2011 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE REVIEW
Vehicle Style: Luxury SUV
Fuel Economy (claimed): 14.1 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 15.5 l/100km
The Grand Cherokee has now entered its fourth incarnation, wearing new bodywork over a new platform. At the wheel it offers improved refinement over the older model.
There's no diesel yet (although it's coming) and the V8 is thirsty, but the pricetag is very attractive.
- Quality: It's a nice cabin, but there's nothing adventurous about its design. The only significant negatives are the hard plastics on the lower dash and around the centre stack, which feel like they belong in something less premium.
- Comfort: All seats are well-padded, and the heated front seats are power adjustable. The rear bench is spacious and comfortable, and the outboard seats on the Limited model also score seat heaters
- Equipment: As standard, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited gets bi-xenon dusk-sensing headlamps (with auto-dipping), rain-sensing wipers, heated and power folding exterior mirrors, dual-zone climate control, leather upholstery, a nine-speaker audio system with 30GB hard drive and USB inputs, Bluetooth phone integration, satellite navigation and 20-inch alloy wheels.
Our tester was also equipped with the optional power liftgate, heated steering wheel and panoramic sunroof.
- Storage: With the 60/40 split rear seats up, there's a generous 782 litres of cargo space in the boot. The boot lip is flush with the boot floor, and the rear seatbacks fold flat to create a sizable 1554 litre cargo area.
ON THE ROAD
- Driveability: The big 259kW/520Nm 5.7 litre Hemi V8 whisks the 2.3-tonne Grand Cherokee along effortlessly, but the trade-off is a heavy thirst for fuel – even with its cylinder-shutdown system.
The five-speed automatic is smooth and doesn't exhibit any obvious flaws, but an extra ratio or two might help bring fuel consumption down.
- Refinement: The Limited is well isolated from the outside world, and aside from the distant growl of the V8 and a bit of wind noise at speed, it's a quiet cabin.
- Suspension: Our car was equipped with Jeep's Quadra-Lift air suspension system, allowing ride height to be varied between 192mm and 271mm. The all-independent air suspension delivers a smooth ride, but is a little too soft, wallowing a little over uneven secondary roads.
The steering is light and the Grand Cherokee doesn't suffer from an excessively wide turning circle. It's easy to pilot around town, and rides comfortably over pretty much any surface.
- Braking: The disc brakes are big, and with 2.3 tonnes to rein in they need to be. The pedal is soft, but brake performance is good.
- Off road: The Selec-Terrain system allows the driver to switch between drive modes tailored to sand/mud, rock, snow or tarmac, which alters traction control behaviour to maximise grip.
The standard-equipment Quadra-Trac II system features a dual-range transfer case, while the Quadra-Lift air suspension delivers impressive ground clearance. Wheel articulation is also good, even with the suspension at maximum height.
- ANCAP rating: Not tested
- Safety features: Seven airbags (dual front, driver's knee, dual front side and full-length curtain), three-point seatbelts (front pretensioning), active headrests, ABS, EBD, brake assist, stability control and traction control are standard.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
- Warranty: 3 years/100,000km
- Service costs: Servicing intervals are set for every 12,000km, with an typical service costing between $470 - $500. The first major service is due at 48,000km, and costs roughly $1250.
HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY
- Volvo XC90 3.2 ($69,400) – Its 175kW inline six is no match for the Jeep's 259kW V8, and the XC90 is showing a lot of wrinkles at its age. Still, it's spacious inside, safe, and comes with a solid reputation.
- Land Rover Discovery 4 TDV6 ($68,490) – The Discovery 4 is a proper 4WD that offers a great deal of capability for its asking price. It may feel slightly smaller and less opulent inside, but its third row of seats mean it can carry more people than the Grand Cherokee.
- Toyota Prado GXL petrol ($60,904) – The Prado has long been a favourite among Aussie families, and it's got loads of off-road cred. However, it can't match the luxury offered by the Jeep at this price point. (see Prado reviews)
Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The Jeep Grand Cherokee has a very attractive price-tag, a great engine and a generous spec list. Should you want to venture to the great outdoors, it's also got the hardware to get you there – and get you back home too.
It's a thirsty beast though, and bowser-shy buyers may want to wait until the arrival of a diesel model.