2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee
"The rapidly-rising Jeep range is notching up further success with the significantly uprated Grand Cherokee range. Sales of the Grand Cherokee have shot up by 3.5 times since the new generation arrived in 2011 and Jeep dealerships in Oz have doubled from 51 to more than 100.
The latest iteration introduced an eight-speed automatic transmission across the range, subtle styling improvements, better interiors -- and the launch of a 4x2 version of the Laredo model.
Price and features:
Priced at $45,000 drive away, the pretty high-spec Laredo 4x2 V6 puts a Grand Cherokee within reach of many more potential buyers. Laredo, also still available as a 4WD, is followed by the Limited, from $51,000, Overland, from $66,000 and the fire-breathing and feature-packed SRT8 at $77,000.
Slim, high density bi-xenon headlights with LED daytime running lights, new bumpers and a restyled tailgate are the most visual exterior changes of the new Grand Cherokees, which also get new instrument clusters, new steering wheels with audio, cruise and voice command buttons and paddle shifters.
Of the biggest Jeep models, the Grand Cherokee Overland is the top-shelf off-road wagon from the American - the SRT8 isn't trail capable - and not only does it deliver better economy than a Holden Commodore but even loaded with features, is still cheaper than a four-cylinder BMW 328i wagon.
All models have Uconnect voice command with Bluetooth, TFT customisable displays and audio systems that range from a six-speaker kit in the Laredo to nine speakers with subwoofer and 506W amplifier in Limited and an option pack for the SRT that uses 19 speakers and an 825W amplifier. Crazy.
The Laredo gets good cloth seats, Limited has leather, Overland uses Nappa leather and SRT luxuriates in premium Nappa. Get the picture? Hill start assist is standard on all models, as is auto-on headlights, seven airbags and a full suite of electronic driver aids.
The 210kW/347Nm twin-cam 3.6-litre V6 continues as the standard motor in Laredo, Limited and Overland, with the impressive 184kW/570Nm Italian 3.0-litre turbo-diesel as an option. Limited and Overland also have the option of the 5.7-litre V8, which puts out 259kW and 520Nm, while the high-performing SRT is powered by a 6.4-litre Hemi V8. It's a mighty beast, capable of producing 344kW and 624Nm - and a throaty bellow.
The smooth ZF eight-speed auto gives each engine option longer legs and slightly better fuel economy. And there's a bewildering list of 4x4 systems: quadra-trac, quadra-drive, quadra-lift, selec-trac and selec-trac among them. Some raise or lower the vehicle, others let the driver pick a mode suited to sand, snow, mud or rock.
We did about 200km in a Laredo in Queensland's mountainous Maryvale region shortly after a major downpour, and never had a moment of bother, irrespective of the gamut of road conditions, including stretches of dirt, mud and some river crossings. The two-tonne SUV coped admirably, the sole niggle being a split second of nothingness on exiting tight corners while the new gearbox consulted its abacus to decide which ratio was needed.
That little problem did not affect the SRT, which now comes with Launch Assist, a bit of electronic wizardry that can let the flagship take off as if fired from a catapult. We tried ours out on a drag strip, where it rocketed from zero to 100km/h in 4.8 seconds and went on to record 13.4 seconds for the "quarter mile."
Its meaty motor emits a wonderful sound with all the taps open, so why bother with an over the top audio system to drown it out? The SRT does 20.7 litres/100km in the urban area, but has an official average of 14.0 litres/100km.
The Laredo's average is 10.1 with the petrol engine, although we didn't come within cooee of that on our brisk up-and-down route, and the diesel uses just 7.5 litres/100km. There's loads of room for up to five adults and 782-litres available in the cargo area. Fold down the back seats and cargo capacity increases to 1554 litres.
Overall, it's an impressive line-up; classy, well engineered vehicles, big on street cred, finish and performance. The grandest Cherokees yet."