Joel Helmes road tests and review the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo diesel.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is a vehicle that offers so much, it’s just a shame its name has been sullied a little by a string of recalls.
Sure, some of those recalls were simply little software glitches, but if you had purchased a Grand Cherokee within the last couple of years you’d probably be sick of the sight of your local Jeep dealership!
While I’m a big fan of the look and feel of the current series Jeep Grand Cherokee, and in particular this tremendously good turbo-diesel engine, I am a little concerned about the quality control standards at the Jeep US production plant.
For example, on the vehicle that I test drove the panel gap clearances on the doors was inconsistent and the driver’s door, towards the bottom of the door, sat out noticeably compared to the back door. The fuel filler door was also way out of alignment on one side.
So, while I haven’t particularly noticed these issues on other Grand Cherokee vehicles, it might be worth giving yours a good going over (inside and out) before leaving the dealership.
It may sound like I’m beating the big Jeep up a little but really I am a fan and this turbo-diesel Laredo grade is probably my favourite Grand Cherokee.
I reviewed the Summit grade of the Jeep Grand Cherokee last year and was really impressed, the turbo-diesel engine and eight-speed transmission leaving a smile on my face, this Laredo is the same car, just with less features and luxury inclusions.
Priced from $53,000, $9,000 more than the V6 petrol entry-point into the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo range, the diesel engine is worth paying the extra for.
With a healthy 184kW and 570Nm you never want for more power and torque. Granted, there is some turbo-lag down low in the revs, though this where having the large array of transmission ratios is an advantage as the transmission does do a good job of helping you get along.
This lag is especially noticeable in a vehicle that feels as heavy and solid as Grand Cherokee, it really feels like it needs plenty of positive encouragement to get it moving!
Most importantly, despite being a big, chunky offering the diesel engine keeps fuel use to a minimum and you can expect to use just over 9.0L/100kms in city driving – that is excellent.
The ride is adequate, though the mud and snow rated 60 series tyres on the Laredo’s 18” alloy wheels are probably going to limit any genuine off-roading. In saying that underbody clearances and approach and departure angles are pretty good.
It handles reasonably well too, and the turning circle is remarkably good!
In the cabin it isn’t immediately noticeable that is an entry-level offering. The Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo features a hard-wearing cloth trim and some nice leather on the centre armrest and steering wheel.
Faux woodgrain type inserts, heated front seats and blue feature lighting on the cup holders and door handles also bring up the feel.
The two standout features in the Laredo (and indeed across the Grand Cherokee range) though are the two digital displays screens.
The large centre touchscreen unit includes audio and climate controls etc., while the huge digital driver info screen gives everything from speed and engine information to service reminders and tyre pressure info – it’s effective, easy to read and attractive.
Disappointingly though this grade of Jeep Grand Cherokee doesn’t come with satellite-navigation.
You only get the one control stalk on the steering column (on the left hand side, a turn-off for some buyers) and this incorporates indicators, front and rear wipers and high-beam. Auto headlights are controlled via a separate switch panel on the dashboard.
Keyless-entry, push button ignition, auto-wipers and plenty of legroom front and back are some of the cabin highlights. One thing I don’t like however is the placement of the CD drive in the centre storage bin – it makes a handy storage spot essentially redundant (luckily this drive is a no-cost option).
Boot space is good, the rear seat folds down flat (60/40) and you have some limited sub-floor storage space available near the spare wheel.
The current generation Jeep Grand Cherokee line-up only features a four-star ANCAP safety rating, that’s a big disappointment.
Summing it up; I love the 3.0 litre turbo-diesel engine – plenty of power and great fuel economy. The reasonably roomy cabin, comfort levels and standard inclusions (though not sat-nav) make the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee an interesting SUV alternative.
The poor exterior body-panel fit and only four-star safety rating takes a bit of the shine off what is an otherwise quite likeable and good-value offering.
NUTS and BOLTS - 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo
Engine: 3.0 litre V6 diesel producing 184kW and 570Nm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Safety: Four stars
Origin: United States
Price: From $53,000