Jeep thrills! Test driving the Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD Summit

Overpower the great rugged outdoors in chic safari style with the Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD Summit

Many off-road cars pack gadgets, equipment, and looks to kill, but the essence of adventure is not always easily found.

With Jeep, especially big Jeeps, you don’t get the essence in some diluted form; you get the whole vanilla bean. And that’s something the Grand Cherokee CRD Summit, a Jeep that ditched its hard-hat for a suit with a vest, still brings to the table. Taking off from the Native American culture, this behemoth feels ready for adventure.

3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel puts out 243 PS  and 570 Nm
3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel puts out 243 PS and 570 Nm

There’s no denying it does look special. It’s huge! As the last part of its name implies, it has everything one would want from a fancy, premium SUV: a large sun-roof, leather seats, air-conditioning, air suspension, a digital compass, and SelecTerrain, which offers five driving modes.

Interiors are designed to be spacious and ergonomic. Pics/Sanjay Raikar
Interiors are designed to be spacious and ergonomic. Pics/Sanjay Raikar

There are bi-xenon headlamps with projector fog-lamps and LED signatures, chrome garnish everywhere from the front grille to the lower air-dam and the name emblazoned on the front doors. It’s a hulking creation and it’s uncompromising in the essential aspect.

Even the gear selector is shaped ergonomically
Even the gear selector is shaped ergonomically

The 20-inch wheels with 50-profile tyres fill up the massive wheel-arches well but yet offer good clearance. The Grand Cherokee itself sits 206 millimetres off the ground.

At over 4.8 metres long, over 1.9 metres wide and standing almost 1.8 metres high, its proportions are justifiably massive. Justifiably, because it has just five seats, and, having been in the USA, it has acres of space in terms of passenger, elbow, head and cargo room.

The Selec-Terrain rotary knob allows you to switch between various off-road modes

The front seat, even when moved to its furthest rear position, still allows a six-feet-tall person to be comfortably seated in the rear. Everything about the Grand Cherokee is big, grand even.

There’s so much about the interior that screams ruggedness. The floor-mats have ‘Jeep’ on them and look as if they could scrub the sole of a boot and still stay beige. The dial in the centre has a ‘4x4 Low’ option, which is mandatory for ‘Rock’ mode. Yes, the Grand Cherokee is full-time AWD and there are five driving modes: Auto, Snow, Sand, Mud and Rock. The toughness aura of the whole thing is slightly overwhelming at first. Once you get used to it, you realise it can do you a whole lot of good.

This Jeep can cruise on the highways and also get down and dirty on wild playgrounds. Apart from some turbo-lag when you prod the accelerator at any revs, there isn’t much to complain about.

The engine is refined and the sound deadening is fantastic. The soft suspension swallows bumps and potholes and keeps the car well-balanced.

Even speeding around corners was not as nerve-wracking as it is in some other equally large cars with lesser suspension set-ups and electronic aids. The Grand Cherokee carries on forward undeterred by anything the road may throw at it.
Furthermore, with the eight-speed automatic handling the power, it can get up to 100 km/h in just nine seconds and then cruise at 120 km/h in top gear at just 2,000 RPM. Fuel efficiency on the highway goes up to 11 km/l. Dropping the anchors then was equally surprising. It comes to a dead stop from 100 km/h in less than three seconds.

Obviously, a 2.4-tonne vehicle needs some serious oomph to get a move on and the 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 brings just that. A peak 243 PS and 570 Nm is on tap, the latter from 2,000 RPM.

The ground turned a dull shade of summer dying grass, then a coastal mud red. Brake. Shift to ‘N’, select ‘4x4 Low’, and rotate knob to ‘Rock’. Off we go.

The drive ratio now even lower, it would now get over obstacles that made getting over other stuff seem like a hop, skip and jump in the park. The 265-section tyres dig in, fling up the dirt, then dig in some more and rush the big Cherokee forward and upward. At that point, it’s almost like finding an Invincibility rune.

Every time we shifted from reverse to drive, the de-clunk and re-clunk of the transfer box sounded like heavy-metal Morse code, telling of its abilities. Be it mud, water, slush or simply loose sand, there was nothing that managed to hold back the Grand Cherokee.

Once the rocks were dealt with, we found the courage to shift out of ‘Rock’ and ‘4x4 Low’,and move to ‘Mud’. The roar of the mighty diesel heart was accompanied by the blurring of scenery, most of which was a variety of boulder sizes going past real fast, and then the bounce, the actual spring action of the suspension kept me cosseted and smiling even with the front end reaching for the sky then crashing down to Earth a split-second later.

All of this will come at a price, which, as of now, is unknown. This is the higher of the two diesel models on offer and while we expect a base price of Rs 65-70 lakh, the Summit 4x4 EcoDiesel could easily breach the R80-lakh mark when it arrives later this month.

Need to know

Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit

Engine 3.0-litre, 16-valve DOHC, turbo-diesel V6
Max Power 243 PS @ 3,600 rpm
Max Torque 570 Nm @ 2,000 RPM
Transmission Eight-speed, automatic, four-wheel-drive
Weight:     2,455 kg
Performance: 9.05-second 0-100 km/h, 203 km/h top speed
Price Rs 75 lakh (estimated)
Fuel Economy: 7.5 km/l (city), 11 km/l (highway), 8.4 km/l (overall)


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