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Home 4X4 Jeep Grand Cherokee fails elk test? Full analysis: UPDATED 15/08/2012

Jeep Grand Cherokee fails elk test? Full analysis: UPDATED 15/08/2012

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This story has only two possible conclusions – either the Teknikens Värld magazine has gone to elaborate lengths to fake a story about the Grand Cherokee being unsafe, or Jeep are deliberately ignoring solid evidence that the car simply does not handle as well as it should in an emergency.

Right now, I’m favouring the latter theory simply because the magazine has provided more and more evidence as days pass, and initially all Jeep had to say is that the car was overloaded and thus the test was invalid, a claim which really doesn’t tell the true story.  But later, on July 27th they released a statement saying that the Grand had been retested by a German magazine, Auto Motor und Sport, and it passed.  But Jeep provided no video evidence of the pass, and it’s pretty clear the test performed was not the same as that of Varld.

So here’s the details.

Teknikens Värld is the Swedish magazine which once rolled an Mercedes A-Class with its infamous swerve manoveur called the ‘elk test’ (or moose test).

The ‘moose test’ is based on what a driver would need to do in order to avoid hitting a moose standing in the middle of the lane – at 70km/h (43mph) the car is swerved from one lane to another and back again.  We don’t have a ‘roo test’ in Australia because we just hit them, which we can do because roos are much smaller and shorter than moose.

This is a schematic of the test:

Crucially, there are several ways you can do lane-change or swerve tests.  Varld allege the Grand fails only in their test.  Jeep say the test is invalid because it’s not one of the world-standard tests.

Varld then ran a diesel Grand Cherokee Overland through this test and found the car either nearly rolled, or popped a tyre off a rim during the maneouvre.  The photo below show the Grand is moving back into its original lane towards the end of the test.

Here’s the video, the original which sparked all the debate:

But I think there’s more to it than just a dramatic soundbite.  This is a serious allegation, and a serious allegation requires serious proof. Initially, the mag just made the claim and left it at that, which left me asking lots of questions.  Most of these have now been answered:

Did it happen more than once?  Was the test repeatable?

Looks like it.  There’s now video of wheel-lift on multiple occasions with different cars, and in two different track locations, as shown in their latest video, part 4.

Was there anything unusual about the surface?

Doesn’t look like it.  The latest video shows a Touraeg and XC90 handling the test just fine.  There’s now multiple tests at clearly different times of day too.

There is a rumour that the original track surface had a coefficient of friction of 1.1.  This means that if there’s say a 2900kg car on the track it’d take 3,190kg of force to move it sideways.  A normal dry road has a coefficient of around 0.6-0.8, so that’d mean the track had artifically very high traction, and you’d need to specially treat the surface or use race tyres to get a 1.1 CoE.  Certainly the Grand has a high degree of grip, hence the roll, but did the mag really treat the surface to get such a high level of grip?  Seems unlikely they’d do that, or be permitted to do that to the track surface which is just a normal runway.

I decided to ask Varld directly about the track surface.  They have this to say:

The asphalt on the track we use is normal asphalt, the same kind of asphalt that is used on roads in the Nordic countries and in several other European countries. Everything within the moose test must be as realistic as possible, not least the road surface. The test ground was dry.
We did not see that Chrysler did any tests on the asphalt.
We have tested thousands of cars on this asphalt for many years and no other car have performed this bad, except for the Toyota Hilux in 2007 and the Mercedes A-Class in 1997. Both Toyota and Mercedes found out that their cars where not good enough to manage a panic swerve, so they took their responsibility and did changes to their cars. Mercedes had to do bigger changes with a redesign of the car’s chassis and also apply electronic stability control to it as standard. Jeep/Chrysler should also take their responsibility, just like the other manufacturers.
The previous generation Jeep Grand Cherokee passed our moose test without any problems. On the same test track. But not the new generation. They have missed one or more things when designing the new Grand Cherokee, for example the electronic stability control system that doesn’t do its job.

Was stability control switched on?

Well, maybe they forgot for one test.  But surely not for all tests.  And even if it was switched off, the video shows a poorly handling car, lots of bounce.  The mag says the car isn’t behaving like you’d expect of a modern vehicle, and based on the video evidence it’s hard to disagree.

Was the car overloaded?

Initially, yes, but the answer is complex.

The magazine looked at the official registration papers which stated the maximum payload was 602kg, so they loaded the car with 5 adults and added sandbags, tied into the cargo barrier, to bring it to 602kg.  However, the mag went on to say that the car handled poorly, so they removed 100kg and tried again, with a load of 502kg.  This is the configuration the car was in when the initial videos were made, and there was significant wheel-lift.

However, it transpires that the kerb (unloaded) weight on the rego was incorrect at 2347kg.  Seems the car weighs more than that, so when you add 502kg (never mind 602kg) it is overloaded, it exceeds its 2949kg gross vehicle mass (GVM) by 58kg.  The GVM is the maxium the vehicle can weigh.

So yes, the GC was overloaded initially, which sounds terrible. But let’s look at it in perspective.  That’s a 2% overload – 58kg over in a 2949kg car.  Not a lot.  And all the weight was down low, and the tyres were correctly inflated.  What would happen if the tyres were a little lower than normal – as would be the case on a cold morning – and the roofrack was loaded to maximum capacity but the, which is probably 70kg, and the dampers were a little worn, yet the car was within its 2949kg limit?  It’s not just the total weight, it’s the weight distribution.

One thing the mag could do to prove this point is to overload the XC90 and Touraeg by 100kg and see how they go.

On a related point, Jeep are now saying the Grand’s payload is 470kg.  Which means it can’t really carry 5 largish adults, or if it does, it probably can’t tow anything and there’d be no room left for cargo.  A 5-seater 4WD should have a payload of 700-1000kg.  And for Aussies, by the time you’ve got your bar, mud-tyres, second battery, spare wheel carrier, roofrack, UHF radio, winch, lights and cargo system bolted on you can expect to be left with a payload of around 200kg.

Australian GCs have the same 2949kg GVM, but the specs for the diesel have the kerb weight at between 2272kg and 2355kg, depending on trim level.  This gives a payload range of between 594 and 677kg, not great, but a lot better than 470kg.   The mag says the 470kg figure was arrived at by weighing the car and they found the kerb weight to be greater than stated.  I didn’t weigh the GC I had on test, so I hope it these figures from Jeep are accurate.

Anyway, multiple GCs were re-tested with a 470kg payload.  And the problem still existed, but this time several tyres were popped off rims.

Varld have chimed in to say:

Due to a complete incorrect statement by Chrysler, many people believe that we performed the first moose test with 50 kilos (110 lbs) overload in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. This is not the least bit true. We performed the first moose test with 100 kilos (220 lbs) less than the maximum payload (602 kilos/1 327 lbs) that is registered for the car, a figure which officially comes from Jeep/Chrysler.

Well, that’s nice.  But the payload is actually not relevant, and the statement does not address the main question which is whether GVM was exceeded.  The payload per se is not relevant, and nor does it really matter whether the vehicle was overloaded by incorrect statements by Jeep to the registration authorities.

OK, I understand the payload is irrelevant, the GVM is important, but whose fault is it anyway ?

Some have pointed out that the document Varld produced does not specify a vehicle model, and that kerb weights vary between vehicles.  But that’s because the document is specific to that particular car.  It even has the chassis number and registration number.  So either Jeep supplied the wrong kerb weight, or the wrong kerb weight has been written on the rego.  Someone made a mistake, but nobody’s owning up.

Varld have provided me this statement when I queried them on the matter:

In the initial tests the Jeep Grand Cherokee weighed 100 kg (220 lbs) under the GVM. The statement from Chrysler saying that the car was overloaded is a pure lie. And Chrysler knows that it is a pure lie. They have seen with their own eyes that we loaded the car according to the car’s official weight/cargo figures that is available in the Swedish certificate of registration from Swedish Transport Agency. These official figures has been handed over to Swedish Transport Agency from Jeep/Chrysler. So there is no doubt that these figures are the official ones.

What’s the deal with the tyres?

In the videos you hear a pop.  That’s the tyre parting company from the rim, or debeading.  Once the rim is parted from the tyre there’s real risk of the rim digging in and the car rolling, and obviously the tyre has now lost air, even if once the maneover is over the tyre comes back onto the rim.   The correct behaviour is that the stability control kicks in a prevents this from happening nice and early, and for cars without stability control you get an understeery slide.

Jeep do not mention the tyre problem in either of their statements, yet there is clear video evidence it occurs.  Jeep need to address this.

What’s Jeep’s response?

They have three statements, this one:

Chrysler Group engineers are investigating a Swedish magazine’s evaluation of the 2012 Grand Cherokee. During the evaluation, the publication was able to capture images of a Grand Cherokee on two wheels as it performed an extreme maneuver in an overloaded condition.

Advised of this event by the magazine, Chrysler Group engineers made numerous attempts to reproduce the wheel-lift in a properly loaded vehicle. Extensive testing produced no such result.

A subsequent evaluation was conducted by the magazine July 8 in Sweden and witnessed by Chrysler Group engineers. Three vehicles performed 11 runs on a course prepared by the magazine. None reproduced the original event.

The uncharacteristic result was obtained using a vehicle loaded beyond its weight specifications. The Grand Cherokee’s weight limitations are clearly stated on the vehicle and in the owner’s manual.

Also, the extreme maneuver performed by the magazine is not certified by any regulatory agency, nor is it used to establish any sanctioned safety ratings.

Chrysler Group takes seriously any safety concerns and engineers are examining the event to better understand the magazine’s claims.

A “Top Safety Pick” of the U.S. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 2012 Grand Cherokee is an award-winning SUV that features Electronic Stability Control and Electronic Roll Mitigation as standard equipment. It meets or exceeds all government safety mandates and its outstanding performance has made it the most awarded SUV in history.

They also have a blog post here, which is overly defensive and childish…

Not so oddly enough, when U.S. blog Jalopnik.comapproached Swedish magazine Web Editor Mattias Rabe about the load weight, he – I quote – “couldn’t remember the weight of off the top of his head.” Mr. Rabe didn’t remember such a negligible (!) detail. Hilarious, isn’t it? I kindly recommend Mr. Web Editor get some phosphorous tablets, “a well-known supplement to support brain and memory.” (I quote from Wikipedia.com.)

…suggesting that because the editor couldn’t remember the exact payload figure for the car that meant he had something to hide.  Well, as someone that deals in car figures all the time I can tell you I probably couldn’t remember either, so many cars, so many figures and in the case of the Grand there’s the stated figures and what appears to be the real figures.

I hope for the sake of the guy that wrote the blog that he turns out to be correct, because otherwise he’s going to look very silly.   Just in case the post disappears I’ve saved a PDF of it for future reference.

There’s also this response to a blog post comment:

The Grand Cherokee is an award-winning SUV with an exemplary safety record. The magazine used an overloaded vehicle in its initial evaluation. Chrysler Group takes seriously any safety concerns and continues to analyze data from the second evaluation, but the wheel-lift seen in the first round did not reoccur.


Thank you,
-Mike Driehorst
Editorial Director-Online Media
Chrysler Group LLC

Which repeats the overload (by 2%, remember) line, and doesn’t mention the tyre/rim issue.  It says the wheel-lift seen in the first round did not reoccur, but doesn’t mention the wheels did lift albeit not to the same extent – as shown in subsequent videos.

Now Jeep have released a press statement saying the Grand has been re-tested and it passes. You can read it in full here:

http://media.chrysler.com/newsrelease.do?id=12795&mid=4

more on that below.
But Jeep say the test wasn’t official?

That means it isn’t one of the tests used by the national standards authorites to determine roadworthiness of a vehicle.  And that’s true.

The simple response is – so what.  The test used by the mag is certainly representative of real-world conditions.  The speed is 70km/h and the swerve is across the width of a two-lane highway.  The real point is whether the test is realistic, and the answer is definitely yes.  And even if it wasn’t realistic, then the car should slide, not roll or rim tyres off rims.

So the fact it’s not a national standards test is irrelevant, and Jeep don’t make themselves look good by trying this on.

Jeep say the results weren’t reproduced with their engineers present?

Specifically:

This time the Grand Cherokee was loaded properly. (Because we were watching, perhaps?) And the atypical outcome observed previously could not be repeated. Despite numerous attempts.

(yes, that was from their blog, could you tell?) and:

A subsequent evaluation was conducted by the magazine July 8 in Sweden and witnessed by Chrysler Group engineers. Three vehicles performed 11 runs on a course prepared by the magazine. None reproduced the original event.

If you read literally and watch the videos you could say that in the subsequent runs the car doesn’t come as close to rolling as it did.  However, it does slightly left an inside wheel, it pops tyres off rims and generally looks out-of-control.  Therefore, I’d say there’s a problem. And that’s before we get to the point made earlier about payload.

This is a big issue because quite simply either Jeep or the magazine are being economical with the truth.  Either the videos are faked, or Jeep are being rather devious with their intepretation of “None reproduce the original event”.

I think Jeep are being a little devious – they’re ignoring the tyre/rim problems deliberately.

Also, the car did not manage to stay inside the test boundaries.  Almost all the runs show this – either the car oversteers wide, fails to make the exit, or understeers.  To succeed the car should stay within the test boundaries.  This is a seperate issue to the tyre/rim problem.

Was the test rigged?

I don’t think it likely that the magazine deliberately rigged the test – some claim that is in fact what happened, but they’d have to be barking mad to throw away their reputation on a stunt like this, and rigged or not, how on earth did they manage to take the video they did?  Overloaded by 58kg or not, there’s no way the car should have behaved the way it did.  So if you discount the possibility of the video being faked after it was shot, then you’re left with one conclusion which is that there’s a problem with the car.

When Jeep engineers were present it looks like the day was colder, more overcast and on a different surface.  This would have affected grip levels, so perhaps the car would still roll even at a 470kg payload.  But that’s speculation….yet this is exactly the sort of testing Jeep need to conduct and show to prove exactly what the situation is, and also as the mag did, use competitor cars to show the Grand is not appreciably worse.

Was the driver being fair?

It can be argued that the driver is unfairly driving the car – maybe wrenching the steering wheel over too quickly, or maybe positioning the car within the lines for maximum effect.  It’s possible, but it doesn’t look likely.  There’s only so much room for maneouvre within a 3m width and at a given speed.  The test shown in the video looks fair, and looks identical to the other tests with Touraeg and XC90.

One way to invalidate the test would be to do a little Scandivian flick beforehand – as the cones are entered and the left turn comes up, do a small flick to the right, then hard left.  There’s no evidence in the video that happens.

I asked Varld who drove the car in the second test.  Their response:

Chrysler engineers did not drive the cars in the moose test. Our skilled test driver did, just like he have driven thousands of cars in the moose test before.
Chrysler have not released any press release or something like that about the popping tires or the wheel lifting after we released the second video. They are quiet. We have tried to have a dialogue with them since before we published the test result, but they didn’t answer us when we contacted them back then.

[ note – Chrysler claim Varld didn’t contact them before publication, or certainly not in enough time to respond to the claims.  This is a seperate question of journalistic ethics from the question of the Jeep’s handling, one which I don’t intend to discuss here or investigate further other than to say what should have happened, no question, is Chrysler being given time to respond BEFORE publication.  Not saying that did or didn’t happen ]

Has anyone else tested the Jeep in this way?

Appears so, and not only that a handling problem was found in a similar lane-change test!

The US organisation Consumer Reports tested a petrol version – the diesel is not available in the USA.  They had this to say:

Consumer Reports tests the emergency handling of all vehicles in our own double lane change maneuver, which is similar in concept. Our test is less severe than the “moose test” with more distance between the entry cones and the gate cones, typically resulting in less steering input. Plus, we test the vehicle loaded with only a driver and a full fuel tank.

We have tested two 2011 Grand Cherokees, a Laredo with the V6 and a Limited with the V8. Both had 18-inch wheels and tires. During our initial tests, the Laredo V6 hopped and skipped sideways. While it did not debead tires or go up on two wheels, this behavior did impair driver confidence and affected the speed at which we could negotiate the course. The Limited V8 did not exhibit this behavior.

After that test, Chrysler recalibrated the stability controland issued a software update in January 2011. The software changes eliminated the problems we encountered and increased the speed and confidence through the course. This update was flashed into existing vehicles and incorporated into later-production Grand Cherokees.

http://news.consumerreports.org/cars/2012/07/jeep-grand-cherokee-fails-swedish-moose-test-lessons-for-us-consumers.html

Here’s the video, check it out at 2:34 –

It is worth nothing the diesels are a little heavier than the petrols.  Their post goes to mention a point I very much agree with:

Regardless, it could be argued that overloading it by 110 pounds falls within the realm of foreseeable misuse by a consumer and such a variance should be accounted for in vehicle development.

Here’s a link to the description of Jeep’s change:

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine-archive/2011/may/cars/jeep-grand-cherokee/overview/index.htm

Has there been any Australian testing?

Drive.com.au say:

The Grand Cherokee won Best 4WD in Drive’s 2011 Car of the Year awards. The car was subject to several slalom and emergency swerve manoeuvres during judging and no problems were encountered.

Jeep would also have tested the car themselves, as would various safety agencies, and Jeep point out it has passed and is indeed a USA Top Safety Pick.  But that doesn’t mean to say a problem wasn’t missed.

Would different tyres and rims help ?  Or different pressures?

Probably yes.  The 20″ rims are low-profile.  Higher-profile rims with narrower tyres, such as the 18″ versions would create different handling charatersitics.  Wide, low-profile tyres grip well until their limit then suddenly let go, narrower, high-profile tyres are more gradual.  It would be interesting to see the results of 18″ rims.  Increasing tyre pressure, if permitted by the tyre manufacturer should also help stop seperation from rim from tyre.

Consumer Reports have this to say on the subject:

Our experience with the Jeep, as well as the hundreds of other SUVs we’ve tested, shows that the way the vehicle is equipped can have a considerable effect on its performance in this test. Tire specifications, suspension calibrations, and weight balance all play a role here. The Grand Cherokee tested by Teknikens Värld was a top-level Overland 3.0 CRD V6 (diesel) model with 20-inch tires that comes with adjustable suspension. (The diesel is not currently sold in the U.S. market; engine selection will affect weight balance.)

Were Jeep notified before publication?

Choose who to believe – Jeep say no, the magazine says yes.  No evidence either way.  Let’s see an email please!  But to be honest this is a question of journalistic ethics and is irrelevant to the main question of the Jeep’s handling characteristics.

What could have caused this?

My original theory was that the original test was a freak or the result of misloading, before I knew the car was only overloaded by 2%.  Stability control is managed by software and sensors which are not infallible.  Maybe, somehow, some very particular set of circumstances conspired such that the computer didn’t intervene in time or at all.  It is not possible to test any form of software so completely you eradicate bugs and car software is no exception.

But now it seems the problem is reproducible, either in vehicle-roll or tyre-off-rim form.  The only defence Jeep have is that the car was overloaded, but that hasn’t stacked up under the weight of new evidence.

A suspension engineer mentioned that the GC has very short suspension travel.  This is indeed true as my own testing shows.  Therefore, when the car is loaded and swerved it will quickly run out of suspension flex, hit the bumpstops and the energy is converted to a rolling moment, lifting the wheels instead of just rolling the body relative to the wheels.  I think there could be something in that theory.

However, it should be noted that even if stability control did not kick in the car should have skidded, not rolled, and the tyre should never leave the rim.  So, maybe the chassis engineers, perhaps unintentioinally used the electronics to avoid the need to tune the handling?  It’s possible, as this GC was designed from the ground up with electronic aids, not having them tacked-on aftermarket.  I’ve been thinking a while about how electronics can be used to mask or eliminate traits like lift-off oversteer, chronic understeer and more.   Then if the electronics fail or do not recognise a situation they need to handle, all is laid bare.  I’m not saying that’s the case here, but it is a possibility.

What about modified vehicles ?

This test will lend weight to the view that no vehicle equipped with stability control should be modified with aftermarket suspension, and now possibly even tyres.  If whatever misloading did occur and caused that result, then the argument would be that mud tyres, a slight lift, roofracks and who knows what else could have similar results or worse. There is of course much more to that discussion than a simplistic, reactionary ‘no mods’ edict but that’s a topic for another post.

Is there something special about the Swedish specification?

Maybe, but it’s probably the same underlying issue.  The 265mm, 20″ rim tyres are the same size as the Australian versions, the GVM is the same too.  There would be slight changes to trim specification, and the tyre compound may be different.  There’s also the left-hand-drive and right-hand-drive difference for us in Australia.  But if the Swedish model can’t do these tests, I expect the Aussie model would behave in the same way.  The car, being American, would have been developed as left-hand drive so you’d expect it to work best that way.

The stability control system would have been calibrated on a per-engine basis, so it’d be a little different from engine to engine and perhaps even spec to spec.  Only Jeep know the details.

But if it was unsafe, Jeep would admit it?

Well you’d hope so.   The precedent for this is elk-test results with Mercedes’ own decision with the A-Class, and Toyota with the Hilux in 2007, both of which triggered action by the manufacturer, albeit with a delay by Mercedes.  This it not unusual – manufacturers withdraw cars and issue recalls all the time.  The fact Jeep have chosen not to react in this way means probably means they’re confident the problem does not exist, because it’d be even more embarrasing to have to about-face later.  That’s one theory and my original thinking, but as more evidence comes to light it looks more and more like Jeep are ignoring a problem.  Certainly they’re not providing sufficient evidence for a strong rebuttal.

The media reports seem to side with Jeep?

Yes they do, just swallowing the ‘it was overloaded and therefore unsafe’ line, with the notable exception of Consumer Reports.  And to be fair, most of the stories were written when the mag broke the story with little supporting information.  But since the story has developed most outlets are just rehasing the Jeep press release, copying what it says uncritically.

Initially I too was critical of the magazine’s allegations, but as more evidence appears and Jeep’s only response is three statements, none of which address the real issues, then the weight of evidence has to swing towards supporting the mag’s allegations which do have evidence behind them.

But didn’t a German magazine re-test the Grand and find it safe?

Well, let’s analyse what Jeep’s press release says, how it says what it does and most importantly, what it doesn’t say.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Passes “Moose Test”  Performed by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport

It says the Grand passes a “Moose Test”.  It does not, anywhere, state that the test was the same as the Swedish mag’s.  So, not like-for-like then. We don’t know anything about the test – was it at the same speed ?  Same lane departure and recovery ?  We don’t know, and as you’d think it would be important enough to call out.

An evaluation of the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee by Germany-based magazine Auto, Motor und Sport (AMS) found the vehicle – including its advanced safety systems – performed successfully and as designed.

What’s ‘success’ and what’s ‘as designed’ ?

The Grand Cherokee completed multiple repetitions of an evasive maneuver sometimes known as the “moose test” or “elk test.” The maneuver was performed by an AMS driver at an automotive test site in Germany that is sanctioned by the Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club (ADAC). Course dimensions and layout, checked and approved by AMS, were those set out by the International Standards Organization (ISO).

OK, lots of impressive acronyms here.  ADAC, ISO, AMS and they’re all German which makes it sound all the more impressive.  But again, was this test the same as that in Sweden, and what exactly was the result?

Notably, there’s no video, no photographs, no evidence.   In Varld’s test and retest video was supplied.

Even though the Jeep Grand Cherokee had already passed the first test performed by Auto Motor und Sport, including an avoidance test with releasing the accelerator pedal provoking a load shift, the test was repeated once more by auto motor und sport after the result in Sweden.

This implies the test was not the same as Sweden’s.

Whether loaded with 2 people on board or with the maximum permissible total weight, all four wheels maintained contact with the ground to the greatest possible extent. The tested Jeep did not demonstrate one-sided uplift or, let alone, tipping. This confirms the theory that the Cherokee in Sweden was overloaded.

Here we go with the overloading again – that’s covered above as a non-issue becuase in the first place the car was over GVM by 2%, and for the second set of tests it was within limits and ripped tyres of the rim instead.

So in summary, this retest raises more questions than it answers, and the lack of detail of the test process, video evidence and a continuing absence of any rebuttal to the tyre debeading mean the ball is still very much in Jeep’s court.

 

So what’s the bottom line, is the Grand unsafe?

The magazine says – “the handling of the car is lethal for the average motorist”, according to Daniel Frodin, Editor in Chief at Teknikens Värld. That’s just scaremongering in search of a headline, and I’d expect better from a magazine with that reputation.  But I’d say the handling is not lethal – the Grand certainly does not attempt to kill you at every corner under normal conditions, unlike for example some high-powered utes.

However, there’s now enough evidence to say that the Grand does not perform as well as a modern car should (to quote the mag) in evasive manouvers.  This is indeed a problem as it means that the Grand is not as safe as its peers.  The latest video shows that very nicely indeed.  Jeep need to address this immediately, and provide more information to answer the points I’ve made above.  Right now, I’d say the ball is in their court.

If I owned a Grand now I’d demand answers from my dealer and Jeep HQ, who are no doubt hoping it’ll all blow over.  I would keep driving the car though, it’s not going to kill you at the next corner.  I’d also maybe enrol in a car-control course!  I would not sell the car in panic.

If I was considering buying a Grand I’d put that decision on hold until this is resolved, and hound Jeep HQ and dealers for information.  If you want a Grand, and it is a fine car, then this result shouldn’t necessarily put you off but it should be a consideration.

While the Grand did perform poorly, that was only relative to modern cars.  Some older cars would do as badly, as would highly modified ones.  So it’s all relative.

What now?

This story has a bit further to run before it reaches what I’d call a satisfactory conclusion.    I have asked Chrysler PR a few clarification questions I’ve raised above.  They have been helpful but referred me to the official statement.

More as it happens.

The onus is now on Jeep to prove these claims wrong.

Questions for Jeep

1. What is the exact model/trim level, kerb weight, payload and GVM of the vehicles used in the test?

2. Were the figures supplied to the Swedish motor authorities correct?

3. In the tests with Jeep engineers present:

a) were the vehicles loaded to a total weight of 2949 kg, the specified GVM ?

b) what payload was used ?  was it 470kg?

c) did the Grand Cherokee lift wheels at all, even if not to the extent first seen ?  If so, is this behaviour considered normal ? (the videos do show both inside wheels lifting)

d) were tyres seperated from rims in the tests, and if so, how many out of the total number of runs ?  and is this behaviour considered normal ?

e) the videos supplied show the car over and understeering markedly compared to the XC90 and Touraeg.  Do you consider this an acceptable test result ?

4. What are the differences between the Swedish version of the car and the Australian version ?

5. If the Grand Cherokee is overloaded by 58kg (2% of GVM) then are the near-roll results in the original video reproducible?  If so, do you think this is an acceptable situation ?

6. Was there video shot of the German tests, and if so can we see it, and if not, why not ? If no video was recorded then why not ?

7. Precisely what was involved in the German tests – speeds, lane dimensions, driving style. Varld have detailed their test process.

8. Will the Grand Cherokee be modified as a result of these tests ?

 

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Robert Pepper Automotive journalist specialising in 4X4s, sportscars, camping and future tech.

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