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Driven: Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. Image by Jeep.

Driven: Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit
Being 'better than before' isn't enough for a premium SUV. Does the big Jeep offer something else?

 



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| Test Drive | Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0 CRD Summit |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

Good points: smart looks inside and out, good equipment levels, strong refinement and dynamics
Not so good: some interior plastics still lag behind competitors, quite expensive for a Jeep, brand lacks cachet of rivals

Key Facts

Model tested: Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0 CRD Summit
Pricing: 49,495 (Grand Cherokee range starts at 36,995)
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder diesel
Transmission: eight-speed automatic with overdrive, four-wheel drive
Body style: five-door SUV
Rivals: BMW X, Land Rover Discovery, Mercedes-Benz M-Class
CO2 emissions: 198g/km
Combined economy: 37.7mpg
Top speed: 126mph
0-62mph: 8.2 seconds
Power: 250hp at 4,000rpm
Torque: 570Nm at 2,000rpm

Our view:

Jeep has done a good job 'Europeanising' the Grand Cherokee, keeping some of the marque's heritage design features - such as the seven-bar front grille and square-profile wheelarches - while updating it to 21st century tastes. The proportions are well-judged and it even works in white with chrome wheels, which is unusual for an SUV. The 3.0 CRD comes across as chunkily premium without being terrifyingly gargantuan. We like it.

The interior is light years away from those of Grand Cherokees from just a few years ago and is mercifully free of buttons thanks to the intuitive Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen display in the centre of the dash. There's a TFT screen in the instrument cluster for the speedo (although, bizarrely, either side are conventional dials for the rev counter and fuel/temperature gauges - why not make them all TFT?) and a neat automatic shifter, with all the off-road settings and low-range duties handled by flat buttons along the transmission tunnel.

However, the swathe of silver plastic on the centre console looks and feels cheap, and is likely to wear badly, there's strange, wood-effect trim running round the cabin's midriff, while our 2,700-mile example's splendid leather-and-wood steering wheel already had loose stitching; whether this is an indication of the wider build quality or just a glitch on the press car, we're not sure. Also, the satnav throws up some oddities. The main Uconnect screen's direction graphics are fine but in the TFT display, sometimes it would show you roundabouts with eight exits when they only had four, while the 'get in this lane' image for motorway junctions was comically simplistic. Overall, though, as it's spacious, well-equipped and largely easy on the eye inside, it's a thumbs-up from us.

There are just two engines on offer to Grand Cherokee customers in the UK, but as you'd have to be some kind of brilliant lunatic to opt for the 6.4-litre HEMI V8 in the range-topping SRT, it's more of a Hobson's choice if you go for a Jeep: namely, the 3.0 V6 diesel or nothing at all. Luckily, it's a perfectly fine oil-burner with Fiat's MultiJet know-how, and it matches many of its rivals' similar 3.0-litre diesels in terms of power and torque. Yet it has 2.4 tonnes to shift about, so performance is leisurely rather than brisk.

However, the claimed combined economy of 37.7mpg looks optimistic, to say the least - at a steady one-up 70mph motorway cruise, the 'swingometer' instant read-out in the TFT display was only just hovering around that mark, and the overall economy on the 320-mile round trip (mostly on the M1) was 34mpg. That's not bad at all; it's just we wish the combined cycle test was more representative of the real world, that's all. Maybe 37.7mpg is achievable, but you'd need to be a lot thinner than me (which is not hard) and you'd have to refrain from using any drains on the battery - like the heating, lights and stereo, for instance. On the plus side, we did get more than 500 miles out of its 93.5-litre tank with 70 miles of range still showing.

The ZF eight-speed auto is a peach - thus rendering the wheel-mounted paddle shifts totally superfluous - and there are no complaints with the Summit's Quadra-Drive II 4WD system with its rear electronic LSD, so the drivetrain as a whole is more than acceptable in terms of refinement. The brakes on this model are an uprated set of discs, which is part of a Performance Handling Pack incorporating sports suspension and 20-inch wheels on three-season tyres, and are excellent. The steering is even pleasing, naturally light to counter the Grand Cherokee's bulk but not without feel or consistency.

In fact, the only area that is slightly below par is the suspension. It's an all-round air set-up with adjustable ride height on the Grand Cherokee, but it never quite filters out all the bumps and is generally just a bit unsettled; this might be the 'sports' specification and those 20-inch rims on 265/50 rubber. The pay-off is decent, but not faultless, body control and fantastic grip, making the Grand Cherokee far less vague than older models.

The Summit is the top spec of five you can pick for the diesel engine and is 'fully-laden' - the only options are special paint at 670 and a rear DVD/Blu-Ray system for 1,425. You get satnav, an awesome Harman Kardon 19-speaker stereo, panoramic sunroof, a plethora of electronic safety aids and a full leather interior, dash top included, among many other toys.

The flipside is you'll pay just 505 less than 50 grand for it. Which is the biggest problem for the Grand Cherokee; up against established luxury brands from the Germans and Land Rover, the Jeep - for all its 'left-field choice' appeal - won't win favour with people who buy more with their heads than their hearts. It does undercut key rivals on price spec-for-spec but not by enough to make it conspicuously good value, especially when residuals get factored in.

All of which is a pity, because the Grand Cherokee 3.0 CRD is a pretty good stab at a luxury SUV. If you can live with less addenda inside, the range starts at 36,995 for a Laredo, something of a bargain if all you're after is the rugged good looks and go-anywhere ability of the Grand Cherokee. But premium SUV buyers do want all the trimmings, and perhaps slightly better cabin materials, so at 49,495 the 3.0 CRD Summit isn't quite as competitive a package as it could be.

Alternatives:

BMW X5: dynamically better than the Jeep and pretty well-equipped nowadays, the X5 is still a strong contender. Not exactly out of the ordinary on our roads, though.

Land Rover Discovery: despite being merely an update of the Disco 3 of 2004, the current big Landie is a stunning all-rounder, although the 3.0 HSE SDV6 costs from 51,195.

Mercedes-Benz M-Class: another SUV that has moved on immeasurably from its forebears, the ML 350 CDI BlueTec is faster, greener and has a better cabin than the Jeep - but in matching spec will cost more.


Matt Robinson - 12 Dec 2013









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2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. Image by Jeep.2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. Image by Jeep.2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. Image by Jeep.2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. Image by Jeep.2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. Image by Jeep.

2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. Image by Jeep.2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. Image by Jeep.2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. Image by Jeep.2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. Image by Jeep.2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. Image by Jeep.



2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. Image by Jeep.
 

2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. Image by Jeep.
 

2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. Image by Jeep.
 

2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. Image by Jeep.
 

2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. Image by Jeep.
 

2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. Image by Jeep.
 

2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. Image by Jeep.
 

2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. Image by Jeep.
 

2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit. Image by Jeep.
 






 

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