With the launch of the next-generation Grand Cherokee in 2011, Jeep upped its game considerably, releasing a true rival for vehicles such as the Toyota Prado and the Land Rover Discovery 4. The face-lifted version sticks close to this winning formula, but adds some nice new features.
Whenever I spend time with the Grand Cherokee I am blown away by how good it is. It really is a superb SUV. It looks great, its interior is plush and comfy, and, like the Toyota Prado and Land Rover Discovery, it has some proper off-road ability.
The only thing that lets it down a tad is its petrol powerplants. When it was launched initially, it was only available with either a 3,6-litre Pentastar engine or a burly 5,7-litre Hemi mill. These were serviceable, but didn’t provide the sort of power that would warrant the high fuel bill. Thankfully an excellent three-litre CRD oilburner came along a few months later and provided the sort of powerplant the Grand deserved.
When the updated version of the Grand Cherokee was released last year, it was also released with only those two petrol engines, but now the CRD has made its way into the updated Grand Cherokee.
As with the outgoing model, the CRD is still the pick of the bunch. Yes, it’s got less power than the 3.6 and the 5.7, but it’s got more torque (569 Nm), and that torque is available from lower down on the rev range.
What this means is that the CRD is more pleasant to drive on the road, and often feels more eager and responsive to throttle inputs than the petrol models, since that torque kicks in so early. And in addition to offering effortless power, it boasts much better fuel consumption figures than the petrol versions.
Of course, that low-down torque also has benefits off road, allowing the Grand to crawl over rocky surfaces and up steep slopes with ease.
The good news is that all the powerplants, including the oilburner, are now paired to a new eight-speed automatic shifter. Acceleration in the CRD has always been brisk and smooth, but the new shifter has improved things even further, making shifts quicker and more precise, while also promising to reduce consumption.
Under the bonnet, not much else has changed. The Overland model is still equipped with Jeep’s Quadra-Drive II 4×4 system, Quadra-Lift air suspension and Selec-Terrain traction control system, which offers five different driving programs and works similarly to Land Rover’s Terrain Response system, offering for sand, mud, snow and rock.
Exterior changes are minor, consisting largely of new Led headlamps, while the cabin changes include a few new finishes and a nifty new gear shifter, as well as an 8,4-inch touchscreen and a 7-inch TFT configurable cluster display.
New optional features consist of adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning system and Jeep’s Selec-Speed control, which works with the hill ascent control and the hill descent control functions to allow the driver to control the speed of the vehicle, both uphill and downhill, using the steering wheel paddle shifters.
Since its launch in 2011, the Grand Cherokee has become a solid contender in the segment, providing tough competition for vehicles such as Land Rover’s Disco and Toyota’s Prado. And one of the chief reasons for this was its price. When we attended the original launch, Jeep SA repeatedly emphasised that the Grand Cherokee offered great value for money, and the statement was undoubtedly true – the Grand indeed offered fantastic value. Unfortunately, though, things have now changed a bit.
When the face-lifted Grand Cherokee was launched last year, the 3.6 Overland model retailed for R646 990. When the CRD arrived on the scene a few months later, it was priced at R731 990. The 3.6 Overland now goes for R742 990, and the CRD is priced at R837 990. Jeep’s prices have been hiked considerably over the last couple of months.
That said, it remains well priced when compared to the Disco SDV6 HSE, which goes for R936 286, but once you’ve added the optional extras, you’ll be paying close to R900 000 for the CRD model.
The Grand Cherokee is still a great vehicle, and one has to admit that the price hike is due in large part to the weakening rand. Jeep is certainly not the only manufacturer pushing up prices. It is just a shame that the Grand Cherokee isn’t the great value offering it once was.