Jeep unveil luxury on a Grand scale as new Cherokee is out to scalp its rivals


By Philip Hedderman

There was at time when words meant something.

The mere utterance of a particular adjective would paint a picture so vivid you could almost smell it.

No need to prattle on and on in descriptive pros like I’m doing right now.

Keep it simple and to the point.

Now, there are literally thousand of the defunct desperados to choose from – all sanitised by over use in the daily vernacular.

One classic in Irish parlance is the word ‘Grand’.

Ask any Paddy how he or she is keeping, how they are feeling, how their family are, how the holidays went?

The reply as always is ‘Ah, Grand.’

Look it up in the dictionary and the true meaning is listed as; impressive in size, appearance, or general effect; stately, majestic, or dignified; magnificent or splendid and noble or revered.

All of the above synonymous with what you see before you.

The best vehicle ever made by Jeep and bearing the same name.

Yes people, I jest you not, the all-new Grand Cherokee is without doubt, the grandest of them all.

Now, before you start screaming for the psychiatric nurse, let me explain.

Firstly let’s go back to the original Oxford entry – ‘impressive in size’ .

Understatement of the year.

The 2011 Cherokee is simply gargantuan – both inside and outside.

The redesign sees the chunky off- roader muscled up even more leaving you in no doubt that this enormous machine is all-American.

The trademark seven slat grille is so imposing it is chest high to this six footer.

That’s down to the stonking 20 inch alloys in glistening chrome and the higher chassis which equates to greater ground clearance.

The elevated driving position is almost truck-like giving the driver the best line of 360 vision.

Inside it is equally vast, with oceans of leg room both back and front and there is no shortage of cubby holes and storage units.

 With a full family on board there is 782 litres of boot space.

Drop the back seats ad the load lugging area doubles to 1,552 litres – enough space to ferry a chest of drawers and dressing table to the dump in one jaunt last week.

There is now shortage on pampering either as the cabin gets a designer feel to it with wall-to-wall leather, heated electric front seats with memory, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry/start and electric steering-wheel adjustment.

It’s loaded with state-of-the-art gizmos too including a touch-screen infotainment system with iPhone/iPod control, Bluetooth, reversing camera, Alpine speaker system and cruise control.

So, for comfort and design the Grand Cherokee looks like a serious contender in the luxury SUV segment but has it got the killer punch to take out the likes of Range Rover, Lexus and Land Cruiser?

Well, there is no doubting its 4X4 credentials and it excels off-road thanks mainly to the air suspension and massive wheels, which tackle the toughest of terrain with absolute ease.

It draws on 70 years of all-wheel drive technology giving it mountain goat agility in the most unforgiving of places – like the grass verge of the M50 during the recent floods.

But as we all know, punters who buy wagons like these are more likely to be negotiating speed bumps than gravel, sand or mountainous boreens, so it will all boil down to how she handles on the tarmac.

Thanks to a lively and very torquey 3.0 litre V6 diesel, it cracks out a very impressive 237 bhp which sees this giant sprint from 0-100kph in just under 8 seconds.

Pushing her on at high revs the engine does labour a little and at times could do with a bigger box which is a bit lethargic.

That said, this is not a hot hatch and is not supposed to be driven in that way.

Just as well as the steering is not as engaging as one would like.

What it lacks in refinement it more than makes up for in cruisability.

This bus will gobble motorway mile after motorway mile as if they were metres.

What about economy I hear you scream?

Well, it’s not about the economy, stupid.

This is all about image and the Cherokee is absolutely kick-ass.

So forget the fact that it will cost €1,050 a year to tax and the less than impressive MPG of around 30.

You need to concentrate on the fact that at €63,000 it is considerably cheaper that its rivals.

It’s also fresh, in-your-face and drop dead georgeous.

For originality alone , I’d have it any day over the chavy Range Rover and more so over the farmer’s favourite Toyota.

There are two models of the Grand Cherokee – the “Limited” has leather trim, heated electric front seats with memory, dual-zone climate control, keyless entry/start, electric steering-wheel adjustment, a touch-screen infotainment system with iPhone/iPod control, UConnect Bluetooth, Alpine speaker system, xenon headlamps with washer jets, privacy glass, cruise control, 18-inch alloy wheels, five-speed automatic, reversing camera and parking sensors front and rear.

The “Overland” version adds 20” alloys, a panoramic sunroof, ventilated front seats, Quadra-Lift air suspension, full radar package incl. adaptive cruise control, touch-screen satellite navigation, Nappa Leather incl. a leather-covered dashboard and a heated wood-trimmed steering wheel, for €77,000.