In early November last year, Jeep’s vice president Jim Morrison arrived in New England to present several of his latest products to the media. The return of the Wagoneer, a larger three-row Grand Cherokee L, a plug-in hybrid Wrangler 4Xe, plus this week’s selected vehicle – the new Grand Cherokee. As one of the hottest brands in the industry – despite COVID, despite chip shortages, despite problems with the supply chain – Jeep is rapidly expanding market share.
It’s been 11 years since Grand Cherokee got a makeover. Committed fans will be very pleased, despite the $ 3,000 price increase for all models, as the new GC is longer, wider, lighter, smoother and more polished than ever before. Our two-tone Silver Zymith and Black Overland samples ($ 55,305 base, $ 70,360 on display) elicited free Range Rover comparisons from multiple viewers.
It was not mentioned by Morrison, but the Range Rover look is obviously a target in the new GC. Its stance – wider by 1.5 inches, on a wheelbase that is 2 inches longer – is barely noticeable, but almost 4 more inches in total length is obvious in the cargo area as well as in the rear seat. Still a foot shorter than the L model, the Grand Cherokee is sleek and ready in areas that its predecessor was not.
Start with the revised multi-link suspension front and rear. Now made entirely of aluminum, the chassis provides improved driving dynamics and improved driving balance. The steering feel is sharper, the brake feel is stronger. Add the adaptive air suspension – for choice on terrain and terrain – and the new Grand Cherokee is impressively composed.
Rear drive remains standard on Laredo base models ($ 39,185) while Quadra Drive II and Quadra Trac II AWD / 4WD systems get a limited-slip differential as well as a low-range 4WD button on the console. The Pentastar V-6 engine will remain the workhorse, (293 hp, 18/25 mpg) while the Hemi V-8 (optional) (357 hp plus 130 pounds / foot extra torque) is the engine that really shapes the character of this premium SUV. Go on the pedal and Hemi produces sonorous power and a firm pressure in your quilted, heated and cooled, massaging leather seat. The realized winter fuel economy ranged from 18-20 mpg – right in the heart of the EPA ratings for the V-8.
The enlarged body continues with the familiar Jeep grille with seven doors, while the facade carries luminous LED lights and leans slightly forward. The belt line is lower, with better visibility, and the roof is also lower. The weight has dropped by 250 pounds due to more aluminum throughout and better use of high-strength steel.
Buyers will mostly notice the new personality inside, where GC continues the Jeep trend (like Stellantis) to make its interiors among the best in all segments. The massage seats, in this price range, are excellent – with real heaters, not slow heaters. The accentuating leather and wood upholstery is a snap above, while Overland provides climate in four zones, sunroofs with double panels, sun protection at the rear, plus wireless charging. New features include a Heads-Up screen forward, an interactive front passenger screen that can play Amazon TV (one of the first passenger screens in the entire segment), dual rear screens that can play separate Fire TV options, a rear wiper heater, a rear camera washer, plus Nightvision with animal and pedestrian detection. The driver cannot see the passenger screen, but all cars can be maintained by the Nightvision panel on the driver’s dashboard.
Add an off-road driving camera, a 19-speaker McIntosh stereo system with the U-Connect 5 screen’s multiple apps, in addition to the expanded portfolio of safety / driving aids, and no one can deny Jeep’s rise to the top with content and performance.
Later in the spring, the plug-in hybrid model, 4Xe in Jeep language, will roll out with 250 km of electric power alone. Jeep claims that terrain will work as well, along with the off-road cruise program.
Jeep sales increased by 10 percent in 2021, and the Grand Cherokee showed impressive growth thanks to the new L model. During the third quarter of 2021, the Grand Cherokee was the fifth best-selling nameplate in America, after just the three pickups from Ford, Ram and Chevy, as well as the Toyota RAV4. Also helped sales – Jeep’s first quality results in the JD Power survey led the brand to the top 10 list for the entire industry for the very first time. The new Grand Cherokees now come with three years of free scheduled maintenance as well.
A agile driver with its new chassis, fast on demand with Hemi and adorned with a class-leading interior design, the latest Grand Cherokee oozes appeal.
Next week: Jeep Compass Trailhawk