Driving Aid Technologies
The Grand Cherokee that we tested came with the Advanced Technology Group package. The $1700 option includes adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with mitigation, advanced brake assist, and blind spot and rear cross path detection systems to help avoid collisions. For its class, this is a pretty typical suite of driving aids. As always, while they're there to help you, by all means, focus on the road and don't rely on these technologies to protect you from distracted driving.
Once a flagship feature only available on luxury cars, adaptive cruise control is now a checklist option on a great many cars. Bear in mind that there a couple of implementations, though. There's the standard adaptive cruise control and the full-speed range (some companies call it low-speed follow) system. The Grand Cherokee, unfortunately, sports the former.
Jeep deploys a radar-based system developed by Bosch. The sensor is right in the middle of the lower grille. This somewhat camouflages it, though it's still very noticeable up close. At least the placement is symmetrical with the front of the car. Here's the thing: the Grand Cherokee's system only works at speeds above 20 MPH. This is fine in regular traffic, but won't help you if you're stuck in bumper-to-bumper gridlock.
Actually using the system is a little odd, too. The Grand Cherokee's steering wheel exposes a separate set of controls dedicated to adaptive cruise, while retaining the standard cruise control system's buttons. We're not entirely sure why Jeep doesn't just enable adaptive cruise using the standard cruise control's buttons, adding one for distance. Nor do we understand why anyone would want to use standard cruise after shelling out cash for the adaptive technology.
Overall, the system does its job well. It speeds up smoothly and predictably. Slowing down is smooth as well, though to achieve this the Grand Cherokee can only apply up to 25-percent of its braking power, or simply coast. Thus, throughout testing, the SUV never jerked our necks. We were consequently pleased with its performance.
Jeep also leverages the front-mounted radar for its forward collision warning with crash mitigation system. This sounds off audible alerts and flashes a warning in the gauge cluster to grab your attention when the vehicle in front of you abruptly stops. Forward collision warning also engages the brakes if it detects an imminent crash. We were able to trigger the system's warning a couple of times, though we understandably were none too eager to test automatic braking.
It used to be that anti-lock brakes were a big selling feature. Nowadays, this is standard functionality, and since most cars have brake-by-wire systems, the computer exerts a lot more influence over the braking system. Advanced Brake Assist is one such feature made possible by these advancements. Naturally, during typical driving, the Grand Cherokee’s brakes function normally. Should you panic-brake, the system applies maximum braking power, regardless of how far in the pedal is pushed in order to stop the car as quickly as possible. Coupled with ABS, Brake Assist can theoretically stop the car faster than a human.
Blind spot detection is fairly typical; you get a visual warning on each side mirror when another vehicle is in your blind spot. If another car is detected while your signal is on, the Grand Cherokee sounds off an audible warning to get your attention. This is a particularly appreciated feature in an SUV as tall as the Grand Cherokee because it helps pick up lowered cars hidden below the belt line. Rear cross detection works similarly, though it's designed to detect objects approaching from the rear. That capability is useful in busy parking lots, though you should still turn around to look before backing out of your spot.