First DriveThe 697bhp Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk seems like a real beast on paper but our short blast shows it has some likeable manners
First DriveNew-look Jeep Grand Cherokee also gets new technology and improved performance to take on the class best
What is it?
Jeep has given the Grand Cherokee a minor facelift for 2008, concentrating on the front end for the exterior revisions, although it will take a dedicated Jeep-spotter to tell the difference out on the road.
Behind the lengthened radiator grille and rounder headlamps spec levels have also been tweaked, with this top-spec Overland model running on bigger wheels and with an interior that’s been designed to appeal to European tastes with dark plastics and leather in place of the previous pale grey finish.
New high-intensity headlamps are standard, along with Chrysler Group’s new MyGig infotainment system. Hill descent (for going down) and hill assist (for going up) also join the formidable ‘Quadra Drive 2’ off road arsenal. And, for anyone seeking to actually venture into the wilderness, a detachable front valance improves clearance off-road.
What’s it like?
The small interior revisions make a surprising difference, with new leather sections on the tops of the doors reducing the amount of the hard, scratchy ‘elephant skin’ plastic that still blights the Grand’s cabin. Sadly the dreadful faux wood is still crudely fitted over much of the dashboard, and the cabin still feels claustrophobic – especially for anyone relegated to the back. How can something so big feel so small inside?
The MyGig system works well and provides big, meaty sound while being addressed through an easy-to-use interface. But the cabin ambiance still feels a world away from that of the Discovery or Touareg.
On the road the Grand feels exactly as it did before. Performance is reasonably sprightly thanks to a kerbweight that is surprisingly svelte by the standards of this heavyweight class. The Mercedes turbo-diesel engine gives solid performance too, and the standard-fit automatic gearbox is a sweet-shifting unit. Sadly all this good is comprehensively undone by the crude, separate-axle chassis which gives a heaving, crashing ride that never settles down on British roads. Compared to a modern premium soft-roader, it feels like a dinosaur.
Should I buy one?
If you need a proper off-roader and like your toys then the Grand is still able to muster some appeal. It offers good value too, especially when you consider it’s comprehensive spec list.
But realistically the Grand Cherokee needs to be cheaper still to offset the gulf between it and its rivals in terms of premium feel and on-road ability. These small revisions are welcome, but they’re not going to cause any sleepness nights among Land Rover’s dealer staff.