When I started to write this review I assumed that it would be more of a car/weather match. You see, my friends at Jeep NZ kindly loaned me the Jeep Grand Cherokee during a particular Icy snap that Auckland had been part of (yes I know it was nothing like South Island weather) and hopping inside a seemingly bulletproof off-roader with piping hot heated seats and hand warming heated steering wheel was a perfect shelter from the buffeting wind and sideways rain. However, it became quickly apparent to me that this review should be more about the Jeep’s size, it’s really rather large.
It’s not simply a case of dimensions, although that’s a good place to start. It’s length 4.82M, width 1.94M, and weight 1.8M all add up to some impressive road real estate. The model I was loaned came in a dark walnut brown colour that doubled as a sinister black at night (made even more so with the tinted privacy glass). It sports a modern grille, daytime running lamps, projector fog lights, door mirrors that dwarf your palm, a capless fuel (um) cap and a power tailgate.
Sitting on 20” Alloys meant that a guy of my stature had to climb up into the SUV to drive – which isn’t a bad thing (although my son felt the need to use climbing equipment – well the interior handle anyway).
The interior is I guess as expected; expansive, with big and inviting (Capri leather clad) furniture. The wood accents and chrome detailing gives the off-roader a real sense of grandeur, after all, if you’re going to get out in great beyond, there’s no need to rough it. Front and centre is a bold and intuitive 8.4” touchscreen that (amongst other things) houses Jeep’s Uconnect (5.0) system giving access to climate, 9-Speaker Alpine Sound System, Bluetooth connections, Navigation and Jeep Off-Road Pages (which I didn’t get to use this time around)
However, something I did use was under the chunky big bonnet, a rather substantial 3.0L Diesel V6 engine that serves up 184kW of power and 570Nm of torque. When strapped to the very smooth eight-speed automatic transmission the combination gives you a reported 7.5L/100k’s fuel economy and (more importantly) is capable of towing 3,500kg’s of whatever you have to wherever you want it to go – quite literally!
Once I was strapped in and poked the push button start, the first choice you get to make (via the touchscreen) was if you wanted the seats and wheel heated – with the doing it best to freeze off anything remotely exposed – the answer was what people like to call a no brainer, ON they went, and ON they stayed – my son requested the second row seats had the heat on too!
This is the part where I say we loaded up our backpacks and headed off to the wilderness to be at one with nature but the truth is we didn’t cross any streams or climb any mountains (but I have done this with Jeep previously so I know it can). What we did do though, was battle the urban jungle complete with road congestion, highways with pooled water, gusting winds on the harbour bridge, and stay out of the arctic blast – and the Grand Cherokee did all this without breaking a sweat or giving me the need to reach for the Selec-Terrain dial and engaging the ‘all conquering’ Quadra-Trac II 4×4 System
As is the norm with Auckland weather, it changed considerably during my few days review period, grey skies turned blue and the wind moved from gales to gentle wisps – but what did remain constant was the Grand Cherokee’s mightiness. It’s size and power gives you the confidence that you can handle whatever the day may throw at you and effectively take it all in your stride. Oh, and since the temperature did stay low, the heated wheel and seat combo were a ‘mighty good’ feature too.
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