Jeep: 2015 Grand Cherokee Overland CRD review

Jeep: 2015 Grand Cherokee Overland CRD review

I’m sitting in Wellington airport as I write this review, listening to a woman talking loudly on the phone next to me advising her client how not to go bankrupt. What’s more distracting is that her client’s name is Darren, so every time she mentions his name it’s doubly attention-grabbing. The conversation pulls my focus away and proves how difficult it is for me to do two things at once.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland diesel 2015 sideThe interesting parallel to this is that that is exactly what SUVs such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland have to do: two things at once. Those two things are retain the ability to ford a rocky stream, while still being versatile and nimble enough to park in an inner city car park.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland diesel 2015 rearFortunately the Jeep is much better at this multitasking malarkey than I am. The Overland version of the Grand Cherokee sits at the top of the range. We’re driving the three-litre turbo diesel. You can go for the SRT which carries a $10,000 premium and has a 6.4-litre engine with a thirst like a man lost in the desert, but this diesel is respectably frugal, despite the fact it chucks out 184kW and Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland diesel 2015 front interior570Nm. This is partly because it has an 8-speed gearbox to help optimise the rev range, but it could be even better if it had automatic stop/start technology. I averaged 10l/100km over about 250km of mixed driving. Jeep only supplies an extra-urban figure of 7.5l/100km.

With 570Nm of torque the resistance of 2.3 tonnes of metal, electronics and soft furnishings is overcome in a quite satisfactory way, and surprisingly quietly. But power and Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland diesel 2015 boottorque aren’t the whole equation that allows this beast to roam the wilds and the urban streets, it’s the Quadra-Lift suspension that does it. It is air suspension featuring air springs rather than conventional coil springs.

This system has five driver-selectable modes. Park mode lowers the suspension by 1.5 inches/3.8cm to make it easier to get in and out of the vehicle and to give extra clearance in parking buildings.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland diesel 2015 frontSport mode (aero) drops the suspension by 0.5 inches/1.27cm and gives better ride comfort for faster on-road driving. This is by far the best mode for any on-road driving.

Normal mode has the standard ride height while Off-Road I has 1.3 inches/3.3cm of lift and Off-Road II has 2.6 inches/6.6cm of lift. The total ground clearance in off-road II is 10.6 inches/27.1cm with a maximum breakover Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland diesel 2015 suspension modesangle of 23 degrees, approach angle of 34 degrees and departure angle of 27 degrees.

Technically this is a mid-sized SUV, but it is quite big at 4.83m long, almost 1.8m high, and almost 2 metres wide. The price is also getting to be quite big. Our tested model was almost $100,000.

Back to the ride, though: Jeeps have that Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland diesel 2015 rear quarterrugged, no roof, mud in the footwells image, so what about this dolled-up behemoth? It arrives all shiny and perfectly poised, but it’s quite capable of ponderously crawling over some good sized rocks. The technique is very simple: set the suspension to rock and, if needed, put it in 4WD low and make sure the suspension is as high as possible (you have to wait while it Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland diesel 2015 front seatspumps up the suspension). Now sit back in the comfy chair and let the engine’s torque pull you through. I tried it on some large rocks at a beach not far from Auckland where there was enough elevation variation to get one of the back wheels off the ground. The only thing that could have improved it is cameras on the front and sides to give you an idea where you are driving – it would have certainly put my mind more at easy because no-one wants to damage a hundred grand car, and I had to keep getting out to make sure I wouldn’t get into trouble!

On the beach the four-wheel drive in sand mode simply makes it seem like any normal road, and when you get it back to the tarmac you put it in auto and it feels like a car again. There are two other modes: snow and mud.

Our car came with the Luxury group package which includes a panoramic sunroof, automatic wipers, xenon headlights, upgraded leather upholstery with Overland stitched into it, automatic high-beam control, ventilated front seats, blind spot monitoring and rear cross traffic alert. The car also has heated rear seats, electric tailgate, satellite navigation, nine-speaker audio, Bluetooth compatibility for connecting your phone, lots of leather and wood in the cabin and, most importantly for a guy whose hands often refuse to be warm in winter, a heated steering wheel. Oh how I rued the 13-degree day I took the Jeep back.

Older Chrysler’s models were, frankly, average at best. Back around 2008-9 I remember saying to people that Jeep, Chrysler and Dodge were fine, but only if you paid 30% less than the sticker price for them. Now I’m not so sure because this latest model (and the trail-rated one I drove a few months ago) felt solid, nothing rattled and everything was well thought-out.

There’s still only a 4-star crash rating, but it does come with a raft of electronics to help you out.

The Grand Cherokee comes with driveway bragging rights. It is sleek with slimline headlights and LED daytime running lights, a chopped-roof look with a high bonnet line and a tidy rear end. It rolls on 20-inch wheels which fill those large arches perfectly.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, trying to do two things at once is hard. It’s obvious with the Jeep Grand Cherokee that it’s giving a good stab at both. As an off-road car there’s no doubt about its credentials and on-road it provides a relatively economical, practical option without being ruined by excessive body roll. But there are a few areas where some attention to usability is required. The foot parking brake is archaic, when you are driving you have to navigate through screens to turn some functions on, such as the heated seats, and it really needs some stop/start technology to make city driving more economical.

But these are fairly minor. Towing capacity is exceptional at 3500kg, it would be perfect for anyone who has to deal with rural situations or likes getting off the beaten track, and there’s a huge amount of luggage space.

Price: $98,990

Pros:

  • Engine refinement
  • It can hold its own on or off-road
  • Plenty of luxury and technology
  • Relatively fuel efficient (but could be better)

Cons:

  • Price is getting up there
  • Left leg room is cramped for the driver, and is compromised by the foot parking brake
  • 4-star crash rating


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