I'm a huge fan of the Jeep Grand Cherokee; it's a big lug of an SUV with as equally big attitude. It's one of those 'gets the job done' 4x4 SUV's that copes with just about everything you throw at it.
Styling wise, the latest generation of the American workhorse is beefier than ever. There's more chrome than on a chav-lads kitted up Corsa, unlike the aforementioned chav-wagon though, the chrome is purposeful and enhances the sporty yet masculine edge.
Comfort is, as always with Jeep, fantastic and offers enough space for 'Slone Rangers' to take 'Tabitha' and 'Tamara' (their genetically-enhanced-to-perfection brats) and equally spoilt friends on jolly days out. Thanks to the optional extra drop down widescreen TV / DVD player for the rear seats, you can keep even the most hyper of your 18yr old club-loving-disco-drama-queen friends entertained in the back, on the longest of journeys. It also comes as standard with a full leather interior, including heated rear passenger seats, ensuring that now all passengers can have the toastiest of bums on a cold winter morn. Sitting in the drivers seat is fairly reminiscent of sitting in a big leather armchair, its soooo comfortable and supportive, which is pretty much the case regardless of which seat you're in. Rear legroom is great and the cavernous boot will swallow massive amounts of luggage, shopping and assorted paraphernalia. The dark tinted rear windows not only make the Cherokee more than a bit 'Gangsta' they also ensure passer-by's cant see your valuables on display.
Specs on the top level Overland model I tested were superb, with more electronic toys and gadgets than a Curry superstore. Full colour touch screen Sat Nav and 'MyGig' audio system, complete with outstanding Boston Speakers is standard. The system comes with a handy iPod / MP3 docking lead in the glove box, to keep you Touch or Nano out of sight from prying eyes. The system also means that you can fully control all of your music from the steering wheel mounted control, that's unless of course you want to burn your CD's to the incorporated 30GB hard-drive within the system, giving you hours of music without the need to ever put a CD in again. The Sat Nav, unlike some systems, is spot on with directions and never loses you, regardless of how far across the field you are lol.
Performance from the 3.0L CRD Diesel engine is good, you wont win any races off the lights against the likes of an X5 or Cayenne, but they wouldn't leave you standing (I know we've tested it! Lol). Fuel economy isn't bad, but it isn't the best either; however, we were getting a healthy 30+ mpg on the motorway and a not so great 19+ round town. It's worth pointing out though that this is a heavy SUV, so compared with a lot of other SUV's; it's on the better side of not great.
The 3.0L Turbocharged V6 has great low down power and torque, kicking out a more than healthy 215bhp and does (when you put your foot down at standstill) launch the Grand Cherokee forward in a huge surge of power.
Now the place the Jeep Grand Cherokee really does excel is off-road, with its multiple off-road gadgets and gizmo's, settings and Hill Descent Control (now comes as standard on diesel models) designed to mimic the safe downhill control offered by the ultra-low gearing usually found in hard-core off-road vehicles like the Jeep Wrangler. If you think your one of these people that will never use all of these off-road gadgets, think again. Driving up or down ice or snow covered roads becomes much safer with 4x4 and Hill Descent Control, while anyone who has ever towed anything in wet and slippery road conditions will appreciate the benefits of being able to control speed down a steep hill. Quadra-Drive II® 4X4 system is also standard on the Grand Cherokee Overland. The 4wd system takes Jeeps unparalleled off-road capability to an even higher level by providing full-time active four-wheel drive, on and off road.
The Quadra-Drive II® system incorporates Electronic Limited Slip Differentials (ELSD) — front, centre and rear — to offers the ultimate in off-road capability with even quicker response to changing conditions and greater torque capacity.
With Quadra-Drive II, Jeep Grand Cherokee is the only vehicle in the market that offers an electronic engagement of torque biasing for the front axle, as well as the rear. Therefore, the torque transfer is faster, and almost 100 per cent of the torque can be distributed to any of the four wheels.
The system instantly detects tyre slip and smoothly distributes engine torque to the tyres with traction. In some cases, the vehicle will even anticipate low traction and adjust to proactively limit or eliminate tyre slip. By splitting the torque 48 per cent front and 52 per cent rear in dry, good traction conditions and varies automatically depending on road conditions. It takes input from a variety of sensors to determine tyre slip at the earliest possible moment and take corrective action.
So overall, quality is great, top marks for comfort, power is more than acceptable and off-road it's excellent, not to mention the price, at £35,400 for the Grand Cherokee Overland it's an absolute bargain! Well worth testing if your in the market for a big SUV.