STILL CAPABLE: Jeep's Grand Cherokee of two generations back can nowadays be acquired for relatively little money. It has good space, strong engines and proper off-road capabilities. Image: QuickPic
Cape Town - The Jeep Grand Cherokee is tough on the wallet. Diesel or petrol, you can prepare yourself for regular trips to your nearest fuelling station.
Now that the most unpleasant part is out of the way, let’s take out the magnifying glass and take a closer look at the Grand Cherokee range of 2005-2010.
Strong American roots
Jeep falls under the Chrysler group, the American automaker. The Grand Cherokee is a big vehicle, partly because the Americans believe that “bigger is better”.
A big body with even bigger engines are all elements that gave the Grand Cherokee its own unique identity over the years. And as is the case with many big American vehicles, the Grand struggles to hide its size. It rolls and falls in corners and feels loose when you tug too enthusiastically on the steering wheel. But, place a piece of straight tarmac in front of it and the bark turns into a bite.
Engines ranging from the 3.0-litre V6 diesel to the mighty 6.1-litre V8 (petrol, 313kW) doing duty in the SRT8, all steered the Grand Cherokee forward. The smaller models in the range (not that any of these models were small) struggled to get going and there was always the feeling that the engines needed more power, more grunt, more oomph. Because it goes without saying that an imposing vehicle like the Grand Cherokee needs imposing power.
READ: New Jeep Grand Cherokee here
That’s where the V8 models came in. Goodness, these engines have the type of power that can help Eskom out of its predicament! And the engine’s old school roar will give you goose bumps from enjoyment.
Certain V8 models had another trick up their sleeves: the Hemi-factor. When you plod along in the Grand Cherokee, four of the eight cylinders will switch off automatically. The moment you floor it, the engine will fire on all eights and the neighbourhood will wake from their slumber. Earlier Hemi’s had an uncertainty when the engine switches from four to eight cylinders, but later models, it seems, overcame this issue.
Better rock climber than a mountain goat
Off-roading is the Grand’s forte and it often trumps the competitors. Jeep’s all-wheel drive system turns the SUV into something that seems as if nothing can stop it. On V6 models the so-called Quadra-Trac I system is available. An all-wheels drive system that automatically channels power between the front and rear wheels.
READ: Monster Jeep jets into SA
The upgrade on this system, Quadra-Trac II, came standard on the V8 models and allows the Jeep to tackle bigger obstacles. Then there is the optional Quadra-Drive II. This system is like Quadra-Trac II on steroids, but is more suitable to men and women who brush their teeth with steel wool and rinse their mouths with peanut butter.
The Grand Cherokee is not as refined as its German competitors, but when it comes to off-roading it beats the field hands down.
So is it a yes or a no?
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is not without faults. Poor finishing, leaking fluids, failing electronics, faulty airbags and brakes… these are all enough to make one look the other way. But the Grand can deliver a service - the thousands of kilometres are testament to that. Ranging between R100 000 and R300 000 there are a number of these SUVs for sale, but double check the big Jeep’s history.