Chero­kee’s on the road

NT News - Motoring - - FRONT PAGE - By CRAIG DUFFY

NEARLY 70 years af­ter it started build­ing ve­hi­cles with a rep­u­ta­tion for off-road abil­ity, Jeep has been able to re­pro­duce the feat on-road.

The Grand Chero­kee SUV is piv­otal for the new Chrysler, but ben­e­fits from its old as­so­ci­a­tion with Mercedes.

The chas­sis and sus­pen­sion were part of a joint­de­vel­op­ment pro­gram with the Ger­man maker and led to the devel­op­ment of this in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion with iso­lated cra­dles.

The re­sult is a car that is a much more re­fined on-road ride than any Jeep be­fore it.

A wind-tun­nel work­out has trimmed the Grand Chero­kee’s drag by 8.5 per cent over the out­go­ing model and it takes se­ri­ous provo­ca­tion to un­set­tle the 2.3-tonne beast and then it is a pre­dictable case of com­pen­sat­ing for pitch and roll.

That is what makes the Grand Chero­kee such a step for­ward, as it still copes with ex­treme off-road 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 the only no­table op­tion, at the ex­pense of the panoramic sun­roof. A five-speed auto drives all mod­els and a diesel is slated to join the line-up within a few months.

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