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JEEP Grand Cherokee review

JEEP Cherokee review 2011
Jeep Adds New Diesel To Grand Cherokee To Lure Europeans

Interior, A Problem For Chrysler/Jeep In The Past, Passes Test
rating **** out of 5

biggest hurdle; the company car fleet manager who will be reluctant to invest money in a brand which looks weak in the all-important residual prices stakes compared with the Germans

For – handsome, well equipped, Stella performer on and off road
Against – high price bracket for weak brand

Chrysler has added a Fiat-designed diesel to its new Jeep Grand Cherokee to give the big SUV a chance of success as it goes on sale in Europe. Initially, the range here is just diesel powered, but eventually powerful petrol engines are promised.

The new Jeep Grand Cherokee (Jeep, and Dodge, are brands owned by Chrysler which Fiat of Italy rescued from bankruptcy a couple of years ago, with a bit of help from the U.S. government) is stylish on the outside and beautiful inside, with an almost German attention to detail. It oozes quality. The impressive new diesel engine is for Europeans only, as the alliance with Fiat of Italy seeks new markets for Chrysler and Jeep products. Chrysler has been telling everybody who will listen that its interiors have let it down badly in the past, and that it has invested much time and money putting this right.

JEEP Cherokee review 2011I had this in mind when I opened the door for the first time and settled into the driver’s seat. First impression? This is a top rate interior which can hold its head high in comparison with the best Europeans. New, soft-touch materials are used at key touch-points, including doors, consoles and armrests. Both front seats are heated with eight-way power assistance for the driver. There’s a Media Centre for radio, CDs, DVDs and much hard drive space for your music, phone and iPod interface. There’s a massive glass roof panel for the top-end version. The luxury feeling is maintained all around the cabin.

The new diesel motor, a 3.0 liter V6 turbo diesel which produces 234 hp, will also be used in the Lancia Thema as well, better known to Americans as the Chrysler 300C.

Hemi V8
Lancia is Fiat’s premium brand, and will use various Chryslers to round out (or rather bulk up) its model range. In Britain, Lancia will remain excluded and all these cars will carry the Chrysler name.  The Thema should start appearing in Europe later this year. Neither car would stand a prayer of success in Europe without a fuel-efficient diesel. The Ford Mondeo-sized Chrysler 200 may emerge here badged as a Lancia Flavia. Jeep may equip later Grand Cherokee models in Europe with an American style 3.6 liter V6 gasoline engine or a big Hemi V8. Chrysler has also started sending Dodge Journey’s to Europe, rebadged as Fiat Freemonts. One of the first fruits of the new Fiat cooperation will be a bonus for Chrysler dealers in Britain, who will get a small car for the first time; a rebadged Lancia Ypsilon. That goes on sale in September. As for Chrysler dealers in mainland Europe, they will now forsake their American name for the Lancia moniker, although the Jeep name is maintained.

JEEP Cherokee review 2011Chrysler has announced some ambitious targets for European sales, slated for more than 25 per cent growth in 2011 after 2010’s fell about 20 per cent to 37,000 in Western and Central Europe, including Dodge and Jeep models. International sales are to grow by between two and 3-1/2 times between 2010 and 2014 from 147,000 to around 500,000. No one outside of Chrysler seems to think these targets are remotely attainable, but products like the new Grand Cherokee will at least show Europeans that its redesigned vehicles are of the highest quality. The Jeep Compass wasn’t much of an improvement on the old model, but the Grand Cherokee, built on a structure co-developed with Mercedes-Benz is of a higher order.

Immensely powerful
There are no plans for Americans to get the Fiat-developed diesel, which is rated at an average 34 miles per gallon. That’s a shame for them because it was immensely powerful and smooth with terrific low down torque. On the highway the Grand Cherokee was quiet and sophisticated. Off road, the huge machine performed as well as any top class 4×4, including Range Rovers. You can twiddle a little dial and let the computer know if you are about to tackle mud, ruts, snow or grass, and all will be taken care of. If you do nothing, the computer will still not forsake you, so this twiddle is unlikely to get much action. You can select “Sport” for a tighter, meaner on-road experience.

JEEP Compass review 2011

In Europe there are two versions of the Grand Cherokee available, the Limited and Overland, both with the same diesel engine. Prices start at £36,795. The Overland, from £43,995 has a higher specification including top quality leather, bigger wheels, adaptive cruise control, collision avoidance, tinted windscreen, power tailgate and the huge panoramic sunroof. The rear door has a power function, strangely, worked by a button on the inside low down, rather than high on the door itself.

JEEP Cherokee review 2011

The Grand Cherokee is a terrific, rugged, go-anywhere SUV which can also hold up its head as a luxury cruiser. It’s simple, handsome looks and historic front-end grille set it apart from the competition, which are bland, dull and worthy like the VW Touareg, or the over-the-top Tonka Discovery. But with prices nudging or surpassing £40,000, its biggest hurdle will be the company car fleet manager who will be reluctant to invest money in a brand which looks weak in the all-important residual prices stakes compared with the Germans.

JEEP Cherokee review 2011

(Jeep provided rail travel, hotel)

Neil Winton – July 5, 2011

 Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD V6 Limited
Engine:3.0 litre V6 diesel
234 hp @ 3,600
550 Nm @ 1,800
5-speed automatic
all wheels
Acceleration:0-62 mph-100 km/h 8.2 seconds
Top Speed:126 mph-202 km/h
Fuel Consumption:
claimed combined – 34.0 mpg/8.3 l/km)
CO2:218 g/km
Emissions class:
Euro V
Length:4,822 mm
2,272 kg
air springs/air springs
Service Intervals:12 months-12,500 miles
Insurance Group:
Boot capacity:
782/1,554 litres
Competition:Range Rover Discovery, VW Touareg, Nissan Pathfinder, Volvo XC-90
Same for much less:Kia Sorrento, Chevrolet Captiva
For:handsome, well equipped, Stella performer on and off road
Against:high price bracket for weak brand
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