Jeep’s new five-seater Grand Cherokee has finally reached Australia, but how well does the large SUV cut it as a luxury vehicle?

Just over a year after the new-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee launched in Australia in long-wheelbase seven-seat ‘L’ guise, the shorter-wheelbase five-seater has now arrived – and has a momentous task on its hand. The new Grand Cherokee not only needs to build on its predecessors’ skillset of providing practical family transport, rugged off-road capability and towing chops, but establish the brand as a bona fide premium player. The new Grand Cherokee has increased levels of equipment and technology, but can it justify its substantially increased price tag?

How much does the Jeep Grand Cherokee cost?

Pricing for the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee range starts at $77,950 plus on-road costs for the Night Eagle, meaning the new model virtually kicks off where the old one finished, performance-focused SRT and Trackhawk models excepted.

The short-wheelbase five-seater large SUV is positioned about $5000 below the long-wheelbase seven-seater that’s been on sale in Australia for the past 12 months, but at the entry level it’s more than $17,000 higher than the previous WK model it replaces.

Next up is the Limited at $83,950 plus ORCs before we get to the model we’re focusing on here, the Overland, which at $98,450 plus ORCs will serve as the flagship until the plug-in hybrid Summit Reserve arrives later this year.

But the closest rival in terms of price and intent is the Land Rover Defender 110, starting at $84,350 plus ORCs.

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What equipment comes with the Jeep Grand Cherokee?

Every variant of the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee comes with 20-inch wheels, automatic LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry and go, a power tailgate, heated eight-way adjustable electric seats and a heated steering wheel.

By the time you get to Overland grade you can add heated rear seats, ventilated front seats, a panoramic sunroof, hands-free tailgate (that actually works!), Nappa leather trim and ambient interior lighting.

A $4500 Luxury Tech package, available only on the Overland, includes 12-way power-adjustable front seats with memory and massage, quad-zone climate control, ventilated rear seats, a digital rear-view mirror, a wireless smartphone charging pad and second-row window shades, though the latter two are oddly standard on the Limited but not on the Overland.

Eight colours are available but only white is standard, the others attracting a $1750 surcharge. All up, our test car listed at $107,450 plus ORCs.

Jeep offers a five-year/100,000km warranty on the Grand Cherokee and a five-year capped-price servicing program which will cost you $399 for each of the first five visits.

Intervals are every 12 months or 12,000km, which is a bit shorter than the usual 15,000-20,000km.

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How safe is the Jeep Grand Cherokee?

There’s currently no ANCAP rating for the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee, though the five-star Euro NCAP score – including an impressive 89 per cent for child occupant protection – suggests its credentials are sound.

As well as all the usual airbags there’s plenty of active safety equipment, with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian and cyclist detection, driver monitoring, intersection collision assist, cross traffic alert, speed assist, adaptive cruise control with traffic assist, lane keep assist, blind spot detection and more.

In terms of parking assistance there is a 360-degree surround-view camera and sensors front and rear, but you’ll need the Summit Reserve for park assist.

In general there are no problems with any of the technology and the surround-view camera is also handy off-road, but the lane keep assist is in definite need of recalibration.

It would frequently think that you were hard up against one of the lines despite being in the dead centre of the lane and nudge the steering accordingly, then sound a loud warning accompanied by “Stay in your lane” being displayed in the digital dash.

Very annoying and thankfully the system is easily deactivated.

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What technology does the Jeep Grand Cherokee feature?

Infotainment in the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee is handled by a 10.1-inch screen that features Jeep’s Uconnect 5 operating system, wireless smartphone mirroring (Apple CarPlay and Android Auto), embedded sat-nav, digital radio and voice control – and it plays through a nine-speaker Alpine stereo system.

It all works very well. The screen seems quick and responsive, it’s easy to navigate, wireless CarPlay at least connects very quickly and the in-built TomTom sat-nav is excellent. On a number of occasions I used it instead of Google Maps in CarPlay, which is almost unheard of.

It’s a similar story with the 10.25-inch digital dash, which again is much more easily navigated than some rival systems, logical steering wheel buttons making it simple to access fuel or vehicle data.

Just remember that the audio controls to skip tracks and change the volume are on the back of the steering wheel, underneath the gearshift paddles.

Jeep Connected Services also debuts on the latest Grand Cherokee, which allows remote viewing of vehicle status, remote setting of climate control and navigation inputs, security alerts, 24/7 customer assistance and more through the Jeep smartphone app.

These services will be offered free of charge for the first three years, beyond which customers can subscribe to the features they want. More features are expected to be added over time.

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What powers the Jeep Grand Cherokee?

You can have any engine you like in the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee as long as it’s the 3.6-litre ‘Pentastar’ V6.

No more diesel, no more V8, though as mentioned earlier a 2.0-litre plug-in hybrid powertrain will arrive when the Summit Reserve lands later this year.

It’s not yet clear whether this drivetrain will be offered in other variants.

The V6 is attached to an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive and the Overland has a few off-road goodies that I’ll get to in a moment.

The engine performs its role diligently enough but you have to suspect that if Jeep Australia could offer a diesel – there isn’t one to offer – it would.

The V6 is quite thirsty – the 9.9L/100km claim seems reasonable but over about 400km of very varied driving our average was 13.5L/100km.

What’s more, the new Grand Cherokee can only tow a maximum of 2813kg rather than its predecessor’s 3500kg.

What is the Jeep Grand Cherokee like to drive?

Since we’re discussing the engine of the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee, we might as well continue on the same theme.

It sounds quite good for a V6 and makes decent power, but power plays very much a secondary role to torque in vehicles like these and the Grand Cherokee is lacking.

The engine needs to be worked quite hard to get the car moving in a meaningful manner which is a large reason why the aforementioned fuel consumption is the way it is.

Then, once moving, changes in speed call the gearbox into frequent action and it’s not always the smoothest unit even from rest, when it engages with a small clunk every time the stop-start does the latter.

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The rest of the package is more convincing. In general, the Grand Cherokee drives very well, its monocoque construction giving it better ride and handling than ladder-frame off-road SUVs, the unique-to-Overland air suspension absorbing most of the road’s lumps and bumps without fuss.

It’s quiet, too.

Even on the all-terrain tyres supplied with the Off Road pack (see next section), grip levels are satisfactory, the steering is quicker than you’d expect and accurate, and the brakes are a little soft but have reasonable stopping power.

The Grand Cherokee’s on-road behaviour is certainly commendable for this class of car.

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How good is the Jeep Grand Cherokee off-road?

It’s unclear just how many buyers of a $100,000-odd Jeep Grand Cherokee plan on taking it off-road, but bush-bashing capability is a key part of the brand’s heritage and the marketing message for its new large SUV, so it has to deliver on the promise.

The Overland has the most off-road smarts of any variant with a two-speed transfer case with low-range, hill-descent control, that air suspension to increase ground clearance, and the Quadra-Trac II active 4×4 system.

The $2750 Off Road pack includes a stronger 230mm rear axle, electronic limited-slip diff, 18-inch wheels with Goodyear all-terrain tyres, plenty of underbody protection and a ‘Trail Rated’ badge for good measure.

Five drive modes are available through the Selec-Terrain system – Sport, Auto, Snow, Mud/Ruts and Sand – and low-range activates very quickly with the press of a button.

The air suspension is a big help in the rough stuff. In its highest setting it provides 276mm of ground clearance – around 40mm more than a Ford Ranger, for example – to keep the underbody and side steps clear even on quite sharp crests.

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It gives the Overland far superior approach, departure and ramp-over angles compared to other variants and improves the GC’s wading depth from 530mm to 610mm.

The low-range gearing isn’t particularly low, which can be seen as an advantage as it means trails and roads can be traversed in 4L without being limited to crawling speed.

If you do need the extra level of control on steep descents the hill descent control worked without fault in our testing, the steering wheel paddles used to adjust the speed in 1km/h increments from just 1km/h.

As an off-the-shelf off-roader the Grand Cherokee will be capable of going further than most will require it to and with more aggressive tyres it would be better again.

The only real omission is a proper locking rear differential as while the combination of the electronic diff and traction control works reasonably well, it struggled in some areas that would not have troubled the likes of an Everest or Defender.

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What is the Jeep Grand Cherokee like inside?

When optioned to the hilt like our test car, there are plenty of toys inside the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee and it’s a spacious environment, too.

There’s plenty of room front and rear and a sizeable boot as well, and that digital rear-view mirror means rear vision isn’t obstructed even if you’re loaded to the gunwales.

Jeep has also made a tangible effort to increase cabin quality with inclusions like the real metal gear selector and drive mode toggles.

There are buttons galore, but if we’re going to complain about the trend of migrating all functions into the touch-screen, we can’t then complain about manufacturers offering physical controls. It’s busy, but quickly learnt.

Sadly, however, Jeep’s effort is undermined by plentiful plastic materials that look, feel and sound cheap.

And while the rear is spacious with plenty of USB charging, separate climate control only comes with the Luxury Tech pack, the rear bench doesn’t slide or recline and there are only basic bottle holders in the doors.

Put simply, if the new Grand Cherokee carried a price tag similar to that of its predecessor it would be a laudable cabin, but for six figures it falls short of expectations.

Should I buy a Jeep Grand Cherokee?

There’s much to commend the new 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

It looks good, it’s refined and comfortable to drive on-road and capable off it, and has a spacious and practical interior with plenty of technology.

The price is a problem, though.

For such a substantial premium over the previous model you’d expect true excellence, but it’s not difficult to identify the Grand Cherokee’s shortcomings: cheap interior materials, the need to pay extra for equipment despite the elevated price tag, the underwhelming engine, and calibration stumbles in the gearbox and lane assist.

There is some good news, however.

A Grand Cherokee Limited with premium paint will be more than $20,000 cheaper than the tested Overland, and while it isn’t equipped to the same degree, the spec sheet suggests there isn’t a huge amount of material difference.

As such, we’d start our 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee buying journey there, but we’ll bring you a full review of that variant at a later date.

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2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland at a glance:

Price: $98,450 (plus on-road costs)

Available: Now

Engine: 3.6-litre six-cylinder petrol

Output: 210kW/344Nm

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Fuel: 9.9L/100km (ADR Combined)

CO2: 236g/km (ADR Combined)

Safety rating: Five-star (Euro NCAP 2022)

Keyword: Jeep Grand Cherokee 2023 Review


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