THE Jeep name is legendary. Few can lay claim to what Jeep has – being the creators of what we know today as the Sports Utility Vehicle, or SUV.
We tested the Grand Cherokee, now offered with a diesel engine, and our lingering impression of the vehicle was positive. Driving the Grand Cherokee through Nelspruit – where the weather conditions were not so favourable, offered a real adventure and gave us the opportunity to really see how the Jeep fared on tough, potholed terrain.
Most people buying the Jeep Grand Cherokee are proably quite unlikely to ever venture out onto the real rough stuff, but it is assuring to know that it boasts serious off-road technology and capability, if you need it.
The styling of the Grand Cherokee is a positive point. We love its sporty, muscular elements – it is a vehicle that is going to look appropriate, cruising through the city, thanks to its shiny large alloy wheels, and chrome embellishments. You can easily picture this car being driven by a big-time rapper – the Grand Cherokee certainly has presence in heaps.
Get inside the Grand Cherokee, and you’re greeted by a plush ambience. Quality and finish is hard to fault, and we think this is a bona fide luxury vehicle. The steering wheel has a thick piece of wood in the contre of the rim, and even the dashboard has been clad in a lovely-to-touch leather material. On a long journey, you would not be disappointed by comfort levels in the Grand Cherokee. The seats are like big, supportive armchairs, and they even have heating and ventilation systems, keeping you warm or cool, no matter what the climate outside may be.
And then there’s the excitement brought by the Grand Cherokee’s infotainment systems. It’s got a touch screen interface, which adds major cool factor to the interior – it’s a feature that will certainly impress your friends. The Grand Cherokee has accomodation for your USB device and music players; you can even load pictures onto its hard drive.
The Grand Cherokee has a distinctively car-like feel on the road. It’s surprising that you can handle the bends with confidence – even in something of this size. Cruising through some of Nelspruit’s poor roads was a pleasure in the Grand Cherokee, as it absorbs imperfections, offering a supple, yet assuringly stable ride.
This new diesel engine is an absolute gem. Power delivery is smooth, and it gives an immediate punch, as soon as you hit the accelerator. It makes the Grand Cherokee feel genuinely fast. And the best part is that even if you have a heavy foot, you can still enjoy decent economy. The fuel range hardly decreased, even after a full day of driving around, fully using all the power it had to give.
The engine was developed by Fiat Powertrain and VM Motori. It is a 3-litre V6 turbodiesel, and it serves up 177-kilowatts and a whopping 550 Newton metres of torque. Another point where this engine scores, is the fact that it has been designed to run on our 500ppm diesel fuel – so you probably won’t have any issues on a long journey, where quality diesel may not be available at just any garage.
Finally, there’s the price. This Grand Cherokee diesel starts off at R599 990 – and yes, that it quite a bit of money. But it makes sense when you think about all the standard features they throw in with the vehicle. On Germal rivals, there are many features that you would have to pay for, that come standard in this. Couple that logic with its brilliant engine, and the Grand Cherokee diesel is a buy that you can justify.