Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0 CRD V6 Overland
* New Grand Cherokee driven in UK * Priced from 43,995 * On sale now...
What is it? It's the all-singing-all-dancing range-topping version of the new Jeep Grand Cherokee.
What's it like to drive? The 3.0-litre diesel engine produces a healthy 237bhp and 405lb ft of torque. This is put down through a five-speed automatic gearbox, which although fairly smooth is also pretty lethargic in the way it chooses ratios. The fact that there are only five speeds also means that upchanges leave the engine having to work slightly below its comfort zone.
The steering is light enough to make parking manoeuvres easy, but it offers not the slightest hint about how well the front tyres are gripping as you go round corners.
The suspension isn't a big fan of the UK's bumpy roads, either, allowing too many ripples and potholes to shudder their way through the cabin. At least it keeps the body in reasonable control at speed.
Jeep owners should have little fear about taking the Grand Cherokee off-road. It has its own version of Land Rover's Terrain Response system, in which the suspension, differentials and stability control can be configured for various surfaces with just the twist of a dial. This works extremely well.
On the move, wind noise is kept pretty well in check, but there's too much road noise from those large tyres, and the engine is slightly too keen to let you know how hard it's working.
What's it like inside? On paper, the Grand Cherokee seems to stack up. It has everything you could need, including climate control, leather trim, electrically adjustable seats, an electric sunroof and a heated steering wheel.
The problem is, the quality of trims simply doesn't feel worthy of a 43k machine. The dashboard might be trimmed with hide, but it's still unyielding to the touch; the leather on the seats feels more durable than luxurious, and the wood and metallic-effect trims aren't classy enough.
There's decent space in the front and rear seats, but there's not enough room in the driver's footwell. On top of that, there's no footrest for the driver's left foot. This means that you're forced to keep your foot underneath the pedal for the foot-operated parking brake, which sticks out just above the driver's shin.
If you're unlucky enough to have a crash, the first thing your shin will hit is a sharp piece of metal.
The 782-litre boot doesn't seem particularly large, its height is compromised by the fact that there's a full-size spare wheel beneath the floor. The Jeep also has only five seats, whereas many rivals offer at least the option of seven.
Should I buy one? Only if you're a die-hard fan of Jeeps. Otherwise there are much better ways to spend 43k. The Land Rover Discovery is still without peers at this price, and offers a much better driving experience and interior than the Jeep. It would also match it off-road.
If you spend more time on road, you should also look at a BMW X5, which is the sporty option in the class.
What Car? says