REVIEW | Could the Jeep Grand Cherokee be the best large family car in SA's SUV market?

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  • Jeep South Africa launched their new Grand Cherokee earlier in 2022.
  • It's a seven-seater SUV with a vast list of standard options.
  • The all-new SUV's arrival followed the highly anticipated launch of the Jeep Rubicon Gladiator pickup (bakkie).

Americans have traditionally been good at building big family cars. I can think of no better large family car on our market than the new seven-seater Grand Cherokee.

Jeep built one of the original big SUVs back in the day with the first V8 Grand Cherokee. Well, they have certainly pulled out all the stops with this new big V6 beastie.

Let's talk size. The car I am reviewing is the L version (the only one available at the moment) which seats seven adults in comfort and still has loads of space (436 litres) for baggage at the back. This means it is wide and certainly plenty long (5.20m). 

Space. Did I mention the space; leg and shoulder room, Stetson roof height, big comfortable touring seats and big windows? 

The new Grand Cherokee is a handsome car from all angles, front and back, in and out. The dash is one of the best I have experienced in both looks and functionality. The perceived quality is high. It's just a pleasure to drive, but parking in small bays or garages could be fun.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee
2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Looking at the interior, you immediately notice the eight-way electronically adjustable heated and ventilated seats with memory function and four-way headrests. There's also the 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster (choose between analogue or digital instrumentation) and the 10.1-inch Uconnect touchscreen infotainment system, with an additional 10.25-inch interactive screen for the passenger.

The leather-bound multi-function steering wheel is also heated and has paddle shifters. This is the first production Jeep vehicle to offer a fully digital rearview mirror which is a big plus as you can pack the 'boot' to the roof and still see behind you – there is also a camera to check what is happening in the back seats. With rows two and three folded down, you can take your house with you for the weekend with 2 396 litres of boot space available. The second and third-row seats are lowered or raised at the push of a button.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee
2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The sound system in the Overlander model is a McIntosh 19-speaker 950-watt system with a subwoofer and active noise control. To complete the cabin, it has Nappa leather seats and door trim, three-zone climate control (the second row has its own controls), heated seats in the second row, too, many cup holders and, wait for it, 12 USB Type A and Type C ports throughout the vehicle. The third-row legroom is in a class of its own. Actual adults can sit back there.

The full-colour head-up display is very effective and highly customisable. I found the Bluetooth and infotainment interface particularly easy to use.

In the engine bay of this fifth-generation model, you will find the familiar aluminium 3.6-litre V6 naturally aspirated Pentastar petrol engine generating 210kW and 344Nm via an eight-speed auto box. Expect an average fuel consumption of 13.0 litres/100km, around 9.0 litres/100km on the open road at 110km/h and 15.0 litres in town in real life.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee
2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The Quadra-Lift Air Suspension allows a superb ground clearance of 277mm, which you can adjust up or down, allowing for circumstances. The Grand Cherokee range is packed with safety kits, just too numerous to mention, and fortunately, the more intrusive ones can be switched off or muted. The emergency braking system works well. I tested it unintentionally when a child walked in front of the car as I was turning at a street corner. It stopped the car instantaneously.

The impression you get driving the car is that the engineers have included all the good bits from Jeep and the wider Stellantis Group, which includes Citroen, Opel, Peugeot and Fiat. Perhaps the best "urban" Jeep yet. Don't get me wrong, it has all the kit to do very well off the beaten track, but I think most Grand Cherokees will spend most of their time on roads. But they can go off-road, having rock, snow, sand and sport settings.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee
2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Acceleration, both from standing and overtaking, is rapid. The V6 sings in joy when you give her her due. The admittedly big car feels planted, perhaps due to the air suspension, without a whiff of wafting. It rides well over speed bumps and around corners and deals with disdain with road imperfections. You can set the ride height to any of the six steps, but I kept it on step two for town driving.

This Grand Cherokee is pleasant to drive; the steering, brakes and accelerator are all superbly balanced and set up. The 8-speed box is silky smooth, and the V6 delivers power from start to stop. It is a perfect big family car that ticks all the boxes.

The instrument cluster and displays are highly customisable, clear and easy to use. A plus factor is the actual physical knobs and buttons, which fall easily to the hand.

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee
2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The Overland model has heated and cooling seats up front and a heated steering wheel. Courtesy lighting in the cabin can be adjusted to your liking, and the courtesy lights and main beams stay on for a while (determined by you) when you exit the car.

I think the 'L' stands for 'Larney' as much as long. For example, the door handles are illuminated when you approach the car at night. The driver's seat slides back, and the steering lifts to make entering easier. Your display setup can be personalised for more than one driver. And so on. Little luxury touches.

Pricing is as follows: Limited R1.2 million, Overlander R1.5 million (the model we reviewed), and the top-of-the-range Summit Reserve is R1.7 million. It seems pretty steep, but bear in mind they come very comprehensively equipped, so you need to add no accessories.

As standard, you get a five-year or 120 000km warranty and Roadside Assistance as well as a 5 year or 100 000km maintenance plan. 

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