It’s taken a long time coming but now the icon called Jeep is almost here. The launch was announced with much fanfare at the Auto Expo earlier this year. It’s not that we haven’t seen American SUVs earlier in the country (Ford Endeavour, Chevy Trailblazer) but this we know is something else. A chance to get behind the wheels of the Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit edition wasn’t supposed to be passed. Since the Fiat took over the brand Chrysler, Jeep’s parent company the India entry was imminent. The term SUV didn’t exist before Jeeps came into being, they’ve been more than a loyal soldier in many wars and ultimately became an inspiration for many automakers across the world to create their own versions of the vehicle. This also of course includes homegrown major Mahindra & Mahindra which till date makes adventure and off road vehicles.
The stance is really imposing and that’s what cars from the Jeep brand are known for. Look at it from whichever angle you want it looks muscular and sporty. The Bi-xenon headlamps are sleek and come with LEDs and DRLs. The trademark 7 slat grille is a definite highlight. On the profile the almost squarish wheel arches along with big 20 inch wheels look very bold. A dash of chrome on the windows adds a bit of glamour to this otherwise rugged looking vehicle. The Gran Cherokee branding on the front door is a nice touch and along with an aluminum finish roof rail, makes the car look exclusive. The rear plays along well with the rest if the design, split tail lamps being the highlight here. Finally the fact that logo is the name and vice versa adds a bit of individuality to the car. However a missing footboard is something big spending Indians may not really like.
Inside the grand Cherokee speaks a lot of luxury. There are some really high quality materials used all over the car. Mostly it’s not an all black theme with some bits of chrome wood and beige thrown in. The black theme goes well with the idea of a sporty muscular SUV. Extremely comfortable seats hug you nicely can be both heated and ventilated so depending on the weather condition the car will keep you in comfort. The steering wheel is nice to hold and has lot of controls like Bluetooth and cruise control. The volume and mode controls find a place behind the steering wheel below the paddle shifters, and once you get used to them are pretty cool to use. There nice 8 inch touch screen system that also comes with voice recognition. Reverse parking camera and two zone climate control are two other features which deserve a mention here.
Another standout feature is the panoramic sunroof which is bigger in size than what we’re used to seeing on some German SUVs. The instrument cluster is digital but looks analogue going well with heritage brand like Jeep. This is a five seater which means which means there good space on the second row as well. There good head room and shoulder room though I would have liked a little more thigh support here. There are personal AC vents and personal screens for entertainment which can be connected via USB or AV cables. So surely a lot to do and experience inside the Cherokee even on the second row.
Inside the grand Cherokee speaks a lot of luxury. There are some really high quality materials used all over the car. Mostly it’s not an all black theme with some bits of chrome wood and beige thrown in. The black theme goes well with the idea of a sporty muscular SUV.
The Grand Cherokee comes in three different avatars two of which are powered by a three like V6 Diesel engine including the GC summit that we sampled. Now this is a good powerful capable engine that gives 240 bhp and a very impressive torque of more than 500 nm. It’s quick as well for an SUV as it does 0-100 in just about 9 seconds. That for a vehicle weighing 2500 it’s is a good number. But the real monster is the V8 6.4 litre Petrol engine that powers the GC SRT giving a massive power of 475 bhp. There’s an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission mated to the engine. You can expect a combined mileage of around 8-9 kmpl on the SUV. The good thing is the fuel range which goes beyond 1000 kms owing to a huge fuel tank.
Ride & Handling
This is an area where there’s hardly any SUV in the market doesn’t perform well. This Jeep also matches up to some of the more fancied German rivals. Features like Electronic Stability Control and Electronic roll mitigation aid in better handling despite this being a big SUV. It surely helps to minimize body roll. Ride quality is impressive too and the car just sails over all the bumps and potholes. The front row is definitely a better place to be in demanding handling situations. Having said that the steering wheel can do with some better feel on the Grand Cherokee. There’s a full time four wheel drive system which means it’s a capable off roader. It’s got various modes depending on the surface and there’s an auto mode as well where it detects the surface to give you a better traction. The car then does its best to sail over obstacles.
Spending time with this icon is an experience. Whatever you’re in this car for – driving, offroading, luxury or comfort it will not disappoint you. That just means one thing, one more very capable set of wheels in the Indian luxury car segment. Safety includes as many as 9 airbags, ESP and Hill descent control. The launch should happen sometime in August which is when we’ll get to know the exact price which likely is expected to be around Rs. 60-70 lakh.
Shams Naqvi is an anchor/producer for the News X motor show Living Cars