All-new Jeep Grand Cherokee is unveiled with seven seats

Grander and more refined, the American SUV retains its well-known 4x4 ability

08 January 2021 - 12:47 By Denis Droppa
The 5th generation Grand Cherokee adopts a more purposeful look.
The 5th generation Grand Cherokee adopts a more purposeful look.
Image: Supplied

Jeep’s fifth-generation Grand Cherokee has broken cover in the US, introducing improved performance and refinement, and for the first time offering seating for up to seven passengers.

Built on a lighter new unibody platform combining steel and aluminium, the American SUV is also more premium in look and feel than its predecessor which has been on the market since 2011.

As the American brand’s first three-row SUV, it is named the Grand Cherokee L, but there will also be a five-seater version launched later.

Having three rows of seats gives this off-roader more family practicality, making it a more compelling proposition against seven-seater rivals like the Toyota Fortuner, Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Land Rover Discovery.

The second row comes with standard tip and slide bucket seats with adjustable legroom and backrest angle, while the third row offers two seats which can optionally be folded up or down electrically.

Having sold nearly seven million units globally since 1993, the Grand Cherokee arrives in its fifth incarnation with superior refinement, improved cabin quality, and a host of advanced safety and technology features.

The new interior is more opulent and highly digitised.
The new interior is more opulent and highly digitised.
Image: Supplied

It receives a multitude of improvements to optimise ride and handling, and reduced noise levels, while also reducing weight and improving fuel economy. A new unibody design, along with three available 4x4 systems (Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II), an optional Quadra-Lift air suspension and standard Selec-Terrain traction management system improve on the Grand Cherokee’s well-known 4x4 capability.

Quadra-Lift is an optional air suspension system with electronic adaptive damping for improved ground clearance and water fording. The system automatically adjusts the shock tuning to changing road conditions, and has five height settings up to a rock-straddling 312mm.

The Selec-Terrain traction management system offers five terrain modes (Auto, Sport, Rock, Snow, Mud/Sand), adjusting settings like the 4x4 torque split, steering feel, suspension, and throttle control for varying road and off-road conditions.

The upper models also get hill descent control, while hard-core off-roading customers can also opt for the Off-Road Group, the Trail Rated Overland 4x4 model, which has even greater ground clearance and manoeuvrability, high-strength steel skid plates, and an electronic limited slip rear differential.

To save fuel, the all-wheel drive system automatically switches to rear-wheel drive if the vehicle senses that road conditions don’t require drive to both axles.

The Grand Cherokee L is available with two normally-aspirated, old-school engines, both mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The 3.6-litre V6 is carried over from the outgoing Grand Cherokee and makes outputs of  213kW and 353Nm. Power hounds can opt for the 5.7-litre V8 with 266kW and 528Nm, which deactivates four cylinders during light acceleration to save fuel.

The third row offers two seats which can optionally be folded up or down electrically.
The third row offers two seats which can optionally be folded up or down electrically.
Image: Supplied

Styling-wise the new Grand Cherokee L has a more chunky and robust look than its predecessor, with the signature seven-slot grille made more upright. New slim LED headlights with unique signature lighting are set into gloss black bezels, along with slim horizontal fog lamps.

The interior evolves with more premium vibes and handcrafted materials, with all the modern amenities.

Digitisation gives the cabin a more contemporary look with a large infotainment screen and a 10.25 inch digital instrument cluster with nearly two dozen different menus from which the user can select, including driver-assist technologies such as adaptive cruise control, night vision, drowsy driver detection and speed limit traffic signs display (if equipped).

There are no less than 12 USB ports in the cabin, meaning there will be no bickering over charging wireless devices.

Massaging seats with five customisable profiles are available in the higher models, as is four-zone climate control and a premium 900 watt, 19-speaker McIntosh audio system.

A Digital Rearview Camera system is available on Limited models and above, and replaces the conventional rear-view mirror with an LCD display that shows real-time video from a rear-facing camera.

It isn't yet known when the new Grand Cherokee L will arrive in SA.