The new Grand is a 7-seat touring wagon for all roads.
Story Bruce McMahon
Jeep’s biggest off-roading family wagon sold in Australia now offers an elongated option – the Grand Cherokee L.
The 5m-long 4WD arrives with 7 seats plus a suite of driver, safety and comfort aids. Along with off-road ability, the big American offers fair value, with prices starting at $82,450. All 3 versions of the Cherokee L run with a 3.6L V6, automatic transmission and permanent 4WD. Drift up to the Summit Reserve model – the most expensive of all today’s Jeeps, costing around $115,450 – and optional extras run to a fair gamut of luxury and new-tech features, from a sunroof to a night vision system that can pick up stray cattle or kangaroos loitering by roadsides up to 100m away.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee L has a handsome road presence, with the usual Jeep styling cues, trapezoidal wheel arches and 7-slot grille. In most colour combinations it belies its price tag, looking more premium than a Toyota Prado or even the more expensive LandCruiser.
The Summit Reserve is also a more comfortable touring machine than the Cruiser. These top-of-the-range Jeeps are more civilised machines to steer than a Cruiser and boast comparable off-road ability thanks to clever 4WD technology and air suspension that can increase ground clearance to 276mm or drop the wagon close to the ground for loading folk or luggage. For the Summit, too, there’s the $5500 option of the advanced technology group package, with a head-up display for road speeds, gear ratios, road names and speed limits, wireless phone charging and the worthwhile night vision.
Jeep’s petrol V6 produces 210kW and 344Nm of torque through an 8-speed transmission. The drive train is a little old-school perhaps, but it sounds good and can run at around 11L/100km for a mix of country, town and off-road work (carrying 2 people and a long weekend load), while offering smooth acceleration for overtaking and easy open-road cruising at 1500rpm. Towing for Grand Cherokee Ls is limited to 2813kg (down to 2268kg on the Summit), which may deter some buyers.
Cabin layout and trim are attractive. Standard gear across the 3 versions includes 12 USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control and ‘drowsy driver’ detection. All three rows of seats offer good leg and headroom. Drop the back seats – at the touch of a button on the Summit – and there’s an inordinate amount of cargo room, just over 1300L of space.
These are spacious and comfortable interiors, with a swag of buttons and controls to be digested, including a welcome row of centre dashboard switches for the likes of turning off the sometimes intrusive lane departure warnings. Jeep’s fingertip controls on the back of the steering wheel for audio systems are easier to find than most.
With a monocoque body – rather than a body on a separate chassis – the Grand Cherokee L is a well-composed wagon on all manner of roads and tracks. Steering feel is well-weighted, steering responses accurate and the vehicle always feels properly planted on bitumen or back roads. Ride comfort is excellent in the air-suspended Summit Reserve and those good road manners and comforts carry through to the big Jeeps’ off-road performances.
Overall, the Jeep Grand Cherokee L is one of the more relaxed and well-sorted Sports Utility Vehicles, with some off-road credibility. A 5-year, 100,000km warranty and lifetime roadside assistance is offered if serviced at dealers. Move up to the Summit Reserve model and these 7-seaters will head further off road than most family drivers (even Cruiser drivers) are likely to need. After all, Jeep still has a 4WD legend to maintain.
The lack of a diesel engine option, lower towing limits and, perhaps, pricing may not suit everyone, but as a competent family tourer across a range of road conditions, the big Cherokee has its place in an ever-widening choice of SUVs.
This story excerpt is from Issue #147
Outback Magazine: February/March 2023