Mo­tor­ing

The up­dated Jeep Grand Chero­kee has true lo­cal ap­peal

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As a brand that only pro­duces SUVs, Jeep has a rel­a­tively small foot­print in Aus­tralia – even smaller out in “Toy­ota coun­try”. But things are chang­ing.

The man­u­fac­turer backs its ve­hi­cles with a five-year war­ranty, plans to test cars lo­cally and is fi­nally build­ing cars that Aus­tralians can warm to, like the up­dated Grand Chero­kee. The five-seater now comes with a re­designed nose, alu­minium sus­pen­sion com­po­nents, a qui­eter cabin and a new model called the Trail­hawk.

With Kevlar-re­in­forced tyres, bright-red tow hooks (front and rear) and up­graded steel pro­tec­tion un­der­neath the body, the Trail­hawk is de­signed to ven­ture off-road. The ad­justable-height air sus­pen­sion and Quadra-Drive II four-wheel-drive sys­tem give the Trail­hawk its big­gest leg-up over boul­ders, sand dunes and mud holes.

The abil­ity to in­crease ground clear­ance from 205 to a tow­er­ing 260 mil­lime­tres means it can go where many very ca­pa­ble off-road­ers can’t. And the clever 4WD sys­tem does a stel­lar job, care­fully feed­ing drive to the wheels with trac­tion.

Small gripes in­clude the oc­ca­sional clunk from the air sus­pen­sion and a foot-op­er­ated park­ing brake that lines up per­fectly with the driver’s left shin.

The Trail­hawk’s real tal­ent shines through on paved roads, where the in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion de­liv­ers good con­trol and com­fort. Hav­ing some

2.3 tonnes sit­ting high off the ground ul­ti­mately re­duces its abil­ity to be­have like a lower-rid­ing sedan but pro­gres­sive steer­ing makes for easy cruis­ing.

The fa­mil­iar 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel is mus­cu­lar, un­leash­ing a use­ful 570Nm tor­rent af­ter a brief hes­i­ta­tion. The en­gine is matched to an in­tu­itive eight-speed auto for smooth, fuss-free tour­ing – and the abil­ity to tow up to 3.5 tonnes.

That split per­son­al­ity makes the Trail­hawk pretty tempt­ing for those plan­ning big drives in vari­able ter­rain.

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