With styling that’s nowhere near as odd as the first press shots led us to believe, the latest Jeep Grand Cherokee stands more than a fighting chance of success.
Interior design is much improved and the 4x4 underpinnings are still as tough as ever. Economy and emissions have improved but lag behind the class best.
The 3.0 CRD badge you’ll see on the back of most Grand Cherokees would suggest that the Jeep has that redoubtable Mercedes-derived engine under its bonnet, but instead it’s a unit built by Fiat in collaboration with VM Motori which generates a maximum power of 250PS and torque of 570 Nm, which is right in the sweet spot for a vehicle of this size and weight.
There’s also a 190PS budget version of this engine offered with the entry-level car, but Jeep reckons more than 90% of sales will go to the 250PS unit.
A slick ZF eight-speed automatic gearbox is standard across the range, helping efficiency and response. At typical motorway speeds, the Grand Cherokee will typically be registering around 1,800rpm.
If all of this sounds a bit worthy, you could instead opt for the Grand Cherokee SRT. This gets a 6.4-litre V8 engine good for 468PS and is capable of accelerating to 62mph in just 5.0 seconds.
Believe it or not, but this behemoth actually handles as well.
Off-road, the Grand Cherokee is as tough as ever. A low-range transfer box makes light work of serious mud plugging and a set of diff locks mean that owners will be kept moving where most rivals would find themselves at a momentary traction deficit.
Most models come with steel sprung suspension, but to experience the Grand Cherokee at its best, you really need the air suspension that’s standard on models from the Overland up.
The first pictures of this model Jeep Grand Cherokee that were released showed a car with frontal styling that, not to put too fine a point on it, was hideous.
Fortunately the production model looks nothing so extreme. In fact it’s positively handsome, although those used to a typically bluff Jeep front end may take a little time to get used to it.
Jeep has largely left alone the things that were fundamentally right, such as the engines and running gear, and has diverted attention to those areas where the Grand Cherokee was left looking dated, namely the interior finish and the exterior styling.
In that respect, this update is both sensible and effective.
It deserves to do well. Judging by Jeep’s happy-looking sales charts, you certainly wouldn’t bet against it.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
CAR: Jeep Grand Cherokee
INSURANCE GROUP: 36-50
CO2 EMISSIONS: 198-327g/km
PERFORMANCE: [250PS diesel] 0-60 8.2s/top speed 126mph
FUEL CONSUMPTION: [250PS diesel] (combined) 37.7mpg
STANDARD SAFETY FEATURES: Seven airbags, stability control, ABS brakes, hill descent control, electronic roll mitigation
WILL IT FIT IN THE GARAGE?: Length/Width/Height mm 4822/1943/1749