I bought a JEEP… Well borrowed one.
We were lucky enough to have Jeep hand over a set of keys to a brand new 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee – Limited for a week to put it through its pace and see how it did handling the weekend Buller run.
Friday night geared up with Badaz as my co-pilot, along with all his snowboard gear in the back. It fitted no problem and with split rear seat easy to drop down we were on our way. The vehicle we had been handed had all the gadgets and tech that you would expect from a full-size luxury SUV. Within only couple minutes and surprising ease we had my phone hooked up and tunes pumping out of the awesome 9-speaker stereo system.
Being Friday evening it was a bit of a slow crawl out of town, Jeep handled well. The 8-Speed gearbox means there is plenty of low-end torque to get away from the lights swiftly. For an added get away drop it into sports for a few more revs and bit of extra noise out the back.
Once clear of the traffic we got into the drive, set the cruise control to 100km/h and watched the miles tick by. The ride was comfortable; with no suspension setting options it was a pleasant surprise. Out of all the gadgets and options on this vehicle the one that we loved the most was the auto dimming headlights, just set them on high beam and the car does the rest, detecting both directions of traffic and dipping the headlight appropriately. This one feature made the journey surprisingly more relaxing not having to worry about blinding other drivers on the road. I will definitely be looking for this feature on my next car.
Passing through Merrijig marks the start of the fun part and highlight of my drive every weekend to Mt Buller. The winding climb to the Village gave us the chance to test out how this large SUV handled and put its power down. When we hit the gate to mark the bottom of the mountain, switch it from sports mode into flappy paddle mode. We hit the first straight-ish section and the 3.6 litre V6 pulled this 2,000kg+ beast surprisingly swiftly up the hill and revving out to 6000rpm. The paddle shift through the corners surpassed all my expectations; it was far more responsive in its changes and gave you the gear you requested when you needed it, unlike many other paddle shift systems I have encountered in SUV’s that I have driven. It griped well though the corners taking into account its size, with an acceptable amount of body rolls considering there are no ride mode adjustments.
Arriving in the village to cleared roads and no snow falling across the weekend, we did not get the chance to test out its on-snow capabilities.
It was a fantastic weekend, which was highlighted with the 25th ABOM Mogul Challenge. This saw Australia’s 2014 Winter Olympic hopefuls going head to head in what turned out to be a fantastic event and congratulations to Brodie Summers and Nicole Parks for taking out this years titles.
The level of equipment matches up and for this sort of money you won’t find better value. It handled the mountain roads with ease and had plenty of power to call upon both on the highway and in the twisty bits. When it comes to space it has plenty, including ample of rear leg room to comfortably 4 adults on the long drives (which we had on the Sunday night return trip). The ride is smooth and comfortable, which makes it a nice place to be on those long journeys. The claimed combined fuel consumptions was spot on across our test coming in at 10.1L/100km which for a vehicle this size was great.
If you are looking for a large luxury SUV that will take you to the snow or those weekends away camping in comfort and style then this should definitely be on your list.
For more information – Jeep.com.au