Review: Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland
PRETORIA – Do you have space to test the Jeep Grand Cherokee came the question from the press fleet manager. For a big American off-roader, anytime.
And even though it's been around for almost a decade and is set to be replaced locally towards the end of 2022, the Jeep Grand Cherokee remains an icon of American off-road luxury.
It also has some bonkers versions if you think about the SRT and Trackhawk, which will gladly put some low-slung sports cars in their place, but the one we had on test was the much more sedate Grand Cherokee Overland.
And while it’s not top of mind when it comes to luxury SUVs, especially because of the impressive list of competitors, I still believe that it has its place. It’s a big vehicle by any standard, and in black like the one we had on test it still attracted a lot of attention because well… it’s big, black and an American car.
Because of its attention-seeking SRT and Trackhawk siblings, most people were under the impression that there was a big V8 lurking behind the traditional Jeep grille. But the Overland has a more sedate and very smooth Jeep Pentastar 3.6-litre, and a normally aspirated V6 petrol power plant that produces 210kW and 347Nm of torque, delivering power to all four 20-inch alloys via an eight-speed automatic transmission.
There’s nothing angry about it when you floor the throttle. It delivers power effortlessly with no lag with each gear reaching its maximum torque before changing up without a hint of hesitation. There’s a pleasant drone under the bonnet as it picks up speed, hunkers down and with its Quadra-Lift adaptable air suspension the big car handles bends surprisingly well.
It’s a big heavy car, and with petrol prices as they are you’ll have to bite the bullet with consumption after a week of mixed driving finishing off at 13.9l/100km, but with careful driving I reckon you could get a tad under 12l/100km.
Ultimately though, the Grand Cherokee Overland is not meant for silly buggers and an overuse of the paddles but for comfortable cruising surrounded by luxury, albeit a bit dated.
But I like that. It’s sometimes refreshing to see a dash dominated more by buttons and dials than a large touch-screen with a plethora of confusing menus and sub menus to get your optimal driving setting.
So for example to set the five various ride heights, normal, off-road 1, off road 2, park mode and aero mode a simple click on the console control is all it takes.
There is a touch-screen infotainment system, which is small compared to most new SUVs, but it’s functional and Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatible.
The seats are more La-Z-Boy than tightly covered leather racing ones but they’re incredibly comfortable when driving long distances, and suit the large cockpit rather well.
Rear passengers have ample legroom and get adjustable backrests, heated seats, USB ports and an entertainment system with a pair of screens mounted into the back of the front headrests, which if I had young children would be reason enough to buy.
Jeep was founded on its rugged, go anywhere ability and even though the Grand Cherokee is anything but rugged, it’s off-road prowess makes it one of the most capable in any segment.
Fitted with Jeep’s Quadra-Drive II four-wheel-drive system with a rear electronic limited-slip differential and settings that include snow, sand, mud and rock the Grand Cherokee will lift itself to a maximum ground clearance of 280mm in off-road 2 and use the transfer case, differentials and a host of electronics to get you to places way off the beaten track.
The only question you have to ask yourself is whether you want to take a R1 029 900 vehicle up a rocky pass and scratch the 20-inch alloys with road biassed tyres.
While the Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland may be a bit long in the tooth (there’s a new version already available overseas), it’s still relevant in the segment and with a gracious ride quality, a host of safety features and good old-fashioned presence I wouldn’t mind having one parked in my driveway.
Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.6L Overland
Price: R1 029 900
Engine: 3.6-litre, V6, petrol
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: Four-wheel drive
Power: 213kW @ 6350rpm
Torque: 353Nm @ 4800rpm
0-100km/h: 8.3 seconds (claimed)
Top speed: 206km/h
Fuel use: 10.0 l/100km (claimed)
Fuel use: 13.9 l/100km (tested)
Boot capacity: 782 - 1554 litres
Towing capacity: 2 800kg (braked)
Ground clearance: 205
Warranty: 5-year/100 000km
Maintenance plan: 5-year/100 000km