The Grand off-roader

Un­like most SUVs, there was noth­ing soft about Jeep’s goany­where AWD

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Used Car -

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Jeep, the best-known brand in off-road ve­hi­cles, has forged a go-any­where rep­u­ta­tion.

It was on its own dur­ing WWII, when there were no other ve­hi­cles like it, but now the iconic brand is un­der siege from ri­vals for the SUV dol­lar.

Most brands fo­cus their at­ten­tion on the smaller, soft end of the SUV mar­ket. Jeep main­tains its pres­ence in the hard-core arena with the Grand Cherokee.

The WK model ar­rived in 2011 and was widely wel­comed for its abil­ity to go al­most any­where and for its value.

There was plenty to like about the Grand Cherokee. It was a big, at­trac­tively styled wagon with that un­mis­take­able grille.

There was plenty of choice in the range. En­gine op­tions were 3.6-litre V6, 5.7-litre V8, 3.0litre V6 turbo diesel and, to top them off, the thun­der­ing 6.4litre V8 for any­one want­ing to blaze a tyre-smok­ing trail across the land­scape. The base trans­mis­sion at launch was a five-speed auto, joined later by a six-speed and ul­ti­mately an eight-speed self-shifter.

With in­de­pen­dent sus­pen­sion front and rear the Grand Cherokee was warmly praised for its on-road man­ners, if not its thirst for fuel.

It wouldn‘t be a Jeep if it didn’t have four-wheel drive and the WK was well equipped in that do­main with its QuadraTrac II driv­e­train that easily han­dled most road con­di­tions.

For any­one want­ing to delve deeper into the bush, the op­tional Quadra-Drive II came with an elec­tronic lim­ited-slip dif­fer­en­tial to al­lo­cate torque to in­di­vid­ual wheels for even greater off-road ca­pa­bil­ity. Each came with switch­able Se­lec-Train trac­tion con­trol, which could be di­alled in to suit road con­di­tions.

In­side, there was seat­ing for five, it was com­fort­able and well kit­ted out with pretty much ev­ery fea­ture you could want.

NOW

Jeep has been blighted by qual­ity is­sues since it was re­launched here in the 1990s. The Grand Cherokee has lots to like but own­er­ship can be a night­mare.

Buy­ing one sec­ond-hand de­mands cau­tion. There is a long list of re­calls, so any­one con­tem­plat­ing buy­ing one should check it care­fully to en­sure all re­lated work has been car­ried out.

Re­call no­tices cov­ered airbags, brakes, sta­bil­ity con­trol, cruise con­trol, fuel pump ... the list goes on but to get a full run­down, view www.re­calls.gov.au.

Armed with that in­for­ma­tion take the ID num­ber of the car you want to buy to a Jeep dealer and have them check it against fac­tory records to see what has been done, and more im­por­tantly what might have been missed.

Even if that all checks out you need to be care­ful. With the Grand Cherokee’s abil­ity to go bush you need to check for of­froad use, or more to the point, off-road abuse. The big wagon will ab­sorb most of what comes its way off-road but still re­quires a skilled hand at the wheel to get through un­scathed.

Look for bashed un­der­body fit­tings, sus­pen­sion, driv­e­line, ex­haust etc and think twice about buy­ing any car that looks as if it’s had a hard life. There are plenty out there that have never left the back top.

You need to be pre­pared for some hefty fuel bills, es­pe­cially if you go the V8 route.

The turbo diesel, the way to go for bet­ter fuel ef­fi­ciency, is also a bet­ter all-round drive.

OWN­ERS SAY

Ge­off Ervin: I have noth­ing but praise for my 2012 Laredo diesel. To date it’s done 50,000km, tow­ing a 2.5tonne car­a­van for 20,000km of that. The fuel econ­omy is bril­liant around town and on trips with the van on the back. The only prob­lem has been a leak from an airconditi­oning hose. I am puz­zled by the re­ports of un­re­li­a­bil­ity. I would not hes­i­tate to buy another one.

Ed Cal­lan: I love the turbo diesel. High­way cruis­ing and over­tak­ing are ef­fort­less and the econ­omy is great. I’m not so keen on the turbo lag.

Karl Croft: Loved this car at the start — looks, value and fuel econ­omy — then the prob­lems started. There were is­sues re­lated to poor fit and fin­ish. There were mul­ti­ple dealer vis­its for the check en­gine light.

Paul Mo­ri­aty: Nice-look­ing ve­hi­cle and fun to drive but it spends most of its life at the dealer. Check en­gine light regularly comes on. Not happy.

Lau­rie Mcleod: I’ve bought four new Grand Chero­kees over the past 20 years. My

2011 Over­land diesel has lots of gear that can go wrong but not one thing has. I have driven 80,000km, it’s on the sec­ond set of tyres but still has the orig­i­nal brake pads. It’s a joy to drive.

Peter Mayo: My Grand Cherokee has done 40,000km, mostly tow­ing a 2.5-tonne car­a­van, on sealed and gravel roads. It is one of the last of the five-speed au­to­mat­ics and has not given me any prob­lems at all. It re­placed a Land Rover Dis­cov­ery Td5. I find it’s far more com­fort­able than the Disco and you hardly no­tice the van on the back. I av­er­age about 15.0L/100km with the van on, 7.9L on the high­way with­out the van and about 9.0L lo­cally. I am aware of re­li­a­bil­ity prob­lems but if mine is any in­di­ca­tion I would have no prob­lems in rec­om­mend­ing it to any­one.

SMITHY SAYS

Good on-road, great off but re­li­a­bil­ity is of real con­cern.

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