site search by freefind
MotorBar: 1200+ unique in-depth car reviews. Plus travel & destinations, and 1000 DVD and CD reviews. Online for 14 years. Written by experts.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland

Click to view picture gallery“Seventy years on and Jeep has
  just launched its most luxurious
  model so far — the new Grand
  Cherokee...”


THIS LATEST VERSION SITS ON a completely new platform which will be shared with Mercedes-Benz's forthcoming R Class and makes use of a more powerful, much cleaner and more economical powerplant. Pumping out a healthy 237bhp, the Grand Cherokee's 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel unit is a joint development between VM Motori and Fiat Powertrain Technologies who developed the unit's MultiJet cylinder head to produce a less polluting engine.

Jeep's familiar Quadra-Trac II permanent 4WD system is standard fit its sophisticated traction control utilises brakes for ascent and descent assistance; also on hand is Selec-Terrain that allows the driver to choose between Mud, Sport, Snow, Rock or Auto settings at the turn of a dial. High and low ratios can also be selected at the touch of a button. Going anywhere off-trail has never been so easy!

The latest five-seat Grand Cherokee retains visual linkage with the previous series but the new one is slightly wider and longer and the wheelbase is much greater to the benefit of rear legroom. Boot space has grown to 782 litres with the back seats in use and to 1,554 litres with just the front seats occupied. And for those who need it, the maximum braked trailer weight is a very useful 3,500kg.

“The 4x4 legend returns
with an excellent new
engine, rugged off-road
performance,
a comfortable and
well equipped cabin
plus more interior space
and load capacity.
Supplies will be limited
so residual values
should be better too
...”
Only two versions are on sale on the UK: the 36,795 Limited and 43,995 Overland take note that these are both very well equipped compared to much more expensive rivals.

The Grand Cherokee's 'rounded' look offers reduced front and rear overhangs for improved off-road ability (once the lower plastic panels are removed). Inside, there's greater use of soft-feel materials along with wood, leather and chrome with LED highlights.

Offering better support and greater comfort, the new seats feature heating and ventilation (the Limited has front and rear seat heating as standard; the Overland adds ventilated seats as well) along with recline settings for the 60:40 split back seat. Audio fans will appreciate the Cherokee's media-centre which features a touchscreen display and premium sound system with a 30GB hard drive (6,700 song capacity), plays CDs and DVDs, is compatible with Bluetooth and iPods and uses hands-free technology.

Limited models come with keyless Enter-N-Go, dual-zone AirCon, leather upholstery, touchscreen, power seats, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera and 18-inch alloy wheels while Overland versions additionally have a better grade of leather, SatNav, adjustable air suspension, uprated brakes, a powered tailgate, ventilated seats, panoramic sunroof, adaptive cruise control and a heated steering wheel and these are just the highlights.

A five-speed automatic transmission is fitted and performance is good 62mph from standstill in 8.2 seconds on the way to a maximum speed of 126mph; expect around 34mpg in the combined cycle.

These new Grand Cherokee models will spearhead the brand's return to the UK under Fiat ownership. The present 46 dealers will be gradually increased to 70 by the end of 2012, and then onto a predicted maximum of 90 by 2014 when a much wider range will be in showrooms. This year Jeep should sell about 450 Grand Cherokee models, rising to 2,000 in a full year and three-quarters of them will be the better-specced Overland.

The new Cherokee is a striking-looking 4x4 that cleverly masks its real size climb aboard and you will be impressed by the room, especially that available to rear passengers.

“The new Grand
Cherokee is a striking-
looking 4x4 that cleverly
masks its real size —
climb aboard and you
will be impressed by the
room, especially that
available to rear
passengers
...”
The sensible and large load space and the well-shaped seats give the impression this is a 4x4 for occupants rather than just the driver alone, an impression bolstered by good climate control throughout the cabin.

Start-up is prompt, there's good pulling power and changes in auto or manual modes are all very smooth. On the launch test drive, through Derbyshire and parts of the West Midlands, 33mpg was effortlessly achieved.

So refined is the Cherokee's powertrain that road noise from the big wheels and tyres seems more noticeable; the entry-level Limited version also has appreciably stiffer suspension than the quieter Overland's smoother adjustable air system.

Off-road, the ability to increase the Cherokee's ground clearance proved useful and easily done and although the power came in easily and abundantly I thought the hill descent actuation was not very smooth on its own and better achieved with a gentle application of brakes as well.

So the 4x4 legend returns, under Fiat's control, and improved in most ways with an excellent new engine, rugged off-road performance, a comfortable and well equipped cabin with more interior space and load capacity. Supplies will be limited so residual values should be better than before.

But it's not quite perfect the hill descent control is indifferent, the steering vague and the self centring is too strong. At times the ride can be unsettled and bouncy with some body roll and road tax is high due to the level of tailpipe emissions. However, Jeep has a good name among both owners and the trade and when lined up against rivals that initially cost more but give less, the Grand Cherokee is clearly highly specified. — Robin Roberts


Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland | 43,995
Maximum speed: 126mph | 0-62mph: 8.2 seconds | Overall Test MPG: 33mpg
Power: 237bhp | Torque: 405lb ft | CO2 218g/km