When Jeep NZ announced a while back that there was a new, bigger, more luxurious Grand Cherokee on its way we were more than intrigued. Well now it’s arrived and we got to check out the Summit model.
Paraphrasing, Jim Morrison, Vice President and Head of Jeep brand North America said “the all-new Jeep Grand Cherokee L breaks new boundaries and turns heads, taking the Grand Cherokee to another level. With its ‘first-ever’ three rows of seating paired with legendary Jeep 4×4 capability, as well as its stunning interior and next-generation technologies including a class-leading digital screen. [It has the] space to keep the entire family safe and connected on all of their adventures.” And he’s not wrong.
First of all its sheer size, it’s big, very big in fact, with its 5.2m length, 2m width and 1.82m height, many of you will have trouble squeezing this big Jeep in your garage (it should be out in the wilderness anyway). It also has a ground clearance of 254mm and over 600mm of wading depth should you like to splash around in puddles.
It’s very ‘Jeep Wagoneer’ in its design, with a slightly angled and modernised 7-slot grille that’s bookend by narrow LED lights. Sure it has a more boxy silhouette, but much of the L’s new expansive frame can be found from the rear arches back, essentially where ‘the other two seats are’. Funnily enough, it all looks rather proporsional and that’s thanks in part because It rides on monstrous 21-inch feet (which is another first for the L) and its gently sloping roofline.
The rear features a massive (yet proportional) ‘kicker’ tailgate that opens up to (with all seats down) around 2,400L of luggage space. There’s a camera up top of the rear glass, that in my case was self cleaning, LED tail lights and recessed exhaust pipes. My model also came with the Summit badge to emphasise that it is at the top of the range’s tree (or maybe I should use a mountain metaphor here), there is a ‘Night Eagle’ model below.
Being the Summit, meant that my L came simply dripping with every bit of bling Jeep has in its armoury right now, especially on the inside. Firstly the furniture is hand‐wrapped in quilted Palermo leather with the front seats being heated, ventilated, 12‐way adjustable and have massage functions of ‘rock climb and waterfall’.
The dash is finished in open‐pore waxed walnut wood intertwined with contrast-stitched leather and a smattering of piano blacks and chromes – and the cabin itself is flooded with light thanks to a huge panoramic sunroof – it’s all very tasty.
The Grand Cherokee L’s raft of driver and safety aids begins above the 10.1-inch infotainment screen with push buttons that enable and deselect the likes of lane keep assist and self parking. While above them, the rear view mirror is connected to the camera outside and therefore offers an uninhibited view of what’s behind.
The screen itself comes fully loaded and boasts the brand’s latest ‘Uconnect 5 system’ which is much improved but still slightly laggy. What it does have, however, is a family cam that gives those in front a view of every seat behind ‘talk about having eye’s in the back of your head’, AND a Macintosh 19-speaker sound system that has an old-school amp dial screen; it’s very ‘retro’ cool.
What’s even cooler is the 10.25-inch instrument cluster though, which aside from being digital and therefore personalisable, has a ‘night vision’ option that at the flick of a switch on the leather wheel, highlights heat signatures of car exhaust and people, with the latter being bracketed in yellow – at night it’s a fun thing to do for the whole family to enjoy.
The centre console comes with a turn dial gear selector and a seemingly endless amount of on and off-road driving modes to tackle whatever surface lies beneath while broadcasting it (from the 360-degree outside cameras) to the infotainment screen – complete with tilt angles and other off-road data.
The second row of seats is almost as plush as the front, with quilted soft leather and oodles of space, plus easy access to the 3rd row rear (even with a baby seat in situ) which offers arguably more room than the rear of your average hot hatch.
We trekked all over Auckland and outlining rural areas in the week we had the grand Grand and despite its size, felt more than comfortable behind the wheel – aided by the massage feature.
The exterior has been aerodynamically optimised and therefore offered minimal wind noise on the open road and with its new unibody chassis construction, air suspension, (Quadra‐Drive II Active 4×4 System with Selec‐Terrain and Quadra Lift Air Suspension), the big Jeep’s ride quality and cornering offered very little wallowing (for such a sizeable SUV) and minimal road noise, even with those big 21-inch feet.
Under GC L’s bonnet is a 3.6L V6 engine that produces 210kW and 344Nm, in all honesty it’s not quite enough to get this big unit off the mark quickly, but once on the move it keeps up easily wil traffic flow, even on big hills.
The new Jeep Grand Cherokee L is really ‘Summit’ else. Admittedly we didn’t put the 7-seater Jeep through any off-road challenges, but you still get the sense that it can handle what you throw at it, plus you’d be able to take the whole tribe along to join in the fun. But I feel that for this particular model, its natural habitat will be gracing the upper market area’s of NZ’s cities and having its keys thrown to appreciative valets at 5-Star hotels – it’s really that posh.