JEEP sales in Europe last year were up by nearly 62 per cent and playing its part in this success story has been the all new Grand Cherokee which is a very formidable premium 4x4 that combines all that is best from the legendary American firm now owned by Fiat, writes Bryan Longworth.
Jeep 4x4s helped to win the Second World War but in recent years the company has gone through a rather difficult period and the previous Grand Cherokee model came under fire from some critics although I did not consider it all that bad.
Now, however, Jeep is part of the massive Fiat empire which also owns brands like Ferrari and the latest Grand Cherokee has been praised as being one of the top premium SUVs that include competitors such as the Land Rover Discovery.
The new Grand Cherokee is the first vehicle on the market to be built on a brand new platform co-developed with Mercedes Benz that will also be used in next generation Mercedes vehicles.
And Grand Cherokee’s all new 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel engine which has been built by VM Motori and developed by Fiat provides the iconic Grand Cherokee with an ideal power unit linked with a five speed automatic transmission.
For the record the engine provides a top speed of 126mph, a zero to 62mph time of 8.2 seconds, a combined fuel consumption of 34mpg and CO2 emissions of 218g/km.
This engine powered my test car the Grand Cherokee 3.0 CRD V6 Overland costing £44,995 that has Quadra-Lift air suspension and the all terrain traction control system which enables the driver to electronically choose the ideal setting for driving through difficult conditions such as sand and snow.
When I took the Grand Cherokee for off road driving I raised the suspension to make sure the vehicle safely cleared obstacles such as large rocks and when I drove through a stream - press a switch and low ratio gears are engaged for traversing really dodgy surfaces.
The rather chunky steering wheel which can be heated in winter takes a bit of getting used to but helps the driver to get a good grip on steering the big vehicle for both on and off road driving and the air suspension provides a high level of ride comfort.
Grumbles - I would have thought Jeep would have fitted an electronic parking brake instead of the foot operated brake which is now a bit dated and not very easy to use by some disabled drivers and I felt the outside driving mirrors while being very large could present vision problems especially the one on the driver’s side.
With its 20 inch alloy wheels the Grand Cherokee Overland is an impressive and very refined premium sport utility vehicle (SUV) with a lot of street appeal and it is just as enjoyable to drive on the motorway or on serious off road terrain.
My Verdict: A Grand Cherokee to be proud of.