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Driving Impression: Jeep Grand Cherokee 3,0 CRD Overland

27 February 2014

The facelifted Jeep Grand Cherokee 3,0 CRD Overland is one of the best SUVs I’ve ever had the pleasure of driving.

Its best feature is undoubtedly the silky smooth turbocharged V6 diesel engine, which is mated to an equally brilliant eight-speed automatic gearbox. But before we get into that, let’s take a moment to focus on the styling.

I don’t normally comment on the styling of a car as it’s a subjective issue, but in the case of the Grand Cherokee, I’m going to make an exception.

In my opinion, it’s a stunning machine. There’s a quintessential Jeep-ness to the exterior lines, so it’s rugged and tough, but it wouldn’t look out of place parked in front of the most expensive hotel in Sandton. It looks magnificent when it’s clean and shiny, but I suspect it’ll look even better covered in mud.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had the time to explore its off-road abilities, but I’m reliably informed that it can hold its own when the going gets tough. The Selec-Terrain system and an air suspension (with five height settings) are standard fitment in the Overland model. This allows the driver to set the car up perfectly for whatever terrain he/she is driving over. Settings include snow, sand, auto, mud and rock.

I spent all of my time in the Grand Cherokee on the blacktop, where it’s a comfortable and sure-footed runabout. It even has a sport mode for those rare occasions when conditions allow for a bit of enthusiastic driving.

And you can get pretty enthusiastic with 179kW and 569Nm of torque under your right foot. There’s very little turbo lag and once you get past it, the Grand Cherokee simply hurls itself at the horizon. This power also enables it to tow up to 3 500kg.

The performance potential doesn’t come at the expense of fuel consumption. Jeep claims a combined consumption figure of 7,85 l/100km, which gives it a theoretical driving range of over 1 000km between fill ups.

Spending most of my time on tar gave me a chance to play with the standard equipment. The revised centre console houses an 8,4-inch touch-screen display with buttons underneath for the radio and climate control.

The cabin is best experienced from the driving seat, thanks to a leather-wrapped steering wheel with wood trim inserts. I’m also fond of the LCD display behind the steering wheel. It supplies a lot of info and basically allows you to operate everything – from music to phone calls – without taking your eyes of the road.

The only real problem with the new Grand Cherokee is the price, which is strange considering that it used to be a cheaper alternative to the Germans.

A month ago it was retailing at R731 990. Now, thanks to a drastic price increase, it costs R837 990.

That makes it more expensive than an Infiniti Q70 3,0d S Premium, Audi Q7 3,0 TDI, BMW X5 30d, Land Rover Discovery SDV6 SE, Mercedes ML350 BlueTec, Porsche Cayenne Diesel and the new Toyota Prado 3,0 VX. I will, however, say that the Jeep used to feel cheaper than its main rivals, but the facelifted model’s interior is right up there with the best. Perhaps the price is justified after all.

It’s more capable off road than the German cars and almost certainly more generously equipped, but that still leaves the Disco and Prado.

The Prado is almost entirely new, while a facelift for the Discovery is a mere week away.

Perhaps its best to postpone my verdict until I’ve been behind the wheel of all three…