Fleet News

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Jeep

Review

As a result, most American cars shipped to the UK are too soft, thirsty and large for our tastes and sell as well as Michael Jackson's latest album.

But there is one car that has consistently stood out from the dreary litany of American metal – the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Jeep is one of the most famous marques in motoring, but a quality badge doesn't guarantee success. There must be more to the Grand Cherokee than branding to have made it a success in the UK.

Its first plus is that it looks good from the outside. Its huge slatted grille is imposing and it has lots of presence, is not too boxy or too rounded – it's handsome in a George Clooney, lantern-jawed way.

Inside, the Grand Cherokee has some of the traits that make American cars struggle in the UK: the plastics are cheaper-feeling than European tastes prefer, the switches are big and clumsy, and the beige and shiny plastic wood colour scheme looks as if it has been nicked from a cheap bar in an Alaskan outpost town.

The high point is the seats, which are squishy leather and armchair-comfortable, although there is no space for rear passengers to put their feet under the front seats, seriously inhibiting what would be excellent rear accommodation. The boot is also massive. I managed to get a mountain bike in there with barely any trouble at all. Inside, it cannot compare to a Volvo XC90 or a BMW X5 in terms of quality.

However, if you bear in mind the interior of a car is considerably more expensive to develop and produce than the exterior, the Grand Cherokee can start to make sense in the context of the competition, for this is the top-of-the-range 4.7-litre high output Overland version. It costs £34,715 on-the-road.

That makes it cheaper than a Volvo XC90 2.9 T6 SE Geartronic or a Land Rover Discovery 4.0 V8 ES auto, a staggering £10,000 cheaper than a BMW X5 4.4 V8, and £20,000 less than a 4.6-litre X5. For your money, you get a 4.7-litre engine producing 255bhp, heated electric memory seats, 10-disc CD player, cruise control, rain- sensitive wipers and loads more.

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With its Quadra-Drive four-wheel drive system, it will do the business off-road as well, unlike some of its more style-focused competitors.

The Grand Cherokee is hugely thirsty, though. On the combined cycle, it is reckoned to achieve 18mpg and you would be lucky to reach that. However, the trade-off is on performance. This brute will do the 0-62mph sprint in 8.3 seconds and, with a five-speed gearbox and 314lb-ft of torque, there's enough grunt to uproot oak trees whenever it takes your fancy. It also chews up motorways and spits them out.

Just don't take too many bends. The Grand Cherokee doesn't do bends. It rolls as if it is at sea and the steering only has a passing influence on direction. But you knew that already.

As for tax, all Grand Cherokees are in the 35% BIK tax band, whether petrol or diesel, so the choice comes down to how much tax and fuel a driver is prepared to pay for.

While drivers often default for diesel to save lots of tax, in this case a 40% tax-payer would be paying only £30 a month more for the luxury of a V8 over the 2.9 CRD Overland.

The real success of the Grand Cherokee is that it doesn't comes across as the bargain basement choice of the premium SUV sector. Park next to a 4.4-litre X5, and drivers will not feel as if they in the poor man's 4x4.

The Jeep truly does manage the best of many different worlds. It is good value – relatively – in a segment known for its conspicuous consumption, while maintaining the key SUV factor of having a great image.

Not surprisingly, the Grand Cherokee means the SUV segment is the one area the Americans can slug it out in the UK against the Europeans.

Make: Jeep
Model: Grand Cherokee Overland
Engine (cc): 4,701
Max power (bhp/rpm): 255/5,200
Max torque (lb-ft/rpm): 314/3,500
Max speed (mph): 128
0-62mph (sec): 8.3
Fuel consumption (mpg): 18.8
CO2 emissions (g/km): 368
Transmission: 5sp auto
Fuel tank capacity (l/gal): 17.2/78
Prices (OTR): £34,715

CO2 emissions and fuel consumption data correct at time of writing. The latest figures are available in the Fleet News fuel cost calculator and the company car tax calculator.

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