Chrysler’s new SUV compares favourably with European rivals, writes Craig Duff
NEARLY 70 years after it started building vehicles with a reputation for off-road ability, Jeep has finally been able to reproduce the feat on-road.
The big Grand Cherokee SUV is a pivotal car for the new Chrysler, but benefits from its old association with Mercedes.
The chassis and suspension were part of a joint-development program with the Germans and led to the development of this independent suspension with isolated suspension cradles.
The result is a car that is a much more refined on-road ride than any Jeep before.
It takes serious provocation to unsettle the 2.3-tonne beast and then it’s a predictable case of compensating for pitch and roll.
And that’s what makes the Grand Cherokee such a step forward, because it still copes with extreme offroad runs that would ground most SUVs.
A STARTING price of $45,000 will put the V6-powered Laredo on more than a few shopping lists.
It sells with standard Bluetooth, a 30GB hard drive in the six-speaker media system and 18-inch polished alloy rims.
The air suspension is a $2500 option and premium paint will add $450.
Step up to the Limited and the V6 is $ 55,000; the 5.7-litre V8 another $5000.
The extra spend buys 20-inch rims and more creature comforts such as front and rear parking sensors, though the options checklist is also more extensive, from $495 for premium paint to $3250 each for the panoramic sunroom, air suspension and powered tailgate/heated steering wheel.
The range-topping Overland at $69,500 has all the kit — the rear DVD screens is the only notable option, but that comes at the expense of the panoramic sunroof.
A five-speed auto drives all models and a diesel will join the line-up within a few months.
THE Grand Cherokee comes with two versions of its four-wheel drive system. Quadra-Trac II uses sensors linked to the two-speed transfer case to determine tyre slip and route up to all the available torque to the axle with the most traction.