Jeep rode the Grand Cherokee to its strongest-ever Australian sales results in the early 2010s.
Backed by a catchy advertising campaign (you bought a Jeep?), the last Grand Cherokee outsold the Toyota Prado to top its sales segment during 2014, and was one of the best-sellers in its class in the years surrounding it.
What happened? It has struggled to service its customers since the sales boom, finishing ahead of only Mitsubishi and Kia in the 2019 JD Power Customer Satisfaction Survey. Problems with parts availability and service pricing have been well documented.
Kevin Flynn, Jeep’s local boss, is adamant its customer service systems have now been overhauled, and there’s a wave of new cars coming Down Under led by this Grand Cherokee L.
The new Grand Cherokee L is being pitched as a more upmarket, refined beast than anything we’ve seen from Jeep before.
The Limited variant on test here doesn’t lay the luxuries on quite as thick as the Summit Reserve flagship, but it also undercuts it by close to $20,000.
Does the Grand Cherokee L feel suitably luxurious? And does the Limited represent the sweet spot of the range?
The L Limited is the mid-range model, but it’s a whopping $27,000 less expensive than the range-topping Summit Reserve.
It sits just above the range-topping Hyundai Palisade Highlander Diesel AWD ($79,900) and Nissan Pathfinder Ti-L 4WD ($77,890), and just below the base Volvo XC90 Plus B5 ($92,990).
2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee L pricing:
- Jeep Grand Cherokee L Night Eagle: $82,250
- Jeep Grand Cherokee L Limited: $87,950
- Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve: $115,450
Prices exclude on-road costs
In a word, it’s big. The driver and passenger sit in different postcodes, separated by a massive transmission tunnel, and the view over the rest of the world is commanding.
The design is modern and attractive, with a clean dashboard housing a high-resolution touchscreen infotainment system, and a slick-looking transmission tunnel that wouldn’t be out of place in a German luxury SUV. It’s a shame it feels poorly assembled in places, though.
Hard plastic lines the sides of the transmission tunnel, and the sides of the dashboard don’t feel very solid. The cut lines and joins are a bit nasty in places, while the indicator stalk feels brittle and cheap. For all the visual sizzle, the GC L feels undercooked in a few key places.
Jeep is far from alone in laying on the gloss trim too thick, but the Grand Cherokee has one of the most fingerprint-prone cabins out there at the moment.
On the plus side, the Uconnect 5 infotainment system is excellent. The interface is slick, the menu structure is simple, and it responds quickly to inputs like you’d expect of a new, flagship system in 2022.
Wireless Apple CarPlay worked reliably, and the mix of touch and physical controls for things like the climate is just right. Jeep reserves its highest-end sound system for the Summit Reserve, but even the Alpine system in the Limited packs serious punch.
The digital instrument cluster is less of a hit. It’s fine, but the animations are slow relative to what’s on offer elsewhere, and the fact it minimises the faux full-sized analogue dials every time it has a warning – rather than just displaying it where the trip computer would usually sit, like every other brand – it shows more refinement is needed.
The head-up display is even more disappointing. It can’t be set to a height that allowed colleague Mike Costello or I to actually see it properly, suggesting it’s close to useless for anyone taller than about six-three.
At least the driving position is lanky-person friendly. The Grand Cherokee L has more than enough space for long-legged pilots to get comfortable on long trips, and more than enough storage space to house everything you need for a long drive with kids on board.
Space in the second row is exactly what you’d expect from such a big beast. There’s acres of legroom back there, and the bench is broad enough to house three kids in comfort.
Kids will appreciate the USB ports there, along with the air vents and fold-down central armrest.
Even with the standard sunroof there’s plenty of headroom, and the sliding bench means you can choose to prioritise second-row legroom or space in the boot/third-row seats.
Although the Grand Cherokee L is 200mm longer than a Hyundai Palisade, it doesn’t necessarily feature more space in the third row.
It’s one of the most comfortable large SUVs back there, with levels of space approaching what’s on offer in a proper people mover.
Adults will feel cramped but the boxy body affords the Grand Cherokee L decent headroom, and the sliding second row means it’s possible to fit taller teenagers back there with ample legroom.
Folding or raising the third row is easy, and the boot floor is flat when those extra seats aren’t in use.
Total luggage space behind the third row is 487L. That’s considerably more cavernous than the likes of the Palisade (311L), Kluger (241L), CX-9 (230L) and Discovery (258L).
Drop the third row and cargo space expands to 1328L, while there’s a total of 2395L with both the second and third rows folded.
The Grand Cherokee L has 12 USB outlets in total, with four USB outlets – two USB-A, two USB-C – for every row of seating.
There’s also a 12V outlet in the front row and one in the boot, while Limited and Summit Reserve models also feature a 230V outlet.
All versions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee L in Australia are powered by a naturally-aspirated 3.6-litre petrol V6 with 210kW of power at 6400rpm and 344Nm of torque at 4000rpm, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The Night Eagle and Limited use Jeep’s Quadra-Trac I active four-wheel drive system with a single-speed active transfer case. The Limited also gets the Selec-Terrain traction management system.
Combined cycle fuel economy is a claimed 10.6L/100km, although we saw closer to 12.5L/100km on our week behind the wheel. All models have a hefty 104L fuel tank.
Approach, break over and departure angles are 20.6, 18.2 and 21.5 degrees, respectively, on the Limited. Running clearance and wading depth are 215mm and 530mm.
With the turbo-diesel V6 and petrol V8 engines gone, the most braked towing capacity the Grand Cherokee L can muster is 2813kg.
It’s unusual for such a big car (especially one pitched as a luxury car) not be offered with a turbo-diesel option. It’s even more unusual when you consider the base petrol engine isn’t an efficient turbo four-cylinder, but a naturally-aspirated V6.
Although it’s not quite the torquey, relaxed beast we’d hope down low, the V6 offers decent performance when you lean on it.
It’s relaxed in city driving, slurring through the lower gears smoothly, and the eight-speed auto doesn’t fall into the trap of constantly hunting for the right ratio.
It’s quiet when you’re just tiptoeing around town, although as the revs rise you get an old-fashioned V6 roar in the cabin. Some owners will love it, others will yearn for a bit more peace and quiet.
Peak torque comes on tap at 4000rpm, so the engine needs to be pushed reasonably hard to deliver its best, and even with your foot welded to the firewall it’s never going to be more than adequately quick – especially with a family and their luggage on board, or a trailer approaching the 2813kg braked max.
It’s a shame there’s not a more capable engine in the Grand Cherokee portfolio locally, because the car is otherwise quite a nice thing to drive – the US market offers a beefier 266kW/530Nm Hemi V8, but it’s not coming here.
The steering is nicely weighted, with the right amount of heft and linear responses off-centre, and the suspension errs on the side of comfort.
Even without the tricky air suspension in the Summit Reserve it does an excellent job filtering out smaller bumps at city speeds, and keeps the body nicely controlled at highway speed when you hit crests or dips.
The ride actually felt slightly better on the Limited than in the air-sprung Summit Reserve, no doubt thanks in part to the fact the more expensive model rides on bigger alloy wheels.
For all the polish in how it drives, the brake pedal is wooden and uninspiring. It’s hard to modulate at low speeds, and doesn’t inspire any confidence at high speeds when it’s time to stop this big, heavy bus.
While it never feels less than huge, the well-tuned steering and decent body control means the Limited can be placed confidently.
The commanding driving position offers a good view of the car’s extremities, while the reversing camera and parking sensors make it easier to slot into city parking spaces.
Why Jeep thinks it’s okay to reserve a surround-view camera for the range-topper, with a price tag in the $120,000 range, is hard to understand. It should be standard across the range.
On the subject of active driver assists, the adaptive cruise control in the Grand Cherokee L is smooth, but the lane-keep assist is too active.
You’re always close to the edge of your lane in a car as wide as the GC, but no-one told the lane-keep computer which beeps incessantly when you’re even slightly off-centre on some roads.
Despite its love of perfect lane positioning, the Limited misses out on active lane-centring despite it being standard in significantly cheaper seven-seat rivals.
Grand Cherokee L Night Eagle highlights:
- 20-inch gloss black alloy wheels
- 8.4-inch touchscreen Uconnect 5 infotainment system
- Satellite navigation
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- Wireless phone charging
- 6-speaker sound system
- DAB digital radio
- 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster
- Tyre pressure monitoring
- Dual exhaust outlets
- Leather upholstery
- Leather-wrapped steering wheel
- Tri-zone climate control
- Eight-way power front seats
- Heated steering wheel
- Heated front seats
- Keyless entry and start
- Power tailgate
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Tilt/telescope steering column
- Power-folding exterior mirrors
- Automatic reflector LED headlights
- LED daytime running lights with parking/cornering function
A single-pane sunroof is a $2450 option.
Grand Cherokee L gains:
- 20-inch polished alloy wheels
- 10.1-inch touchscreen Uconnect 5 infotainment system
- 9-speaker sound system with 506W amplifier
- Off-Road Info Pages
- ‘Capri’ leather upholstery
- Ventilated front seats
- Driver seat memory
- Heated second-row seats
- Power tilt/telescope steering column
- Automatic high-beam
- Ambient lighting
The $4250 Vision Group package adds a panoramic sunroof and head-up display.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee L has yet to be tested by ANCAP or Euro NCAP.
Standard safety equipment includes:
- AEB with Pedestrian, Cyclist detection
- Lane-keep assist
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Driver fatigue detection
- Traffic sign recognition
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
- Reversing camera
- Front and rear parking sensors
- Front, front-side, front knee, curtain airbags
Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve adds:
- Highway Assist
- Active Driving Assist
- Surround-view cameras
The Jeep Grand Cherokee L is backed by a five-year, 100,000km warranty.
Servicing intervals are 12 months or 12,000km – whichever comes first. The first five services are capped at $399 each.
The Grand Cherokee L is an interesting alternative to mainstream-branded SUVs like the Hyundai Palisade, as well as premium family haulers like the Volvo XC90.
It’s definitely one to consider, but it’s not a knockout. For one, its workmanlike petrol engine offers adequate punch but nothing more in such a big car.
Jeep says people should “reconsider their needs” before writing it off; but we’d argue it needs to reconsider that strategy and prioritise getting a more modern turbocharged or hybrid option Down Under.
Then there’s the cabin which, for all its lavish materials and flashy screens, still feels poorly assembled in some high-profile places.
Small misses like the loose dashboard trim and brittle indicators undermine what’s otherwise quite a classy interior, and something you’ll find in something like the more affordable Hyundai Palisade.
If you are looking at a Grand Cherokee L, the Limited shapes as the smart buy. It’s not too much more expensive than the Night Eagle and brings with it plenty of extra luxury equipment, and sits a cool $27,000 below the Summit Reserve.
It’s easy to see the appeal in the GC L, but it’s not quite the home run it could be. Here’s hoping Jeep continues to refine the formula, and brings out the best in what’s a solid seven-seater.
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