It's not the newest car on the market, and it's not the most advanced, but the Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited is still a great value-packed SUV that can be bought for almost next to nothing on the second-hand market.
Okay, so we didn’t buy this Jeep second-hand. My parents bought it brand new on our first trip back to Canberra, not long after we moved interstate. It was such an exciting moment to be purchasing this new SUV, and the first time I was excited about getting a car that wasn’t a sedan (I prefer sedans over any other body types). Even though the design had been out for around five years, the updated look both inside and out has kept it seeming fresh and added to the increase in sales.
Jeep has kept the exterior of the Grand Cherokee fresh, which has contributed to its success (can’t say that about GM). The aggressive headlights with a signature LED running light give the Jeep a unique look and allow it to stand out. There are fog lamps – not much to say about them since they’re not really needed, though they do add to the nice design.
The side of the car also looks just as nice and unique. There is subtle chrome used on the door handles and around the window trim. The addition of the black 20-inch alloy SRT rims gives the design a more sporty, aggressive stance and causes heads to turn (can’t say that about other flagship SUVs, except for Mazda). The rear is just as unique as the rest of the car, with LED tail-lights and dual exhaust tips. Again, there is more subtle chrome around the tail-lights that makes them pop out more.
The interior is a very pleasant place to be, which is odd to say about an American car. But the folks at FCA know how to design and apply good attention to detail on a dash far better than Ford and GM. In fact, overall FCA has a better standard of design, with many of its new products looking and feeling more up-spec than even Lincoln and Cadillac.
There is, however, a bit too much hard plastic, and it's in areas that could have been soft-touch plastics. Even my VZ Calais has more premium materials in places you’d least expect it. But having said that, it's all forgiven when you see the layout and the features that are standard. There is soft-touch plastic on top of the dash, and the top of the door trims, but below there is all hard plastic that is easily scratched if you're not careful.
The large 8.0-inch touchscreen display is a beast of a unit. It's responsive and clear. You can control almost anything in the car from it. Because of that, there are far less buttons on the dash, as most of the commands such as the radio and climate control can be directly changed from the screen. But, of course, those standard functions are kept as physical buttons, which is great, and honestly better than a full screen (looking at you Volvo and Tesla).
The seats are full leather and feel comfortable to sit on. The front seats are well bolstered, keeping you in place when taking on a corner at speed. The front seats are electric with lumbar support and driver's memory for two. They are also heated and ventilated, which is a massive benefit for Australian weather conditions. The rear, however, is heated only, but that's better than nothing. In the back you get dual USB ports,, making it easy to charge your phone and also meaning that the kids (yay us) will not be fighting over who gets to use it.
Safety is important, and the Limited is, well, limited. It doesn’t have all the driving aids that are standard on almost every other car on the market, but that's not to say it's completely bare-bones basic. Standard are eight airbags, front and rear parking sensors, rear-view camera, braking assist and a five-star ANCAP safety rating. It might not sound like a lot, and maybe Stacy's little i20 has those features too, but at the end of the day the Jeep is a large car, which gives it the benefit of the doubt.
The 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 is a capable unit. Fuel efficient, quiet and quick, the diesel gets the Jeep going relatively easily. Using on average about 9L/100km, you can easily get about 1100km from a tank. The Jeep, on one tank, can drive from Adelaide to Canberra and still have enough diesel to commute for a bit.
The eight-speed automatic is a good unit that helps with effect, allowing the engine to stay low-revving at highway speeds. The standard AWD system does its job and keeps the Jeep planted on the road at all times. It distributes the power effectively for a comfortable ride. There is noticeable turbo lag, and it can sometimes be a safety issue.
I was merging onto the M2 Southern Expressway in Adelaide and was behind a truck. Knowing the Jeep had power, I decided to overtake it. Pressing down on the accelerator and beginning to change lanes, the Jeep was slow to react. It took about a second and a half for it to kick back a couple of gears and rev to life. Not exactly safe nor performance-oriented, despite the ‘Sport Mode’ and paddle shifters. Despite this, it is still an overall good engine that quietly gets you going with the efficiency needed in today's world. To top it off, close mates even noted the engine's overall positive capability.
The ride and handling are quite surprising, especially for an SUV of this size and weight. The steering doesn’t feel heavy whatsoever, which is a massive positive and makes the Jeep really easy to turn. The suspension is extremely comfortable, even though we have 20-inch SRT alloys fitted, although I don’t think there is any difference between them and the normal Limited alloys.
There is limited (pun intended) road noise and the engine is very quiet. In the city or on the highway, the Jeep rides comfortably and with ease. The Jeep does well off-roading. Taking it down a 4x4-only track, the ride was still comfortable and seemed very confident. Thanks to the drive-mode select, it's easy to set the Jeep for proper rock crawling, or even drive it through the snow.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee – a flagship SUV. Is it a sports SUV? A luxury SUV? Or an off-roader? That's for you to decide. The Jeep presents a good argument, despite its reputation for being somewhat of a lemon. To sum it up, though, this Jeep is capable of anything. Whether it be driving through the city (which it does), highway/interstate driving (which it does) or going off-roading (which it has), it can tackle anything while still looking handsome and feeling premium.
If there were one SUV to purchase that had power, capability, safety and luxury, the Grand Cherokee is the way to go on the second-hand market.