Words: Calvin Chan

Photography: Calvin Chan

We know the Jeep Grand Cherokee like the back of our hand. This generation of Jeep’s premium mid-size SUV has been around for eight years and for the 2019 model year, it is available in a dizzying flurry of trims, a whopping 11 of them to be exact. I won’t patronize you by listing all of them out - just take my word for it or check out the jeep.ca website. Better too many choices than too few, some might argue, and now Jeep can confidently say there’s a Grand Cherokee for everyone.

And to be honest, every Grand Cherokee our team has driven has been doused with praise despite the fact that trying to differentiate them on the spec sheet and out on the street becomes a daunting task. It’s frankly one of our favourite SUVs in this price range, and though it doesn’t deliver the pinnacle of quality like its German rivals, the Grand Cherokee offers the best of road and towing performance, luxury, and comfort with a price tag that won’t cost an arm and a leg.

For 2019, the Grand Cherokee receives a few upgrades, most notably with the infotainment unit. The previous UConnect was one of our favourite systems, ever. It was lag-free, intuitive, customizable, and a joy to use. It never gave us trouble and never frustrated us with convoluted menus or glitchy bugs. Jeep has made it even better. The new flush-mounted screen, which is made from bonded glass, is brighter, higher definition, and utilizes pinch-and-zoom capability. It feels just like the one used in the new Volkswagens and Audis - that’s as big of a compliment as it gets.

Screen response is sensitive, it recognizes inputs even when your gloves are on, and the customizable shortcut menu along the bottom is still there. Your phone can be connected to Bluetooth in a literal split-second, and I particularly enjoy the quick prompts that show up when you start the car, so you can quickly turn on the heated seats and steering wheel. Best of all, the Jeep will remember all your previous settings and turn them on automatically the next time around. The Grand Cherokee truly is Canadian winter friendly. Did I mention it comes standard with remote engine start, and all-wheel drive too?

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard across the board for 2019, as are blind spot monitoring and rear cross path detection. If Jeep decides to implement the enormous 12-inch touchscreen from the new RAM 1500 into the Grand Cherokee, I might actually be interested in purchasing one for myself. For reference, the Jeep’s in our photographs is “only” 8.4 inches.

We’re driving a new trim called Limited X, which arms the Grand Cherokee with the same performance hood used in the SRT, front and rear fascias adopted from the more expensive Summit model, Granite Crystal exterior accents, unique 20-inch wheels, and black perforated seats. The Limited X model commands a $5,995 premium over the Limited. Options in, our tester rings up at $63,780.

In fact, this Limited X model might the closest you can get to the looks of an SRT or Trackhawk without having to pay $120,000 for one. The Velvet Red paint on our tester looks eerily close to the Demonic Red from our Trackhawk and with the nostrils on the sport hood, it’s hard to tell them apart. It helps that the Trackhawk is incredibly discreet too with only unique quad exhausts and an ever-so-slightly manicured aero kit.

While the Jeep’s interior isn’t quite as premium as other luxury rivals like the BMW X5 or Mercedes GLE, the overall layout is clean (though bordering on bleak in this black trim) and ergonomics are spot on. The driving position is high up, comfortable, and beyond excellent for taller drivers. The seats adjust low enough, the steering wheel telescopes far back enough, and the pedals are at a fair distance in the footwell - characteristics that usually goes awry in smaller SUVs. Seating is not overly forward leaning like in the Cherokee or Wrangler either. There’s even a wide and flat window sill to rest your arms on like in the Range Rover and Land Rover Discovery, the latter of which I would say offer the most comfortable seating positions on the planet. Jeep has nailed it here.

Not everything is golden. The mix of “on” and “off” buttons throw me off (no pun intended). For example, there’s a “ECO OFF” button, but a “LDW ON” button, each with an accompanying light below it. So I wasn’t quite sure if having the light on meant it was activated or deactivated. Hitting the button several times to try and prompt a response from the driver’s cluster didn’t help either, and only confused me further. The same happens in other FCA vehicles like the RAM 1500.

The spacing in the analog fuel gauge is not quite linear or symmetrical between the 1/4 marks, so it will dip at a linear rate from 100% fuel to 50% fuel, but decrease exponentially to 0%. Weird. The plastic panels that cover the center cubby do not convince me that this is a premium product either, neither does the key fob, whereas the RAM’s key fob feels expensive and worth the money you paid for it. Of course, these are but minor gripes but is still enough to make my blood boil on a groggy Monday morning.

With 11 trims to choose from, the Grand Cherokee comes with four powertrains on tap. The base engine is what we’re piloting: a 3.6L naturally aspirated V6 that punches out 295 hp and 260 lb-ft, and can tow up to 2,812 kg. Note the two key words: naturally aspirated. That means there is no turbocharger here - Jeep hasn’t hopped on that bandwagon - just a free breathing six-cylinder engine that delivers the nostalgia of linear power delivery and unfiltered vocals.

Whether the gas pedal is at 20% or to the floor, the V6 bellows with the soundtrack of a throaty mini V8 that forced induced motors just cannot replicate. Though the V6 suffers in fuel efficiency when compared to smaller 2.0-litre motors, the predictability and friendliness of how it behaves and performs on the road makes the V6 worth that slight penalty. On that note and with an equal mix of highway and conservative city driving, we averaged 12.7 L/100km. Not bad, but not impressive either. The start/stop system helped during long red light stops, as did the smooth shifting 8-speed automatic. Being delicate and refraining from hard acceleration didn’t hurt either.

A thirsty 5.7-litre V8 is available with more power and a higher towing capacity if you feel so inclined, but I don’t recommend it unless you find yourself hauling cargo on the majority of your drives. There’s enough power and liveliness in the V6. For comparison, our Grand Cherokee SRT (6.4L V8) gave us 18.2 L/100km, and the Trackhawk (supercharged 6.2L V8) a heart-dropping 20.1 L/100km.

The current generation of Jeep Grand Cherokee hasn’t changed much over the past decade. It’s still the rugged mid-size SUV we have come to love and enjoy. Despite a few odd ergonomic foibles, questionable fuel economy, and an overflowing amount of available trims, Jeep has perfected its Grand Cherokee recipe, improving on an already stellar infotainment unit, delivering an impeccable seating position, and offering a healthy yet potent base powertrain.

Photo Gallery:

Specifications:

Model: 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited X

Paint Type: Velvet Red Pearl Base Price: $53,695

Price as Tested: $63,780 軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,915 長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,822 / 2,154 / 1,761

車重 Curb weight (kg): 2,121 引擎 Engine: 3.6L Pentastar VVT V6 最大馬力 Horsepower: 295 hp 最高扭力 Torque: 260 lb-ft Transmission: 8-speed automatic Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, 4WD

Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km:12.7 / 9.6 / 11.3 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 12.7

Source: Canadianautoreview

December 7, 2018