A vehicle born 65 years ago played a major role in the Allies' World War.
2 victories in Europe, Africa and the Far East, then went on to become a motoring icon and recreational vehicle of choice around the world.
The tough, indomitable and almost indestructible Jeep (the "General Purpose" description was abbreviated to GP, then Jeep) was born of desperate need.
In 1940 Europe was engulfed by war but America wasn't yet involved in the conflict.
Yet with the spectre of combat looming the US Army was alarmed to realise it lacked a rugged, easy-to-maintain four-wheel drive vehicle with mobility over all kinds of terrain.
This led to the creation of the Jeep, designed and built by the Willys Overland company. It was powered by a four-cylinder 2,2-litre engine and power was transferred to the wheels via a three-speed manual gearbox.
The first Jeeps came off production lines early in 1941. Eventually more than 700 000 of these sturdy vehicles were built - many have survived to the present day.
They served in all theatres of WW2, from the frozen wastes of Russia to the heat and dust of North Africa, and from Europe's war-ravaged cities to the humidity of the Far East.
Today the pioneering spirit and go anywhere ability of those early Jeeps live on in the Jeep Cherokee which has become a market leader in its segment since it was launched in South Africa in 2002.
"The Jeep Cherokee embodies the true spirit of all Jeep vehicles," DaimerChrysler's Guy Franken says.
"It epitomises the lifestyle promise our customers aspire to. It remains,after four years on the market, the best-selling 4x4 SUV in South Africa. It's the benchmark against which all other 4x4s are measured."
Few, if any, other medium-sized SUVs can beat its ability off the road, refinement on the road and the fun it provides for people with active lifestyles.
The Cherokee range has eight models in Sport, Limited and Renegade specification levels. Two engines are used - a 2,6-litre commoncar rail turbodiesel and a 3,7-litre V6.
Both are available in all three versions - Sport, Limited and Renegade.
Buyers have overwhelmingly favoured the 3,7-litre V6 engine, rated at 157 kW at 5 200 r/min and a solid 319 Nm of torque at 4 000 r/min.
But with oil prices steadily rising and the economy of diesel-powered vehicles becoming more evident the 2,8-litre CRD is likely to become more popular.
It develops 120 kW at 3 800 r/min and a hefty 400 Nm at a low 1 800r/min. A 78-litre tank allows a range of almost 800 km, the best in the Cherokee's class.
Customers have a choice of fourspeed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. The Cherokee is't a "soft-roader" or a "crossover"; it's a hardnosed offroad vehicle with permanent fourwheel drive and both high- and lowrange functions (low range can be selected while the vehicle is moving).
Standard across the range in 2006 models is an electronic stability programme (ESP) that enhances driver control and helps to maintain directional stability under all conditions, especially on changing surfaces.
If the system discerns a difference between what the driver wants through the steering and the vehicle?s actual path it applies selective braking and throttle input to put the commoncar back on the driver's intended path.
The ESP system incorporates an advanced ABS system, all-speed traction control system (TCS), fourwheel brake traction control system (BTCS), electronic roll mitigation (ERM) and brake assist to add a new dimension to an already formidable 4x4 system.
In addition standard features on all Cherokee models include air conditioning, airbags, power steering, assist handles, a warning to remind you to attach your seatbelt, a radio/CD changer and six speakers, fourwheel disc brakes with ABS, bucket seats in front, central locking, speedsensitive door locks, electric windows and side mirrors, rear window defroster, roof rack side rails, fully adjustable steering wheel, swing gate and pop-up window at the back, fog lamps and variable intermittent windscreen wipers.
The SPORT, the entry-level model, features a colour-coded grille with integrated fog lamps, black bumpers and wheel arches, 16-inch silver wheels with P225/75R 16-inch tyres, four airbags and cloth upholstery.
Three models are offered: Sport CRD (R30 4900), Sport CRD automatic (R315 900) and Sport 3,7 automatic (R288 500).
LIMITED models are distinguished by a chrome grille, body side mouldings (with the Cherokee name moulded in) and side rails and colour-coded front and rear fascias and bumpers.
Fog lamps are standard, as well as a sill cover to protect body sides from stone damage. The Limited is well appointed with leather bucket seats, six-way electric adjustment for the driver's seat, leather steering wheel, speed control, security alarm, rear cargo cover, tinted sunscreen glass, 17-inch aluminium wheels with P235/65R 17-inch tyres, a lock-up torque converter and Jeep?s excellent full-time four-wheel-drive system.
The Limited range consists of the CRD (R343 500), CRD automatic (R356 500) and 3,7 automatic (R328&NBSP;500).
The RENEGADE is the Cherokee image leader. Its distinctive appearance features a fl atter bonnet and taller grille than the Limited and Sport, large free-standing fog lamps with black bezels, a tougher luggage rack and brushed silver metallic tubular side rails.
Standard features include highback bucket seats, speed control, tinted sunscreen glass, 16-inch aluminium wheels, tow hooks, colour coded grille, overhead bar with lights, foldaway mirrors and an onboard computer/information centre.
The two models offered (both with four-speed automatic transmission) are the Renegade CRD (R338 500) and the 3,7 V6 (R366 500).
All Cherokee models are covered by a three-year/60 000 km warranty and a three-year/60 000km service
"Currently Jeep has some aggressive finance plans available at all Jeep dealerships countrywide, making this unique bestseller available to all," Guy Franken says.