Low-rent no more: that must have been the motto of designers when they signed off on the look of the latest Jeep Grand Cherokee. The first version had been drawn in the mid-1980s--and the second-generation Cherokee looked older and more dated than that one, with oddly blocky proportions. No more. Today's Grand Cherokee is pretty sophisticated, even pretty from some angles, though you could yard-sale your Weber and roast on its big slotted seven-bar grille if faced with the need. It's flanked by some small headlamps and blessedly free of the roundels, stars and wreaths that clamp on the front ends of some luxury SUVs. It could actually use more visual heft, the further you gaze down its sideview: it's rendered with details that can look a little too fine, and the balance of the front end peters out toward the back like the old VW Touareg or the current BMW X5. That raises the one consistent complaint we have about the look—and it's hard to muster more--that it might be too derivative, a bit excessively refined compared to Cherokees of the more distant past.
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.