Refined and Luxurious Story & photos by Gerry Frechette
he Jeep Grand Cherokee is the latest in a long line of big, luxury 4x4s wearing the Jeep badge, and in fact, could be said to be celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, if you consider the original Jeep Wagoneer, launched by Willys-Overland Motors in 1963, to be its ancestor. Yes, the traditional Jeep that goes back to mid-century military use is certainly one of the most iconic vehicles ever, but in Jeep’s history, the Wagoneer/Cherokee/Grand Cherokee line is not far behind. The original design lasted 28 years, through 1991, and was the blueprint for all the big SUVs that followed until today. The latest generation of the Grand Cherokee, introduced a few years ago, certainly qualifies as one of those. The latest generation of the Grand Cherokee was introduced a few years ago, and has been a big sales success, given it combines the size and luxury that buyers of SUVs want, and the capabilities of a true Jeep. We were not able to explore those capabilities to the extent we might have liked with the tester we had in the middle of winter, but we came away with many good impressions.
for on-road manners within the constraints of its heavy weight, not so much for outright mechanical proficiency off-road, hence all the high-tech electronics. The Grand Cherokee wouldn’t be a Jeep without a real four-wheel drive system, and this the Overland has, in the form of Quadra Trac-II, which has a two-speed transfer case with low range and variable torque distribution up to 100-percent front or rear. No big lever between the seats, of course, as everything is done at the push of a button. That big 360-horsepower V8 moves the SUV down the road in a hurry, but even taking your time and driving for economy will cost you in fuel consumption. In about 90-percent urban driving over our week with the Jeep, it delivered a rather thirsty 22L/100 km, according to the on-board computer, and that was with a very light right foot for the most part. The Pentastar V6 with five-speed automatic is standard and would deliver slightly better numbers, although on the highway, the Hemi’s ability to shut down half its cylinders narrows the gap considerably from where it is in the city. Trailer-tow capability of up to 3,266 kg (7,200 lb.) is available with the V8, which is backed up by a six-speed automatic. So yes, the Overland is a very capable vehicle, but also very luxurious, as befits its standing atop the line-up. Our tester was trimmed in tan stitched leather with a complementary shade of wood accent
The model tested was the top-of-the-line (not counting the performance SRT8) Overland with the 5.7-litre Hemi V8, and it certainly drove with a great amount of refinement in normal day-to-day operation. Much of that smoothness can be attributed to the Quadra-Lift air suspension, which features five adjustable height settings for on- and off-road use. It operates in conjunction with the Selec-Terrain™ traction control system that lets customers choose the optimum 4x4 setting for any surface, with settings including Sand/Mud, Sport, Auto, Snow and Rock. This combination of technology really sets the Grand Cherokee apart from most of the herd in terms of adapting to conditions. Suspension is far from the old leaf springs and solid front axle, being four-wheel independent. That is great FEB / MAR 2013
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