Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland First Drive
Isaac Bober reviews the Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety and verdict.
IN A NUTSHELL: A revision of the best-selling vehicle in the Chrysler range, and the best driving Jeep Grand Cherokee ever.
PRACTICAL MOTORING SAYS: The Jeep Grand Cherokee looks more sophisticated than before, the engine has been tuned to offer even more low-down torque, it’s competent off-road, is loaded down with kit you normally have to pay a lot more for, and yet manages to undercut every serious rival by thousands of dollars.
COPPING A REVISION earlier this year, the new Jeep Grand Cherokee features a shorter, more muscular looking seven-slot grille, slimmer more premium-looking headlights, and an elevated front fascia, while the fog lights are more pronounced.
At the back, the Grand Cherokee features larger tail-lights with LED lighting, a larger and, according to the engineers, more aerodynamic rear spoiler, new bumpers and a re-sculpted tail-gate promising improved rear vision. Twin exhaust tips are now standard on both Overland and Limited models.
Despite looking more premium than ever, the Jeep Grand Cherokee does indeed still actually look like a Jeep. The traditional seven-slot grille is still there, as are the trapezoidal wheel arches.
There are three engine variants available in the Jeep Grand Cherokee range. We’re driving the Grand Cherokee Overland with 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6, but it can also be had with a 3.6-litre petrol V6, priced from $66,000 (+ORC), and a 5.7-litre V8 petrol which is priced from the same $71,000 (+ORC) as the diesel Overland we’re reviewing here.
Under the bonnet of the Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland is, as mentioned above, a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 that makes 184kW at 4000rpm and 570Nm (a 20Nm increase) of torque at a just-off-idle 2000rpm. Fuel consumption is a combined 7.5L/100km and in my week of driving I managed to get my average down to just 7.1L/100km which is impressive for such a big vehicle indeed.
The Grand Cherokee Overland now runs an eight-speed automatic which brings it into line with many of its key rivals. It’s a super-smooth transmission that makes an excellent engine feel even more excellent whether you’re pootling around town or looking for extra, instant grunt when overtaking.
There’s been plenty of praise heaped on this new Jeep Grand Cherokee not just for the way it looks, or its pricing, but because of the way it drives. The chassis feels tight and the Quadra-Lift air suspension, well, it offers Land Rover Discovery-esque levels of control and comfort. Indeed, the air suspension allows you to raise, in its top-most setting, the Grand Cherokee Overland by almost seven centimetres for when the going gets particularly gnarly – the Selec-Terrain system (Like Land Rover’s Terrain Response) which offers five different driving programs helps it go even further off-road.
Inside, there’s plenty of head, shoulder and leg room in both the front and back seats of the Grand Cherokee, indeed even with two child seats in the back there was still room for me to squeeze in between them. Minimal intrusion by the transmission tunnel means this seat is more than just a perch. And, with air vents and seat heaters it’s a comfortable place to be.
Look over you shoulder (if, ahem, you’re sitting in the back seat) and the boot offers 782 litres of space, fold the rear seats and this grows to 1554 litres. What does that mean in reality, though, well, it means, if like me, you’ve got two small children you’ll have more than enough room to stash a stroller, or even two bikes, and all the other stuff you have to drag along for a day out.
Despite having a fairly short glass house (meaning the windows all around are small) and big slabby pillars, there’s reasonable vision out of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. That said, you do have to be extra careful of the A-pillars at zebra-crossings as there is a substantial blind spot at the vehicle’s front three-quarters, but it’s not intrusive in general driving.
Considering the amount of gear you get for your money, the Grand Cherokee Overland represents exceptional value. Standard are: leather seats; power eight-way adjustable passenger and driver seats; heated front and rear seats; ventilated front seats; auto dual-zone climate-control air-con; seven-inch touch screen display; 8.4-inch smartouch with sat-nav and a Alpine sound system with nine speakers.
In terms of safety, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland only gets a four-star ANCAP crash safety rating but is equipped with an impressive list of standard active and passive safety systems. The Overland gets: seven airbags; traction and stability control systems; four-wheel drive; hill descent control; hill-start assist; adaptive cruise control; blind-spot monitoring; forward collision warning; front and rear parking sensors, rear-view camera; rain-sensing wipers and tyre-pressure monitors.