Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV
Price £38,895 - £65,995
- Spacious interior
- Well equipped for the price
- Better to drive than older Jeeps
- Some interior materials feel cheap
- Engine noisy on motorway
- Limited engine choice
At a glance
"From behind the wheel, the Jeep Grand Cherokee represents a huge improvement over its predecessor."
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is built on the same platform as the Mercedes M-Class, but it's powered by a 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine that was developed by Fiat. The exterior styling feels more European than some previous Jeep designs, with a sleek front grille and LED daytime running lights.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee comes in five main specifications: entry-level Laredo, then Limited, Overland, top-of-the-range Summit and high-performance SRT8, which has a petrol V8 engine instead of the diesel. All are well equipped: if you bought an equivalent Land Rover Discovery, you'd have to spend quite a chunk of change on optional extras to get all the same kit.
MPG, running costs & CO2
Not a cheap car to run
A big Jeep is pretty much always going to be heavy on fuel. With the Grand Cherokee, you're looking at average fuel economy of 37.7mpg from the Fiat-built 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine, as well as CO2 emissions of 198g/km for annual road tax of £265. In reality, this hefty SUV will likely struggle to match that economy figure, unless it's only really used for longer motorway journeys where you're able to drive as consistently as possible.
If you buy the SRT8 petrol model, then fuel economy drops to an appalling 20.2mpg, while CO2 emissions jump to 327g/km, meaning your tax bill will be the maximum £505 a year. There's no way to even pretend that those costs aren't steep, especially as tyres, servicing and replacement parts will also be expensive.
Engines, drive & performance
It's a vast improvement over its predecessor
The Grand Cherokee is particularly robust when driving off-road, but comes up somewhat short when you get back on tarmac. A 2013 update improved things slightly, but didn't iron out every issue. You do get a nice high driving position that gives a great view of the road ahead.
The Grand Cherokee is also fairly relaxing and easy to drive over long distances – as long as you don't suddenly encounter any large potholes at speed that send big shocks reverberating around the interior. It's much better than the old Grand Cherokee, though, and the eight-speed automatic transmission changes gear quickly and effectively.
You can choose between five off-road modes using a dial on the centre console, so only something like a Land Rover Defender would really be able to match the Jeep when the going gets really rough.
Interior & comfort
Comfortable but loud inside
Anyone of any size should be able to get comfortable inside the massive Grand Cherokee – especially because it only seats five in a space often used for seven. All seats are nicely supportive and provide room to stretch out, with the glass roof giving the interior a pleasant airy feel.
The standard air suspension is good at dealing with poor road surfaces, even with the large wheels and low-profile tyres fitted to the Overland model. Versions with air suspension ride incredibly smoothly, even though the 20-inch wheels do sometimes make some bumps feel more pronounced. If you choose standard steel springs instead, be prepared for more jolts and judders inside the car.
Another minor downside is how loud and intrusive the diesel engine becomes at higher speeds and under heavy acceleration.
Practicality & boot space
Huge boot and plenty of space for passengers
The Grand Cherokee is big, so if nothing else it's incredibly spacious inside. The boot offers 782 litres of luggage room with all rear seats in place, which expands to a generous 1,554 litres when the seats are folded down. The maximum figure can't quite match the Land Rover Discovery's sheer capacity, but it should definitely be enough for most SUV owners.
You also get a couple of handy extra storage bins either side of the spare wheel under the boot floor. These are good for hiding valuables from prying eyes. There's also a retractable cover, but when it's pulled out the boot becomes a bit shallow. The tailgate opens automatically, which is very handy when you've got your hands full of shopping or heavy bags.
There's loads of space for passengers, with lots of leg and headroom throughout, plus in top-of-the-range models the back seats are ventilated and recline. On the downside, the Jeep's undeniably large dimensions make it a very tricky car to park, so the standard reversing camera is invaluable.
Reliability & safety
Jeep has improved here, but still can't match class leaders
The Jeep brand placed a reasonable 18th in our Driver Power 2013 customer satisfaction survey, but the Grand Cherokee is still too rare to make into the survey's top 150 cars. It certainly feels very well put together and because it's based on the Mercedes M-Class, it should be pretty dependable.
However, the interior materials are a little underwhelming for a car in this price range, with some dashboard plastics and switches feeling decidedly cheap and scratchy. The top-of-the-range Overland and Summit models are both much better, though, using lots of leather and some genuine wood for a touch of class that the entry-level models lack.
The Grand Cherokeee's main failing, however, is its low Euro NCAP crash-test score. It only secured a four-star rating, which is troubling for such a big car. Nearly every other new car on the road receives the maximum five-star safety rating, so the Cherokee is much less appealing than a BMW X5 or Volkswagen Touareg.
Price, value for money & options
You're not left wanting for standard kit
The Grand Cherokee undercuts its main premium rivals, such as the Volkswagen Touareg and BMW X5, by quite a significant margin. This is even more impressive when you consider the amount of equipment and accessories you get as standard: sat nav, a reversing camera, leather upholstery, air-suspension and keyless entry all make the list. You'd have to spend a lot of money to get all that on a Land Rover Discovery.