New-look Jeep Grand Cherokee also gets new technology and improved performance to take on the class best

What is it?

It's the latest Jeep Grand Cherokee, revised with new technology, improved performance and cosmetic changes both inside and out.  

Most significant among the tweaks to this luxury SUV is the installation of the Chrysler Group's new ZF-derived eight-speed automatic transmission, which is available across the entire engine line-up.

The new transmission, says Jeep, reduces consumption and emissions while improving acceleration and gear-shifts. It's something the Grand Cherokee had been crying out for to replace the prehistoric five-speed auto.

The UK range ignores the petrol V6 and V8 engines and focuses solely on the 3.0-litre V6 diesel (apart, that is, from the monstrously powerful 6.4-litre Grand Cherokee SRT halo model, of which only about 20 will be sold here).

This new Grand Cherokee also gets an Eco Mode which optimises gear-shifts, although it can be disengaged if more sporty performance is desired. 

The economy-driven changes help the claimed fuel economy to increase by about ten per cent to 37.7mpg, with the attendant fall in CO2 emissions meaning the Grand Cherokee now dips below 200g/km, putting it on a more competitive footing with rivals such as the 3.0-litre V6 variants of the Volkswagen Touareg and BMW X5.

As for the styling changes, at the front the Grand Cherokee features a shorter upper grille, slimmer headlights, more pronounced fog lights and a front fascia that's been slightly elevated.

The rear end boasts larger tail lamps with LED lighting, a larger and more aerodynamic rear spoiler and a re-sculpted tailgate that offers greater rear-ward visibility.

In the UK the new Grand Cherokee will be offered in five trim levels, with the entry-level Laredo variant being followed by Limited, Limited Plus, Overland and Summit. 

Laredo, Limited, Overland and Summit each features mild styling variations to distinguish them, and the higher-specification cars get Jeep's more sophisticated four-wheel-drive system and air suspension. 

Limited Plus is a UK specific level that adds extra toys such as satnav and 20in alloys to the Limited trim. It is expected to be the biggest seller in the UK range.

Although UK prices are still being finalised, it is expected that the range will start at about £37,000 and rise to just under £50,000 for top-of-the-range editions. Right-hand-drive cars will reach the UK in the middle of July. 

What's it like?

Appreciation of styling is subjective, but to our eyes, the minor exterior styling changes work much more effectively in the metal than they do in pictures. The new Grand Cherokee remains unmistakably Jeep, but the refresh has softened off some of the bluff edges enough to give the large SUV a touch more Euro-centric appeal.   

Like the outside of the outside Grand Cherokee, the cabin has benefited from a mild makeover and features some higher quality materials. Three rear passengers won't be left wanting for leg, shoulder or head room, and there's a 782-litre boot space with the rear seats in place.

One of the stand-out features in the cabin is a new infotainment and multimedia system, which is controlled via a modern-looking 8.4in touchscreen.

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The big and bold graphics make it easy to use on the move without diverting attention from the road, and its useful that regularly adjusted systems such as aircon and seat heaters can be operated from the touchscreen without having to fumble around the cabin for switchgear.

Another new piece of technology, the TFT instrument display, gets a more cautious thumbs-up. It can be configured in hundreds of ways to show a seemingly endless torrent of information about the car – pretty much everything apart from what the driver had for breakfast, it seems – but at a quick glance the on-screen clutter can make it difficult to ascertain vital signs like speed and fuel levels.     

On the road, it doesn't take long for the qualities of the eight-speed automatic to become evident. It is a good match to the Grand Cherokee's flexible 3.0-litre V6 engine. The set-up is more suited to cruising than sporty driving; although the engine has a substantial amount of grunt from low revs, it still has to haul almost two-and-a-half tonnes up to speed, and the 0-62mph sprint takes 8.2sec and feels comfortable rather than exhilarating.

When the Jeep Grand Cherokee has selected the biggest cog and settled into a steady pace, it feels very composed. The engine sounds very refined apart from during heavy acceleration (such as the kind you might employ during an A-road overtaking move) when it coarsely grumbles about the extra demands. 

We sampled a top-spec Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit, which comes with Jeep's air suspension as standard and rides on 20in wheels and tyres. It felt composed and effectively cushioned, yet also adapted well to keep body roll largely in check during cornering. By contrast, the standard mechanical suspension we tried in the lower-specification Limited variant wallowed more in bends.

The Grand Cherokee's light steering does a competent job of making a large vehicle feel easily manoeuvrable, which is particularly useful around town, although on twisty roads at higher speeds it lacks feel and communicates little to the driver.  

In keeping with Jeep's rugged 'go anywhere' roots, all Grand Cherokee models are equipped with a low-speed transfer 'box. Some light off-roading on our test route showed off the potential of Jeep's four-wheel-drive and the Selec-Terrain system, which offers pre-configured traction settings for snow, sand, mud and rock in addition to the standard 'auto' mode which makes its own mind up. 

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The air suspension can be jacked up through five settings to a maximum ground clearance of 280mm, compared to the standard ride height of 220mm. Ultimately, though, even Jeep company chiefs concede that the majority of Grand Cherokee buyers won't venture near a green lane in their luxury SUVs.

Should I buy one?

The latest updates, in particular the eight-speed transmission, make the Jeep Grand Cherokee more worthy of consideration than ever before.

It's more appealing in terms of design, technology, emissions and all-round drivability, and makes a comfortable, spacious and rugged cruising machine.

It also makes an interesting alternative to cars such as the big German SUVs and Land Rover's Discovery.

The final UK price will be important; on paper it doesn't look as cheap as, say, an equivalent VW Touareg, although each trim level does come with a generous level of standard equipment.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit

Price: £48,000 (est); 0-62mph: 8.2secs; Top speed: 125mph; Economy: 37.7mpg (combined); Co2: 198g/km; Kerbweight: 2403kg; Engine type: V6, 2987cc, turbodiesel; Power: 247bhp at 4000rpm; Torque: 420lb ft at 2000rpm; Gearbox: 8-spd automatic.

Join the debate

Add a comment…
fatboyfat 27 May 2014

One sitting on the drive

I have to say I like it, a lot. Had a previous model and while not perfect did not deserve all the bashing it got, traded it after 7 years for a '14 plate overland and other than the cracking trade in I also liked the attitude of the dealers I visited, polar opposite from the two BMW dealers I visited when considering an X5.
I went to them in my company 5 series and I got the distinct feeling they thought it above themselves to try and sell me a car...... so they lost £50K sale and the Jeep dealer who went out of his way on a Sunday morning to show us the various models, even getting a couple out of the prep area so we could compare colours got himself a sale. I hope the ownership of this Jeep will be as good as my last two, and long may good dealers stick around to provide good pre and post sales service. As for BMW, if you can pull your heads out of your bottoms you might see that you could be selling more, but then do you care......
rybo1 20 May 2013


Personally, I don't care for SUVs at all. However, having said that, I have to say that it's the best looking Jeep to come down the road.

Will86 17 May 2013

Looks Good

Something of a rarity in the car industry - a succesful mid life update. I think there will be a market for petrol versions as diesels become increasingly complex but it may be a few years off. Though if I were doing a low mileage and a petrol version was £3k less, I'd take it over the diesel.