Jeep has been selling up a storm in recent times, with records smashed and a new advertising campaign featuring the line “I bought a Jeep” that is fast becoming almost as popular as “Not happy Jan”.
Most of their success can be attributed to a single model: the Grand Cherokee.
Gone are the reliability issues that hampered Jeeps of old, and instead, a tried and tested SUV that is big on looks and big on equipment leads the charge.
The latest addition to the Jeep Grand Cherokee range, the rear-wheel drive only Laredo, is bound to add to the sales tally.
Pricing is ultra-competitive at $43,000, the standard inclusion list is long, and the ride, fit and finish and driving experience belong to a car worth a lot more.
Let’s get the negatives out of the way first, happily there’s not many of them. At $43,000 a reverse camera should be standard.
The fact that rear visibility is limited, and most little ones involved in driveway accidents tangle with high riding SUV’s only reinforces the need for a camera.
Reverse cameras are not a luxury, they are as important as airbags. The lack of any parking sensors just adds to the woes…so points need to be deducted.
Second would be the thirst of the 3.6 lire Pentastar V6.
With a lot of effort we were able to get the test car down to 11.3 litres of standard unleaded per 100km, a little way off Jeep’s claim of 10.1 litres per 100km.
Unfortunately the considerably more efficient 4X4 only diesel variant is also considerably more expensive; an extra $8000.
The last negative has to do with the all-new eight-speed automatic.
It shifts beautifully, is always happy to kick down through the gears at lightning fast speed, and it’s mostly imperceptible with slippery, slurry changes.
The issue is with the selector. It looks great, but too many times we found ourselves in Park as opposed to Reverse, or worse still, Reverse instead of Park.
Over time it would become easier as you get used to it, but in nearly ten days with the Laredo, it continued to happen right up to the point of returning the vehicle.
The negatives in this vehicle are far outweighed by the positives, and we’d suspect most buyers would be happy to overlook the aforementioned in favour of the lusty, powerful V6, the great road presence and the sharp price which puts it firmly in Ford Territory territory (pardon the pun!)
At 1990kg the Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo is no lightweight, but the V6 developing 210kW and 347Nm has no issues hauling it around.
It’s no ball of fire off the line, but provides respectable performance and is good in high-speed overtaking manoeuvres.
The ride is plush on the 265/60 R18’s and the cabin well isolated from dodgy road surfaces. Noise levels are whisper quiet.
Handling is not a strong point, the pay off for such a soft, cushioning ride.
There is plenty of body roll when you enter a corner with any pace, and the steering, while reasonably communicative, is dull and requires plenty of driver input.
The relaxed nature of the Jeep more than makes up for its lack of sporting ability.
The cabin is well screwed together with no evidence of any creaks or rattles. The materials used are first class and everything has a nice feel to it.
The small central screen controls the climate system and great sounding audio system, and is easy to use.
The multi function leather steering wheel feels good in the hand, and intelligently houses volume and station pre set buttons on the back of the wheel; once you’ve established where they are and what they do, operation is simple and intuitive, there are also flappy paddles for manual gear changes.
Automatic wipers and auto bi-xenon headlights, with an auto high beam function and LED daytime running lights are standard.
Also coming standard are 18″ alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control with rear air con vents, Bluetooth phone & audio streaming, Keyless entry & start, Cruise Control and Voice Recognition.
There seems to be acres of space whether you’re in the front or back seats, with excellent head, shoulder and legroom, and big comfortable seats.
There is a generous 782-litre cargo area that becomes an enormous 1554 litres with the rear seats folded flat.
ANCAP haven’t rated the new Grand Cherokee, however the Euro NCAP team tested a left hand drive diesel variant and awarded it four stars.
All up, the Grand Cherokee is a fairly accomplished car with a loveable character.
It’s the epitome of fuss free motoring, and while Jeep purists will mock it’s lack of off road abilities, for the most part cars like these will see a gravel road at worst.
It’s got plenty of comfortable accommodation, is nice to drive and looks great.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo
- Engine: 3.6 litre V6 petrol developing 210kW and 347Nm
- Transmission: 8-Speed automatic
- Safety: Not tested
- Warranty: 3 yrs/100,000 kms
- Origin: Austria
- Price: From $43,000