Jeep Grand Cherokee: Three cheers for Jeep
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Special-Edition Grand Cherokee, Cherokee and Wranglers mark a milestone.
In a market flooded with SUVs of all sizes and widely varying offroad capabilities, a significant anniversary is one way to highlight an established pedigree.
Jeep has a line-up of 75th anniversary Wrangler, Cherokee and Grand Cherokee special editions on sale that celebrate the 1941 birth of the iconic military Jeep and the beginning of the bloodline.
The special edition boasts a unique exterior treatment with some extra cabin detailing, and the opportunity to drive a 3.6-litre V6 version that was a refresher to the Jeep brand and one of its core models.
The tough-looking Grand Cherokee is a five-seat SUV that delivers serious offroad performance and towing capability with appealing comfort and a luxury specification. The engine choices include petrol and diesel V6s plus high-performance V8 alternatives.
The 75th anniversary edition is based on the Limited model - the middle-tier between Laredo and Overland grades -- with V6 petrol and diesel engine choices.
It's available in Bright White or Brilliant Black and is easily identified by its 20-inch alloy wheels in a 10-spoke design finished in contrasting low-gloss bronze.
There's also a revised front fascia and grille while the tow hooks, fog lamp bezels, lower fascia applique, roof rails and badges -- that proclaim "Since 1941" -- continue the low-gloss bronze theme.
Inside, the leather trimmed heated seats are embossed with a 75th anniversary logo and have tangerine accent stitching.
Pricing is $84,990 for the petrol version and the V6 diesel 75th edition is $91,990.
Standard equipment matches the Grand Cherokee Limited highlights of dual zone air conditioning, keyless entry and push-button engine start.
The easy-to-use 8.4-inch U-Connect touchscreen includes navigation and reversing camera display and other features include bi-Xenon headlights, cruise control, rain sensor wipers, tyre pressure monitoring, a powered tailgate, plus heated front and rear seats.
There's a nine-speaker audio system and the interior has a leather-trimmed steering wheel which is power and reach adjustable.
It's been some time since I last sampled the 3604cc Pentastar V6 engine. It delivers a healthy serving of power, ample torque and six-cylinder refinement. It revs eagerly and produces 210kW at 6350rpm while peak torque of 347Nm arrives at 4300rpm.
An important contribution to the powertrain refinement comes from the eight-speed automatic transmission, which shifts with pleasing smoothness and has the close ratios to exploit the V6 power delivery as well as a Sport mode with a sharper shift pattern.
Use the e-Shift paddles and the Grand Cherokee settles at a long-legged 1600rpm in eight gear at 100 km/h and downshifts to 2000rpm in seventh, 2400rpm in sixth and an enthusiastic 3000rpm in fifth with the lively V6 snarl becoming evident.
Jeep claims combined cycle fuel consumption of 10.4L/100km and with no particular effort over a mix of highway and city my average from the test car was 10.6L/100km. That confirms get-away-from-it-all long-range potential thanks to the big 93.5 litre fuel-tank capacity.
The V6 petrol models are rated with a 2800kg braked towing capacity and the 3.0 CRD V6 diesel and 5.7-litre V8 are rated at 3500kg.
Jeep specifies its Quadra-Trac II 4x4 system on this model and the Selec-Terrain system allows the driver to chose from Auto, Snow, Sand, Mud or Rock drive modes to provide stability and traction control responses and the gear shift protocols best suited to the conditions.
Push-button selection of low range and a Hill Descent Control function provides the next step in the offroad capability to accompany the 218mm of ground clearance.
On the highway, the Grand Cherokee shows off a nicely comfortable ride and its light steering offers consistent feel. Plush ride quality is a Grand Cherokee signature and the all-wheel-drive poise plus wide-tyre grip from 265/50 R20 Continental CrossContact radials give it a confident cornering stance.
You sit high in the Grand Cherokee behind a large diameter leather steering wheel and with a commanding view ahead. Driving position is comfortable, with good lower back support and plenty of headroom. The driver's seat offers power cushion height/tilt and slide/recline adjustment with a four-way lumbar support adjuster and a two-position memory.
One downside of the layout is the foot-operated park brake. It's a little clumsy in its operation and annoyingly I bumped my left shin against it on a regular basis.
The wide body design and decent rear legroom makes for comfortable five-seat accommodation with plenty of rear headroom while the 782 litres of load space extends to 1554 litres if the 60/40 split rear seat is folded.
Along with the powered tailgate, the load-carrying conveniences include a roll-out load cover and four sturdy load hooks. A 12-volt outlet and rechargeable torch are provided in the rear.
Driving the 75th anniversary edition was a reminder that the Jeep Grand Cherokee finds a patch of terrain pretty much to itself in the SUV market.
Although five seats limits the Grand Cherokee's family wagon versatility, its price point, strong six-cylinder performance and genuine offroad capability position the Jeep Grand Cherokee neatly between mainstream SUV models such as the Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Ford Everest and Toyota Prado and well below pricier Euro models such as the BMW X5, Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Volkswagen Touareg and Volvo XC 90.