Jeep's new Grand Cherokee SUV is priced from R1.3m - We take it for a drive

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 • The Stellantis Group has launched the all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee in South Africa.
 • Models are available in the local range. 
 • Pricing starts from R1 299 900 for the entry-level Limited model.

The first thing you'll notice about the all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee is that it is appreciably longer than the outgoing model. This is the fifth generation of Jeep's top model, which first made its local appearance here back in 1993. 

Before that, we had the Wagoneer in the 1960s, which was actually a forerunner of the whole SUV movement, pre-dating even the Range Rover, which broke cover in the early 1970s.

Minimal body roll makes the Grand Cherokee a pleas
Minimal body roll makes the Grand Cherokee a pleasant place to be, even on mountain passes.

The biggest news regarding the latest Jeep top dog is that it is now a seven-seater. It comes in three models: The Limited, the entry-level version, the mid-line Overland, and the top-of-the-range Summit.

All three versions use the familiar 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 petrol engine coupled with an eight-speed automatic transmission. This is the same engine-transmission combo used in the recently-launched Jeep Gladiator to such good effect earlier in June.

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The new Grand Cherokee has grown in overall length by 376mm, and the wheelbase has increased by 176mm. These significant architectural changes accommodate the switch from five-seater to seven-seater configuration. Lots of attention to folding mechanisms and basic design has been made to make the third row of seats easily accessible. Jeep is at pains to point out that the two seats in the third row are not occasional afterthoughts but offer the same comfort levels as the first two rows. 

Tar road ride and handling is excellent.
Tar road ride and handling is excellent.

With such an increase in size, the overall weight of the new Grand Cherokee has risen to around 2 200kg, depending on the model you order. Because of this, the performance of the naturally-aspirated 24-valve V6 engine is hugely impressive. This is primarily because of the well-chosen spread of gear ratios in the eight-speed automatic gearbox. Acceleration off the mark is decisive, and overtaking capability at highway speeds is similarly satisfying.

Another striking feature about the new Grand Cherokee is the cabin's extremely low noise level and superior ride.

On the launch earlier in August, we experienced the mid-line Overland model, which is probably the best derivative in terms of its specification relative to pricing. The Overland comes with the excellent Quadra-Lift air suspension, which incorporates electronic adaptive damping. This offers various ride heights, ranging from a low 170mm (for accessing a parking garage with a low roof, for instance) to a tall 276mm for clearing rocks and other obstacles in full off-road mode.

It should be mentioned at this point that the entry-level Grand Cherokee Limited model doesn't have the air suspension option, nor does it have low range for serious off-road work. It comes with the Quadra-Trac I transmission system, which is a full-time all-wheel drive. 

The Overland model has the more sophisticated Quadra-Trac II all-wheel-drive system, which offers low-range capability for off-roading. The Summit model adds an electronic limited-slip differential to the mix for another step in off-road acumen.

Mix of Napa leather and biscuit stitching adds ext
Mix of Napa leather and biscuit stitching adds extra touch of luxury.

Our launch route to Mpumalanga included dirt road driving but no serious off-roading. On the rough roads we traversed, the Grand Cherokee was competent in dealing with bumps and potholes as long as you drove conservatively. Still, the model was limited to a degree by the standard fitment on the Overland Model: 20-inch wheels and low profile rubber. Not the best solution for bad roads, perhaps.

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Jeep South Africa feels that most owners will not be subjecting their Grand Cherokees to high-speed driving over bad dirt roads or much hard-core off-roading, which is likely to be true. Regarding serious off-roading, it should be pointed out that the new model, with a longer wheelbase and longer body overhangs, has a less-impressive approach, departure and straddle capability when off-roading than the previous model enjoyed. In addition, the new cars, with wheel sizes ranging from 18-inches, through 20-inches, to 21 inches, and tyre profiles from 50 series on the Limited and Overland, through to 45 series on the Summit model, are much more configured to secure high-speed handling than dealing with the trails of Lesotho!

The Grand Cherokee comes with a 19-speaker McIntos
The Grand Cherokee comes with a 19-speaker McIntosh audio system

The array of equipment in the Grand Cherokee Overland is impressive, including an excellent 19-speaker McIntosh audio system that offers outstanding quality and volume. The dashboard features three display screens, including a separate one for the front seat passenger that can be independently configured. So, on long trips, the passenger can enjoy a completely different information or entertainment bouquet to that being experienced by the driver.

The passenger screen can also be configured for navigation and camera viewing to assist the driver. Talking of camera-assisted viewing, the most-expensive Summit model also offers night vision to pick out even small animals on the side of the road that may create a hazard. Other driver assistance features include adaptive cruise control, drowsy driver detection, and a very effective but non-intrusive lane-keep assist system.

2022 Jeep® Impressive rear space for passengers o
2022 Jeep® Impressive rear space for passengers or luggage. Cherokee L Overland.

The interior design is very well integrated, and the materials used in our Overland launch models were sumptuous, including Napa leather finishes for seats and door panels. With the rear seats erected to provide the third row of passenger accommodation, there is limited boot space available to accommodate small overnight bags and the like. In five-seat form, the luggage space increases to a handy 1 320 litres, which can expand to 2 396 litres with the second row of seats folded flat.

All in, the 400km launch drive illustrated that this is an extremely desirable premium-level SUV. Its looks are striking, with traditional Jeep cues, such as the seven-slot grille and squared-off wheel arches, so it has a strong brand identity. 

The Cherokee and Grand Cherokee sales have been traditionally strong here, and this new model will definitely increase Jeep's footprint in this financially-lucrative area of the South African new car market.

Seven slot grille says Jeep, loud and clear..
Seven slot grille says Jeep, loud and clear..

Impressively, for a petrol-fueled V6, consumption levels on our launch drive varied from the low 10.2 litres/100km level to 11.0 litres/100km. These figures are good for a non-turbo petrol V6 engine hauling such a sizeable seven-seater body. Obviously, these figures were quite flattering considering the launch route, which comprised mainly of highway cruising at the speed limit.

Grand Cherokee prices are R1 299 900 for the entry-level Limited model, R1 479 900 for the Overland model (which would probably be our choice) to R1 679 900 for the top-of-the-range Summit model. 

The pricing includes a five-year or 120 000km warranty, a five-year/100 000km maintenance plan, and roadside assistance. Maintenance intervals are 12 000km or every 12 months.

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