By Mike Torpey on 2012-10-06 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
3.0 CRD Overland
SHE probably isn't alone in this, but my wife is obsessed with the weather. To be more specific the weather forecast, on every TV channel.
It's almost as if she's on first name terms with the forecasters as she tries to pinpoint the exact arc of the curve that separates us (rain and wind) from them (heat and sunshine).
And on the days when we leave our gloomy little corner of the world - on advice from John, Jay, Sian or Becky of course - in search of that golden orb, guess what happens.
Right first time, they get it wrong and somewhere midway between here and there the weather systems swop places and we get drenched.
I mean biblically drenched. The drains can't cope, mud slides like lava into the road and if, like us, you have to cross both a field and ford, then forget it.
Well, unless you have a 4x4 - a big, full-blown mud-plugging off-roader like the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
A defining moment in the history of the Cherokee native Americans was in 1838 when gold was discovered in the Appalachian mountains and the tribes were rounded up and forcibly sent on what became the Trail of Tears, a painful and costly winter trek west.
The vehicle named after these brave, resourceful Indians would have no such difficulty, and the latest generation is by far its best yet.
Jeep has endured struggles of its own, parent company Chyrsler having suffered financial meltdown before forming an association with Italian giant Fiat, who have provided the 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine powering the Grand Cherokee.
These cars have always shown superior ability, but the latest ‘Grand' has also upped the ante in terms of its overall refinement - to the point that it's a genuine rival to the likes of the Range Rover Sport and VW Touareg.
Longer, wider, more spacious and claiming an average 34 miles per gallon, though the best I got was 29.6, it comes in a choice of Limited or high-spec Overland trim and a 237bhp V6 turbodiesel engine mated to five-speed automatic transmission.
Both models feature Jeep's Quadra-Trac ll all wheel drive system with the multi-mode Selec-Terrain control which alters ride height and engine mapping for optimum traction in conditions like snow, rocks, sand and mud.
There's hill descent control backed up by a braking traction system, the Jeep's ride height can be varied by a maximum of four inches and the car has a wading depth of 20-inches - ideal for swollen fords.
On-road performance is smooth, the only real intrusion being some road rumble from the 20-inch alloys and in Overland trim the appointment is top notch, with everything from sat-nav and rear view camera to adaptive cruise control, air suspension and blind spot alerts.
Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0 CRD Overland
Mechanical: 237bhp, 2,987cc, 6cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 5-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 126mph
0-62mph: 8.2 seconds
Combined MPG: 34
Insurance Group: 36
C02 emissions: 218g/km
Bik rating: 35%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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