The Jeep Grand Cherokee has left its mall past behind. With better proportions and better detailing, it's a more boutique-inspired look in its current generation, even with the square jaw and Weber-grade grille that's carried it through SUV trials and tribulations for more than two decades. Last year's redesign corrected the blocky design disaster that had emerged before Chrysler's bankruptcy, replacing it with a sophisticated, smoothed-over look that ventured deeply into upscale territory. The traditional seven-bar grille still calls out Jeep's brand heritage, but it's tipped back and faired in, surrounded by smaller than usual headlamps, and unadorned by the wreaths and stars and roundels that stamp themselves on the front ends of the big-SUV competition. This one could use some of that visual meat. The details are finessed to near-perfection all the way around the rear end, though there's a strong resemblance to the VW Touareg and the BMW X5 from the rear quarters--intentional or not, it's still aimed in the right psychographic direction. 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 Ram pickup coming a close second.