Long-term Update: Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland
Having recently swapped our Grand Cherokee in Limited guise for a more luxurious, and brand new Overland model, we desperately needed to put some mileage on the odometer. Fortunately I was just about to head down to the Eastern Cape when the Jeep arrived, which made for the perfect test of its long haul capabilities.
Did I mention that I was also taking three passengers and three dogs with me?
The Overland is the highest spec’ed Grand Cherokee that you can get, if you ignore the SRT and its abusively loud styling, exhaust note and impractical tyre choice and fuel economy for a long journey.
What this means is that the Overland receives as standard 20-inch polished wheels, Nappa leather-trimmed heated seats with edge welting, leather-trimmed instrument panel / door trim and centre armrest and Bi-xenon headlamps with signature LED daytime running lamps.
Over and above that our Overland came with some additional options, although it might be easier to mention what it didn’t come with since its option sheet was nearly full. The most noticeable was the adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, froward collision monitoring and rear cross-path detection.
Out of the gate, the Grand Cherokee is an amazing vehicle. It had enough room in the back to pack for four adults (and three dogs) for ten days, including food, with only minor spillage into the cabin. That being said most of the items that didn’t fit in the boot were pillows and they were used for the mammoth 14 hour journey from Johannesburg to Nature’s Valley.
We managed to keep two of the dogs, both toy poms, on the laps of their owners in the rear seats, while my Hungarian Vizsla shared the front foot well with her bed and my wife’s feet. Don’t feel bad for her, because I think that she had the most comfortable spot out of all of us.
Being a long trip I was doubly pleased that our Overland, as with our Limited Grand Cherokee, was a diesel unit. The 3,0-litre turbodiesel V6 only produces 179 kW but also 570 Nm of torque, all of which is available at 1 800 rpm. Not only is it supremely fuel efficient, averaging around 8.6 l/100km for the entire trip, but with the new software on the eight-speed gearbox it is extremely responsive when pulling off.
Coupled with a 93 litre fuel tank, we could have almost driven the 1250 km without refuelling, but the last thing that you want to do is get stranded without fuel in the Karoo, plus 14 hours is a long time to not move around.
I was also thankful for the air suspension on our Overland, even though the Limited also comes with it, as it made the ride quality smooth as silk. It is also clever enough to adjust the ride height based on what you are doing. So if you are moving at parking-lot speeds it will drop the car so as to not hit any overhead signs and will raise it again once you start to reach normal driving speed.
Once you go over 100km/h though it will lower the suspension again to try and reduce the aerodynamic drag of the Jeep and save some fuel.
Adaptive cruise control with forward collision detection was also a life saver. A front mounted radar measures the speed and distance of a slower moving car in front of you, adjusting the Jeep’s speed so that it matches it. Once the car moves out of the way, the system will accelerate the Jeep back up to the cruise control speed.
Basically, this allows you to not need to worry about braking as you approach a car and then accelerating up to your cruising speed. That is all done automatically; you just need to steer. This really reduces the mental impact of driving such a long distance as you can outsource those decisions.
The Grand Cherokee Limited is everything that you want in an everyday car as well as long distance cruiser. It is luxurious and comfortable but also efficient and safe.
I couldn’t think of a better car to take on such a journey.