Jeep Grand Cherokee

3.0 CRD V6 S-Limited

Jeep Grand Cherokee S-Limited
Jeep Grand Cherokee, gear lever
Jeep Grand Cherokee, interior
Jeep Grand Cherokee, reversing camera display
Jeep Grand Cherokee, sunroof
Jeep Grand Cherokee, overhead controls
Jeep Grand Cherokee, boot

LAND Rover makes much of the fact it is the quintessential original off-roading manufacturer but it's worth pointing out that Jeep actually got there first.

It was the US Army's Second World War go anywhere 4x4 that set the ball rolling and furthermore it was a vehicle that contributed in no small way to the Allies' victory in 1945.

It should be noted Land Rover's Series One was pretty much a Jeep copycat but such was its popularity and the success of the company subsequently that bizarrely the tables have ended up turning somewhat.

Not that long ago as part of the ailing Chrysler empire Jeep found itself being shoved from pillar to post before finding a new home under the umbrella of Fiat.

While the firm is still getting back on its feet I suspect it's in the right place to go forward, certainly when it comes to being part of a strong automotive giant and benefiting from the investment that is needed these days to bring new models to market.

The Grand Cherokee was always up there with the best when it came to sought-after SUVs, maybe not on a par with the Range Rover but certainly able to give the likes of the Discovery or Japan's finest a run for their money.

At some point it somehow lost its way, fading away into relative obscurity. The last generation version certainly proved fairly anonymous.

But the latest model represents a real return to form and if it's anything to go by then the brand has a bright future to look forward to.

For a start it looks good, managing to combine traditional chunky design lines with a touch of contemporary style. It's sufficiently rugged yet comfortable and versatile too. You can imagine it being equally at home traversing the Arizona desert in 100 degree heat or engaged on a suburban UK school run on a rain-sodden day in September.

The comfort factor is enhanced by a level of refinement that is admirable and it represents a real step up from its predecessor.

In terms of practicality it is significantly bigger too with a really open feel throughout the cabin.

One of my bugbears about so-called large family-friendly SUVs is that rear seat passengers sometimes seem to be an after-thought with hardly any legroom.

The Grand Cherokee offers a more than generous amount and there's acres of boot space too. The rear seats also fold down with an impressive degree of ease, meaning using it as the ultimate van-like load-lugger is a breeze.

Despite its bulk the Grand Cherokee is an easy car to drive. Considering it is a veritable truck it actually has a light and nimble feel and great visibility all round adds much to ease of manoeuvring.

The 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine that comes courtesy of Fiat is also a real asset. Smooth, potent and splendidly refined it suits the car well.

It's reasonably economical too, though the ease of operation offered by its five-speed automatic transmission probably doesn't help much when it comes to delivering frugality. You'll certainly do well to get close to the 34mpg official combined figure.

There's a choice of trim levels - Limited, Limited-S or Overland (unless you fancy the £60,000 ridiculously impractical but super-quick 6.5-litre SRT8) - and a standard feature is the Quadra-Trac ll all wheel drive system with Selec-Terrain control.

It features a variety of modes such as snow, rocks, sand and mud and ride height and engine mapping are altered accordingly. As I had no extreme conditions to encounter I alternated between the automatic/normal and sport modes.

Given it's a big vehicle there's an element of pitch and roll when it comes to handling but if you want to make swift progress the sport mode lowers the ride height and tightens things up sufficiently to offer more than acceptable driving dynamics.

Overall I liked the Grand Cherokee a lot and it makes for a good modern take on the traditional SUV concept.

FAST FACTS

Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0 CRD V6 S-Limited

Price: £44,595

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: 40                                         

C02 emissions: 218g/km

Bik rating: 35%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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