Jeep’s new Grand Cherokee has hit Kiwi shores, promising the ideal combination of comfort, space, performance, and towing capability. But does it deliver on the billing?
Words & Images by Nick Jones

The look and feel

The latest Grand Cherokee has Jeep’s unmistakable DNA and the exterior design has been refined for a premium, contemporary look. It is available in four varieties: the Night Eagle, the Limited, the Overland, and the Summit Reserve. Each variety sports five- or seven-seater options and represents varying specs, the Summit Reserve being the crème de la crème offering.
We got our hands on the 7-seat Overland, which immediately impressed with the tapered roof, 20” fully polished alloy wheels, shining paint job, and modern LED headlights. Only considered a mid-size SUV in ‘Merica, the 7-seat Overland measures up at a substantial 5.2 metres long, 2 metres wide and 1.8 metres high.
Opening up the driver’s door, you’re greeted with a luxurious environment that includes premium leather finishing, real wood inserts, and levels of comfort that need to be seen (or felt) to be believed. Are the seat massage and heating functions, multi-colour ambient LED lighting, 4-zone climate control, and 12-way adjustable seats to your liking, Sir and Madam?
The long wheelbase affords a sprawling interior, with generous legroom (and armroom) in all seats for adults and kids alike. In the seven-seater, the second row has user-friendly access to the rear seats. Fishers and adventurers will be pleased to learn the boot space is particularly cavernous – 2393 litres of capacity with two rows of seats folded down, dropping to 1328 litres with only the third row down, and 487 litres of capacity with all seats in the ‘up’ position.

The technology

Under the hood is a 3.6L V6 Pentastar engine delivering 210kW and 344Nm which Jeep claims will consume petrol at a rate of 10.6L/100km (for the 7-seat option). Jeep has improved chassis/engine integration with hydraulic mounts and a new front axle assembly that allows the engine to sit lower for better handling. The Pentastar is matched with an 8-speed automatic transmission and alltime 4-wheel drive.
For the gas-conscious, it’s worth noting that the Summit Reserve 4xe (5-seat) model is a plug-in hybrid that combines a 17kWh battery with a 2L petrol engine to deliver 280kW and 40km of electric-only driving.
Off-road, the Grand Cherokee is a capable vehicle. The 4x4 system can vary the torque split between axles depending on traction requirements, and the Selec-Terrain system has five modes (Auto, Sport, Rock, Snow, and Mud/Sand) to set the traction control. The Quadra Lift Air Suspension helps keep the bash plates on ice by increasing the clearance up to a maximum of 276mm (comparable to the adept off-roading Jeep Gladiator Rubicon tested in a previous issue of NZ Fishing News). The wading depth goes up to 610mm, too. The interior tech previously mentioned is augmented with all the settings, permutations, and combinations you could wish for – from the full gamut of active driving functions like lane keeping and active cruise control to the wireless phone charger and 10” screen featuring Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.
Opening up the driver’s door, you’re greeted with a luxurious environment that includes premium leather finishing, real wood inserts, and ample gadgetry. Note: Overseas model shown, New Zealand specifications may vary.
The Grand Cherokee was a pleasure to drive in all on- and off-road scenarios.
The Grand Cherokee proved to be a capable tow vehicle and can haul most family-sized trailerboats with a braked capability of 2.8 tonnes.
It’s fair to say there are plenty of buttons (independent from the central touchscreen) to get your head around!

On-road per formance

Jumping behind the wheel, the Grand Cherokee feels wellbalanced and, despite its size, not oversized for city endeavours. The accelerator is responsive (particularly in the 0-80km/h range), with the automatic gearbox shifting smoothly and quietly through its eight gears. On more demanding open road scenarios such as overtaking, moving into Sport mode provides additional oomph with downshifts and extra revs. Although the driving position is elevated, the Grand Cherokee’s cornering is surefooted and uneventful, with the low-down weight delivering minimal body roll.
It’s a quiet, comfortable experience, too. Only when hitting the accelerator hard does the grunty V6 roar penetrate the Grand Cherokee’s impressive noise-cancelling body. Driving visibility is excellent, with a large windscreen, panoramic sunroof, big side mirrors, and a rearview mirror that features an optional camera view of the back.

Towing and offroad per formance

While the new Grand Cherokee does not reach the standard benchmark for a tow wagon (3.5 tonnes), it will tow most familysized trailerboats with a braked capability of 2.8 tonnes. We decided to pair the Jeep with an Extreme 1770 Enduro on a singleaxle Voyager trailer, a package with a modest dry weight of around a single tonne.
For all the premium comforts, it didn’t seem out of place with a trailerboat swinging on the back. The reversing camera makes hitching up easy and the aforementioned optional rearview mirror camera view means you can keep a good eye on proceedings.
Both around town and on the open road, the Grand Cherokee proved to be a capable tow vehicle, although it does lack the hauling grunt of some diesel utes. We averaged a respectable fuel economy of 15.5L/100km for our towing stint – a fair chunk of which involved Auckland’s notorious traffic.
Whilst certainly not a true 4x4 test, we did hit both the gravel and the beach to get a feel for the Grand Cherokee’s off-road capabilities. The grip on the gravel was secure through corners and the suspension dealt with the inevitable potholes and corrugations nicely. Flicking into Mud/Sand mode to launch/ retrieve our boat on the semi-firm sand at Whangaparaoa’s Army Bay, the Grand Cherokee delivered no wheel spins or frights.
The new Jeep Grand Cherokee is a premium, family-sized SUV that can tow the boat in comfort and style. If you can get past the diesel power and 3.5-tonne tow capability of alternatives in the market for a similar price point, and instead see value in the cool gizmos, off-road smarts, luxurious feel, and huge storage volume of the Grand Cherokee, then it would pay to take one for a test drive.
“ Only when hitting the accelerator hard does the grunty V6 roar penetrate the Grand Cherokee’s impressive noise-cancelling body. 
Specifications Engine 3.6L V6 Petrol: 210kW 344Nm Drive Full-time 4x4 with low range Transmission 8-speed automatic Maximum Towing Capacity 2.813 tonne braked Warranty 3-year or 100,000km (whichever comes first) Price as tested $116,990 +orc