Tested: 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.6 Overland 4×4

You are now looking at a 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4×4 in some sort of blue… I’d love to tell you what the colour’s name is but couldn’t find it anywhere on Jeep South Africa’s website or low-key configurator…

Some of the facts I discovered quite quickly is that this fifth-generation Grand Cherokee is available as this five-seater or the “L” longer wheelbase seven seater version; which we tested a few months ago. They both offer a choice of three trim lines: Limited, Overland or Summit Reserve, with escalating prices and spec levels.

Encompassing prices from R1.36m to R1.8m (September 2023), they feature a high degree of standard safety and luxury specifications, including the Fiat/Chrysler/Alfa “UConnect” infotainment system with 8.4-inch touchscreen display and smartphone integration. All our testers found its operation and menu setup praiseworthy.

Middle child “Overland” (as tested here) adds fancier alloy wheels, some exterior bling, a twin panoramic glass roof, ambient lighting, plus almost two inches of extra screen size. The expensive “Summit Reserve” trumps all of that with intelligent air suspension, 21-inch wheels, posh leather, front seat massagers and even more colourful ambient lighting.

Some of the more mind-bending features – depending on model or options chosen – include a passenger media screen, child-seat surveillance, power folding rear seats with heating and ventilation, 19-speaker McIntosh audio system, various parking cameras, multi-zone climate control, wireless charging pad, remote start and proximity entry system.

Besides lane guidance and forward collision warning or mitigation, you also get rear cross-traffic alert, driver drowsiness detection, traffic sign recognition, head-up display, eight USB ports, autonomous parking system, nappa leather, various alloy wheels and oh, you know, a night vision camera. Check with your dealer for local model availability please!

Here in our market, the big Jeep is only available with one drive train: the 3.6L “Pentastar” naturally-aspirated petrol V6 making a respectable 210kW or 344Nm. And all of that is shoved to a clever four-wheel drive system via an 8-speed automatic transmission, to stem a kerb weight of around 2,150kg.

If you think that’s a recipe for mediocre performance but alarming fuel use, you’d be right. However, thanks to those eight gear ratios and what must be one of the better V6 motors on our market, this big American brute felt more agile and willing than most turbo-diesel SUV’s or 4×4’s we’ve tested recently.

The Pentastar has been around for a long time, and is keen to retain its rightful place by displaying a lively mid-range punch and glorious rasp as it spins to its 6,400rpm power peak. In fact, during our performance-testing of this (and the 7-seater iteration) we witnessed the digital tachometer briefly turn red as it touched 6,500rpm before up-shifts.

It’s one of my favourite things about this luxurious and large new 4×4 – that it has a gutsy six-pot under that blunt bonnet. Our best of three performance runs took exactly 8.18 seconds – Jeep has no official acceleration or top speed figures for our neck of the woods. A single emergency brake test was slightly less impressive at 3.28 seconds and 47.35 metres.

Jeep claims an average fuel use of just below 10L/100km (or 10km/L) from the generously-sized 87L petrol tank and we think it’s utterly plausible for careful drivers and commuters. Keep your foot in it and the highly-detailed trip information screens will show you horrible figures… ditto for its competitors, though.

Mmh, what else? Jeep calls their latest 4×4 system “Quadra-Trac II” and it comes with the equally letter-shy “Selec-Terrain” system on all models which lets you choose from Auto, Sport, Rock, Snow, and Mud/Sand. Please forgive us for not torturing this beautiful new press vehicle with more than a few dirt roads and muddy ditches; which it traversed with ease and comfort.

In summary, the new Jeep Grand Cherokee in five- or seven-seater configuration is loaded with great features and even greater options, has plenty of space and luxury, rides softly and growls when trodden on. Its price is comparatively good, especially with a standard 5-year/100,000km warranty and maintenance plan.

Oh, and after a bit of internet research, we think the name of this colour might be Midnight Sky. Is that right, all you Jeep fans out there?

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