Stepping into my new 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited after years of driving a 2003 T30 Nissan X-Trail definitely highlighted the advancements that have swept through the car industry in the past 10 years. Going from having the rudimentary tow ball as the extent of your reverse parking aids, to having beepers and reverse camera has been enlightening! I never knew how useful it was, having usually made fun of those that needed aids to park – I can now say I see the light, or in this case the Corolla behind!
The 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited was a car that ticked all the right boxes for me. Able to make the long commute from the south east Melbourne suburbs to the western suburbs for work each day comfortable and effortless (tick). More fuel-efficient, with its 3.0 V6 diesel engine, than the trusty 2.5-litre 4-cylinder X-Trail – whilst also providing more power and take off (tick). Large enough to be able to pack up for a long road trip, carry all the gear for a weekend skiing at Mount Hotham with mates, and still be able to park and navigate the city with relative ease (tick). Have the ability to get off the beaten track and explore our great backyard while also being a comfortable place to be for hours of driving (tick).
Living with the car (and driving it to and fro daily) really paints an honest picture of the vehicle.
Let’s start with the good:
The technology in the Jeep is pretty good, with a 6-inch audio unit (starting to feel on the small side compared to later models), with Bluetooth hands-free, built in HDD & CD/DVD drive, Bluetooth streaming, 9-speaker Alpine stereo system, voice recognition and steering wheel controls all help make the journey a lot easier and far more comfortable. Pumping out the tunes, with a little bit of karaoke and good road noise cancellation adds some enjoyment to the usual morning commute. Heated seats and a fantastic air conditioner/heater has made the cold Melbourne starts and warm evenings a lot more comfortable. And the tyre pressure monitor and selectable terrain systems has helped me navigate some questionable terrain with relative ease and assurance. The space in the vehicle is great for long drives and weekends away, with the car being able to comfortably transport four and even five people with luggage with relative ease.
The Jeep, on the whole, drives well and presents great road dynamics. The Jeep has got great pick-up, especially once the turbo on the V6 diesel kicks in that is – otherwise it really feels like the 2-tonne plus SUV that it is. Off the line it’s heavy, but once it's moving at around 40kph, the engine response is livelier and the Jeep picks up quite well. Don’t get me wrong, this is no C63 AMG here, but it can definitely get going at pace quicker than the neighbouring Getz in the right lane. The steering is light and responsive which is great around the city and really comes into its own when parking.
The same steering lightness that is a great asset when driving in the city and parking, becomes vague at higher speeds often leaving you a little unsettled around sudden bends. It’s as you are going around the bend and put your left foot out, that you discover another annoying flaw with the Jeep, a foot-operated park brake. A foot-operated park brake does not only require careful foot and shin placements, but also seems to require users to have taken yoga classes before trying to activate it. The Bluetooth streaming often drops out for a couple of seconds during ongoing use, which Jeep has said is a known fault in the standard head unit, but have still not done anything to remedy the issue. The size of the audio head unit is also starting to feel small and outdated by today's standard, with many newer cars having larger screens and improved functionality. Servicing is another issue with the Jeep; the recommended services are every 6 months, which is quite often for a modern car and will definitely cause the back pocket a greater hit.
The reliability and long-term ownership costs of Jeeps have been called into question many times. It was also something that played on the mind during the selection process. The multiple current recalls on all Jeep models is ridiculous and does raise many questions about reliability of the vehicle. The servicing costs are also astronomical on the Jeep, with the Jeep dealers often quoting over $1K and up to $2K on servicing alone. Here it definitely pays to take the car to an outside Jeep specialist, who is not only certified to work on the car, but will also do it for half the price.
Overall I have found the 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee to be a great SUV, with abilities that make it great around town, but also give it an advantage when getting off the beaten track and exploring our great backyard. I’ve currently found the car to be reliable, with no major issues to report, except for small wear and tear items such as bulbs. I have had no mechanical issues with the car. The overall package offered in terms of equipment, price, economy, size and capability presents good value as a purchase, as long you make sure all the recalls have been carried out and have found a good Jeep service specialist.
Jeep are onto a good formula with the Grand Cherokee with its unique styling, good size and capability. All they need to do now is build a more reliable vehicle and remove that shin “denter” of a foot-operated park brake to help the Grand Cherokee move into the 21st Century.