$45,000 – $81,900
Good: Fantastic exterior design; Luxurious interior; On-road driving capabilities on par with the competition; Off-road handling leads the pack; Easily Jeeps best ever model.
Not so Good: Petrol V6 lacks a little torque; Five speed automatic transmission could be smoother; No option of third row seating.
Design and Engineering
Good: This fourth generation Grand Cherokee arrived in Australia in February 2011.
We’re big fans of the new styling, highlights include the squared off wheel arches, the high waistline and a tasteful use of chrome highlights.
Underneath the shiny sheet metal the Grand Cherokee shares much of its platform and hardware with the Mercedes Benz ML-Class (2012 year onwards), which just so happens to be a more expensive competitor.
Torsional stiffness is reported as being 146 per cent better. It’s also far roomier with a notable increase in both wheelbase (135mm) and width (76mm).
A Land Rover style Select-terrain system lets you select the optimal use of the 4WD system for a wide variety of on and off-road conditions.
Not so good : By retaining serious off-roading credentials the current model is no lighter than the outgoing model (the entry level variant coming in at just under 2.2 tonnes).
Interior and Styling
Good : Fit and finish is much improved as is the choice of materials used in the cabin. The truly upmarket feel inside is a first for a Grand Cherokee and the uncomplicated dash layout is mostly high quality too. We also like the new soft touch plastics and the carpets aren’t the el-cheapo variety either.
The Overland variant features a stitched leather covered dash and across all grades is a three spoke steering wheel which feels great in the hand and adjusts for both rake (up down) and reach (in and out).
Rear legroom is 100mm greater than previously, luggage space is up by 17 per cent (782 litres seats-up and 1554 litres folded) and the doors open wider than the last one.
All grades feature a big glovebox, a covered storage bin and removable dual bins in the spare wheel well. The Laredo comes standard with dual-zone climate control, heated seats, keyless entry and the Select Terrain system. The Limited adds leather trim, a driver’s memory seat, front and rear parking radar and a premium audio system. The range topping Overland also gets a heated steering wheel, the leather trimmed dash, a large panoramic dual sunroof, satellite navigation and radar controlled active cruise control amongst other goodies. Phew!
The go fast SRT model features SRT embroidered bucket seats that are finished in nappa leather and comfy suede. SRT models also get carbon fibre look highlights that are integrated into instrument and door trim panels. There’s also drilled aluminum finished race pedals.
Not so good : The Grand Cherokee still doesn’t match the best interiors of the German brands (however, the big Jeep is priced significantly less).
No third row seating, even as an option (but neither do a number of competitors).
Good: The Jeep Grand Cherokee range comes with the choice of three petrol engines and one diesel engine.
Laredo and Limited variants come with a 3.6-litre V6 that produces 210kW of power and 347Nm of torque when matched to a 5-speed automatic transmission.
The higher Overland grade comes with a 5.7-litre HEMI V8 that produces 259kW of power and 520Nm of torque when matched to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The Limited variant can also be optioned with the V8 HEMI if desired.
Laredo, Limited and Overland variants can also be optioned with a 3.0-litre turbo diesel engine that is capable of 177kW of power and 550Nm of torque when matched to a 5-speed automatic.
Sitting at the top of the food chain and the most exciting of the bunch is a 6.4-litre SRT HEMI V8 capable of 344kW of power and 624Nm of torque when matched to a 5-speed automatic.
On the road the 3.6-litre is smooth, quiet and sounds mighty impressive when the accelerator is pressed hard into the carpet.
If you’re going to be towing a boat and fuel economy is big on your list then the 3.0-litre turbo diesel is the best option.
However, if you love the sound of a growling beast and fast past acceleration then the two V8 options are sure to whet your appetite.
Not so good : The petrol V6 lacks torque down low so acceleration from the lights is adequate rather than brisk.
The 5-speed automatic transmission is less impressive than a number of competitor’s newer six or even eight speed offerings. It’s by no means bad, just lacking a little in smoothness, as gears ratios seem to be too far apart.
Ride and Handling
Good : This is the first Grand Cherokee with independent suspension (front and rear) and the top of the range ‘Overland’ variant adds adjustable air suspension (named ‘Quadra-Lift’) to the mix.
The ride quality is greatly improved over the outgoing model. We found the handling to be stable on road and refined too. For a two tonne plus full size SUV the amount of bodyroll present is entirely acceptable, especially considering that the Grand Cherokee has retained its awesome off-road capabilities.
Steering feel is also much improved with decent levels of feedback. An 11.6m turning circle is entirely acceptable for such a big vehicle.
The Select-Terrain traction control system allows the driver to choose from five different drive options (Snow, Sport, Auto, Sand/Mud and Rock – the latter rising ground clearance to an impressive 271mm).
Top of the range SRT8 variant get an Electronic Limited Slip Differential that gives drivers more control on the road by improving handling and eliminating rear wheel spin.
In addition the SRT8 features a new SRT-tuned adaptive damping suspension managed by the Selec-Trac system that interacts with the multiple driving systems equipped.
The STR8 also gets red-painted, Brembo 6-piston (front) and 4-piston (rear) calipers, with vented rotors at all four corners that dramatically help pull the vehicle to a halt.
Not so good : Lacks the class leading road handling capabilities of a BMW X5 or a Porsche Cayenne (excluding the SRT8 Grand Cherokee of course).
Softer than most ride can get the big Jeep a little wrong-footed over rougher road surfaces when the pace is on.
Buying and Owning
Good : Far, far better value than any previous big Jeep. Less expensive, more features, better economy and far better to drive.
Ticks the safety box with hill-start assist, hill-descent control, trailer-sway control, full-length side-curtain and seat-mounted side thorax airbags, and active front head restraints.
Not so good : No seven-seat option. The 5-speed automatic feels a bit dated when compared to 7 and even 8-speed automatics on the market.