Review: Jeep Grand Cherokee (2011)
Grand Cherokee Overland rides well with strong performance from 3.0 CRD. Excellent off road. Much improved all round from 2013 facelift.
Hard and uncomfortable ride on 20-inch wheels. 18-inch wheels improve ride, but hinders handling on the road. Steering lacks any feel.
Jeep Grand Cherokee (2011): At A Glance
- New prices start from £38,895, brokers can source from £39,927
- Contract hire deals from £562.07 per month
- Insurance Groups are between 36–50
- On average it achieves 83% of the official MPG figure
Fiat has had a majority share in Chrysler and Jeep since 2009 and the two American brands are starting to feel the benefit. This Grand Cherokee was launched in 2011 and has a good foundation, sharing the same chassis and engines as the Mercedes-Benz ML. Add in good equipment levels, keen pricing plus decent performance and the Grand Cherokee has plenty of appeal.
But the game has moved on considerably in the world of SUVs and there's more competition than ever. Jeep's once strong image is not what it was and with the likes of the Hyundai Santa Fe around, Jeep has had to step up its game. Thankfully, the Grand Cherokee was extensively revamped in mid-2013 and saw massive improvements in all departments. You can spot the newer models by the slimmer headlights, but the changes are far more reaching than a mere facelift.
In fact, such are the considerable changes, you could almost see this as an all-new model. It's still big and offers comfortable seating for five with genuine Jeep off-road ability, but now the quality of the interior has been hugely improved and it's far superior on-road than before with better stability in corners and more responsive steering. It's better inside too with big improvements in quality and the finish. Touches like the Audi-style gear lever help lift things.
Under the bonnet remains the strong 3.0 CRD diesel engine that may not the be the last word in refinement but offers great reserves of low down pulling power and delivers smooth performance through the standard eight-speed automatic gearbox.
As Jeep aims to recover its somewhat diminished brand image, the Grand Cherokee will play a key part. There's plenty to like about the big SUV and the revisions from 2013 make what was a poor offering vastly better. Standard equipment levels are good and as an alternative to the Volvo XC90 and the Toyota Land Cruiser, there's much to recommend about the big Jeep.
What does a Jeep Grand Cherokee (2011) cost?
Jeep Grand Cherokee (2011): What's It Like Inside?
Jeep interiors have often had a reputation for being dated with lots of wood and old-fashioned controls. Fortunately this Grand Cherokee does try and move things on a bit with a more modern appearance albeit not an especially stylish one. It's fairly standard fare with reasonable quality but the feel of many of the switches and dials is not a premium one.
As you'd expect of a car that's almost five metres long, there's plenty of room inside with comfortable seating for five and a boot capable of carrying all their luggage too. There's even a full-size spare wheel under the floor - after all, a can of sealant is unlikely to be much use in the middle of a Yorkshire moor. There's also good storage with large door pockets and the obligatory twin cupholders next to the gear lever. This is still an American design after all.
In mid 2013 the Grand Cherokee was extensively revamped and nowhere is this more evident than inside. Quality has been vastly improved and there are new dials, a far superior media system. Jeep has also installed a new air conditioning system, with improved controls and a new steering wheel, although it still comes with sections of wood on the Overland and Summit models, something we're not fans of.
The old fashioned and clunky gear lever has been replaced by a much sleeker stick, reminiscent of the yacht-style gear lever from the Audi A7 while Overland, Summit and SRT models come with a huge twin-panel panoramic sunroof which extends from the windscreen to the rear of the car. The changes mean the Grand Cherokee finally has an interior more akin to a car at this price.
One dated feature that's still present is the foot operated parking brake. It's clunky to use and also takes up room in the footwell. There's no left foot rest either so you find your left leg resting against the parking brake pedal which is annoying, especially on long journeys. We'd expect an electric parking brake for a car at this level.
Being a Jeep, equipment levels are on the whole decent, although the entry-level and lower powered Laredo trim is a bit sparse with cloth seats with manual adjustment, 18-inch wheels and no powered tailgate. The Limited and Limited+ represent better value for money and while the top Summit version gets all the bells and whistles it does push the price up to almost £50k.
Laredo comes with the lower powered 190PS 3.0 CRD engine, a body-coloured grille, daytime running lights, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, 18-inch satin chrome wheels, cloth seats, power driver and passenger four-way lumbar adjustment, leather steering wheel with audio controls, automatic dual-zone climate control, cruise control, hill descent control, front and rear side curtain airbags, tyrpe pressure monitoring, automatic wipers, Quadra-Trac II, Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen system, DAB, USB hub and Bluetooth.
Limited adds the more powerful 250PS 3.0 CRD engine, a chrome grille, dual exhausts, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, power tailgate, leather seats, power eight way driver and passenger seats, heated front and second row seats, heated steering wheel, power steering wheel adjustment, driver seat memory, Parksense front and rear pask assist system and a reversing camera.
Limited+ gets 20-inch polished alloy wheels, performance brake discs, sports suspension and sat nav.
Overland has a chrome grille with black honeycomb mesh, dual-panel panoramic sunroof, deep tinted privacy glass, Nappa leather seats, leather trimmed dashboard top, door panels, armrests and console, ventilated seats, wooden insert on steering wheel, Quadra-Drive II with ELSD and air suspension.
Summit adds chrome fog lamp surrounds, adaptive xenon headlights, rectangular exhausts, Natura plus leather seats, faux-suede headlining, adaptive cruise control, Forward Collision Warning with crash mitigation, blind spot monitoring and a Harman Kardon surround sound stereo with 19 speakers and 825W amplifier.
SRT is the performance model with a 6.4-litre V8 engine and has black exhausts tips, a rear spoiler, 20-inch Black Vapour SRT alloys, premium Laguna leather bucket seats, chrome pedal caps, carbon fibre effect interior trim, SRT leather steering wheel, SRT performance brake discs, launch control, Quadra-Trac Active on Demand, Selec-Trac system and active damping sports suspension.
Child seats that fit a Jeep Grand Cherokee (2011)Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.
What's the Jeep Grand Cherokee (2011) like to drive?
The Grand Cherokee is a big car and pretty cumbersome on the road. It's not helped by very slow and unresponsive steering which means tackling bends with any gusto does not fill you with much confidence. That's a shame as there's not too much body roll in corners but the front end doesn't feel like it has too much grip either. It's a lot happier cruising on the motorway.
The Limited and Laredo models come with 18-inch wheels which help give a forgiving ride, albeit at the expense of handling. Moving up to the Limited+ gets you 20-inch wheels and a much harder ride that crashes and pitches over potholes and around corners.
The big difference comes with the Overland and Summit versions which have air suspension, which gives a softer ride that cushions any shocks felt through the lower profile tyres. It transforms the car from feeling soft and soggy to a much sharper drive, with better steering and more front end grip too. When the Grand Cherokee was revised in 2013 it brought some significant changes with a more rigid body structure and uprated suspension.
The result is that the revamped Grand Cherokee is a huge improvement on the road. The handling is vastly improved and it gives you more confidence in corners with better bite from the front tyres. The steering has been transformed, with a touch more feel (although it's still very light) and better response. As a result you won't find yourself having to turn the steering wheel as much on small roundabouts or in tight junctions.
The other big change in the facelift is the adoption of a new eight-speed automatic gearbox, replacing the dated five-speed auto that was previously fitted. The eight-speed is a ZF transmission and similar to those found in Audi and Jaguar cars. In the Grand Cherokee it works very well and is far smoother than the old gearbox with quicker shifts and better kickdown.
The 3.0 CRD diesel engine continues and offers good low down pulling power. It's not the most refined of engines but it's less noisy helped by good sound insulation in the cabin. The entry-level Laredo model gets a lower powered 190PS version of this engine but the majority of Grand Cherokee models will come with the full 250PS.
What really marks this engine out is its 570Nm of torque which is available from just 2000rpm. There's a predictable power delivery, helped by that new gearbox, so it pulls well but smoothly from low down, feeling strong through the rev range. Economy has improved over pre-facelift models and is up to 37.7mpg with emissions of 198g/km - that's for both the lower powered and the 250PS version.
As a tow car, the Grand Cherokee has always proved popular and this model is ideal with all that torque. The maximum towing capability is up to 3500kg for all models apart from the Summit which can pull up to 2949kg. As you'd expect from Jeep, the Grand Cherokee is a proper off-road 4x4 too. It's amazingly capable on proper tough terrain and will continue to surprise you with what it can tackle.
If you're going to regularly covering serious terrain you'll want the Overland or Summit models. These get the Quadra-Drive II four-wheel drive system which comes with a rear electronic limited-slip differential. On slippery surfaces, the system automatically redirects power between the front and rear axles plus it includes a proper 4WD Low range.
|3.0 CRD||34–40 mpg||8.2–10.2 s||184–218 g/km|
|6.2 V8||17 mpg||3.7 s||395 g/km|
|6.4 SRT||20 mpg||-||327 g/km|
|6.4 SRT8||20 mpg||5.0 s||315–327 g/km|
Real MPG average for a Jeep Grand Cherokee (2011)
Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.
Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.
Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.
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What Cars Are Similar To The Jeep Grand Cherokee (2011)?
Key attributes of the this model are: Comfortable seats, Family friendly, Fold flat seats, Four-wheel drive, Good for towing, Large boot, Petrol engine, Raised driving position, Rear legroom, Room for a buggy and SUV.
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What do owners think?
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