Our Cars

Week 2: Jeep Grand Cherokee long-term update

This report should have been all about the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s ability off-road, but Facebook and a niggle with one of the Jeep’s active safety measures got in the way, writes Isaac Bober.

Car: Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland
Date arrived: January 13, 2014
Price paid: $71,000 (+ORC)
Extras: None
Delivery kilometres: 9052km
Current kilometres: 10,870km
Fuel consumption: 7.5L/100km (combined – claimed); 9.0L/100km (as tested)
Service costs: Nil

RIGHT, A WEEK OR SO AGO I SAID THIS REPORT would be all about how well our Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland handles our off-road test track, but then Facebook happened. See, last week, a friend of mine, knowing I’d collected the Grand Cherokee, sent me a link to a shock-horror video of a Grand Cherokee being put through its paces by Swedish magazine, Teknikens Varld.

The Grand Cherokee was tackling the dreaded Moose Test or, as we might call it, an emergency lane change. It’s the ultimate test of a vehicle’s electronic stability and anti-rollover mitigation systems. Well, and I’m sure you’ve probably seen this video too, the Grand Cherokee nearly rolled over. It was frightening stuff.

And then the magazine asked Jeep’s engineers to have a go. They plugged in computers and stood around scratching their heads. They just couldn’t get the car to do what it was meant to. But, you know what, that was the previous generation Grand Cherokee (and the test was done back in 2012), the one we’re driving has, as I discovered, and, as almost no-one has reported on, been tested by Teknikens Varld (see the video link below) and passed with flying colours.

While Jeep hasn’t said what it changed in the model update, it’s certainly done something because, as Teknikens Varld said in its report late last year, “at 71km/h (44.1mph) the car reaches its limit, the car cannot master more than that … But it’s a good result for a SUV vehicle, no doubt about that. It is also a clear sign that Jeep understood the seriousness of the previous generation’s severe flaws and did something to it”.

What about people who own the previous generation Grand Cherokee? Well, this is where things get interesting. Not long after the Grand Cherokee dramatically failed the original Moose Test in 2012, in fact just weeks later, Germany’s Auto, Motor und Sport magazine tested the Grand Cherokee according to German Automotive Manufacturer Association standards and concluded that the Grand Cherokee wouldn’t rollover.

Moments later, Jeep issued public statements spruiking the video-free results of the German publication’s test, stating its results confirmed its theory that the Grand Cherokee used in the Teknikens Varld Moose Test was overloaded.

Watching the original video when it appeared on my Facebook page got me thinking a little about some of the safety aspects of the Grand Cherokee I’m testing. Now, while it doesn’t achieve a five-star ANCAP crash safety rating (although the last time it was tested was back in 2011), scoring 29.95 out of 37, there’s no doubting the GC I’m in is literally loaded to the gunwales with safety kit. But one in particular has got me so spooked I’ve switched it off until I’ve got time to properly figure it out.

Before I get to that, let’s try and explain why the Grand Cherokee only gets four stars. Simple. It, when the ANCAP assessment team considered the numbers from the EuroNCAP crash test (an Australian-specific model hasn’t been tested here), failed the offset crash test, scoring 9.95 out of 16, with ANCAP concluding there was an increased risk of danger to both driver and passenger. It’d be interesting to see how this new car rates.

Anyway, back to my concerning safety feature. It is the Forward Collision Warning (FCW). This system, according to the press guff, uses radar sensors that detect when your vehicle may be approaching another too rapidly, alerting you with an audible chime and then automatically touching the brakes if it thinks you didn’t pay attention to the chime. It’s only standard-fit on the Overland.

Now, I would recommend this feature, of course I would, if it reduces your chances of having a crash then it’s a good thing. But, in my first week with the Overland I noticed that on one particular corner on my run into the office the system would activate. Yep, on a corner. And it wasn’t just the audible alert, either. No, it was the full touch of the brakes. On a corner. I can’t tell you how freaked out I was the first time it happened, I mean, I thought the car had spotted something I hadn’t.

Nope, rather the car’s radar was over-reacting to a concrete barrier on the outside of the corner (there are roadworks going on and the contractors have placed those temporary barriers on the side of the road). Sure, the barriers are close to the road, but they’re on a corner.

I’ve turned the system off for the time being and I’m waiting to hear back from Jeep about whether the system is maybe a little too sensitive, or whether it should be calibrated to determine that if the wheels are turned then I’m obviously steering around whatever it thinks might be in front of me. Hmm.

Until I get a response from Jeep, I’d be interested to hear from anyone who might own a Jeep Grand Cherokee with Forward Collision Warning about whether you’ve experienced anything similar.

So, you shouldn’t always believe what you see in your Facebook timeline and, nor should you take the words of one test site, with the exception of Practical Motoring, without Googling around to see what else you can find. What’s most interesting is that people, friends even, would find an out-of-date video, and create a scare campaign about a car that may or may not actually have a safety problem…

I’ll get another report out by the end of this week on the Grand Cherokee’s child carrying ability, or rather the ability of a child to climb inside the Jeep. That’ll be followed by how well the Grand Cherokee performs on our off-road test track.


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Robert D. Kapp
Robert D. Kapp
6 years ago

Bought 2014 Overland Summit. It freaked in a construction zone, Concrete barriers mixed with steel attenuators in center. Very narrow lane with attenuators sticking out. Totalled it. Tried to explain , but they have another explanation I won’t go into. Bob Kapp

George
George
4 years ago

Bought 2014 Summit had no problems with FCW for first 6 months after first service and a soft ware up date FCW does not work like it did. I can under stand if there is a problem and you can a least turn it off on the dash, but now this safety feature is useless . Have been reporting to dealer for nearly year and a half, no satisfaction. Called Jeep customer service last week still waiting on a call back .

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober