Based on Mercedes-Benz M-Class architecture, the fourth-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee is by far the most sophisticated Jeep flagship to ever hit the market. Our test vehicle is the entry level Grand Cherokee Laredo.
Among the biggest changes made is the interior, even our test vehicle, the base Laredo gets classy gauges, soft touch plastics almost everywhere, leather on the very nice three spoke steering wheel and fine cloth upholstery. Silver-painted plastic trim isn’t upscale, but it works at this price point and it blends well with the nicest fake wood I’ve seen in for a while.
Under its bonnet and behind its seven-slot grille, is Chrysler’s new Pentastar V6. In the Grand Cherokee, the V6 has Quad Variable-valve Timing and 210 kW of power at 6,350 rpm with 347 Nm of torque at 4,300 rpm, saving 10-percent in fuel consumption over the old model. This exceptional motor is coupled with the Mercedes-sourced five-speed automatic transmission that delivers very smooth shifts and effortless cruising.
The all-new body structure’s torsional stiffness is 146-percent greater than the previous model combined with the new Quadra-Lift air suspension and sport mode that lowers ride height and ensures the Jeep is a bit more fun to drive. Quadra-Lift also gives the option of an increased ride height for off-road excursions, and a removable front air dam further increases clearance. The fully independent suspension rides brilliantly on road, soaking up every bump and expansion joint I could throw at it. However where I was most impressed was with the Grand Cherokee’s responsive steering. It was an absolute blast to throw this big girl through my favourite drive down Galston Gorge just north of Sydney. A sports car it is not, but the line between off roaders and pavement burners is getting thinner.
The cloth-covered front seats proved especially comfortable, offering eight-way power adjustment and four-way power lumbar support. A comfortable driving position was easy to find plus all five passengers get decent legroom. The rear seats felt especially comfortable as they recline 12 degrees and are split 60/40. Behind the rear seats, the Laredo offers a very nicely finished cargo area with a useable 782L in total. A spare tire hides underneath the floor.
To keep up with the cream of the SUV crop these days, a 4X4 would need a selectable off-road setting switch like Land Rover’s system, and the new Jeep gets one just like it in what it calls Selec-Terrain. Almost identical to Land Rover’s system, Selec-Terrain allows the driver to choose via a control knob in the centre console between sand/mud, sport, auto, and snow and rock settings that electronically adjust traction control and differentials. Having tested the new Jeep in our favourite off road test track, I can verify that the Quadra-Lift air suspension does deliver legendary Jeep off-road capability and is simply brilliant.
Our test vehicles AM/FM/CD audio system has nine-speakers with 30GB hard drive and USB inputs with Bluetooth phone integration. Easy to read gauges and simple, clearly marked switchgear is the rule for Grand Cherokee’s cabin. The easy-to-use cruise control buttons are mounted on the steering wheel, rather than on a small stalk. It is worth checking out the Jeep website for the list of equipment and key features, depending on grade and options as they are endless.
The all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee includes more than 45 safety and security features. Standard safety features include Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Electronic Roll Mitigation (ERM), and four-wheel Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) with rough-road detection, All-speed Traction Control (ASTC), Trailer-sway Control (TSC), Keyless Enter-N-Go™, remote keyless entry and front-seat passenger seat-belt pretensioners. Other standard safety features include next generation front air bags plus full-length side-curtain air bags, seat-mounted side thorax air bags, standard driver inflatable knee bolster and active head restraints that deploy in the event of a rear collision.
Arguably one of the most impressive factors around the launch of the all-new Grand Cherokee is the value story. Starting at $45,000 MLP (plus Quadra-Lift air suspension at $2,500), the pricing is thousands below that of the outgoing model, despite the significant lift in features, equipment and quality. This is set to make the Jeep Grand Cherokee a major contender in Australia’s SUV sector. When you decide to venture to the great outdoors, it’s got the hardware to get you there – and get you back. The only thing missing is the diesel version.
What is good?
• One of the best-looking SUVs around.
• Represents value against its opposition
• Off road capability
What is not so good?
• No diesel option
• Transmission sometimes hesitant
• Fuel use around town
Model Grand Cherokee Laredo V6 Auto
Model Price $45,000 MLP
Drivetrain 3.6L V6 5 speed auto
Power 210 Kw @ 6,350 rpm
Torque 347 Nm @ 4,300 rpm
CO2 Emissions g/km 265
Green Vehicle Rating 3 Star
Fuel (ADR comb) 11.4 L/100Km
Tow Capacity – Max 2,268 kg
Tow Ball Rating NA
Servicing $Not Supplied
Warranty 3yr 100,000km
Overall OzRoamer Rating 80/100
Behind the Wheel 8
Ride & Handling 8
Fit for Purpose 8
Towing Ability 7
Off Road Ability 8
Value for Money 9