Road test: Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve

  • JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE L SUMMIT RESERVE
  • Basic price: $134,990 (RightCar Estimated Fee for Clean Car Program: $4887)
  • Powertrain and economy: 3.6-litre petrol V6, 210kW/344Nm, 8-speed automatic, AWD, combined economy 11.9L/100km, CO2 276g/km (source: RightCar).
  • Vital Statistics: 5204 mm long, 2149 mm wide, 1817 mm high, 3091 mm wheelbase, luggage capacity 487 liters, 21-inch alloy wheels.
  • Security: Not tested.
  • We like: Amazingly comfortable and luxurious, high quality interior, awesome stereo, great ride quality, so much space.
  • We don’t like: Old engine lets the side down, it’s quite big…

Are you a Jeep Grand Cherokee owner who has ever looked at your vehicle and thought “This is great, but I wish it was a lot longer…”? Well, you’re in luck, because the latest incarnation of the long-running nameplate is launched here with extra length and an extra L to denote it.

OUTSIDE

The newest Jeep Grand Cherokee is completely different from the outgoing one, with upgrades everywhere.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

The newest Jeep Grand Cherokee is completely different from the outgoing one, with upgrades everywhere.

The latest Grand Cherokee doesn’t deviate too far from the expected formula, but it also refines and modernizes the traditional look in every way. From its sleeker headlights all the way back to its subtly sloping roofline, every part of the Grand Cherokee is different, but it’s still unmistakably a Grand Cherokee.

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Except this one is slightly different: as mentioned, the L on the butt indicates that this is the extra-large (well, extra-long) model that’s a new addition to the Grand Cherokee range and the first version to launch locally.

And extra large (and long) it really is, it is 5.2 meters long and 2.15 meters wide. This size means the L is also a true seven-seater – the first Grand Cherokee to offer three rows and the first all-new Grand Cherokee in 11 years.

While a shorter five-seat version is on the way, the seven-seater is the flagship, offered here in $99,990 Night Eagle guise, $104,990 Limited form and the version we’re testing here: the $134,990 Summit Reserve model.

Yes, it’s massive and yes, it’s very long, but the proportions are very right, making the Grand Cherokee L a truly handsome hauler that’s unmistakably a Jeep – even down to its trademark seven-slot grill that’s subtly shaved forward in a homage to the original 1963 Jeep Wagoneer.

INSIDE

The Summit Reserve model is hugely luxurious.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

The Summit Reserve model is hugely luxurious.

And yes, $134,990 is a lot of money for a Jeep, but it quickly becomes apparent that the Grand Cherokee L is one heck of a Jeep when you climb into it.

The quality is incredibly high here, with Jeep really pushing the Grand Cherokee L to true luxury status. Wood and leather lashings dominate the interior, all of impressively high quality and truly lovely to touch.

Open-pore wood and quilted leather give the Jeep the air of a Ron Burgundy boast (“I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany”), which suits it perfectly and makes it a truly civilized place to spend time.

With both rear rows released, the storage space expands to almost 2400 litres.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

With both rear rows released, the storage space expands to almost 2400 litres.

Of course, it’s also packed with the latest technology to complement all that luxury, and the massive size means it can swallow a remarkable amount of gear – 487 liters of cargo space is available with all three rows of seats up, while dropping the third row up that to 1328 liter.

Dropping the second row frees up a whopping 2393 liters of space in the back.

UNDER MONTANA

Under the hood hides Jeep's 3.6-liter Pentastar V6.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

Under the hood hides Jeep’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V6.

This is where the Grand Cherokee’s true luxury credentials falter a bit, with the long-running 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 still working.

To its credit, it has undergone a thorough overhaul and is considerably more refined than the older unit in the Wrangler, which now pumps out 210kW and 344Nm. The Pentastar in the Grand Cherokee L sits on hydraulic mounts for improved refinement and the front axle assembly is now better integrated with the engine, allowing it to sit lower for better handling.

The eight-speed automatic is a lovely gearbox, while the V6 has a nice raspy growl, but it never quite feels premium like the rest of the Grand Cherokee. Then there’s its fuel consumption, which Jeep says is 10.6L/100km , but in reality it’s much closer to 14 in the real world.

Still, while the engine isn’t as premium as the rest of the pack, it’s hardly a deal-breaker, and if that fuel consumption figure worries you, the 4xe plug-in hybrid version will be here next year, packing the 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine with a 17kWh battery, which will be good for 280kW and 40km of pure-electric driving, while no doubt significantly quenching the Grand Cherokee’s thirst.

ON THE ROAD

Surprisingly, for such a large vehicle, the Grand Cherokee L is quite agile.

Damien O’Carroll/Stuff

Surprisingly, for such a large vehicle, the Grand Cherokee L is quite agile.

The Grand Cherokee L isn’t exactly a radical departure from the Grand Cherokee recipe on the road, offering a plush – and very American – ride that’s surprisingly well controlled through corners.

Sure, you’re always aware that it’s a big boy, but the chassis feels impressively bound and supple for such a big American SUV. Road noise is a bit of an issue – no doubt due to the massive 21in wheels on the Summit Reserve, as well as the fact that it’s remarkably quiet in every other aspect.

JUDGMENT

The first all-new Grand Cherokee in 11 years is a huge leap from the last – and it was pretty impressive in its own right.

The convincing transition to full-blown luxury is somewhat tarnished by the old engine, but it’s still a thoroughly compelling and compelling package that offers a stunning interior, impressive on-road handling and so much space you’ll probably struggle to know what you will do. do with it.

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