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Car reviews - Jeep - Grand Cherokee - Overland


We like
Attractive appearance, comfortable ride, trail rated, roomy interior, large load space, extensive standard equipment, good off road, surprisingly economical for its size
Room for improvement
Four-star ANCAP rating, paddle-shift doesn’t kick down and won’t easily return to D, too many switches, menus, levers, dials and other controls, some intrusive driver assist features, tows “only” 2813kg

Grand Cherokee “shorty” not short on appeal, with Aussie link to trail-rated SWB Jeep

19 Jul 2023


Topping out Jeep’s 3.6-litre petrol V6 Grand Cherokee (short wheelbase) range is the $98,450 Overland five seater that is subject of this review. Two other models are available: the Night Eagle from $77,950 and the Limited from $83,950 (all excluding on-road costs).


A 2.0-litre, four pot PHEV 4xe Summit Reserve five seat model sits atop the Grand Cherokee line-up at $129,950 + ORC.


For similar money, the only six-cylinder, petrol powered, proper 4x4 competition for the Grand Cherokee comes from Land Rover’s more powerful Defender 110 five-door P400 S at $99,500 + ORC. 


Others cost plenty more, are diesel-powered or are soft roaders with limited off-road capabilities.


The Grand Cherokee five-seaters save thousands when compared with their Grand Cherokee L stablemates and would appeal to buyers who don’t need or want three-row, seven-seat capacity.


Five-seat Grand Cherokees are on a 127mm-shorter wheelbase at 2964mm versus 3091mm for the L model.


You can tell side by side as the L is way longer but the Grand Cherokee still has imposing stature on the road.


Power comes from a 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 petrol engine good for 210kW and 344Nm.


The engine has been around for decades in one form or another and has been refined along the way to deliver decent performance and fuel economy in this 2167kg luxury fourbie. 


It drives all four wheels through a slick eight speed auto transmission.


The Grand Cherokee Overland, capable of returning a claimed 9.9L/100km, uses the optimal Quadra-Trac 2 Active 4x4 System with Selec-Terrain, low-range transfer case and Quadra Lift air suspension. 


This set-up is Jeep’s most capable on- and off-road combo and contributes to the Grand Cherokee’s trail rating that enables extreme off-road driving.


As is the case with all Jeep 4x4s, the Grand Cherokee Overland is proven on the Rubicon Trail in Nevada, reputedly one of the most intimidating off-road trails in the United States. 


Standard equipment includes heated, electrically adjusted front seats with power lumbar support, the latest 10.1-inch Uconnect 5 touchscreen multimedia unit with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto plus over-the-air updates and height adjustable hands free power tailgate.


Other desirable goodies in the Overland are Nappa leather upholstery, ambient LED lighting with multi-colour options, forward looking camera, proximity wake up that unlocks and preps the vehicle on walk-up, a dual pane panoramic glass sunroof.


On the safety and driver assistance front we find automatic LED headlights, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go function, active lane management, automatic emergency braking (with pedestrian and cyclist detection), drowsy driver detection and traffic sign recognition.


In Overland spec’, the Grand Cherokee “shorty” delivers high levels of comfort and spaciousness with 4095 litres of total interior passenger volume and up to 1067 litres of cargo space.


It’s based on a new, pressed steel monocoque platform that’s stiffer than before and runs independent front and rear suspension enhanced in this instance by Quadra-Lift air suspension with electronic semi-active damping. The system can boost ground clearance to 276mm and provides a maximum wading depth of 610mm.


Driving Impressions

Australia figured in the validation process of this model Grand Cherokee with 60,000km of outback driving in extreme conditions to see how it fared and to make any necessary adjustments.


It shows as the trail rated model feels stable on the road, well planted and well suspended on rough roads and in the bush with the only rattle being the rear seat belt (a bone of contention for ANCAP which handed down four stars to this and other Grand Cherokee SWB variants having differences in restraint performance to the hybrid and LWB versions) banging on plastic trim.


Other than that, the big Grand Cherokee sails over all manner of surfaces including corrugated sand and rocks with aplomb as the supple air suspension and big 20-inch wheels and tyres soak up the rough stuff.


On sealed roads where it will live most of the time, the vehicle has poise with that well sprung and damped suspension (boasting terrain response modulation) coming into play again to deliver a near luxury car feel that compliments the luxury interior in this penultimate Overland variant.


Though it’s no sporty SUV, the big Grand Cherokee displays a flat stance when cornering on sealed roads while still holding the ability to soak up mid corner bumps without flinching.


The steering feels well weighted and is fairly direct for a two-tonne-plus fourbie and the big brakes are impressive in bite and feel. We didn’t tow anything on test so cannot tell how they would stand up with 2.8 tonnes behind.


Rather surprisingly, the old 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 petrol engine produces decent performance in the Grand Cherokee. It likes to rev and has a raucous snarl when you plant the right foot but the actual available performance doesn’t tally with the engine’s output of a “mere” 210kW and 344Nm.


It feels stronger than that, much stronger no doubt aided by the eager and smooth shifting eight speed auto ‘box that keeps the mill on the boil.


Its size is deceptive until you go to park when you’ll need plenty of room to open the doors.


But being tech-rich makes the entire driving experience that much easier… to a point when some of said tech overrides the act of driving the beast. And we don’t like that.


Luxury accoutrements abound inside starting with soft Nappa leather and the monumental harman kardon gazillion watt audio system that add to the luxury feel of this big American 4x4.


There’s electric assistance to most functions and a soft, cosseting ambience about the whole interior.


And it’s a handsome beast with a discernibly Jeep flavour to the exterior that is clean and sharp. Even the new style convex grille grows on you and on closer inspection, build quality appears satisfactory with minimal panel gaps, even paint, tight fitting rattle free fascias and proper screw, nut and bolt fixings.


Fuel economy on test hovered around the 10.0L/100km mark, so close to the factory figure and it has an 87 litre tank to give a theoretical range of 870km. Not bad for a big petrol fourbie.


During our time with the Grand Cherokee on- and off-road we were pleasantly surprised at how competent the new big Jeep is. We’ve heard all the horror stories and were a bit leery about going remote in it. 


Needn’t have worried because the Grand Cherokee was well up for the job and took us there and back in a manner to which we would like to become accustomed.

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