It’s big, it’s brash and despite a massive exterior overhaul that is heavily influenced by European brands, it still remains a very American machine. The new Grand Cherokee hopes to muscle in on some of the SUV turf that the big German brands currently occupy so those looking for a spacious and stylish 4×4 that can handle the rough stuff, yet doesn't blend in with the crowd may want to read on…

What is it?

This is the fifth generation of what Jeep continually reminds us is the “most awarded SUV on the market”. But, despite the American marque arguably inventing the Sports Utility Vehicle, it has never made the same kind of in-roads with UK buyers as the European and Japanese manufacturers. The latest version is a massive visual improvement on previous generations and now comes loaded with some impressive tech and luxurious interior finishes.

What is it like to drive?

Big, heavy off-road vehicles rarely have the capacity to offer a truly thrilling drive – the Porsche Cayenne is arguably the benchmark in this department – but they should at least be relaxing, smooth and accomplished at consuming those long motorway miles. In this sense, the Grand Cherokee has it covered. The seats are big and sumptuous while the suspension is set up to swallow potholes and iron out imperfections in the road. However, there is a trade-off for this luxury, as the hefty Jeep tends to roll about through corners and generally do a poor job of disguising its gargantuan proportions.

What is it like inside?

The interior has really improved as the Grand Cherokee has matured. Customers will be offered a huge array of choice and specification levels that can become confusing, so we’ll try and break it down here: Laredo models form the base of the line-up and lacks luxuries such as sat-nav and plush interior materials. Limited models introduce leather seats, chrome highlights and a power-assisted boot. The Limited Plus model is solely for UK markets and bolts on a sat-nav system – it’s touted to be the biggest seller here. Big spenders can opt for either Overland or the range-topping Summit models that boast a complicated but competent air suspension and handcrafted interiors that offer the sort of opulence you’d expect from a more expensive Range Rover.       

Is it practical?

Space will not be an issue in this thing as it comfortably seats five with enough room in the rear for luggage and camping equipment.  It’s certainly practical with regards to roominess but some might find its physical size a handfull. Despite the plethora of onboard radars, sensors and gizmos, it will still prove a challenge to smoothly parallel park.  Value for money will also very much depend on engine choice and without going into too much detail, there is a lot of it. The 3-litre V6 diesel will likely be the most popular on these shores as it blends a fairly economical 38mpg with a grunty 248bhp. Crazy people could go for the 6.4-litre V8 petrol found in the fiery SRT models but they will need seriously deep pockets.

Should I buy one?

If you are in the market for a well built, chunky SUV that fuses quality craftsmanship with some in your face styling, then yes. But this really is a vehicle that you buy with your heart rather than your head as the German offerings – such as the Audi Q7 and BMW X6 – all offer a better drive. Saying that, the Jeep clings closely to its roots and remains a truly impressive off-road machine. So, if you want to transport friends, family and the dog to the top of a mountain, this is the vehicle for you.

Don't want to buy new? You can browse for a used Jeep Grand Cherokee in our classifieds here.

The facts

Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit

Price: £48,000 (estimated)
Engine: 3-litre V6, diesel
Power: 248bhp, 570Nm
Top speed: 125mph
0-62mph: 8.2 seconds
MPG: 25mpg (urban), 36mpg (extra-urban), 31.3mpg (combined)
Emissions: 198g/Km CO2
Euro NCAP rating: Not yet tested

Leon Poultney


June 6, 2013