Better, longer 7-seat Grand Cherokee stars in every way
Jeep calls its Grand Cherokee L the rebirth of an American SUV icon. Blending off-road capability with a premium on-road driving experience, now for the first time also with a third row of seating, they promise its new-age architecture delivers world-class driving dynamics and durability. That it’s engineered to deliver optimal comfort and handling.
With that in mind we commenced our week with this middle of the South African range L 3.6 4×4 Overland with a spring in our step. We would not be let down. Inspired by the original Wagoneer, Grand Cherokee L is Jeep’s first full-size luxury SUV to take on the growing likes of the Land Rover Defender, Toyota Land Cruiser 300, and Merc GLS.
Grand Cherokee L Looks the Part
It looks the part. Signature Ultra slim full LED headlamps are interrupted by a forward-tipped Wagoneer style 7-hole grille. Grand’s longer hood and cab shift the visual balance rearward for a better sense of motion. Approach-lit door handles add night-time glitz, while the slippery tapered roof fails to impinge of space and utility.
Partly because the Grand Cherokee has space and then some. Riding on a 307 cm wheelbase it ensures record room for the second, and new third row passengers, who access the car via larger second-row door openings.
The 50/50 split third row seats folds easily flat from the rear to increased boot space to 1,328 litres of boot space behind the second row. Fold that row flat down too, and load space grows to a panel van 2,395 litres through an electronic remote release tailgate.
Grand Cherokee L is Longer. But Lighter Too
Despite those gargantuan looks, the new Grand is actually lighter. Which is good for everything from 4×4 ability, performance, and fuel economy. Powered by a 210 kW 344 Nm all-aluminium start-stop 3.6-litre petrol Pentastar V6, its 60-degree vee angle ensures an inherent smoothness.
Grand Cherokee L boasts improved 4×4 capability along with unrivalled premium on-road driving dynamics. It has an active transfer case to ensure seamless interaction between
Jeep’s iconic trio of e–Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive 4×4 II systems, and ]an electronic limited slip rear -differential
They work together to improve traction by concentrating maximum torque on the wheel with the most grip. Selec-Terrain traction management meanwhile picks the best 4×4 performance from five Auto, Sport, Rock, Snow, Mud and Sand terrain modes.
Pumped Up it Has 276 mm of Clearance
Grand Cherokee L adds electronic adaptive damping and Quadra-Lift Air Suspension to automatically adjust ride height depending on road conditions. Pumped up to the maximum, Grand Cherokee L delivers a truly grand 276 mm of clearance.
Step into a refined Grand Cherokee L cabin featuring handcrafted materials and fine attention to detail filled with seamless tech. A realigned more accessible centre stack sits aft of a large next-generation, 10.1-inch Uconnect 5 display.
Now five times faster, the CarPlay and Auto-rich Android operating system is fully customizable. With simultaneous double phone Bluetooth, there’s also a class-leading total of 12 USB Type A and fast Type C ports for all three rows.
Splendid New Uconnect Infotainment Stars
Boasting 17-channel 19 speaker 950-watt McIntosh audio and an all-new Uconnect mobile app and wireless charging, the system has a one-touch home screen and quick access to frequently used features.
The new Grand Cherokee L has frameless 10.25-inch digital gauges with almost 50 menus to choose from. That’s all run by an all-new paddle shifter multifunction steering wheel and backed up by a customizable full-colour head-up display. There’s even an exclusive 10.25-inch passenger screen for co-pilot assistance. And a fully digital rear-view mirror
16-way power adjustable lumbar memory seats even have length-adjustable cushion. They have five user profiles and a valet mode. That spreads to customizable music preferences, apps, seat position, mirror angles and climate comfort levels.
Grand Cherokee L is Safety Stacked Too
More than 110 innovative Grand Cherokee L safety and security features include adaptive cruise control with stop and go, advanced brake assist blind-spot monitoring. Add full-collision warning with active braking and pedestrian detection, 360-degree Park Assist and rear cross path detection
A new night vision camera allows enhanced active lane management with departure and lane keeping. Add aback-up camera and rear park assist, and electric park brake, tyre-pressure monitoring and drowsy driver detection.
One cannot but notice this Grand Cherokee’s solid, dependable nature in everything it does. From that classic hemi-like light ticking on this Pentastar petrol V6’s tick-over to a creamy engine note, it delivers in spades.
L is Laid-back as Grand Cherokee Has Ever Been
Enthusiastic, it’s just as easy-going ad laid-back as the Grand Cherokee has ever been. Steering is direct, responsive, and precise. Ride is calm, collected, and quiet. It’s also now far more connected via Jeep’s splendid new intuitive and seemingly idiot-proof Uconnect system.
Grand’s versatile multi-mode eight-speed ZF auto box seamlessly switches from boulevard cruiser to bundu basher to sportscar at the touch of a button. It’s not superfast, but it gets it done. And then some. Off the beaten track, the three different levels of four-wheel drive allow you to tackle any terrain all the way to ‘oh my God!’
It’s basically unstoppable. And all in top-drawer luxury, too. Now a shockingly capable American alternative to the R1.8 million 110 Land Rover Discovery P400e X-Dynamic SE and Toyota Land Cruiser 300 3.5T ZX, and the Mercedes-Benz GLS, which starts at R2 million.
Grand Cherokee L Matches or Betters Best of Rivals
The real beauty of the new 3-row Jeep Grand Cherokee L, which sells for R1.48 million in the US in this Overland get-up in the US, is that while it will match or even better those giants in just about every way, the Yank comes in at a fraction of the price of all those cars.
Which is huge kudos to Jeep and Stellantis. And basically, almost makes it a no-brainer against a group of rivals we all rate very highly. Yes, it is that good! – Michele Lupini
Images & data: Giordano Lupini
ROAD TESTED: Jeep Grand Cherokee L 3.6 Overland Engine: 210 kW 344 Nm 3.6-litre petrol V6 Drive: 8-speed automatic 4x4 TESTED: 0-60 km/h: 3.99 sec 0-100 km/h: 9.24 sec 0-120 km/h: 12.55 sec 0-160 km/h: 22.92 sec 400m: 16.4 sec @ 137 km/h 80-120 km/h: 6.43 sec 120-160 km/h: 10.38 sec CLAIMED: VMax: 220 km/h Fuel: 10.6 l/100 km CO2: 243 g/km Warranty/Service: 5y 100K/5y 100K km LIST PRICE: 1.48M RATED: 9