Jeep has over 75 years of experience in building SUVs and the brand explicitly claims that their vehicles clearly inspire a sense of freedom and adventure. If you take a trip down memory lane, you will always come across Jeep owners who confirm that the brand has always gone by the ‘Go Anywhere. Do Anything.’ slogan. After contemplating for four years, Jeep finally rolled into Indian showrooms late last month. With the Grand Cherokee, it’s primarily the extravagant nose with the seven-slat grille, the uniquely formed HID head lights, and immense chrome splashed all across, that allures. Adding to the visual drama is a towering and conspicuous bonnet line which flows all the way to the rear portion along with the square wheel-wells which indicates to the potent off-road lineage. A substantial quantity of chrome can be seen highlighting the details, however, soon after one appreciates the individuality of the design, you stumble upon the rear section of the car which could easily pass off as just another SUV. With the Grand Cherokee and Wrangler on the product list for now, Jeep has priced both cars more than what the market anticipated. We drove the diesel Grand Cherokee extensively and here’s the details.
. For starters, the Grand Cherokee is a spectacular looking vehicle as compared to its earlier generations showing exemplary evolution. The vertically placed 7-slat chrome grille might look familiar to most considering how Mahindra has been using the same design for a long long time. There is a generous serving of chrome on the front of the car with a large and rather well placed chrome accent piece running across the lower half of the front bumper and two handsome air intake ports with chrome linings occupying the top half of the front bumper.
What really captivated us was the sheer attention to detail in the sleek headlamp unit. The horizontally placed headlamps with embedded LED daytime running lamps gives the Grand Cherokee tremendous street presence and character. The headlamp units also come with small engravings that showcase the original Jeep form in them on one side and the words ‘Since 1941’on the other side paying homage to the vehicle that started the off-road trend. Incidentally, Jeep is also credited in making the world’s first luxury offroader, or what later came to be known as the SUV, the Wagoneer, which to some is the father of all modern SUVs the world over.
Coming back to the design elements on the new 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee, although the front of the car demands respect with its well crafted design, the rear of this range topping SUV does seem a little vanilla from the rear end due to its upright stance and large tail lamps. There is even more chrome on tap here though with the large Jeep badge dominating the boot lid. The rear bumper is festooned with two large trapezoidal exhaust tips and a large chrome accent piece dominating the rear bumper from one end to another. What does really stand out though is the sheer size and dimensions of the car amongst other cars on the road. We also like the large 20-inch split-5-spoke chrome wheels which although huge on paper look just about right on this huge SUV. In fact, if one is seriously considering buying the Grand Cherokee, we would beg you to go for the largest set of wheels Jeep as to offer just because this is one of those few cars that can actually pull a gigantic wheel off without looking awkward. The Grand Cherokee is most certainly one of the most brutish SUVs built and will certainly command instant respect wherever one takes it.
We’ve glossed through some photos on the web and gathered all we could about the machine. The cabin is more spacious than most people would desire. At the front, you’re given more than enough room to stretch your legs out, while headroom and shoulder room are also fine. The second row could have been improved slightly according to some sources, although it’s quite possibly more comfort-oriented than most other SUVs of its classThe layout and styling of the cabin is pretty marvellous, but you might want to keep your expectations in check, because it’s not the type that you’d find within Audi/BMW/Mercedes-Benz. We definitely adored it, with the fine treatment and the expensive highlights. There is an edge of sophistication that you can trace in the design, and we personally thought it was very well done.
We aren’t too sure about the colour scheme, but we get the idea that there could be a two two colour scheme. At the front, the upper section of the dashboard is to come in a lighter colour, while the lower portion that flows down towards the leg area would be darker. AC vents are present on either side of the dash, and on either side of the console by the centre. A thick wooden garnish runs the length of the dashboard, stretching into the doorsides as well. This definitely does rake up the glamour within, and we thought that it was unlike other models that we see today. At the focus of the console is a 8.4-inch Touchscreen display with the buttons aligned below it. The placement and arrangement of the system was great, bringing a modern pulse to the interior that most people would find enthralling.
The area surrounding the console is wrapped in the same silver embellishment, making for a more opulent and energetic look. At the bottom of the console, the gear-shift lever has been placed right next to a bottle storage region. By the corner, the steering wheel is to come with fine leather dressing, and we’re sure few people would turn down this thrill. Paddle shifters have been incorporated by the wheel, allowing for easier shifting. Coming to the seating arrangement, you’re sure to love the black leather upholstery that lavishes the seats, and it comes along with Suede inserts for a more affluent touch. When you take a seat here, you’re sure to feel more relieve than in most other cars, with the strong ergonomic design, along with many reliable comfort facilities. This includes seat heating, 4-way adjustable lumbar support, split folding for the rear seats, and ventilation for the front seats. With all of these and more, we can safely say that riding in this vehicle, upon its release, is going to be quite a breeze.
This is the department where the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT shows its true colours. Petrol motors with huge displacement is an American trademark and this beast is no different. Powering the SRT is a 6.4-litre naturally aspirated HEMI V8 engine which produces 475 BHP and 630 Nm of torque. On paper, the numbers aren’t too high considering the displacement. However, in the real world, the performance of this SUV is mind numbing. Being a naturally aspirated motor, torque is available from the word go and there’s no turbo lag to deal with. This makes the car shoot like a rocket.
Speaking of shooting like a rocket, the Grand Cherokee SRT comes with launch control which is very easy to use. All one needs to do is press the launch button located next to the gearlever, straighten the steering wheel, press the brake and accelerator completely and then leave the brake pedal. The way this thing surges forward post that is an experience which is very, very difficult to put into words. To describe it in one word – unreal. Never in my wildest dreams would I imagine a SUV to launch this way. This even beats the European SUVs which have turbocharged engines with more horses in terms of brute force.
The brute force and rawness of the engine is down to the torque it produces and the way the engine is built. Earlier, I mentioned about the dual exhausts acting like speakers. What I meant there was that the exhaust note of the SRT is music to the ears. There are very few things which can be better than the sound coming out of a big block American V8 engine and it adds to the whole drama. However, all this comes at a cost and the cost is in terms of something very dear to us Indians – fuel efficiency. Drive it sedately and you would be lucky to get around 3.5 km/l. Drive it the way a SRT is supposed to be and you end up getting 2.5 km/l. The low fuel efficiency is somewhat set off by the huge 120-litre fuel tank.
DRIVING DYNAMICS ;
The driving dynamics of the Jeep Grand Cherokee are improved with drive select mode with five settings. The grip management system coordinates with 12 driving systems, including throttle control, transmission shifting, electronic stability control system, etc., delivering accurate stability over varying driving conditions. The superior quality of the suspension system with high ground clearance inspires for an adventurous drive.
The safety level of the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is right up there as it is imported as a CBU from the USA which is known to have one of the most stringent safety norms. It gets the usual shebang of safety kit including multiple airbags, ABS, ESP, TCS, Hill start assist, Hill descent control and the likes. What remains to be seen is the sales and service network of the brand once it is established in India. In the beginning, showrooms will be opened up in very few cities which is definitely a problem for potential owners.
We’ll be honest with you, it’s hard to judge a vehicle with such amazing depth. The Grand Cherokee is displaying promise like no other vehicle has, and its response in other markets is pretty good. We’re sure that a major class of Indian car lovers would enjoy this vehicle’s enthralling exteriors, luxurious interiors and the never ending list of comfort. Its handling and performance would charm the sportier section of the crowd, and youngsters would definitely love the overall style and glamour. In the end of the day, we’re going to have to wait for the machine to be launched here before we can ascertain whether it’s destined to fly or to flop.