Since the very first car I reviewed, I always had the Jeep Grand Cherokee on my list of “must drive” vehicles. This month, I finally got the chance to test drive, and review, the gorgeous Grand Cherokee from New Vaal South motors in Johannesburg.

As always, the team of friendly motoring enthusiasts at the dealership, welcome me with anticipation, eagerly showing me to the legendary 4×4. Jeep vehicles have a tendency to overwhelm you with their extremely good-looks and sheer, colossal presence – the Grand Cherokee is no different, with its beautiful new-style grille (still maintaining the famous slotted look) and sweeping arched lines. The Grand Cherokee doesn’t even have to move to generate the feeling that it owns the road, and I can almost feel the Jeep infusing me with confidence.

Slipping into the cabin (via Keyless Enter-N-Go) is a treat on its own – it’s my first time driving a Jeep, and I am in awe of the magnificent interior. The attention to detail is phenomenal, down to the wood-inlay, signature trim and stitching on the leather seats. The first thing I note is how spacious and roomy the cabin is. To be honest, I have a slightly nervous feeling, considering how big the Grand Cherokee actually is. Nonetheless, I am cradled in comfort and opulence in the driver’s seat (which I have to note it heated). Despite being somewhat awed, the dashboard, instrument cluster and 8.4-inch infotainment system is extremely user-friendly and logical, and is accompanied by an exceptional 19-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. Every other technological must-have and want-to-have is in place, with all the most modern features as standard.

Despite the size of the vehicle that had somewhat intimidated me initially, I find myself feeling fully in control and assured as I take the mighty beast out on the road. The Grand Cherokee comes with an 8-speed Automatic transmission and 3 litre Multijet II Diesel engine that releases a husky growl, and yet – as a TurboDiesel – a surprisingly low CO2 emissions rate. Offering a clean and refined powertrain, the engine provides fantastic performance, yet optimal fuel economy too. With the on-board Eco-mode engaged, the Grand Cherokee automatically seeks to lower fuel consumption by altering the shift-schedule of the transmission. It drives like a dream, to say the least. It is not at all heavy and lumbering, and is wonderfully agile and responsive. Even parking is easy, thanks to park-assist.

The Grand Cherokee is not simply a luxury SUV – it is a refined, sophisticated 4×4 with legendary off-roading capabilities, although I almost forgot about that part of its personality, being so wrapped up in lavish comfort. The Grand Cherokee offers enhanced traction through the Quadra-Trac II or Quadra-drive II 4-wheel drive system, which works in tandem with Selec-Terrain and Quadra-Lift air suspension systems unique to Jeep vehicles, which raises the vehicle to a maximum height of 280mm, giving you ample ground clearance to really tackle the rough terrain head-on.

Driving the Grand Cherokee on urban roads is equally as satisfying as running it through it’s paces in harsher terrain. It feels, to me as the driver, that there is very little this vehicle cannot take on. It moves with effortless confidence through traffic, navigates jostling gravel roads and rocky dirt-paths with ease, all the while keeping me in superb comfort. It is no wonder that the Grand Cherokee has the reputation it does: it is the most awarded SUV in history, coming out on top in all categories, not the least of which is its unparalleled safety features, powerhouse engine, and magnificent design.

I mention to the team at New Vaal South upon returning the Grand Cherokee to them that as far as test-driving experiences go, this has definitely been one of my favourite. The Grand Cherokee is for sure everything I had imagined it would be, and so much more. Click the link for more info: New Vaal South

By Desh Bechan