Back in the heady days of 2014, when Jeep sold a record 30,408 cars in Australia, the Grand Cherokee accounted for more than half of them – more than 12,000 cars ahead of the next best seller in the range.
Along with the likes of the Toyota Prado and Ford Territory, it presented a more affordable alternative to the BMW X5 or Mercedes-Benz ML for ballers on a budget. But time moves on, and the Grand Cherokee didn’t.
The strong-selling WK2 Grand Cherokee was on sale in Australia for 12 years before stock dried up in 2022, but a five-seat replacement hasn’t been forthcoming (the Grand Cherokee L is a bigger, more expensive proposition) until now.
The new Grand Cherokee has a bit in common with the popular WK2. It undercuts the BMW X5 and Audi Q7 on price, but offers a luxurious interior, bold looks, and the promise of go-anywhere ability – even if most will spend more time in school carparks than on the Rubicon Trail.
There’s plenty of promise on paper. How does it stack up in the real world?
At the top end, our 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland tester ($98,450) lines up with a Volvo XC90 B5 ($95,990) or Ultimate B6 Bright ($105,990 before on-roads), along with the base Audi Q7 45 TDI quattro ($110,000).
There’s a significant price jump from Limited to Overland, and aside from Nappa leather and a panoramic roof, most of the extra kit on offer for your $14,500 is related to off-roading.
If you need seven seats, the five-seat Overland is priced around $5000 below its Grand Cherokee L big brother.
2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee pricing:
- Jeep Grand Cherokee Night Eagle: $77,950
- Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited: $83,950
- Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland: $98,450
Prices exclude on-road costs
There’s very little to differentiate the Grand Cherokee from the bigger Grand Cherokee L up front, for better and worse.
The good? The seats are cushy, high-set armchairs allowing drivers to survey their kingdom from on-high, and the design is thoroughly modern. It looks every bit a $100,000 cabin, even though it doesn’t always feel like it.
As was the case with the L, some of the key touch points aren’t up to snuff given the list price. The trim pieces linking the dashboard with the transmission tunnel flex when leaned on, while the black and silver trim on the steering wheel creaks when you press too hard.
The cut lines and joins are a bit nasty in places, while the indicator stalk feels brittle and cheap.
Jeep has decided it’s premium in Australia; the cabin of the Grand Cherokee has the potential to fulfil that goal but falls short in a few areas.
Materials audit aside, there’s plenty to like. Jeep’s latest touchscreen infotainment system is slick, the menu structure is simple, and it responds quickly to inputs like you’d expect of a flagship system in 2023.
Wireless Apple CarPlay worked reliably, and the mix of touch and physical controls for things like the climate is just right.
Jeep also offers three years of app connectivity, allowing owners to remotely track their vehicle, input a destination, or receive stolen vehicle alerts.
The digital instrument cluster is less of a hit. It’s fine, but the animations are clunky beside what’s offered elsewhere, and the fact it minimises the faux dials every time it has a warning – rather than displaying it where the trip computer sit, like other brands – it shows more refinement is needed.
Storage space is excellent up front. The wireless phone charger beneath the dashboard happily holds an iPhone 13 Pro Max, the cupholders are up to the biggest drink McDonalds can throw at them, and the central bin is up to a carload’s worth of road trip snacks.
The deep door bins are also up to the task of taking oversized bottles.
Rear seat space is a strong suit. Legroom is excellent, and the high-set front seats leave toe space for rear passengers wearing chunky boots. Throw in the tall windows and doors that open nice and wide, and you have a practical place for either kids or adults.
Along with the air vents on the transmission tunnel, there are vents on the outboard pillars for rear passengers.
That’ll win the Grand Cherokee fans on hot days, as will the rear temperature controls, heated and cooled seats, and the pair of USB-A/C combination ports. Also handy are the fold-up window shades.
ISOFIX points feature on the outboard rear seats, and there’s a trio of top-tether points for child seats.
Boot space is a claimed 1067 litres behind the second row, although it’s worth noting Jeep uses a different standard to its rivals. It’s a massive boot, no doubt about it, but it’s not 400L larger than what’s on offer in a BMW X5.
Claimed space with the second row folded flat is 2004L.
Power in the Jeep Grand Cherokee comes from a naturally-aspirated 3.6-litre petrol V6 engine producing 210kW of power at 6400rpm and 344Nm of torque at 4000rpm, mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission and four-wheel drive.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee uses a claimed 9.9L/100km on the ADR combined cycle. In the real world, we saw around the 13L/100km mark in the city, dropping down closer to 11L/100km on the highway. It has an 87L fuel tank, and drinks 91 RON regular unleaded.
Braked towing capacity is 2813kg and unbraked is 750kg, while the Grand Cherokee weighs 2167kg (tare) with a 2744kg gross vehicle mass (GVM).
Ground clearance is between 193mm and 276mm in the Overland, with approach, break over and departure angles of 30.1, 24.0 and 28.4 degrees in Off-Road 2 mode. Wading depth is up to 610mm.
The Grand Cherokee feels meaningfully smaller and more nimble than the L on the road, as you’d expect.
In Overland trim, it also feels better sorted than the Grand Cherokee L Limited we drove recently. The air suspension that allows the car to squat down low for easier access and raise right up for off-roading affords it a comfortable ride at low speeds, where it does a nice job keeping city potholes and expansion joints at bay.
The steering is noticeably heavier than in rivals at low speeds, making the Grand Cherokee feel substantial. There’s something satisfying about piloting a big four-wheel drive that feels like a big four-wheel drive, but it’s not as easy to park as some of its rivals.
At least Jeep’s cameras are high resolution, and leave no excuses for scraped bumpers and wheels. Likewise the commanding driving position, which makes it easy to spot what’s going on in traffic around you.
Up the pace and the Grand Cherokee nicely controlled, settling quickly over crests and dips, and the cabin is well insulated. There’s very little wind or road noise, but the engine gets vocal when you put your foot down.
In the USA, the Grand Cherokee is offered with plug-in hybrid and V8 alternatives to the naturally-aspirated V6 standard locally. The V8 won’t come to Australia; the PHEV isn’t here yet.
It’s a shame, because the V6 is adequate but nothing more. It’s reasonably smooth and quiet on light throttle inputs, slurring from gear-to-gear in the city, but at higher speeds it needs to drop one, two, three gears to tap into its torque band.
You get a healthy serving of noise, but it’s not a terrible sound. It’s reasonably tuneful in the world of naturally-aspirated V6 engines, but it’s not what you’d call premium or particularly special.
Peak torque comes on tap at 4000rpm, so the engine needs to be pushed reasonably hard to deliver its best, and even with your foot welded to the firewall it’s never going to be more than adequately quick – especially with a family and their luggage on board, or a trailer approaching the 2813kg braked maximum.
The Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve with its PHEV drivetrain promises to pack more of a punch. We’re looking forward to getting behind the wheel.
On the subject of active driver assists, the adaptive cruise control in the Grand Cherokee is smooth, but the lane-keep assist is too active.
You’re always close to the edge of your lane in a car as wide as the GC, but no-one told the lane-keep computer which beeps incessantly when you’re even slightly off-centre on some roads.
As for off-roading? The Overland waltzed through our suite of tests at Lang Lang. Unlike some of its luxury SUV rivals, it rides on air suspension setup capable of raising the ride height, along with off-road oriented tyres, a proper transfer case, and underbody shielding designed to protect the key underbody parts – video coming soon.
Grand Cherokee Night Eagle highlights:
- Automatic LED headlights
- LED front fog lights
- 20-inch gloss black alloy wheels
- 265/60 R18 steel spare wheel
- Quadra-Trac I 4WD system with single-speed active transfer case
- Height-adjustable power tailgate
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Keyless entry and start
- Power-folding exterior mirrors
- Privacy glass
- 10.1-inch Uconnect 5 touchscreen infotainment system
- Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay
- Satellite navigation
- DAB+ digital radio
- Six-speaker sound system
- 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster
- 4 x USB outlets (front row)
- 4 x USB outlets (second row)
- Tyre pressure monitoring
- Wireless charging pad
- Suede and TechnoLeather-accented upholstery (black)
- TechnoLeather-wrapped steering wheel
- Dual-zone climate control
- Eight-way power-adjustable front seats
- Heated front seats
- Heated steering wheel
- Auto-dimming rear-view mirror
- Tilt and telescopic steering column adjustment
- LED interior lighting
Grand Cherokee Limited adds:
- 20-inch polished/painted alloy wheels
- Automatic high-beam
- Nine-speaker sound system
- Active Noise Control
- TechnoLeather upholstery (black)
- TechnoLeather door trims
- Driver seat memory
- Heated second-row outboard seats
- Ventilated front seats
- Power tilt and telescopic steering column adjustment
- Digital rear-view mirror
- Exterior mirror puddle lights
- Ambient interior lighting
Grand Cherokee Overland adds:
- 20-inch polished alloy wheels
- LED front cornering lights
- Exterior door handle lighting
- Quadra-Trac II 4×4 with two-speed transfer case
- Quadra-Lift air suspension
- Semi-active damping
- Panoramic sunroof
- Nappa leather upholstery (black)
- Nappa leather door trims
- Bright sill plates
- Steering column memory
- Colour-adjustable ambient lighting
- Removes digital rear-view mirror
- Removers wireless charging pad
Vision Group : $4250 (Limited)
- Panoramic sunroof
- Head-up display
Luxury Tech Group: $4500 (Overland)
- 12-way power-adjustable front seats with memory and massage
- Ventilated second-row outboard seats
- Digital rear-view mirror
- Quad-zone climate control
- Wireless charging pad
- Second-row window shades
Off-Road Group: $2750 (Overland)
- 230mm rear axle
- Electronic limited-slip differential
- 265/60R18 Goodyear all-terrain tyres
- 18-inch polished/painted alloy wheels
- Fuel tank, transfer case and front suspension skid plate shield
A single-pane sunroof is a $3250 option on the Night Eagle.
The WL Grand Cherokee doesn’t yet have a rating from ANCAP, but it has a five-star rating from Euro NCAP based on testing of the 4xe plug-in hybrid.
It received an adult occupant protection rating of 84 per cent, a child occupant protection rating of 89 per cent, a vulnerable road user protection rating of 81 per cent, and a safety assist rating of 81 per cent. It’s unclear when an ANCAP rating will be determined.
Standard safety equipment includes:
- Autonomous emergency braking (forward, reverse)
- Pedestrian and cyclist detection
- Junction assist
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Lane-keep assist
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
- Driver attention monitoring
- Traffic sign recognition
- Intelligent speed limiter
- Reversing camera
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Front knee airbags
- Front and front-side airbags
- Curtain airbags
- Rear occupant alert
Limited and up gain a surround-view camera and a reversing camera washer.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is backed by a five-year, 100,000km warranty.
Service intervals are every 12 months or 12,000km, whichever comes first.
Pricing matches that of the three-row Grand Cherokee L, which has its first five services capped at $399.
The new Grand Cherokee has plenty to offer.
In range-topping Overland guise it offers a luxurious interior, and blends on-road comfort with a healthy dose of off-road ability.
Plenty of these family crossovers won’t go further off-road than a grassy carpark, but if you do want to take the family into the wilderness the Overland should do it. Unfortunately, there’s a but – and it’s down to price.
With a sticker just shy of $100,000 before on-road costs, the fact Jeep makes you spend up to $7500 more on options for a full suite of standard equipment isn’t really good enough.
Throw in an engine that’s adequate but far from standout, and an interior that isn’t built to the standard of the equivalent BMW or Volvo, and the Grand Cherokee isn’t the knockout it really could be.
We’ll have to roll through the more affordable Night Eagle and Limited before passing final judgement, but for now the Grand Cherokee doesn’t quite have what it takes to back up its premium price tag.
Click the images for the full gallery