Grand tra­di­tion

2015 Grand Chero­kee is con­fi­dent, clas­sic

Post-Tribune - - To Drive - BY STEVE WHEELER

With its world-class in­te­rior, time­less Jeep style and su­pe­rior off-road ca­pa­bil­ity, the 2015 Grand Chero­kee is at the top of its game. Avail­able in six trims with three en­gine choices — in­clud­ing a ter­rific EcoDiesel V-6 — the Grand Chero­kee de­liv­ers con­fi­dently and pur­pose­fully in all driv­ing con­di­tions.

Jeep’s EcoDiesel V-6, our fa­vorite of the three en­gine of­fer­ings, pro­duces 240 horse­power and a whop­ping 420 pound-feet of torque. It’s ca­pa­ble of tow­ing 7,400 pounds, mean­ing you can eas­ily tow all your toys to the beach, moun­tains or other va­ca­tion des­ti­na­tions. But per­haps the thing we like best about the Grand Chero­kee is that it will com­fort­ably take five oc­cu­pants 22 miles along city streets or up to 30 miles down the high­way on a gal­lon of diesel.

Our tester fea­tured the stan­dard pow­er­plant, a flex-fuel Pen­tas­tar 3.6-liter V-6 that pro­duces 290 horse­power and 260 pound-feet of torque. The en­gine proved its met­tle dur­ing our week­long test, de­liv­er­ing spir­ited ac­cel­er­a­tion and smooth high­way power. The gaso­line-pow­ered V-6 gets 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the high­way, with a high­way range of more than 600 miles. Stan­dard tow­ing ca­pac­ity is 6,200 pounds.

Jeep also of­fers a 5.7-liter V-8 that de­vel­ops 360 horses and 390 pound-feet of torque. All three en­gines are mated to a smoothas-but­ter eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion from Chrysler.

The 2015 Grand Chero­kee is avail­able in th­ese trims: Laredo, Limited, Altitude, Over­land, Sum­mit and the high-per­for­mance SRT, with each trim adding con­tent and fea­tures. Prices range from $29,995 to $64,595.

Our tested Over­land was about the mid­dle of the range and had fea­tures like a stitched leather in­stru­ment panel and wood trim, heated and ven­ti­lated front seats, heated rear seats, du­al­zone air, a heated steer­ing wheel with pad­dle shifters, Bi-Xenon HID head­lamps, 20-inch alu­minum wheels, a panoramic sun­roof, a power lift­gate and power fold­ing mir­rors. Con­nec­tiv­ity in the Grand Chero­kee is via Chrysler’s Ucon­nect, a user-friendly sys­tem with an 8.4-inch touch­screen dis­play.

The “guts” of the Grand Chero­kee — the equip­ment that makes it so ca­pa­ble where the pave­ment ends — in­cludes three avail­able 4x4 sys­tems: Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II.

Our test Over­land model also had Jeep’s Quadra-Lift and Se­lec-Ter­rain sys­tems, which make the Grand Chero­kee even more ca­pa­ble of­froad. Quadra-Lift is an air sus­pen­sion sys­tem that has five height set­tings. Se­lec-Ter­rain has au­to­matic trac­tion set­tings for sand, mud, snow or rock — or each can be set in­di­vid­u­ally. The sys­tem co­or­di­nates up to 12 dif­fer­ent pow­er­train, brak­ing and sus­pen­sion func­tions, in­clud­ing throt­tle and trans­mis­sion shift points.

Fi­nally, Jeep says the Grand Chero­kee has more than 70 ad­vanced safety and se­cu­rity fea­tures, the most in its class. They in­clude a full com­ple­ment of airbags, sta­bil­ity and trac­tion con­trol sys­tems and four­wheel anti-lock brakes.

The Grand Chero­kee scored five over­all stars in the gov­ern­ment’s safety tests. The In­sur­ance In­sti­tute for High­way Safety has not yet tested the 2015 Grand Chero­kee, but gave the 2014 model a Top Safety Pick award.

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