Jeep has quite a history. With over 75 years of experience, this American brand has built SUVs that claim to inspire a sense of freedom and adventure. Throughout their history, Jeep vehicle owners affirm that the brand has stuck to the ‘Go Anywhere. Do Anything.’ as their legacy. Well, Jeep finally made it to our Indian market late last month after their initial plans to get the brand kicking four years ago didn’t exactly take off. Available currently in the Grand Cherokee and Wrangler for now, Jeep in India has priced these vehicles way over everybody’s expectations.
We get our hands on the iconic Grand Cherokee in diesel form and give you an idea of what to expect of this legend.
Whichever way you look at this SUV, it’s the fascia that generates that maximum attention. The majestic nose incorporates a unique seven-slat grille, a distinctly shaped pair of HID head lamps, and uses heaps of chrome. It’s the tall and prominent bonnet line with straight lines that extends all the way to the rear, and the square wheel-wells that lend this SUV with an unmistakeable hint of aggression.
In profile, the Cherokee also shows off a significant amount of chrome around the windows, mirrors, door handles, lower end of both bumpers, and along the running board. As much as this gets it to stand out, the rear section is far from impressive, and could also pass off as just another large SUV from a distance.
Move onto the driver’s seat and one will appreciate the fresh design language from this brand. A premium grained black plastic can be seen with wood inserts that run from the door pads all through the high-set two layered dash which sport leather and silver accents. Along with the higher window line and a compact front windscreen, is a thick A-pillar that needs some adjusting to, especially while negotiating city traffic. A large premium steering with wooden inserts and the ‘Jeep’ badge can be seen adorning this dash.
Unique bits that immediately catch your attention are the yacht style gear shifter and the foot operated lever which serves as a manual parking brake. As much as the wide front seats offer superior contours, good back and thigh support, and a surprising amount of lateral support, even tall occupants should find it accommodating in this SUV. There’s adequate space for one’s knick-knacks in the centre console and the door pads too.
Nevertheless, we felt that the firm contours on the rear seat made it slightly uncomfortable to be seated on. That said, even thigh support and legroom could have been much better, but as a relief, these ventilated seats can be adjusted for angle, and three abreast should be an easy affair. Two flip-up screens behind the front seats serve entertainment to the occupants, and a huge sunroof does its job by throwing in some light into the otherwise dark cabin. This five-seater sports a boot that can swallow up to 1025 litres of luggage and an electric boot lid that smartly warns with beeps while shutting.
With the Cherokee Summit, one gets features such as ventilated front and rear seats, auto dimming passenger door mirror, leather trim on the dash and a steering with wooden inserts. There’s also an 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation, dual rear screens, electronic stability control, traction control, hill start assist, and hill descent control, to name a few.
Under the hood of the diesel Cherokee is a 240bhp 3-litre V6 engine that makes 570Nm of torque, and works with an eight-speed automatic gearbox with the addition of paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Hit the accelerator pedal in ‘Normal’ mode and there is a nice shove from idle and it picks up speed quickly and in a remarkably linear fashion. A sporty growl can also be heard from the engine, especially when you’re jabbing at the throttle more than usual. In fact, one will notice that the insulation in this cabin is so good that it masks the feeling of speed extremely well.
So much that the true speed is unknown until one glances at the speedo or realises that the revs are bouncing off the 4000rpm limiter. Back off the throttle and the engine quickly responds by upshifting and dropping the revs gradually to as low as 1500rpm to aid stress free mile munching. Slot into ‘Sport Mode’ and the response from the engine gets crisper throughout the range, and the motor is now eager to hold on to a gear for longer, all the way to the redline. Lift your foot off the throttle in this mode and the transmission will cling on to a lower gear to thrust you ahead the instant you nudge the accelerator again.
Other than a few instances in kick-down situations where the gearbox took a little longer than usual, shifts on this gearbox on every other occasion performed swiftly. This Jeep comes with a steering that’s quick off the centre, but needs more circles turn-to-turn, so while highway driving should be an easy affair, city driving could get cumbersome at times. However, what makes matters easy is that the steering is light, but as speeds pick up it gets much slower, especially after 140kmph. While this seems technically correct, negotiating tight curves post these speeds will require more attention and input, as the engine tends to swing you past this mark effortlessly.
Also on offer is Jeep’s Selec-Terrain traction control system which gives you five modes to tackle conditions such as snow, sand, mud and rock and traction. It is enhanced through Jeep’s Quadra-Trac II 4WD systems. Now, even with the ‘Summit’ variant weighing close to 2455kg, the ride characteristics tilt more towards a firm damping setup. At low city speeds, even crawling through potholes or bumps can be a bone jarring affair and there’s some amount of up and down movement too. The trick here is to hit a city bump or speed breaker with a little more speed than usual (if you miss seeing it) and one won’t regret much.
That said, the ride quality gets better as the speeds rise, and at 150kmph plus the Cherokee drives with a poise that flattens most bumps and undulations. There’s hardly any exterior noise that filters into the cabin other than the suspension bits working its way around the unusual imperfections of our roads. While the brakes are progressive and have a crisp bite, it is at the end of the travel that it feels slightly vague. We also encountered some amount of nose diving under sharper braking inputs.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||240 @ 3600|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||570 @ 2000|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||93.5|
|Tyre size||265 / 50 R20|
|Ventilated front and rear seats||Yes|
|Auto dimming door mirrors||Yes|
|Leather trim on dash and steering||Yes|
|8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system with navigation||Yes|
|Dual rear screens||Yes|
|Electronic stability control||Yes|
|Hill start assist||Yes|
|Hill descent control||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||240 @ 3600||171 @ 3400|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||570 @ 2000||410 @ 1600|
|Gears||Eight-speed auto||Five-speed auto|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||93.5||87|
|Tyre size||265 / 50 R20||265 / 60 R18|
Jeep has roped in the Grand Cherokee for the Indian market through the CBU route, and in the process has given the SUV a price tag that has raised quite a few eyebrows. With the diesel Grand Cherokee sporting a price tag that ranges from Rs 97.8 lakh to Rs 1.08 crore, depending on whether it is the ‘Limited’ or ‘Summit’ variant, it is well within the territory of vehicles like the Toyota Land Cruiser Prado and the Range Rover Sport. However, both these vehicles and brands enjoy a premium status in our market, and though Jeep may have a vibrant legacy in its own way, it may have a task on its hands to make sure that their offering is worth all that money.
Pictures: Kapil Angane