Few brands evoke the delights of driving through wide open spaces and the grandeurs of nature more than Jeep. Born in 1941 to liberate the world, it has been the road to freedom for legions of outdoor lovers. Its ruggedness is iconic, its honest solidity is mythical. To embody all that in a present day vehicle which should be thoroughly contemporary is no small feat. The ingeniousness and excellence of Italian engineering saw to that. We drive here the result, a car which altogether reaches the pinnacle of all that Jeep truly stands for: the Grand Cherokee.
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Well proportioned beauty
Italian stylists and designers have an uncanny sense for good proportions. And every inch of the Grand Cherokee is just that. The car looks timelessly elegant from any angle, enhanced further by the well chosen color scheme.
A refined hand also chose the texture, perfected the look and feel of the leather upholstery and dashboard coverings.
The styling of dials and instrument clusters also translates expertly the technical ruggedness of the brand combined with no nonsense purposefulness Jeep stands for. Clearly readable, in timeless lettering, yet being totally electronic in some displays.
The big centre console is finished with luxurious panache and well detailed yet masculine refinement to let you feel unmistakably that you are sitting behind the wheel of a top of the range Jeep.
The selector of the 8 speed auto box fits nicely in your hand, the controls of the AWD system fit snugly under your right hand and are clearly lettered, logical and straightforward even for the novice.
Jeep mechanical tradition honed to perfection...
As the saying goes, driving is believing, and this is certainly true behind the wheel of this Grand Cherokee. Starting it up one is immediately reassured by the confident throb of its big V6 Diesel.
A gentle push on the accelerator and this Cherokee starts moving with velvety smoothness. Immediately one feels its massive mechanical solidity and power. Gears change up imperceptibly as the pace quickens, and one now feels the road clearly through the steering wheel, and enjoys the fine tuned comfortable precision of its suspension.
You don't have to drive fast or far to appreciate right away the well balanced chassis of this Grand Cherokee, honed to perfection by Fiat and Chrysler test drivers and engineers both sides of the pond.
Lest not forget, the same Balocco based test drivers set up the Maserati Quattroporte and steer it through the same bends..
The Grand Cherokee is built on true American soil: they roll of the production line at Jefferson North Assembly Plant (JNAP), Detroit, USA.
We had the privilege to drive on the rugged AWD test track in Balocco at the presentation of the Fiat 500 X, and we can assure you that this track separates the men from the boys. Make no mistake, the Balocco test circuit also contains a state of the art high speed oval "parabolico" along with curvy stretches, so besides the off-road talents the tarmac handling and high speed manners of this Grand Cherokee are also of the highest order.
All this means that this Cherokee is a joy to take out on any road.
Add to this the very well designed seats, fit for those day(s) long treks on smooth and bumpy roads, and you will agree that this Grand Cherokee is set out to win your heart and that of many others.
The drive train is silky smooth, performance is certainly up to the mark with 190 HP or 140 KW strong V6 Diesel of power available at 4.000 rpm and, perhaps more importantly, 440 Nm between 1600 and 2800 rpm. The engine sports the state of the art electronic direct injection, 1,800-bar common-rail, MultiJet II technology. The chain-driven DOHC, four valves per cylinder engine is being built by VM Motori, in Cento, Italy. The engine has a cast-iron block, and aluminum cylinder heads.
The ZF 8 speed gearbox spreads this power expertly over the four wheels, as the “Summit” version which we drove has the so-called QUADRA-DRIVE II transfer case. This is a two-speed, electronically shifted unit, and operates in full-time active 4x4 mode, , AWD Low (Lock) with rear Electronic Limited-Slip Differential. It has variable torque split between front/rear.
The 4WD can work in different modes or setup(s) to suit terrain modes, such as rocks, mud or whatever you may encounter. Downhill assist is of course many of the electronically controlled driving functions, which let you and your Grand Cherokee shine all the way, come what may.
The Grand Cherokee sports further features like the pneumatic Jeep Quadra-Lift suspension and the Selec-Terrain and Selec-Track traction management systems (see above).
Consumption depends very much on your driving style, understandably as this car is big and powerful. Drive it with restraint and some anticipation and it is quite possible to achieve figures of around 8 liter/ 100 km.
Official ECE combined cycle data mention an average consumption of 7.5 liter/100 km. With this 190 HP, 0 to 100 km/h is reached in 10.2 seconds, top speed being 190 km/h.
Built for posh urban boulevards as well as the wide open spaces, this roomy Grand Cherokee is quite practical and fit to meet every demand put by your active and versatile lifestyle. It has vast luggage space, with 782 liters behind the rear seat (to the roof) and 1,554 litres behind the front-row seats with rear seats folded (to the roof).
Luxury is plentiful, with comfortable, leather covered seats, sophisticated infotainment and satellite navigation UConnect system with 8.4" touchscreen.
And there is even more: the Summit vehicles are equipped with a sophisticated Harman Kardon 829 watt audio system with 19 speakers and offer also as a novelty the Active Noise Cancellation technology, which through the Harman Kardon audio system and 4 additional microphones, optimize on board acoustic comfort. Indeed, one can fully enjoy the music in this grandiose Jeep…
The Grand Cherokee combines the best of both worlds: no nonsense ruggedness of the free American (engineering) spirit, aimed at practicality and dependability. Then comes in the Italian modern ingeniousness to hone this solid American to civilized perfection, adding that touch of mechanical refinement and elegance in styling and proportions.
This Grand Cherokee has it all. So if you are looking for a timeless, rugged yet elegant car which takes you on any road and path life has set out for you, this Grand Cherokee is the car for you.
Hans Knol ten Bensel