Jeep Grand Cherokee

3.0 CRD Summit

Jeep Grand Cherokee side static
Jeep Grand Cherokee front action
Jeep Grand Cherokee full front action
Jeep Grand Cherokee rear static
Jeep Grand Cherokee tall
Jeep Grand Cherokee rear action
Jeep Grand Cherokee boot
Jeep Grand Cherokee dash

LET'S talk sweeping generalisations; Americans like big engines in their cars and don't worry too much about fit and finish.

We Europeans, on the other hand, like our cars well built and economical, especially with fuel prices heading for outer space.

And for decades those two sets of differences were obvious every time the Americans tried to sell a car this side of the Atlantic; a few of us had the money to feed their cars' thirst and some of us didn't mind a build quality the wrong side of a DIY project.

Well, things are changing. Even an American driver worries about the cost of a fill up these days and exposure to the better European machines has developed a taste in cars that make an owner proud to be seen in one.

It's hard to think of a brand more closely linked with the States than Jeep, the builder of tough machines that will go places a well trained tank driver might hesitate over.

But even Jeep, now controlled by Fiat in Italy, is aiming to please European purchasers with cars that compete with the best on performance and economy and don't look shabby inside any more.

The shining example of this newish way of thinking comes in the muscular but gently understated shape of the latest Jeep Grand Cherokee, with refreshed looks at the front and deeper changes inside and under the skin.

Most important are Fiat inspired revisions to the big diesel engine that powers almost every Euro-bound Grand Cherokee; a vastly powerful petrol V8 is available but will be bought by almost nobody here.

The diesel is now more economical and, bolted to a new eight speed automatic transmission, gives this big, heavy car a spritely turn of speed and the possibility of decent economy with sensible use of the right foot.

It's up there with the likes of Land Rover's Discovery on both performance and consumption and feels genuinely swift when the super-smooth gearbox is prodded into changing down.

Even more surprising, with memories of wobbly riding Jeeps of old, was an air sprung suspension system that coped beautifully with a host of road surfaces, only going temporarily to pieces on a stretch ribbed by submerged tree roots.

Inside, the changes are aimed at banishing the built down to a price feel of too many American cars. It's a partial success, with smart leather on the seats and a new and delightfully legible instrument panel, quite the equal of anything from, say, Mercedes.

Only some oddly open-grained wood trim in black let the side down, even if a step up from the horrid and obviously plastic 'wood' we used to see in upmarket American autos.

Where there's no denying the Grand Cherokee's strength is in what you get for your money. The range starts at £36,995 for the Laredo version, the only one with a depowered version of the diesel engine fitted across the range.

You guess it's there to make the entry price look enticing but suspect more buyers will go for the £49,495 Summit that tops the diesel range and comes dripping with kit.

Highlights include a high tech four-wheel drive system, Harmon Kardon hi-fi that would fill the Albert Hall, electric seats, intelligent cruise control that keeps you a safe distance from the car in front and a sat nav displayed on a big screen that's a model of clarity.

It adds up to comfortably the most European feeling off-roader from Jeep and worthy of shortlisting against its obvious rival from Solihull.

 

 

FAST FACTS

Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0 CRD Summit

Price: £49,495

Mechanical:247 bhp, 2,987cc, 6-cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 8-spd automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 126 mph

0-62mph: 8.2 secs

Combined MPG: 43

Insurance Group:54.3

C02 emissions: 198 g/km

Bik rating: 34%

Warranty:3yrs/60,000 miles

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