What is it?
You could be forgiven for thinking the Jeep Grand Cherokee had retired from the sales charts. Not so. It’s just been malingering too far down the scale for most people to notice. That’s hardly surprising when Jeep sold barely more than 2000 cars in the UK in 2010. Now, in partnership with Fiat, the US marque has more ambitious plans, and much hinges on this new model.
What's it like?
The Grand Cherokee is longer, wider and lower than its predecessor, and remains unashamedly American in style, with its classic seven-slot chromed grille. An extra 135mm on the wheelbase of the all-new platform provides a useful amount more rear leg space and a larger boot.
Stretching the wheelbase has not compromised the new Jeep’s off-road ability in any way. Every version has Quadra-Trac II all-wheel drive, and high and low ranges, which are selected at the touch of a button.
In Overland trim, you also get air suspension (only an option on the Limited model) and Selec-Terrain. Selec-Terrain is Jeep’s answer to Land Rover’s Terrain Response, and it works well – you can choose between Mud, Sport, Snow, Rock or Auto modes at the turn of a dial.
However, it’s on Tarmac where the new Grand Cherokee must impress to spark its revival. It’s vastly improved over the last-generation car, and doesn’t loll in corners any more. However, the ride constantly fidgets and the steering is light but low geared, so there’s even more arm twirling than in a VW Touareg.
On properly surfaced roads, the car’s new 237bhp 3.0-litre V6 diesel offers acceleration on a par with its rivals, through a smooth five-speed automatic gearbox. Average economy is nothing to write a letter from America about, though, at 27.4mpg.
So the Grand Cherokee is good, but not great, to drive. It’s the same inside, where it’s spacious and lavishly equipped, but some materials and quality fall shy of Europe’s best.
Should I buy one?
Jeep says the car, is better value than any of its main rivals, but at £43,995 it’s in the heartland of premium SUVs, where value is not always a prime consideration. Even so, Jeep’s sales hopes of 2000 Grand Cherokees alone in a full year look far more attainable now.