Chris Miller road tests and reviews the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland.
Sitting towards the top of the model range the Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland is an accomplished vehicle with serious off road capabilities, a huge 3.5 tonne towing capacity and some serious luxury on the inside.
It’s an imposing car with a masculine look and it has the space to accommodate 5 proper sized adults and all their luggage, all while pulling the horse float.
You can get into the two-wheel drive 6-cylinder Grand Cherokee Laredo for as little as $43,000 (you can see the review here), but the V8 powered Overland has a more hefty price tag; $71,000 before on roads.
In comparison to alternatives from Toyota and Land Rover though, the big Jeep is laden with standard kit and stacks up rather favourably.
A meaty 5.7 litre petrol V8 that produces 259kw and an impressive 520Nm of torque effortlessly hauls around the 2.3 tonnes of Grand Cherokee accompanied by a pleasing if not somewhat subdued V8 burble. The new 8-Speed automatic is a slick shifter with gear changes going by barely unnoticed.
If you give it as bit of stick the 8-Speed box will happily skip down a couple of gears to provide rapid, forceful progress, and if you’re feeling really sporty, you can take manual control with some beautiful placed and substantial feeling flappy paddles.
The Overland does have a thirst to match its urgency; even with cylinder deactivation technology the test car consumed 15.1 litres of premium unleaded over a mix of city and country driving. Considering the bulk of the car and the sheer size of the engine block, it’s not a surprising result.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland feels firmly planted on the road and offers a delightfully smooth ride regardless of the road conditions thanks to its Quadra-Lift
Air Suspension System. Big 20-inch polished aluminium wheels are standard and are helped to deliver the plush ride via 265/50R20 Kumho all-season tyres.
The Quadra-Lift system allows you to alter the ride height to a maximum ground clearance of 271mm and includes a parking feature, which see the Grand Cherokee squat down to make entry and exit easier.
Of course its primary purpose is for off-roading and in combination with the Selec-Terrain Vehicle Management System including low-range 4WD, there are very few places the Jeep can’t get to.
The steering is heavy, particularly at low speeds or in parking situations, but out on the open road it provides a weight that feels right. As a relatively tall vehicle, body roll is evident and becomes more obvious the faster you go.
Twisty sections of road need to be approached with care and it’s important to get the balance of the car right before going too hard, a lot like its competitors. If you were looking for sharper handling you’d be better off in the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 (you can find a review here).
The driving position has you sitting up high with a view that is somewhat hampered by fat A-Pillars. The small side and rear windows also restrict your view to the outside world, particularly for back seat passengers, but the standard inclusion of an excellent rear-view camera and all round parking sensors make judging the size of the car in tight spots fairly easy.
The heated and cooled seats are endlessly adjustable, as is the steering wheel making it very easy to get comfortable. The layout of the interior is logical and most things are where you expect them to be…apart from the steering wheel mounted audio controls which are hidden from sight on the back of the wheel.
Once you find them though they’re easy to use and their placement frees up real estate on the wheel for cruise and menu controls.
The finish of the spacious interior which offers with 782 litres of cargo space with the back seats in place, and 1552 litres with them folded flat, is first class.
There is lots of beautifully stitched leather, although some of that stitching that runs along the top of the dash, while it looks great, reflects back onto the windscreen and can be distracting. There is also plenty of real timber and polished steel to complement the leather and there is no doubt that it looks fantastic.
There’s also a new electronic gear selector, which can be a bit fiddly at first, but once you’re used to it is easy in its operation.
The carpet is deep and plush adding to the sense of luxury and a 7-inch Customisable multi-view colour TFT display in the instrument cluster in combination with an 8.4-inch screen in the central dash makes for easy operation of the climate, audio, phone and 3D navigation along with vehicle settings and trip information.
There is no shortage of standard goodies with key-less enter and go, electrically operated seats, windows and mirrors, a big panoramic sunroof, Power tail gate, Rain-sensitive wiper system,
Bi-Xenon HID headlights with signature daytime running lamps & LED tail lights, rear privacy windows, voice recognition, Dual-Zone climate control with infra-red sensors and a beautiful Alpine premium audio system with nine speakers including sub-woofer.
Active and passive safety systems include Electronic Stability Control with Trailer Sway Control, Forward Collision Warning, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Monitoring and Rear Cross-Path Detection, and along with a full complement of airbags the Grand Cherokee has been awarded the 5-Star ANCAP Safety rating.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland is a car with a lot of appeal. Sure it’s thirsty and can feel a bit bulky at times, but it goes about its business in an unfussed very relaxed manner.
It’s not quite as polished as the Land Rover Discovery and takes a bit more effort to manoeuvre around than the Toyota Prado, but it is equally as capable at towing and climbing mountains…making it hard to pick a decisive winner from the three.
It comes down to personal preference at the end of the day, and with great looks, a pampering cabin and plenty of useful technology, the Grand Cherokee Overland is a worthy contender for your dollars and is a must for the shopping list of anyone considering big, capable SUV.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 5.7 litre HEMI petrol V8 developing 259kw and 520Nm
Transmission: 8-Speed Automatic
Safety: Not tested
Price: From $71,000