A new rear-wheel-drive base model, a new eight-speed auto and improved fuel efficiency form three of the major changes to the new Jeep Grand Cherokee.

This is the first significant makeover for the current generation of the American 4x4 brand’s flagship model released in early 2011 in Australia.

The first 4x2 Jeep Grand Cherokee to be sold here brings the price of the large SUV down by about $4000 to $45,000 driveaway.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Larado front

For buyers looking for the full Jeep, go-anywhere experience, the four-wheel-drive range starts slightly higher at $46,000 before on-road costs for a Laredo grade powered by a 3.6-litre V6 petrol engine with 210kW of power and 347Nm of torque.

A 184kW/570Nm 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel provides extra pulling power – including and lower consumption, though continues to carry a $5000 premium that is higher than the industry average for a diesel.

The two engines are also available on the next-up Limited and Overland grades, which also add a ‘Hemi’ 5.7-litre V8 to the choice mix that produces 259kW and 520Nm.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited profile

The diesel and 5.7L V8 share the highest-in-range braked towing capacity of 3500kg.

The performance-focused Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, which only went on sale locally in late 2012, is also included as part of the upgraded range, continuing with a 344kW/624Nm ‘Hemi’ 6.4-litre V8.

All engines are carried over, though each is now paired as standard with a ZF eight-speed automatic that is becoming increasingly popular among car manufacturers.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo rear 3q

The extra ratios over the old standard five-speed auto improve fuel economy across the range, while a new Eco mode is a default setting on start-up that brings retarded throttle response and earlier upshifts from the auto.

The 4x4 petrol V6 improves from 11.0 to 10.4 litres per 100km, the diesel V6 drops from 8.3 to 7.5L/100km, and the 5.7L V8 now officially slurps 13.0 litres per 100km rather than 14.1.

Choosing the 2WD Jeep Grand Cherokee saves 0.3 litres compared with the 4x4: at 10.1L/100km.

SRT makes the smallest gain, from 14.1 to 14.0L/100km, though the auto also gives the fastest Jeep Grand Cherokee slightly quicker performance courtesy of a new launch control system. It now clocks 4.8 rather than 4.9 in the 0-100km/h sprint.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo steering wheel

All Grand Cherokees are fitted with paddleshift levers behind the steering wheel, which also allow drivers to select the speed for the hill descent and hill ascent control systems when off-roading – where Selec-Speed is specced.

The four-wheel-drive systems available depend on model.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4x4 models employ Quadra-Trac II, a full-time system with a two-speed transfer case. In the default 4WD High, torque is varied between the front and rear axles up to 100 per cent either end depending on available traction. Selecting Low range via a console button splits torque equally.

Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT driving

Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland models are equipped with Quadra-Drive II that includes the benefit of an electronic limited-slip rear differential.

The flagship Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT (pictured above) features Quadra-Trac, an on-demand set-up that apportions more torque to the rear wheels in general driving for sportier handling and can send 100 per cent torque to a single rear wheel to aid traction.

Variable-height air suspension that can increase the Jeep’s ground clearance from a low of 221mm to a high of 287mm is standard on the Overland and optional on Laredo and Limited.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited Selec Terrain

All Grand Cherokees except the RWD base model come with Selec-Terrain, which allows the driver to choose various vehicle calibrations depending on surface – including Sand, Snow, Mud and Rock, plus an Auto mode.

The system previously included a Sport mode, which has now moved to the gearshift lever.

Feature highlights (not including mechanicals) for the four trim grades are:

Laredo

Bi-xenon headlights with auto high beam

LED daytime running lights

Foglights

Heated side mirrors

Auto-dimming rear view mirror

18-inch chrome wheels

Electrically adjustable front seats with heating

Leather steering wheel

Dual-zone climate control

7 airbags

Rear view camera

Tyre pressure monitor

Hill descent control

Rain-sensing wipers

Instrument display with 7” TFT screen

5-inch touchscreen (4x2)

8.4-inch touchscreen (4x4)

Voice command Bluetooth

Limited

Adds….

Alpine 9-speaker audio with subwoofer

Satellite navigation

Auto tailgate

20-inch alloy wheels

Leather seats

Heated rear seats

Heated steering wheel

Front and rear parking sensors

Overland

Adds…

Dual-pane panoramic sunroof

Tinted glass

Nappa leather seats

Leather trim for upper dash, doors, console and armrests

Ventilated front seats

Wood and leather steering wheel

Adaptive cruise control

Blind spot warning

Forward collision warning

SRT

Adds…

Adaptive bi-xenon headlights

Ventilated bonnet

High-grade Nappa leather sports seats

Flat bottom sports steering wheel

SRT Performance pages for touchscreen display

Optional Harman Kardon surround sound audio with 19 speakers

 

2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee range

Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4x2 V6 $43,000 ($45,000 driveaway)

Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4x4 V6 $46,000

Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4x4 V6 diesel $51,000

Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited V6 $56,000

Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited V6 diesel $61,000

Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited V8 $61,000

Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland V6 $66,000

Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland V6 diesel $71,000

Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland V8 $71,000

Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT $77,000