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Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0 CRD V6 Overland

Click to view picture gallery“Theres a lot more to the latest
  Grand Cherokee than it
s handsome
  body
under the skin this Jeep
  is all new... and seriously better than
  any previous Grand Cherokee!”


NOW BEING BUILT back in the good old US of A, the Grand Cherokee's seven-slot grille and 'classic' trapezoidal wheel arches make it instantly recognisable as a Jeep. Albeit dressed up with eye-catching looks and a muscular presence that makes it far more distinctive that any Cherokee that's gone before.

Thankfully our Americans cousins have kept it simple for us Brits — in fact, the Grand Cherokee line-up couldn't be much simpler. Because on this side of The Pond there are just two choices: rich man, poor man — the £36,795 Limited and the über-specced £43,995 Overland, both powered by a new 237bhp 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel.

And it's full of surprises, some that can't be seen. For a start, structural rigidity is up by a massive 146%. And in spite of being longer, wider and taller, as well as stronger and better specified, it's lighter than the old Grand Cherokee, tipping the scales at 2,272kg.

“Don’t think that the auto
diminishes the Grand
Cherokee’s genuine off-
road ability — it doesn
t because it’s aided
by generous ground
clearance, proper
low-range gears and a
‘dial up’ Selec-Terrain
system for any on- or
off-road situation
...”
Whichever trim level your wallet let's you buy, it will be powered by a 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel that pumps out 237bhp alongside a hefty 405lb ft of torque, put down on the road through all four wheels via a standard-fit five-speed automatic transmission. The auto 'box is happy to obey manual shift orders (made by moving the selector lever sideways: a nudge to the left takes you down a gear; to the right moves you up one) and the shift quality, both auto and manual, is good 'n' smooth.

And don't think that the auto diminishes the Grand Cherokee's genuine off-road ability either, because it's aided by generous ground clearance, proper low-range gears and a Selec-Terrain system which allows the driver to 'dial up' the most appropriate of five modes for any on- or off-road situation, taking in Sand/Mud, Snow, Rock, Auto, and Sport.

The Overland model maximises its off-road ability with Quadra-Lift air suspension which can increase the normal ride height from 8.1 inches to 10.7 of ground clearance, or lower it by 1.5 inches (Park mode) for easier entry/exit and roof rack loading.

Jump in, push the Start button (both version have Keyless Enter-N-Go) and drive around the block and you'll quickly discover that this new generation rides amazingly well: the air suspension soaks up all kinds of road flaws, making for unruffled progress — amazingly so, given the 20-inch wheels and their equally large 265/50 rubber.

On tarmac, the 'air sprung' Overland model's body control is good and the chassis feels nicely composed with decent grip even running duel-purpose tyres. Adding to the ease of driving is an impressively tight turning circle, and steering accurate enough to make threading the Grand Cherokee through tightly packed traffic a stroll in the park. And when you need to shave off some speed or even stop suddenly, the brakes are strong — reassuringly so.

“Jeep’s ‘get the job
done whatever’
provenance is long-
established — its roots
stretch back to
before Land Rovers first
rode the Earth;
all the way back to
the early years of World
War Two
...”
The new turbodiesel powerplant runs pretty quietly (no noticeable diesel noises; just the agreeable sounds of a large capacity engine) and, thanks to its fat torque, there's a solid swell of 'grunt' (405lb ft at 1,800rpm) for clean overtaking manoeuvres — 0-62mph takes 8.2 seconds. And all that torque comes in equally useful when you need some engine braking.

On the move, mechanical noises are well suppressed keeping it refined inside, which adds to its easy mile-eating character — cruising motorways you could easily be in an expensive upmarket saloon. And should you need to tow a horsebox, boat or the like, the Grand Cherokee pulls a significant 3,500kg.

Jeep's 'get the job done whatever' provenance is long-established — its roots stretch back to before Land Rovers first rode the Earth; all the way back to the early years of World War Two. Not surprisingly, the Grand Cherokee is as capable off-road as when it's driving over blacktop.

There's a rash of road-biased Sport Utility Vehicles around these days but few can hack it in the rough stuff. Unlike many soft-roaders, Jeep has retained a low-ratio transfer box in the Grand Cherokee; and it shows off-road — the Grand Cherokee can clamber over quite nerve-racking obstacles and claw its way through deep mud that would defeat many. As you'd expect, wearing a Jeep badge, its legitimate go-anywhere ability earns it an honourable place on the short list of 'real McCoy' SUVs.

Ask most people looking at a Grand Cherokee for the first time to guess its likely average fuel consumption and most would probably say "twenty if you're lucky" — the official figure is actually 34mpg; with 27.4 urban and 39.2mpg extra urban. A week of mixed driving with a lot of town work thrown in saw a real-world average of 26.8mpg.

“There’s only one stalk
on the column —
it’s on the left, and it
operates everything that
most cars use
two stalks to manage.
Like the Cherokee’s
foot-operated parking
brake, it’s different — but
you’ll adapt to it very
quickly
...”
The cabin is an appealing and spacious place in which to travel. It's trimmed to a high standard and there's plenty of leather, wood, chrome highlights and LED lighting to set a welcome ambience. A panoramic glass sunroof floods the cabin with light. The front section features express one-shot tilt 'n' slide and there's also a one-touch sunshade to keep things cool on summer days. Your passengers will also find plenty of comfort in the big seats along with huge amounts of space in all directions.

The driver, in particular, is well looked after with a power adjustable and heated multifunction steering wheel, along with the same supportive and comfortable heated (and cooled!) 8-way power-adjustable seat as is fitted for his or her front passenger.

There's also power lumbar adjustment as well as a two-position memory for the driver's personal seat, wheel and mirror settings. Door mirrors are of a good size, heated and powerfold, and the front seatbelts are height adjustable. Comfortable you will be!

The wheel's upper rim is of smart lacquered dark wood with leather for the rest and its thickness makes it easy to hold and pleasant to use. There's only one stalk on the column; on the left — and it operates everything that most cars use two stalks to manage. Like the Cherokee's foot-operated parking brake, it's different — but you'll adapt to it very quickly. Needless to say, there are plenty of generous storage spaces throughout the cabin.

The 3D touchscreen SatNav is sited centrally at the top of the centre stack for maximum visibility and switches to view the feed from the rear-mounted parking camera whenever reverse gear is engaged, backed up by front and rear audible sensors. The media centre plays DVDs as well as CDs and can store 6,700 of your favourite tracks. There's a compass but you don't need you know how to navigate by one because — a nice touch, this — the SatNav's off-road 'trail' facility will map your outward journey then retrace your steps back from the wilderness at the press of a button. Also handy is a voice-input 'memo' facility.

“Accessing the sizeable
boot (782 litres) calls
for nothing more arduous
than pressing a button
or plipping the remote —
the tailgate features
powered opening and
closing
...”
The driving position is commanding with A1 views in all directions although the substantial C-pillars do hinder rear three-quarter visibility. However, from behind the wheel the Grand Cherokee is easily placeable. There is also a mass of room in the back (and two-stage heated seats!) for tall passengers. Plus it's even pretty comfy for a third in the piggy-in-the-middle spot.

Accessing the sizeable boot (782 litres) calls for nothing more arduous than pressing a button or plipping the remote — the tailgate features powered opening and closing. The mid-thigh level boot floor also has a hidden benefit: a full-size spare wheel rather than one of the ubiquitous 'tyre repair kits' that aren't much use on the road, let alone off-road. It also houses two deep — and handy — lift out storage bins.

If you need more luggage space, the 60:40 split-fold rear seat can be folded simply by pulling on either rear seat's backrest adjustment lever at the side of each seat, expanding the loadbay to a flat-floored 1,554 litres.

There's not enough space here to list all the equipment you get with the range-topping Overland version. Suffice to say, it's kit- and equipment-rich, so you can take for granted SatNav (with a 6.5-inch touchscreen display and a 30GB hard drive with a 6,700 song capacity), excellent Alpine surround sound hi-fi, blind spot and rear cross path detection, heated and cooled front seats, leather upholstery, four one-shot up/down electric windows, 2Zone climate control, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control, auto-dimming mirror, Quadra-Trac II 4WD, Quadra-Lift air suspension, hill descent control (for controlled 'no-fear' descents on rough or slippery slopes), hill start assist, iPod interface, keyless entry and start, panoramic sunroof, bi-xenon headlights, parking camera with front and rear sensors, power-adjustable steering column, power-adjustable heated steering wheel, electrically-operated heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, etc, etc.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is an all-purpose, full-size SUV at a competitive price — a price that pitches it well against the likes of Land Rover's Discovery and Toyota's Land Cruiser. Along with the Jeep heritage, it's also an easy driver with decent performance both on- and off-road, is stacked high with equipment and boasts polished looks. O lucky man! — MotorBar

Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0 CRD V6 Overland | £43,995
Maximum speed: 126mph | 0-62mph: 8.2 seconds | Overall test MPG: 26.9mpg
Power: 237bhp | Torque: 405lb ft | CO2 218g/km