The new Grand Cherokee has crossed a styling Rubicon. Can it ever go back to its formerly blocky self, now that it's been streamlined into something so square-jawed and elegant?
The last-generation ute wore heavy-handed panels, but they've nearly all been smoothed into fairly upscale territory. The Jeep seven-slot grille sits high on the front, flanked by smallish headlamps—the treatment's a little subdued and unadorned—but from there on back, the Grand Cherokee sports just the right proportions of metal to glass, with few unnecessary lines to fuss over. The boxed-in wheel wells are just right. From the rear three-quarter view, there's so much BMW X5 and Volkswagen Touareg in its stance and in its taillights, you might be able to swap badges and fool a few civilians. If you like, Jeep will chrome some trim and the mirror housings for a bit more flash—but it's still minimal compared to vehicles like the Cadillac SRX, even with optional 20-inch wheels. If we have one complaint about the look—and it's hard to muster—it's that it might be a little too derivative, a bit excessively refined compared to Cherokees over time.
Inside, the Grand Cherokee's even more of a resounding success. There's a chunky three-spoke steering wheel,a usefully arranged center stack of controls capped with inoffensive metallic-plastic trim, and on some versions, real wood trim on the dash, doors,and the steering wheel. Clean ergonomics are just part of the effect; the Grand Cherokee's materials don't repel your touch, like the feel of some other recent Chryslers. This is probably Chrysler's best interior, with the Dodge Ram pickup coming a close second.