Bored of the 4-cylinder turbodiesel in your typical ute or 4WD wagon? Need to tow 3.5 tons but don’t want to pay $80K for a 200-series Land Cruiser? Not a fan of the spartan interior of the 70-series? Jeep Grand Cherokee is an amazingly versatile vehicle, with seven different variants on offer, ranging from a 2WD family wagon to off-roading and overlanding rig, to a 700 hp track monster.
Jeep sales in Australia have taken a bit of a hit since 2014, but Grand Cherokee remained the top-selling model down under. It traces its origins back to 1992, when it replaced the Wagoneer, as a Jeep’s premium-trim large SUV. The current fourth generation was released in 2010 and has been regularly updated since.
Sporting a fresh exterior restyled in 2017, the Jeep Grand Cherokee received new LED DRL and HID headlights, new bumper, more chrome bling and of course, a trademark seven-slot grille is still there. Performance models feature a lowered, slotted, more aerodynamic bumpers, while the off-road specced Trailhawk comes with bright red recovery hooks and blacked-out hood to reduce glare. 18” or 20” inch alloy wheels are available depending on the model. In all but the base models, dual-pane panoramic sunroof is an option.
The interior is not as fancy as some of the European competition but is on par with what’s expected from a $60K+ SUV. The centre dash is designed around a 7” or 8.4” touchscreen console, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The 7.4” unit which comes with the base Laredo model lacks satellite navigation, though. Audio system has 6, 9 or 19 (!) speakers, with active noise cancelling in most models. Just for the Overland model, an optional DVD/Blu-Ray entertainment unit in the back is available. Which is a nice touch, it will keep the kids occupied during the long trips (which is what Jeep Grand Cherokee Overlander is designed for).
The driver and passenger seats have 8-way electric adjustments and are quite spacious and comfortable but lack some side support. Rear bench, foldable 60-40, comfortably seats three, as expected of a car this size. The seat pockets could be a bit bigger though. The boot is a sizeable 457 litres, or 1557 litres with the second row folded flat. Tiedown points, cargo mats and a cargo barrier are available.
Safety options are plentiful, backed up by a 5-star ANCAP rating. 7 airbags, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and more. Reversing camera with guiding lines and front and rear parking sensors will help manage this rather sizeable car (sadly, no 360 degree cameras available with Jeep Grand Cherokee ).
Engine options is where it gets real fun. Let’s be honest, this is why most people would buy a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Base engine is a naturally aspirated 3.6L V6 petrol, 213 kW at 6400 rpm and 347 Nm at 4000. Combined fuel economy of 10 litres per 100 km, or 13.5 in the city. A more than impressive powerplant, it accelerates this hunk of a car to 100 km/h in 8.1 seconds. The more common, however, is a V6 3.0L turbodiesel, making 184 kW at 4000 rpm and an impressive 570 Nm at 2000. The towing capacity of the petrol 4×4 version is 2800 kg versus the diesel’s 3500, matching the fabled 200-series Land Cruiser. Thanks to its torque and wider powerband, the performance doesn’t take a noticeable hit – the zero to one hundred time is 8.3 seconds.
Now if you’re not after towing, there is the SRT and Trackhawk models. SRT has a 6.4L V8 straight out of a muscle car. Naturally aspirated, it gets you to one hundred in 4.9 seconds. Outputting 344 kW and 624 Nm at 6250 and 4100 rpm, respectively. Of course, the price is 20 litres per 100 km in the city and 14 litres combined cycle. But it gets even better, because the top-of-the-line Trackhawk model comes with a 6.2L supercharged V8, outputting 522 kW at 6000 rpm and 868 Nm of torque at 4800. This is why the Jeep Grand Cherokee holds the title of the most powerful SUV. You wouldn’t even worry about fuel consumption at this point, but it’s 25 litres per 100 km in the city and 16.8 combined.
In a typical American fashion, only automatic 8-speed is available with 2WD transmission for the base model, and full-time 4WD for the others. The Jeep Grand Cherokee has an independent suspension all-around, with optional airbags to increase the clearance to 275 mm for the Trailhawk and Overland. The same two off-road oriented models also feature an electronic limited-slip diff in the rear, which is the next best thing to a proper locker.
Driveaway prices vary from $47K for the petrol 2WD model, $60K for the cheapest diesel 4WD, $81K for a Trailhawk, to $146K for a Trackhawk. The horse power to price ratio is still unbeatable, though.
All in all, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is a solid large SUV, every bit as capable as the competition, yet set apart from it by a multitude of powerful engine choices and models for any user.