The Jeep Brand has a pedigree, to be sure. It started out utilitarian bouncing around farms, sneaking across battlefields and traversing the impassable before BMW, Volkswagen, Toyota or Mitsubishi truly established as brands. Jeep may have started out rugged and rather basic but its ability to handing the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific was unquestionable. Those very roots may have been a liability in the euromarket.
U.S. citizens pay low prices for vehicles relative to European consumers. Because European consumers pay more for their cars, their notions of quality are higher. This has, in the past, meant that Jeeps just have not been up to the sophistication level that say, a German car buyer would expect. It’s not that Germans are not sure that a Jeep could get them across the Darien Gap. It’s the notion that a car that rugged is, obviously, going to leave a German car buyer with less than what he or she was looking for in suspension and on road ride quality.
Jeep claims that the new Jeep Grand Cherokee is going to change all those perceptions. This new Jeep Grand Cherokee is the latest in a 21-year-old vehicle range and this time its makers claim it is a quality match for its German rivals.
The 2005 third-generation Grand Cherokee, the one before this one, got generally negative reviews in the European car press. Some even called it a disaster. It was based on the Jeep monocoque. It had a Mercedes diesel engine. As poor a vehicle as it may have been, it was still head over heels better than the cart-axled, antediluvian-helmed, floppy version that came before 2005. Still, 2005’s Jeep Grand Cherokee did not have a rigid enough body, was not a high enough quality car and didn’t give the consumer very many features in the stock model.
In 2010 Jeep came out with a fourth generation Jeep Grand Cherokee that was based on a Mercedes Benz ML. It had a 5 speed transmission, which was a set back even though overall the 2010 version was a huge improvement.BACK TO TOP
Now, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, has a ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. It also sports nice chrome appointments on a reworked front-of-body. This new front sports bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights. It’s not showy, but it Jeep euromodels have never been overly showy.
The back got a rework as well. It has more a more aerodynamic spoiler. The bumpers have been recrafted as well as the tailgare. These recraftings have improved visibility.
The new interior is where the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee really stands out from its predecessors. For the first time Jeep designers have realized that the European customer has sophisticated design tastes and Jeep has responded to those tastes with leather that feels like quality and with trim made out of real tree wood. The dashboard has been revised with a brighter display that looks prettier than the predecessors, is easier to read and has a terrific layout for the stereo, GPS and temperature control.
All that said, compared to the Range Rover there is still a “cheapness” about the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The boxed-edge trim of the seats is the U.S. way of doing things but it does not really support the thighs of those seated. The back seat can accommodate three grown ups who are six feet tall, but the head room and leg room given to these three people is a lot less than in the Range Rover, which is fewer than two inches longer.
The model of Cherokee that is the most pricey is the Summit model. It comes with a Harman Kardon surround sound audio system with 19 speakers and 825 watts of power. The seats are electric. The cruise control is intelligent. It also has a collision warning system, a select terrain response system for 4 wheel driving, plus power windows and doors with keyless entry. It also has a panoramic sunroof but this comes on the stock model as well. Overall there is a feel of luxury. The touchable parts of the car feel well assembled and well made. The passenger compartment is spacious. The trunk is huge, 782 cubic litres to be exact, but you can not use all that space to put in an extra two seats the way you can with the Land Rover Discovery and Range Rover Sport. Visability is good for the driver and passenger with only one blind spot at the rear.Underneath the Summit there are five additional trim levels.BACK TO TOP
Consumers can choose from two types of 3.0 litre V6s diesel engines. The bottom tier Laredo model comes with a 188 horse power engine. The others come with a 246 horse power engine. The 246hp has 420 pounds per foot of force. So the car can go from 0 to 62mph in 8.2 seconds. It gets 37.7 miles per gallon on the highway and has carbon emissions of 198g/km. The Summit model tows up to 2,949 kilograms. The other models will tow 3,500 kilograms.
Above and beyond the two standard engines there is an SRT model that has a 6.4 litre, 461 horse power Hemi V8 gasoline engine instead of diesel. It has a top speed of 160 miles per hour and unless you are a 1% or live in Saudi Arabia will probably break you in gasoline consumption costs.
The 4 wheel drive set up for the Summit and Overland models include Jeep’s Quadra-Drive II all-wheel drive and Quadra-Lift air suspension and Select-Terrain and Selec-Trac traction management systems. With these feautres the driver gets an electronic rear differential to control slip across the axle, an electronic clutch pack that pushes torque to the front and rear axles and the option to have different ride heights with an adjustable air spring.
Out of the gate, the car feels lumbering. Although lumbering is what one might expect from a vehicle this size no matter who manufactured it as long as it is being driven on tight, busy, city streets. Now, when you get out on the open road, that’s when you really feel with the Jeep Grand Cherokee can do.
The 8 speed gearbox shifts imperceptibly with well spaced ratios and a paddle shift. The diesel engine is rugged, though not so smooth. It has a turbine-like howl. Once you get up to speed it can take a lot to slow the car down for roundabouts. The dampening is not all that great. The car pitches and rolls into bends, corkscrews diagonally over undulating road surfaces and could feel a little bit unsafe if you were to push the car to its limits.
The thing is, as an urban cruiser, how much pushing is the average driver going to do? The Jeep Grand Cherokee is an excellent cruiser and, for the most part, drives as well as Euromarket rivals for which you would have to spend considerably more cash.
This review is an amalgamation of two reviews originally written for The Telegraph U.K. newspaper by Paul Hudson and Andrew English.
Article by CJ Bantam
CJ Bantam is a freelance writer for a variety of publishers in the off-road scene. He enjoys writing about trucks, Jeeps and SUVs as well as fishing and other outdoor activities. Youc an check CJ out on Google+.