In recent weeks I’ve seen so many on our roads that I’ve lost count. And that’s a good thing, because it’s quite a formidable car. Maybe it’s the sheer length of its name (Jeep Grand Cherokee) that takes your breath away, or the newly updated styling.
One thing is for sure, Jeep has sent the Grand Cherokee to the gym and it’s been training hard. The bulk is gone, leaving ripped muscles and chiselled lines. The sportier appearance leaves this barge feeling lighter, more nimble and with a sprightlier drive.
Our test mules were made up of the Grand Cherokee 3.0 CRD Overland equipped with a new 3.0-litre turbo-diesel with 179kW and 569Nm available on tap, which returns a respectable fuel- consumption figure of just under 10 litres/100km, provided it was driven tentatively through Joburg traffic.
What wasn’t nursed was its brutish big brother, the Grand Cherokee SRT. This athletic barge gives new meaning to the performance SUV. Like a greyhound out the gate, the SRT barks and growls its way from zero to 100km/h in 5.0 seconds and storms onto a top speed of 257km/h.
It takes some stopping power to bring this titan to a halt. Luckily the big Brembo brakes can anchor it from 100km/h to standstill in just 35 metres.
Responsible for all the fun is the powerful 6.4-litre Hemi V8 engine that delivers 344kW of power and 624Nm of torque. It’s fitted with fuel-saving technologies to optimise fuel economy, but truthfully, who would want to ignore the howls of fun emitted out the twin exhausts? It does come at a cost though, as this buff SUV devours fossil fuels like protein shakes - we were averaging 23 litres/100km.
One of the standout features of the new Grand Cherokee line-up is the inclusion of the eight-speed automatic transmission paired to all engine variants, which offers smoother shifting and quicker acceleration.
Despite the SUV’s stylish physique, the interior space for passengers is still abundant and luggage space, accessed via the electric tailgate, is generous.
Unsurprisingly, the cockpit is also well designed and perfectly executed. The controls and instrument cluster are easy to deal with. My only bugbear though was the fact that you couldn’t type in a destination into the navigation system while on the move. But the aura of luxury encapsulated in this line-up clearly signals Jeep’s future intentions.
The Grand Cherokee feels content to cruise around town or on the open road. At times you can feel the vehicle’s size when heading into corners, but one thing’s for sure: Jeep hasn’t skimped on anything, particularly fun.