Buyer's Guide Drive and Review Luxury SUVs and Crossovers

(Go Flat Out Review) 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited: Unlimited Possibilities

Ah, the Jeep Grand Cherokee. One of my all time favorite American SUVs. I remember when I went to the United States back in 2005, and I used to admire seeing the WJ, or the second generation Grand Cherokee. Even before going to the US, even a few of the second generation Grand Cherokee roamed around Makati. Its successor, the WK, or the third generation, didn’t really go well. Plagued with quality and reliability problems, many people regretted owning the third generation model. This isn’t helped by the fact that the Chrysler group was also in financial trouble. This WK2, or the fourth generation model, was a transition model in the Jeep range, being developed when Fiat already bought the Chrysler group. Quality is substantially raised, and the design is a lot more cohesive than the generation it replaces. Now that this model has undergone a facelift, how does the new Jeep Grand Cherokee in Limited trim stack up then?

Exterior

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The pre-facelift Grand Cherokee already had a cohesive and bold exterior design, and this facelifted model further accentuates that. The silhouette is unmistakably Jeep Grand Cherokee, with the trapezoidal wheel arches and seven slotted front grille design elements, giving the SUV its unmistakable identity as it cruises down the road. In this facelifted model, your eyes will be drawn to the newly-designed Bi-Xenon HID Headlamps with LED Daytime Running Lights, in which the LED pattern is similar to the Chrysler 300C’s. Just in case the people behind are not aware of what SUV you are driving, the Jeep badge has slightly been enlarged. Just to make sure its rear end does leave a lasting impression, the Grand Cherokee receives new LED rear lights with completely new graphics that mimic the LED Daytime Running Lights up front. Lastly, newly designed 20-inch aluminum wheels further accentuate the Grand Cherokee’s plush but rugged nature.

Interior

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The new Grand Cherokee has a stunning interior, which is dominated by the newly designed UConnect 8-inch touchscreen. A completely redesigned center stack gives the interior a much better quality than before, now having a cleaner and a well-integrated design. The climate control switches and UConnect touch screen have now been integrated into a single clean panel design. A once weak point of the pre-facelift model were some buttons and knobs that feel cheap and flimsy. This facelifted model now fixes that, with buttons and switches that feel more robust than the model it replaces. Immediately noticeable upon looking at the instrument cluster is the new 7-inch TFT LCD display, displaying virtual gauges and other useful information such as route guidance. Finally, the stitched leather on the dashboard completes this beautifully crafted cabin.

Space and Practicality

Interior space certainly isn’t at a premium here. The cabin is huge, with plenty of space for everyone in the cabin. There are plenty of adjustments in the Grand Cherokee’s 8-way power adjustable seats and power adjustable steering, so even the fussiest of drivers can find an ideal driving position. Back seat space for three full-size male adults is plentiful, thanks to an almost completely flat floor. These days, a dead smartphone is a big no-no, therefore the new Grand Cherokee has two USB charging ports in the second row of seats.

How about places to store items? Well, the glove box is certainly huge, and so are the door bins and the central cubby. The boot space is definitely large, with one of the largest trunk spaces in any SUV, measuring 1027.9 liters, and that’s even with a full size 20-inch spare aluminum wheel underneath the floor storage. Folding the second row seats will give you a cavernous 1934 liters of space. While it isn’t as big as lets say, a Ford Expedition, it is plenty big enough for most people.

Features

The amount of standard equipment in this Limited model is simply outstanding, and since we may be finished by Christmas if we talk about every-single standard equipment offered in this Grand Cherokee Limited, we’ll only be talking about the notable ones. UConnect remains to be one of my most favorite touch screen based infotainment systems. While I prefer the rotary-knob layout of the German premium brands like BMW’s iDrive, the UConnect system is just as impressive, since the touch screen is sensitive and responsive enough to my hand inputs. Lag is also at a minimum, unlike Ford’s MyFordTouch system, though the Garmin-based navigation system takes time to load. Ones it loads though, the system is simple and easy to use, typical of any Garmin-based system.

Another notable new feature in the cabin is the 7-inch TFT LCD virtual gauge display. It is intuitive and easy to use, since there was virtually no learning curve for me when I used the system for the first time. The pad on the left of the steering wheel controls the 7-inch virtual gauge display, while the buttons for the cruise control are located on the right side. The three missing buttons below the cruise control switches, meanwhile, are there to remind you and me that we can’t afford the Grand Cherokee Summit model with Adaptive Radar-Based Cruise Control, and other driver assistance systems.

Other features to take note of include a rear back up camera, power liftage, electronic shifter, a plethora of airbags, and other safety assistance systems, which include Hill Start Assist, Hill Descent Control, and Active Head Restraints.

Powertrain

The Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited is powered by a new 3.0 liter EcoDiesel V6 with VGT, producing a punchy 246 hp @ 4000 rpm, and 550 Nm of torque @ 1800 rpm. Just to bring perspective on how much 550 Nm actually is, a Ferrari 458 produces 540 Nm of torque. Power is delivered through a new ZF 8-Speed Automatic Transmission, which replaces the 5-Speed Automatic and 3.0 liter V6 CRD diesel combo of the pre-facelift Grand Cherokee Limited Diesel. The new combination is expected to substantially improve the Grand Cherokee’s performance, CO2 emissions, and fuel economy.

How It Drives

Upon starting up the new Jeep Grand Cherokee, an immediate improvement that is noticed is refinement. Not that the pre-facelift Grand Cherokee wasn’t refined, but this facelifted model further takes it up a notch. The only indication you have that the diesel engine is running is by looking at the instrument cluster. Crossing the rocky parking lot at the test drive area is effortlessly comfortable, thanks to the standard Quadra-Lift air suspension with variable height adjustment. While it isn’t the most comfortable of air suspension set ups, especially when compared to its German counterparts, it isn’t actually bad at all.

Speaking of the air suspension, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, unlike most SUVs nowadays is all about the go, and not just the show. The Quadra-Trac II AWD system ensures that there is optimum grip in each wheel via a two-speed transfer case and monitors wheel slippage through its sensors. The system has the capability to deliver 100% of the engine’s power to the wheel with the most traction. Another feature called Selec-Terrain allows the driver to choose the best possible mode depending on the situation via an electronic knob in the center console, similar to Land Rover’s control logic.

Fortunately, I was allowed to take the Grand Cherokee on a longer drive than usual, giving me better impressions of the vehicle on the tarmac. Out on the open road, the Jeep Grand Cherokee handles impressively. While not as sporty as a BMW X5, let alone a Porsche Cayenne, it is still very impressive. Body roll is well controlled, and the precise steering gives you confidence maneuvering this behemoth of an SUV. Put your foot down, and engine noise becomes a bit more noticeable, though it is still hushed. What you will immediately notice though is the power delivery and when all the power is available when you put your foot down. It is very responsive for the kind of vehicle it is, since torque is readily available even on the very low end of the rpm range. Contributing to the impressiveness of the powertrain is the smooth 8-Speed ZF Automatic Transmission. Downshifts are smooth and responsive when you really need the power down to the road. Just in case you need more responsiveness, steering-mounted paddle shifters come as standard.

Out on an open highway, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is very hushed, even when traversing some of the Philippines’ roughest roads. Road and wind noise is almost non-existent, thanks to additional sound insulation in the doors, carpets, and other parts of the cabin. Overtaking, thanks to the powerful engine and excellent transmission, is effortless. Just put your foot down, and the Grand Cherokee lunches forward. It never feels weak at high speeds when you want to put your foot down to accelerate more from let’s say, 100 to 120 km/h. It will just go, go, and go. Soon enough, you’d already have went beyond the legal speed limit. Lastly’ its fuel economy is very impressive for a car of this size and weight. Jeep claims a 12 km/l average fuel consumption, and it seems the claim is achievable, since in this drive in the city and some highways, including heavy footed accelerations, the computers were indicating a figure of *9.1 km/l.

On The Downside

I wouldn’t be a good critic if I didn’t point out any negatives would I? A negative I would like to talk about, albeit very minor is that, for such a big SUV, the lack of a third row seat option seems odd, given that it has a very huge boot space to spare.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee’s interior may have a better build quality and a more robust construction than its predecessor, yet it still doesn’t feel quite as solidly built as the Volkswagen Touareg’s, though a similarly equipped Volkswagen Touareg would probably cost a lot more, since the Touareg 3.0 V6 TDI with even less equipment than the Grand Cherokee Limited is sold at a higher P4,290,000 price tag.

Reliability also may be an issue with the Jeep Grand Cherokee. While the Chrysler group’s quality and reliability has been better over the years, reliability data from the United States 2014 J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Study has placed Jeep below average, 4th to the last to be precise, with Land Rover, Dodge, and Mini, completing the bottom of the list of most reliable car brands.

 Verdict

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is an SUV that, while soft and luxurious, impresses even when the going gets tough, a trait that is becoming a rarity in SUVs nowadays. When the Chrysler group was taken over by Fiat, it saved the brand from bankruptcy, and when they released the second generation 300C, the world noticed how the Chrysler group has improved in such a short period of time. The same also happened with the introduction of this WK2 Grand Cherokee, and this facelift further pushes the envelope in luxury and off-road capability at a more attainable price of P3,720,000. An American SUV with a European flair, it seems the Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited has unlimited possibilities.

Rating

Exterior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Design: ★★★★☆
Interior Quality: ★★★☆☆
Features: ★★★★☆
Acceleration: ★★★★☆
Handling: ★★★★☆
Comfort: ★★★★☆
Fuel Efficiency: ★★★★☆
Value For Money: ★★★★☆

OVERALL: 3.89 out of 5

See Also:

2012 Honda Civic 1.8 EXI
2012 Hyundai Elantra 1.6 GL AT
2013 Mitsubishi Montero Sport GLS-V 4×2 AT
2013 Chevrolet Trailblazer LTZ 4×4 AT
2013 Mazda 6 AT
2014 Mazda CX-5 2.5 AWD Sport
2014 Toyota Vios 1.5 G AT
2014 Ford EcoSport 1.5 Titanium

*Fuel consumption results may vary depending on conditions and the driver itself.

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