Luxurious, long: Grand Cherokee first SUV seven-seater Jeep in Australia

Open-core wood panelling the cherry on the top.

Fri 03 Mar 23


Could it be? Yes … real open-core wood panelling along the doors and skirtings, front and back, and embedded in the steering wheel.

In the 60s, long before Land Rover introduced the Range Rover, Jeeps sported a unique kind of all-American luxury. They’re back!

The 2022-23 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve is the first seven-seater Jeep in Australia since the Commander in 2006. The ‘L’ is for long (5.2 m), longer than a Toyota LandCruiser. Alongside the outgoing WK Grand Cherokee, Jeep’s best-selling vehicle in Australia, it’s 383 mm longer and 41 mm wider and weighs just under 2.5 tonnes.

Central to Grand Cherokee’s luxurious cabin is the cherry wood panelling along the doors and skirtings and also embedded in the steering wheel.

The demand for seven-seater SUVs has never been so strong but none of them is as luxurious … and as long. You might think the $115,450 price tag is heft, with fitted options such as premium paint, an advanced technology program, wireless charging pad, night vision and people and pet detection bumping this up to $122,700. But, hey, a Range Rover will cost you around $225,500.

But before the nuts and bolts, let’s get back to the wood for a while.

“I’ll bet the left one that the wood veneer is American cherry (Prunus serotina),” said Bill the wood species specialist as he stroked what is considered the supreme hardwood species of North America.

It was in this region that the fierce Cherokee Red Indian slayed the early colonial settlers, rail roaders, bears or anything that threatened their families, using bows, arrows and spears made from cedar, oak and hickory, but mostly American cherry trees.

We’ll leave the legend for another time about how the six-year-old George Washington, the revolutionary leader and first American president, confessed to his father: “I can’t tell a lie, I did cut that cherry tree with my  hatchet”.

For the record, US cherry growing stock totals 423.6 million cub m, 3% of the total US hardwood growing resource. The cherry forests grow 10.3 million cub m a year, while the harvest is 4.9 million cub m, increasing by 5.4 million cub m each year.

Returning to our Jeep Grand Cherokee, practical touches include large door apertures – the doors themselves open out to 64 deg –  and a second-row seat that moves fore and aft to balance passenger and/or cargo space. 

There are big bins in the doors with space for large bottles, a pair of decent size cupholders in the centre console, a two-tiered storage box between the seats that doubles as an armrest, and a covered wireless charging bay in the front of the gearshift.

For connectivity and power there are two USB-A and two USB-C ports (repeated in the back), as well as an ‘aux in’ socket, and a 12-volt outlet.

And you can keep a close eye on restless little passengers. ‘Fam Cam’ (optional on the Limited and standard on the Summit Reserve) is an adjustable rear seat monitoring camera able to switch between all second and third row positions.

The Grand Cherokee L is rated to tow a braked trailer up to 2.8 tonnes.

All versions are powered by a 3.6-litre naturally-aspirated V6 petrol engine producing 210 kW at 6400 rpm, and 34 4Nm at 4000 rpm, driving all four wheels through an eight-speed auto transmission and a transfer case – single speed on the first two models and two-speed on the Summit Reserve flagship.

There’s no diesel option, but a plug-in hybrid is on the way.

Jeep’s official fuel economy claim for the Grand Cherokee L on the combined cycle is 10.6L/100 km, the 3.6-litre V6 emitting 243g/100km of CO2 in the process.

Stop-start is standard, and although the car’s bonnet and tailgate are aluminium this Jeep still weighs around 2.2 tonnes.

The tank holds 104 litres, which translates to a range of around 980 km.

Jeep covers the Grand Cherokee with a five-year/100,000 km warranty and a 12-month complimentary roadside assist.

We can’t finish without mentioning our test-run destination – the historic and magnificent Albert River Homestead and Winery, located 40 km southeast of Brisbane in the Gold Coast-Scenic Rim region.

The heritage venue, home to three former Queensland premiers, captures the grandeur of our colonial past. The grub and Albert River’s tropical fruit semillon sauvignon blanc (one glass fort the driver) passes muster, too.

Note: Jeep is an American automobile marque now owned by multi-national corporation Stellantis. Jeep has been part of Chrysler since 1987, when Chrysler acquired the brand, along with remaining assets, from its previous owner American Motor Corporation.

Jeep’s current product range consists solely of sports utility vehicles, both crossovers and fully off-road SUVs and models, including one pickup truck.


  • Orson Whiels

    Orson Whiels has been a motoring writer for many years and was motoring writer at Queensland Country life in the 1960s-70s and then motoring editor at Australian Timberman.)


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