After a decade-long hiatus, Jeep finally made its comeback into the Malaysian market in November last year. In what can be seen as a statement of intent, the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles subsidiary decided to introduce a strong lineup comprising of the Wrangler, Cherokee, Grand Cherokee and Compass through DRB-Hicom’s Edaran Otomobil Nasional Bhd (EON) as the sole distributor.
What we had at our perusal was the fourth generation Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited, which sits lower in the model lineup below the better-specced Grand Cherokee Overland. That said, the Limited trim still gives the Grand Cherokee an upmarket facade, which combined with its burly figure, makes the SUV looks at home either sitting on the porch or traversing across the unwelcoming roads.
Based on the same platform that underpins the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, the Grand Cherokee is guaranteed to turn heads with a strong presence that comes in the size of 4,828 mm long, 1,943 mm wide and 1,802 mm tall. With a wheelbase of 2,915 mm, the mid-size SUV offers ample cabin space that looks more than comfortable to host a family of five. Also, if you find yourself hauling a great number of goods – be it the new wardrobe from IKEA or your wife’s luggages – the cargo area is ready to serve with 990 litres of space (a massive 1,950 with the rear seats folded down.)
If you are fond of the boxy, rugged profile of the past Grand Cherokees, you’ll find the latest design direction a clever amalgamation of the classic sturdy look and modern design cues that surely appeal to buyers of the younger generation. The prominent slated front grille remains, while everything else – the roofline, character lines, wheel arches – come across looking sleeker than ever. The seven-slot grille is flanked by handsome LED head lights along with fog lamps on the corners of the front bumper.
As expected, the cabin of the Grand Cherokee is not only spacious, it looks solid and well built with a nice mixture of premium leather, wood veneer and contrasting piping. The layout is something to look forward to in here, with the centre panel seems to be having just the right amount of buttons and switches. Still, most of the vehicle functions can be controlled via the leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel while a Selec-Terrain knob placed adjacent to the gear shift lever provides access to the vehicle’s driving modes.
Level of equipment is very similar to the Overland trim, except the Limited doesn’t get the Quadra-Lift air suspension system. Elsewhere, you can expect to see leather upholstery with contrast stitching, eight-way heated seats with memory function for the driver, 60:40 folding rear seats (also with heater), dual zone climate control with rear vents, ambient lights and panaromic sunroof, to name a few. On the in-car-entertainment front, the Grand Cherokee settles the passengers down with an 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen with navigation system and nine speakers courtesy of Alpine Premium.
Under the hood, Chrysler’s 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 engine motivates the 2,199-kg SUV, sending 284 hp and 347 Nm of torque to all four wheels through a new close-ratio eight-speed transmission, which spreads the power across the rev range better than the previous five-speed. Extra gears do do wonders to hefty vehicles like the Grand Cherokee, as it effortlessly pulls itself up on the climb and zooms past other vehicles on the highway stretch. The output figures are definitely small by today’s standard but the way the drivetrain carries the hefty body renders the numbers irrelevant.
With a unibody construction underpinning double wishbone front suspension and multi-link rear suspension, ride in the Grand Cherokee was supple but a tad on the firm side. There’s a fair degree of body roll but the chassis responds well to the input from the electro-hydraulic power steering, making turning into a corner and getting out of it easy and quite engaging at the same time. Not much wind and cabin noise at high speeds either, thanks to the excellent sound proofing and sturdy build.
The Grand Cherokee has plenty of tricks up its sleeve. Apart from surprisingly good driving dynamics, you can also play with the Selec-Terrain that offers five modes – Auto, Snow, Rock, Sand and Mud. Though our country’s climate condition means we’d never get to hoon the SUV in Snow mode, a session on a sandy terrain with the Sand setting on was enough to indicate its prowess on surfaces other than tarmac. With altered throttle response and a more precise transmission behaviour, the Sport mode turns the SUV into an agile piece of machinery.
As aforementioned, the Limited variant misses the Quadra-Lift air suspension system, which is quite unfortunate as the package enables the Grand Cherokee to raise its ground clearance or lower its body during high-speed manoeuvre. The suspension system also works in tandem with the Selec-Terrain modes, making driving on uneven surfaces even more exciting. This brings us to one clear conclusion: go for the Overland.
No car is perfect but the Jeep Grand Cherokee tries to be one with its balanced mixture of luxury, ruggedness and composure. The Pentastar engine should have produced more power but the ZF-sourced makes up for it with crisp, seamless output delivery. For a large SUV, the Grand Cherokee is fairly light-footed and agile. It might be playing on the same playground as its German competitors, which have huge followings here, but at RM448,889 for the Limited and at RM468,889 for the Overland, the American-made vehicle appears to be a more sensible option.
|Price (RM)||RM448,889 OTR|
|Engine Type||24-Valve DOHC, Variable Valve Timing V6|
|Power||284 hp @ 6,350 rpm|
|Torque||347 Nm @ 4,300 rpm|
|Kerb Weight||2,199 kg|
|Front Suspension||Double Wishbones|
|Front Brakes||Ventilated Disc|
|Rear Brakes||Solid Disc|
|Tyres Size||265/60 R18|