Jeep­ers!

Chrysler’s new SUV com­pares favourably with Euro­pean ri­vals, writes Craig Duff

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

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.

Value

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.

Technology

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.

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