetrains (depending on grade), augmented by Jeep’s multi-mode Selec-Terrain AWD logic and Quadra-Lift air suspension on higher-spec versions.

Jeep says it has put the new Grand Cherokee L through a thorough domestic product testing program to evaluate the newcomer’s off-road capabilities in the “toughest, most remote environments in Australia”. In fact, more than 60,000 km of local tests have been completed, the company says.

The Grand Cherokee L is based on a new platform that uses lightweight, high-strength aluminum and steel, and incorporates various enhancements to improve ride quality, handling and passenger comfort, while increasing efficiency and reducing NVH and weight.

On test, the range-topping Summit Reserve can be distinguished by its black-painted roof and 21-inch polished alloy wheels. Unlike the Night Eagle and Limited variants, it features the Quadra-Drive II Active 4WD setup with a two-speed active transmission that provides low range in combination with the Selec-Terrain steering and Quadra Lift air suspension.

Its interior is upholstered in quilted Palermo leather (available in black and Tupelo), which is complemented by open-pore waxed walnut wood finishes.

The front seats are ventilated and 12-way electrically adjustable (with memory and massage functions), while four-zone climate control, improved multi-color ambient lighting, a premium McIntosh audio with 19 speakers and 760-watt amplifier, a Highway Assist System, 360-degree camera and hand -free electric tailgate completes the luxury specification.

Premium paint costs an extra $1,750, while our test vehicle was equipped with Jeep’s Advanced Technology Group, which adds a head-up display, night vision and an interactive screen for front passengers for a $5,500 premium. As tested, that puts the vehicle at $123,200 plus on-road costs.

The Grand Cherokee L is backed by a five-year/100,000km warranty that includes lifetime roadside assistance. Service intervals are 12 months or 12,000 km (whichever comes first) with the first five services capped at $399.

Driving impression

From a practical point of view, there’s a lot to like about the Jeep Grand Cherokee L. It’s a big car packed with convenience features and, for its size, extremely useful – there’s even an impressive amount of cargo space in the back. row of seats in seven-seat position.

Combine that with vents, cupholders, storage lockers, USB ports, heated seats and power folding seats and you could argue that the Grand Cherokee L – at least in top-spec Summit Reserve guise – offers everything the modern family could want.

And if you work your way through the extensive list of features, which is full of technology and convenience features, there really is a lot on offer. But unfortunately, some of those features are part of a $5,500 Advance Technology package, and worse, it wasn’t too far into our loan before some of those glowing first impressions started to dull.

Looking at the outboard bolsters on the leather-covered front seats, it was obvious that the damping had already begun to deteriorate. The supports were wrinkled and worn and looked more like a car with 70,000 km on the odometer than one with only 7,000 km.

We also experienced infotainment and instrument display glitches that we’d note as “disappointing” in a car that retails from $115,950 plus on-road costs.

The wireless Apple CarPlay connection dropped out and reconnected every 90 seconds or so, the digital dash sometimes “froze”, and when operating the rear seat climate controls from the front of the vehicle, we found the left control operated on the right side and vice versa .

Another problem we encountered was that the lane keeping assistant would “jump at shadows”, beeping at you and asking you to keep your hands on the wheel when traveling in a well-marked lane on a clear day with both hands firmly at 9 and 3.

We also experienced lag from the adaptive air suspension, which took a long time to adjust the vehicle’s ride height at lower speeds. When exiting a supermarket car park, we found time and time again that the car hadn’t reached normal ride height before setting off, sending thumps through the cabin over exit barriers before finally indicating the system was ready once it hit the road.

Overall, road noise is disappointing. The tires are a constant source of annoyance and one that owners will quickly drown in with the Summit Reserve’s cracking sound system … but more on that in a moment.

Jeep’s Pentastar V6 also feels a bit out of place in a vehicle of this size. Displacing 3.6 liters and producing 210kW at 6400rpm and just 344Nm at 4000rpm (or 92.5kW/tonne), the unit struggles to motivate the 2270kg (tare) Grand Cherokee L with any sense of conviction.

There simply isn’t enough torque available low enough in the rev range to keep the vehicle in pace with fast-moving traffic, and when it comes to highway overtaking, the vehicle is downright slow.

Despite offering a fantastic eight-speed automatic transmission, the drivetrain simply seems overloaded in this application. No wonder Jeep gives the model a braked towing capacity of just 2268kg – a far cry from rivals that approach 3500kg these days.

Consonantly, the need to work hard also means that the Grand Cherokee L is quite thirsty. In testing, the Summit Reserve consumed about 12.0 liters per 100 km on the open road and in the mid-15s around town.

But there are positives, and depending on what you value most, they may sway you in the direction of this full-size family cruiser.

The vehicle carries its weight well from a ride comfort and handling standpoint, and while it’s stuck on larger wheels and tires, it’s no worse than similar competitors. The car handles well and offers excellent braking performance and pedal feel, helping drivers quickly acclimate to what (for some) can be an intimidatingly large vehicle.

Outward visibility is exceptional with a great view of the road ahead – and even out back (which means the Grand Cherokee L is a lot easier to park than you think). Even sitting in the back seats, we found the view open and clear, just the thing for those who might be susceptible to the claustrophobic feeling that some large-segment SUVs offer in the back.

The ease of maneuvering the infotainment system and menus – and the layout of the menu system in general – is top notch, despite its aforementioned shortcomings. The system is easy to navigate, customize and use on the go with a very neat roof mounted ‘fam cam’ feature, one of the best ideas we’ve come across yet. The bird’s eye view of the backseat negotiations is a great idea and one that we believe will soon be copied elsewhere.

The interior layout and decor is modern and clean with a stylish mix of leather, woodgrain and vinyl. The cabin also feels quite logical, with well-placed switchgear and useful storage bins, a fuss-free driving position and surprisingly easy entry and exit – even to the third row of seats.

We found the dusk-sensing headlights and rain-sensing wipers to be well calibrated and headlight performance very good, without being great. Excellent, but would be a word we’d reserve for the Grand Cherokee L’s McIntosh sound system…

The MX950 entertainment system offers deeply immersive sound that’s wonderfully rich no matter what your musical tastes are – and no matter where you sit in the car (there are 19 speakers in 12 places, including a 10-inch twin-coil subwoofer). The sound is crisp with distortion-free bass and vibrant highs, so you can enjoy music just like at home.

We found that by connecting a media source via cable the shortcomings of the wireless system were overcome, and by using a high-quality audio streaming service such as Tidal, the acoustic experience is nothing short of top notch. For true audiophiles, there’s even a McIntosh app that lets you further customize the system’s dynamic range to your own specific preferences.

Of course, we cannot recommend a car based solely on the strengths of the stereo system. And while the Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve may have a lot going for it, we’re just not convinced the powertrain package or quality issues experienced in our test will be enough to win the hearts of discerning Australian buyers.

With a stronger and more economical engine offering, and a greater focus on addressing the quality issues we discovered in testing, the Grand Cherokee L has the potential to be an impressively competent family car.

But for now, we’re afraid the jury is still out.


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