Shifting focus with this new generation, the Jeep Grand Cherokee aims for a premium take on the large SUV. However, it comes at the expense of utility.
- Great interior presentation
- Improved on-road driving experience
- Air suspension gives great off-road clearance
- 3.6-litre petrol V6 bested by competitors
- With options, it’s darn expensive
- Cannot tow like the competitors can any more
As Australians continue to go certifiably SUV-mad, Jeep is looking to change its tack with the 2023 Grand Cherokee. This new-generation model picks up an Alfa Romeo-derived platform with plenty of new technology, pricing has been jacked up across the range, and Jeep is pitching it as a proper premium SUV option.
But does it stack up? We’ve got the off-roader’s choice – the Grand Cherokee Overland – in this test and will put Jeep’s flagship model through its paces on some challenging tracks and on the blacktop.
How much does the Jeep Grand Cherokee cost in Australia?
The 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee can be had in two different wheelbase lengths, going for either five or seven seats in total. We’ve got the five-seat Overland model here, which is the penultimate choice in its four-grade range.
It’s priced at $98,450 plus on-road costs, which compares to $129,950 for the Summit Reserve plug-in hybrid or $77,950 for the entry Night Eagle. There’s also a mid-spec Limited version at $83,950 – all before on-road costs.
Provided you’re able to foot the bill (and you’re keen to get off-road), I’d say this Overland model is worth consideration. Simply because this is the first model in the Grand Cherokee range to pick up a low-range transfer case and height-adjustable air suspension as standard. Otherwise, I’d be leaning towards the more road-oriented Night Eagle or Limited for improved value.
In this spec, we’ve got nappa leather upholstery with heated and ventilated front seats. There’s also a dual-pane sunroof, electric tailgate, 20-inch alloy wheels, an upgraded nine-speaker sound system, and interior ambient lighting.
And similar to the vehicle we tested earlier in the year, we’ve got two big options ticked. Firstly, the $4500 Luxury Tech Group brings 12-way power adjustment for the front seats with memory and massage, ventilation for the second-row outboard seats, four-zone climate control, a digital rear-view mirror, wireless charging pad and sunshades for the second row.
Next up is the $2750 Off-Road Group. This adds in a heavier-duty 230mm rear axle, although it’s not clear what size the differential is that was replaced. This also brings an electronic limited-slip rear differential, ‘Trail-Rated’ badging, excellent Goodyear Duratrac all-terrain tyres on 18-inch alloy wheels and some additional underbody protection.
That means what you’re looking at here – including the optional paint – is $107,450 plus on-road costs. This pins it up against seven-seat options like the Nissan Patrol Warrior ($101,160) and Toyota LandCruiser 300 GXL ($106,101), or the five-seat Land Rover Defender 110 D300 X-Dynamic SE ($106,720) and Ineos Grenadier Trialmaster ($109,525) are also in the firing line.
So while the new Jeep Grand Cherokee is certainly a more sophisticated and premium offering than before, the jump in pricing (compared to the previous generation) means it’s up against some stiff competition.
|2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland
|$98,450 plus on-road costs
|Colour of test car
|Luxury Tech Group – $4500
-12-way power front seats with memory and massage
– Four-zone automatic climate control
– Ventilated second-row seats (outboard only)
– Digital rear-view mirror
– Wireless charging pad
– Second-row window shades
Off-Road Group – $2750
– 230mm rear axle
– Electronic limited-slip differential
– Trail Rated badge
– 265/60 R18 Goodyear all-terrain tyres
– 18-inch polished/painted alloy wheels
– Fuel tank / transfer case / front suspension skid plate
Premium paint – $1750
|Price as tested
|$107,450 plus on-road costs
|Nissan Patrol | Toyota LandCruiser | Land Rover Defender
How much space does the Jeep Grand Cherokee have inside?
This discipline is the major strength of the new Grand Cherokee, which has made a clear and obvious stride forward in this generation. The interior looks great, with a nice element of wow factor when you first slide into the cabin. And in this Overland specification – befitting the six-figure price tag – there are plenty of bells and whistles to impress.
There is a large wood-textured panel that runs the full length of the dashboard, highlighted by chrome elements and some soft-touch leather-like materials (with stitching).
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As good as it looks, it doesn’t seem to have the same kind of build quality as others – with some trim pieces feeling less solid and having noticeably more wiggle to firm grasps. Some of the piano black materials around the centre console area and lidded storage compartments perhaps could feel more solid.
Power comes in the form of twin USB-C and USB-A power outlets, along with a 12V outlet and wireless charging pad, all hiding under a lidded compartment below the infotainment display. There are two cupholders in the regular spot, room for bottles in the doors, and the flocked centre console storage bin is of a good size.
The design and materials continue into the second row, where seats are comfortable and plenty of room is available for occupants. It might only be a five-seater here, but at least it nails what it has in terms of space. There are air vents and power outlets in the back here, as well as sun blinds built into the doors. Visibility is also good, for kids and adults alike.
No seats in the back means the boot is a good size, with 1067 litres of space on offer. However, it’s worth noting that Jeep measures all the way up to the roof for this figure. But for the size of the vehicle, the amount of boot space feels good. There is a 12V power outlet and tie-down points, along with a full-sized spare wheel hiding under the floor. Although, it’s a steel wheel and the tyre is a regular Nexen (not a Goodyear all-terrain).
|2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland
|1067L seats up
2005L seats folded
Does the Jeep Grand Cherokee have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?
The 10.1-inch central infotainment display of the Grand Cherokee performs well, with most features ticked off. There is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, both of which can be accessed via a wired or wireless connection.
Our connection to the system via a USB cable was stable and problem-free as well, which is something that cannot be said for every vehicle out there.
There’s also digital radio and native navigation, and an operating system that is overall well designed and easy to use.
Is the Jeep Grand Cherokee a safe car?
While seven-seat Grand Cherokee variants and the plug-in hybrid five-seat 4Xe model come with a five-star ANCAP rating, the regular (non-hybrid) five-seat models only carry a four-star rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program.
The four-star rating comes from a “poor performance recorded for the rear passenger in the full-width frontal test”, with ANCAP’s report pointing out “high seatbelt load” as being problematic.
Despite the rear passenger result, section scores for the five-seat Grand Cherokee break down to an adult occupant protection rating of 81 per cent, while child occupant protection is 93 per cent. Vulnerable road users get an 81 per cent protection rating, while the Grand Cherokee’s safety assist features get it an 84 per cent score.
|2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland
|Four stars (tested 2022)
|Link to ANCAP report
What safety technology does the Jeep Grand Cherokee have?
The four-star rating might be seen as something of a blight, but the Grand Cherokee does get a good raft of standard safety equipment (as you would expect). This includes an autonomous emergency braking system that includes pedestrian, cyclist and junction detection, along with collision avoidance.
Traffic sign recognition, blind-spot monitoring, tyre pressure monitoring, drowsy driver detection, rear-cross traffic alert and active lane management are included.
Other stuff includes adaptive cruise control with intelligent speed control and stop-and-go functionality, a 360-degree camera system and parking sensors front and rear.
Strangely, though, a head-up display isn’t available on this specification Grand Cherokee, despite being an option on trim levels either side of the ladder.
How much does the Jeep Grand Cherokee cost to maintain?
Jeep caps the service costs at $399 per visit for the first five years, with intervals set at 12 months or 12,000km. This works out to be $1917 for three years or $1995 for five years, which is quite reasonable for a vehicle of this size.
The so-called ‘Jeep Wave Commitment’ also includes a five-year, 100,000km warranty and ‘lifetime’ roadside assistance (as long as your vehicle stays dealership-serviced).
Insurance for a Grand Cherokee Overland costs $2895.01 per year, undercutting quotes for a Patrol ($3606) or LandCruiser ($3764) based on a comparative quote for a 35-year-old male driver living in Chatswood, NSW. Insurance estimates may vary based on your location, driving history, and personal circumstances.
|At a glance
|2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland
|Five years, 100,000km
|12 months or 12,000km
|$1197 (3 years)
$1995 (5 years)
Is the Jeep Grand Cherokee fuel-efficient?
The 3.6-litre petrol V6 – which goes without any form of forced induction or hybrid assistance – has been around since 2011, and isn’t the last word in economy. It’s not bad, though, and Jeep claims consumption of 9.9 litres per 100 kilometres in this spec level.
We saw a number higher than this, however, with an average of 12.7L/100km coming through after our time behind the wheel.
It’s worth noting that Jeep’s claim for city driving does go up noticeably, with a figure of 13.3L/100km. So if you’re going to be doing a majority of town driving, expect a figure around (or higher than) this.
|Fuel cons. (claimed)
|Fuel cons. (on test)
|Fuel tank size
What is the Jeep Grand Cherokee like to drive?
The new Grand Cherokee is a sharper and more polished drive compared to the previous generation, which is perhaps no surprise considering the platform underpinning it. The architecture is known as Giorgio, which was developed by Alfa Romeo for a reported 1 billion euros (AUD$1.6 billion). Used for the Giulia sedan and Stelvio SUV, this driver-focussed platform was staring down the barrel of a famously short lifetime, however, because it wasn’t developed to include full electrification.
It has been stretched and squeezed into this off-road application (as well as seeing use in some Maserati models), and the benefits can be felt through the steering, ride and handling qualities of the Grand Cherokee.
It’s another notch on the belt for the premium aspirations of this model, but the long-serving 3.6-litre petrol V6 doesn’t keep up its end of the bargain so well.
It’s not a bad engine, but also doesn’t feel anywhere near the same level as the V8s and turbocharged sixes that are available for similar money (and in similar vehicles) elsewhere. The 210kW power figure is decent, but only having 344Nm available in the upper-middle rev range is underdone for the vehicle’s size and price.
The eight-speed torque converter automatic gearbox does a sterling job of masking the inadequacies in twist, quickly and smoothly shifting from low-rev operation (for fuel economy) into higher revs for some additional surge. This element could easily undo the whole powertrain quite dramatically, but the calibration of throttle and gearbox helps to keep things palatable.
However, putting the car into more demanding scenarios – loaded up or lugging hard up hills – can show there aren’t too many more tricks left in the cupboard.
Off-road, the Grand Cherokee is still a competent offering in this Overland format. Hardware like height-adjustable air suspension and a low-range transfer case are augmented by the optional off-road tyres and additional protection. Not that the bash plates saw much action, because of the dramatic increase in ride height that comes through the air-bagged suspension.
There’s up to 276mm of clearance available in the highest setting, which is comparable to the highly impressive Land Rover Defender. Other clearance figures are improved as well, with a 30.1-degree approach, 28.4-degree departure and 24-degree rampover angles. The wading depth goes up to 610mm as well.
Pushing the suspension up by pumping large volumes of air into the springs means the suspension stiffens up noticeably, and any available amount of suspension travel becomes negated as well.
So while clearance is great, the Grand Cherokee feels tippy and loves to lift a wheel when negotiating ruts and climbs. There’s plenty of grip available from the excellent Goodyear Duratrac tyres, and Jeep’s off-road traction control is one of the better examples.
But lifting wheels and tipping about the place means the Grand Cherokee doesn’t feel as stable and confident as others on the same patch of ground.
Once you get into the groove, however, the Grand Cherokee is still a potent off-roader thanks to the high ground clearance and smart off-road traction control.
|2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland
|3.6-litre V6 petrol
|210kW @ 6400rpm
|344Nm @ 4000rpm
|Permanent four-wheel drive
|Eight-speed torque converter automatic,
low-range transfer case
|Spare tyre type
|Full-size (non-matching tyre)
Should I buy a Jeep Grand Cherokee?
Buyers of large off-road wagons like the Grand Cherokee tend to give a damn about the details of motivation, and it’s this area that will likely leave keen buyers feeling a little cold. Jeep’s long-serving Pentastar V6 isn’t bad per se, but it’s not as good as the variety of eight-cylinder and turbocharged alternatives in the marketplace.
The Grand Cherokee is still worth a test drive, however, because the performance of the powertrain does depend upon the driver and conditions. That said, the price of this vehicle needs to be considered, especially against similarly priced competitors.
If you want torquey diesel power and 3.5 tonnes of towing capacity, you’re forced to look elsewhere. But if you’re keen on a Jeep that has much improved on-road driving characteristics along with a solid dose of off-road smarts, then it’s worth a look.
How do I buy a Jeep Grand Cherokee – next steps?
Those keen on going off-road should look at the Overland specification at a minimum, because it picks up the better suspension and low-range transfer case. If you’re not planning on any off-road action, then have a look at the lower-specced Limited and Night Eagle grades.
Jeep Australia told Drive that supply levels of the Grand Cherokee are currently quite healthy at dealerships, which perhaps isn’t a surprise when you look at sales figures. In comparison to the likes of the classic competitors (Toyota’s LandCruiser, Nissan’s Patrol and Land Rover’s Defender and Discovery), Jeep’s sales figures are modest.
This also means there might be scope for cutting a deal with a dealership, if you’re prepared to do the legwork of calling around.
The next steps on the purchase journey would be to contact your local dealership and organise a test drive to see if the Grand Cherokee tickles your fancy. Find your nearest dealer via this link, and you can see what Jeeps are for sale at Drive.com.au/cars-for-sale.
If you want to stay updated with everything that’s happened to this car since our review, you’ll find all the latest news here.