The Jeep Grand Cherokee sits right at the top of Jeep’s offerings to the 4x4 market. A major revamp in 2011 saw the Grand Cherokee move several notches up the scale in terms of its driving capabilities both on and off the road and its driver and passenger comfort. Its styling remains unmistakeably Jeep and consequently notably more rugged than much of the competition, but inside it oozes an overall feeling of quality that was perhaps rather lacking in its previous incarnations.
The exterior styling of the Grand Cherokee is boxy and angular with just a little curvature at the edges to soften things up a bit, while inside it offers plenty of space for driver and passengers alike. The large boot is expanded thanks to the single-action folding rear seat, adapted from the smaller Cherokee models of the early 2000s, accommodating an impressive 1554L of luggage at its maximum, or 782L with the seats up and passengers in place.
The Grand Cherokee is an ideal example of a combination off roader and family city car. Its towing capacity is impressive and its capabilities both on the tarmac and on uneven and challenging terrain are undisputed.
The Grand Cherokee handles well for such a large car – 2440kg of it to be precise. There is a little roll on the corners as with all Jeeps, but the steering is accurate and streets ahead of many of its competitors. The ride in general is comfortable for driver and passengers thanks to the Quadra-Lift (air) suspension, which enables the driver to select the best setting for the specific terrain they are tackling.
The Grand Cherokee Laredo (entry-level model) is powered by a 3.6L V6 engine giving 210kW of power and 347Nm of torque, while the Grand Cherokee Limited (luxury model) comes fitted with a 5.7L Hemi V8 engine with 520Nm of torque. Unsurprisingly it is fairly thirsty – expect to use around 14–15 L/100km combined and a little more if you spend a lot of time cruising around town. The engine is coupled with a 5-speed automatic gearbox.
In a nod to the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s growing allure for city dwellers – and Jeep’s growing desire to make their mark in this market – the Grand Cherokee recently launched a pair of two-wheel drive versions which are now trickling their way through to the used car forecourts. Powered by a Laredo V6 petrol engine, the two-wheel drive Grand Cherokee is a little more fuel-efficient than its off-roading four-wheel drive counterparts, thanks to its lighter body. Initially this two-wheel drive option is limited to the entry-level Grand Cherokees, though plans are said to be in place for it to be applied to the more luxurious higher-end models.
The Grand Cherokee comes with plenty of kit as standard. Expect the 2011 Laredo models to come with 7 airbags, blind-spot monitoring, reversing camera, high-beam assist, power tailgate, bi-Xenon auto-dipping headlights, keyless ignition, adaptive cruise control, a full-length glass sunroof, power-adjusted heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats with 8-way power adjustment for maximum driving comfort, heated rear seats, satnav, and a nine-speaker audio system.
The Grand Cherokee scores a four-star ANCAP rating for safety.
The Grand Cherokee is in some pretty admirable company for quality 4x4s that look as good (if not better) cruising around the city roads as they do making their way over rugged, out-of-town terrain. If it’s all-American styling and a long legacy of 4x4 motor manufacturing that you are after, then the Grand Cherokee is probably the car of choice for you. It really can compete with the Mitsubishi Pajero, Toyota Prado, and Land Cruiser type of vehicle. If, on the other hand, you are looking for something a little more self-consciously beautiful then you may want to consider the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz M-Class, or Range Rover Sport. That said, the Grand Cherokee is priced notably lower than each of these, and with the levels of kit it offers as standard, it is certainly a compelling proposition on any serious 4x4 shortlist.