1 March 2024

Jeep's Grand redesign easy on the eye but missing V8 the torquing point

| Paul Gover
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The restyled Jeep Grand Cherokee looks the part with smoother lines. Photos: Supplied.

There have been massive changes to the latest Jeep Grand Cherokee.

For a start, it is much newer and smoother in the styling. The starting price now sits at $77,950 but can soar well over $100,000 for the seven-seater choice and the top-end plug-in hybrid.

But the big news for Aussie fans is that the V8 engine is gone – and so is the diesel. So we’re left with a V6 starter car that lacks the oomph and impact that made the Grand Cherokee a serious left-field contender in the full-sized luxury SUV class.

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In the past, a Grand Cherokee – especially the whomping SRT V8 – had real impact. Now Jeep has to rely on a same-same car that looks good but lacks the quality and brand impact of rivals in the Audi-BMW-Benz bracket. And even the appeal of a Volvo.

No wonder Jeep sales have slumped so dramatically in Australia, from a high of more than 30,000 a decade ago to only 4634 last year, down even from 5558 in 2022. Can the downhill slide, which has become more of a death spiral, be reversed? Perhaps, but only perhaps.

two luxury SUVs atop a mountain

The Grand Cherokee, as a five-seater, is a handsome car with a solid presence. And you just know it will go almost anywhere if you point it into the bush. The towing ability is not a match for a Toyota LandCruiser or Nissan Patrol, although 2.8 tonnes will be enough for a lot of caravan people.

First impressions work for the Grand Cherokee, even without the extra space and seats of the seven-seater L model. The seats look and feel plush, there are – as you’d expect in anything American – big cupholders and plenty of USB charging points.

The dashboard is clean and clear with a big infotainment screen, and the controls are simple and easy to use. But, compared with its rivals, the plastics feel cheaper and it’s the same with the operation of the controls. They are fine and they work, but they don’t convey the sort of luxury we expect in a Grand Cherokee.

The other disappointment is the V6 engine.

luxury SUV going off-road

Jeep has always relied on the punch from its diesels and V8s, and the V6 is not refined or powerful enough for today’s competitive set.

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The economy is pretty good, but you don’t get the satisfying push for overtaking or even heading up a steep hill. Even the soundtrack is missing the background bass of previous Jeeps.

Still, it’s a comfortable and quiet cabin and the Grand Cherokee has plenty of space for a family, with plenty of carrying capacity in the back end.

So it’s a good car, and a nice car, but not as memorable as we expect – and crave – for something with a Jeep badge and the off-road ability that has made the brand such a star performer in Australia in the past.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

  • Position: Large SUV
  • Price: From $77,950
  • Engine: 3.6-litre petrol V6
  • Power: 219kW/344Nm
  • Transmission: 8-speed auto, four-wheel drive
  • Plus: Solid, practical, Jeep badge
  • Minus: Suffers against rivals
  • THE TICK: Nice, but not nice enough
  • Score: 7.5/10.

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