Drive – Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo V6 Review

4 Jul 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on Drive – Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo V6 Review
Jeep Grand Cherokee

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Pros

Stylish interior

Genuine 4WD ability

Punchy V6

Heaps of equipment and sharp price

Decent manners

Cons

Dynamics still tweaked for off-road prowess

Engine can be thirsty and needs revs to ovecome hills

You’d think the explosion in four-wheel-drive sales during the past decade would have been a boon for specialist off-road brands such as Jeep. Not so. The Cherokee, one of the mainstays of a growing range, sells fewer these days than it did about a decade ago.

The Grand Cherokee, too, is not as popular as it once was.

But a new model with fresh styling, new engines and sharp pricing should give the chunky Jeep a shot in the arm.

At $45,000 plus on-road costs, the entry price is 25 per cent lower than the previous model, which pits the Grand below potential luxury competitors and bang in the sweet spot of the mid-size sports utility vehicle segment.

Price and equipment

It may be cheaper than ever but the Grand Cherokee isn’t left wanting for gear, even in the entry-level Laredo model. An extensive list includes dual climate-control airconditioning, heated front seats, 18-inch alloy wheels, power windows, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, power-operated front seats, trip computer and, impressively, a reversing camera.

There are brighter auto-on xenon headlights, while the audio system includes Bluetooth functionality (though our audio streaming wouldn’t work properly) with voice operation and a 30-gigabyte hard drive for storing songs on board.

Safety gear includes stability control and seven airbags, while a full-size spare tyre is welcome. Further up in the Grand Cherokee range, the V8 Overland adds leather trim, a sunroof, blind-spot warning system and collision warning alert but the price approaches $70,000.

Under the bonnet

The V8 may be the performance king and the coming diesel the economy king but the new Pentastar V6 is the most affordable in the range, suggesting it will be the most popular.

With 210kW of power it’s well endowed and there’s a healthy 347Nm backing it up, though the latter kicks in at a high-ish 4300rpm, meaning it prefers higher engine revs.

Acceleration is above average, though there’s no hiding the Cherokee’s bulk, especially on hills. It’s not helped by the five-speed auto, which could do with another ratio.

But build revs and the V6 is smart enough.

Those looking to tow big loads may have to go for the alternative engines, which are rated to pull up to 3.5 tonnes; the V6 is still handy at 2268 kilograms, though.

Fuel consumption isn’t as convincing, with the Grand Cherokee slurping close to 14 litres per 100 kilometres, up on the claimed average of 11.4L/100km.

How it drives

Jeeps have always excelled off-road and the latest model should follow suit, with a dual-range 4WD system that helps apportion drive to those wheels with traction.

Ours was also fitted with the optional Quadra-Lift, which has five heights and modes.

A ”park” mode lowers the car to make it easier to get in and out, while the Off-Road 2 height raises the overall clearance to a towering 270 millimetres (52 millimetres higher than normal). There’s also a new system that tailors the various electronics and off-road systems to on-road, snow, sand/mud and rocks.

On bitumen, the Grand Cherokee is much improved. Decent control means the body isn’t wallowing. The ride is firm but in a controlled manner that works in town and on open roads, albeit with a shudder over short bumps.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Steering isn’t great, though, with some sloppiness.

Comfort and practicality

Jeep interiors (and those of other American brands) have typically been fitted with scratchy hard plastics and the sort of attention to detail given to garden furniture.

The Grand Cherokee is a monumental improvement in overall ambience. Stylish metallic highlights, nice lighting and woodgrain finishes create a relaxing, upmarket atmosphere. Controls are well positioned and logical, while the colour screen lets you display your own photos.

The multifunction steering wheel feels good.

The seats are comfortable and the rear bench split-folds to create more space for the modest load area, which comes with a luggage cover. There’s also a handy split tailgate. However, the glovebox could be larger, the foot-operated park brake can hit your lower leg when driving and the indicator stalk has too many features – it also controls the wipers and high beam.

Competitors

Toyota FJ Cruiser

Mitsubishi Challenger LS

Price $44,990 Engine 2.5-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel, 131kW/400Nm (manual), 350Nm (auto) Fuel use/CO2 emissions 8.3L/100km and 219g/km (manual), 9.8L/100km and 259g/km (auto) Safety 4-star ANCAP rating; 6 airbags; stability control. Pros Rugged off-road ability; decent equipment; diesel efficiency. Cons Average on-road dynamics; poor driving position; dated cabin; high floor. Our score 2/5

Nissan Pathfinder ST Diesel

Price $48,490 Engine 2.5-litre 4-cyl turbo diesel, 140kW/450Nm Fuel use/CO2 emissions 8.5L/100km and 224g/km (manual), 9.0L/100km and 238g/km (auto) Safety 4-star ANCAP rating; 6 airbags; stability control. Pros Capable off-road; strong diesel; flexible interior; decent equipment. Cons Noisy engine; sloppy steering; could do with better interior storage. Our score 2.5/5

Overall verdict

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The tempting price is the clincher for a genuine off-roader that makes sense for those who don’t need seven seats.

Jeep Grand Cherokee
Jeep Grand Cherokee

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