Twenty one years after we were made to believe that the oil wells in Texas had dried up, the uber-popular 80s television series Dallas has hit our screens once again and has inspired some American drama, JR style, in our African lives. So, what better vehicle to review than a good ‘ol ‘yank’ tank? Or as Jeep prefer to call it, the new Grand Cherokee 3.6 Limited.
In our household we sometimes name our cars and the naming ceremonies are usually based on a very simple rule: the ugly ones get a boy’s name and the pretty ones a girl’s name! With this in mind, the previous generation Grand Cherokee would have earned itself the name ‘John Ross’ but the all new Grand Cherokee is definitely a ‘Sue-Ellen’. The proportions are good and the vehicle would look right at home parked in front of the South Fork mansion.
Not only is the new vehicle better looking but the interior is miles better too. Some say the previous generation Grand Cherokee felt a little cheap inside and it seemed not to wear very well too but the new one feels good and comes with all the bells and whistles, including heated seats in the rear —not vital in our climate but really cool to have any way! The Limited is not fitted with a navigation unit (only in the overland models) but the radio, with large screen, worked very well and the switches and buttons are well placed.
The Limited is reasonably priced, offering a lot more bang for your buck as it’s priced below who you think would be the natural competition.
To truly test the vehicle’s muscle we loaded a couple of large Texan’s… erm, Rugby boytjies in and headed off to watch a game at Soccer City. Everyone was very comfortable, even in the back where there is more than enough leg and head room, as well as plenty of cup holders for the beers… erm, cold drinks.
To be honest, the boot is a tad small for my liking but it does house a full size spare wheel which is much better than a space saver or even run flats. The rear load area can either be accessed by opening the rear window or the tail gate.
Our test unit was fitted with the Pentastar 3.6 litre, trust those yanks to come up with a cool sounding name for this aluminium petrol motor that pushes out a respectable 210 kilowatts of power and 347 Newton meters of torque, coupled to a five-speed automatic gearbox. It is more than adequate for a vehicle of this size, and it pulls nicely but I somehow think the diesel motor is possibly the better option as Jeep indicates the Pentastar should consume less than 12 litres per 100 kilometres. Personally, I couldn’t get to that and my consumption while using the car was much higher, admittedly though I may have been a little heavy footed.
The automatic box also had a manual setting that was a bit strange at first, as if you selected fourth gear it would shift down but never higher than fourth. This is very handy if you’re doing a bit of off-roading and don’t want it to shift past a certain gear or I guess even for towing up a steep incline.
Unfortunately we didn’t get the opportunity to take the Jeep off-road but we did mount a couple of slippery and angled sidewalks and although there was a bit of wheel spin she managed to do this with no problems at all and let’s face it that’s the most these vehicles normally get to face in our urban jungles. The Jeep is fitted with an automatic system to identify your terrain or you can turn a dial to the required terrain you are trying to tackle, apparently the system is very capable in the rough.
Some new features include the automatic high beam, which unlike Victoria Principal’s facelift is a roaring success! You simply click it on and as soon as the system does not detect lights from other vehicles ahead of you it switches to the high beam. It even dimmed on brightly lit roads and as soon as the road darkened it engaged high beams again. A full-proof gadget to avoid altercations with annoyed (and blinded) drivers in oncoming cars.
While the automatic high beam was a hit, the foot brake was a bit of a miss though. We prefer the conventional hand brake and the keyless system is a little fidgety until you get used to it.
The Limited is reasonably priced, offering a lot more bang for your buck as it’s priced below who you think would be the natural competition. In fact it almost falls in the price range of some double cabs that are not as refined or comfortable as the Grand Cherokee.
To sum it up, the Jeep handled nicely, was very comfortable to drive and is perfect for those necessary treks out to inspect your oil fields or simply just heading to the coast with the family.