The Grand Cherokee is a cornerstone of Jeep’s line-up, both here and in North America, but the current vehicle is now distinctly long in the tooth. The existing fourth-generation model launched in the UAE in 2011, which means it’s been around for a decade – double the usual five-year model cycle.
But fear not, Jeep fans, as the venerable all-terrain brand has just whipped the covers off its brand-new fifth-gen Grand Cherokee, which claims to significantly raise the bar in every facet.
Three rows are a charm
Underpinning the latest iteration is an all-new vehicle architecture that’s derived from the Giorgio platform that also forms the basis for the accomplished Alfa Romeo Giulia and Stelvio – an arrangement made possible by the fact both these marques are under the FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) umbrella.
Due here in the third quarter of this year, priced from Dh150,000, the latest model will be spearheaded for the first time by a three-row, seven-seat version (the Grand Cherokee L) that will take the fight to the Land Rover Discovery, Hyundai Palisade, Kia Telluride, Chevrolet Tahoe and new Ford Explorer. The addition of the three-row Grand Cherokee is particularly significant for the Middle East and North American markets, where seven-seat SUVs rack up healthy sales tallies.
Jeep claims the vehicle architecture – comprising independent front and rear suspension and optional Quadra-Lift air suspension with electronic adaptive damping – delivers class-leading off-roading capability without compromising on-road comfort and handling. Crucially, the new Grand Cherokee offers more ground clearance (up to 277mm) and greater water fording capability (610mm) than its predecessors, which bodes well for its all-terrain prowess. V8-powered models offer a towing capacity of 3,273kg, so hauling a large boat or caravan is also well within its brief.
Depending on how often and how far you venture off-road, the Grand Cherokee will be offered with a choice of three 4x4 systems (Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II) and a Selec-Terrain traction management system with five terrain modes (Auto, Sport, Rock, Snow and Mud/Sand).
Although retaining familiar Jeep exterior styling cues, such as the trademark seven-slot grille and trapezoidal wheelarches, the new Grand Cherokee has thoroughly contemporary design language, with LED lights all-around and a more tapered profile for better aerodynamics. During the vehicle’s online reveal, Jeep’s head of exterior design, Mark Allen, equated visibility with luxury and, consequently, it features a low beltline and generous glasshouse to provide occupants with a good view in all directions.
Among the Grand Cherokee firsts is the optional availability of 21-inch rims, while a blacked-out roof is also available for a stealthier look. Jeep is keen to emphasise the all-American roots of the Grand Cherokee, so another addition is a small stars and stripes badge on each of the front doors.
The Grand Cherokee will initially be offered with a choice of two engines that are carried over from the existing model – a 3.6-litre V6 with 295hp/348Nm and a 5.7-litre V8 with 362hp/529Nm. Both units are mated to an eight-speed auto, which is also retained from the current Grand Cherokee.
However, there’s nothing carryover about the cabin as it’s been thoroughly revamped and features a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster with virtual gauges replacing conventional dials and a 10.1-inch centre screen with touchscreen functions for the audio system, LED ambient lighting, driver and front passenger seat massage and personalised climate zones.
Jeep boasts the new Grand Cherokee has more than the 110 safety and security features, including a raft of driver-assist systems, along with 360-degree surround view and night vision cameras. There is also a digital rear-view mirror in lieu of a conventional reflective one. It features an LCD screen that displays an image from a rear-mounted camera, so you get a view that’s unimpeded by the rear roof pillars and tailgate.
In addition, the model comes with the most advanced Uconnect system ever with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, windshield Head-up Display (HUD), rear seat monitoring camera and a premium 960-watt, 19-speaker McIntosh audio sound system.
The dramatically overhauled Grand Cherokee is part of a concerted new-model onslaught from Jeep, with the Gladiator having recently launched locally, and the eagerly anticipated Grand Wagoneer still waiting in the wings.