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Riding the bumps

In a matter of weeks I have taken out two iconic models from the Jeep family. This has probably come about because of the massive input from Fiat that has seen this fabulous European brand almost rise like a phoenix.

Factually, the Grand Cherokee (Limited) is a truly dynamic Sports Utility Vehicle which copes with rough tracks with ease, allowing adventurous types the ability to go where normal road cars balk and scream.

It eats up miles in an awe-inspiring manner, reaching the 100 km/h-mark in only 8.2 seconds peaking out at 202 km/h while weighing in at a staggering 2,949 kg.

The intimidating 6.4 litre V8 with 461 bhp and 630Nm of torque will blast you to 100 km/h in around five seconds, as fast as a DB7 Aston Martin.

This is large, totally comfortable, beautifully constructed, five-seat family transport. The levels of safety, quite apart from those inherent in a large SUV constructed by one of the premiere exponents of vehicle management, is paramount and while the exterior is a source of much visual pleasure, the seats and general furnishings promise that this is entirely untiring to drive hard and fast.

The rear seats split 60:40 and the ‘hold’ comes with chrome tie-downs, a scuff plate and great carpeted cargo sides.

The maximum capacity of this area is no less than 1,554 litres, so an awful lot of shopping can be carried.

This SUV could have been constructed with the Maltese market totally in mind because it rides the bumps and uncertain surfaces with a degree of elan – only explained by the fact that the independent suspension at both front and rear sits in isolated cradles. The high-strength Jeep-engineered Uniframe incorporates special-strength steel which helps account for the substantial body stiffness. This in turn helps reduce road noise and this Jeep really has one of the quietest rides.

The electro-hydraulic steering is fast, smooth and, of course, needs no engine power to operate it.

Steering, suspension and brakes, together with the confidence levels that rose and kept rising as each new parameter was reached and improved on, are impressive.

The 3.0 CRD engine is most remarkably efficient, utilising a highly pressurised fuel rail connected to piezo injectors designed to help burn fuel more efficiently.

This is lined up with a variable geometry turbocharger, which gives sparkling performance while helping to reduce fuel consumption, exhaust emissions and engine noise.

One simply cannot help noticing that many SUVs on our roads are driven by women, unfortunately sometimes loud-mouthed wenches.

Nonetheless, someone in the family has chosen a motoring package designed to keep any driver as safe as possible.

This model comes with rain brake support, ready alert braking, four-wheel traction control and anti-lock, four-wheel disc brakes which should help the Jeep stop, stay alert on dodgy surfaces and ensure that the wheels cannot lock up as the brakes are applied.

It also sports Electronic Stability Control, a very decent Hill Descent Control function and, in dodgy moments, the Hill Start Assist may prove useful.

This Jeep puts most cars to shame with its active head restraints and trailer sway damping for a comfortable ride even if the trailer wants to sway and roam. In the unlikely event of the SUV being put beyond the laws of physics, there are advanced multistage front airbags, supplemental front-seat side air bags, supplemental side curtain front and rear airbags and a driver inflatable knee-bolster air bag.

There is provision for a child’s seat, an enhanced accident response system and, for thirst, front-seat occupants have two illuminated cup holders to allow a drink without spilling onto the upholstery.

Talking of which, the Limited has lovely premium leather-trimmed bucket seats, premium door trim panels, a leather-wrapped shift knob and Sicilian elm wood-grain interior work.

This all enhances the SUV and reminds me of many premium European luxury cars.

The media centre is beyond expectations. The steering wheel-mounted audio controls are easy to find and the 6.5” touchscreen display full of interest, as long as the vehicle is not moving. Six speakers blast a sincerely loud noise level at passing livestock.

I appreciated the premium instrument cluster, the great park view rear back-up camera and the parksense front and rear park assist system.

Frankly without these aids, drivers will find it quite difficult to park neatly.

Verdict

Comfort
Arguably this is the ultimately comfortable SUV.

Performance
The bigger engine has even more performance.

Cool
A strange word in context. She’s as cool as the driver of the day.

Quality
Very, very difficult to find even a niggling fault.

At a glance

Top speed
202 km/h.

0-100km
8.2 seconds.

Economy
8.3 l/100km.

C02
218 g/km.

Engine
2987cc V6 called the 3.0 CRD.

Power
241 bhp at 4,000 rpm.

Maximum torque
550Nm at 1,800-2,800rpm.

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