By Dumi Xaba

The blokes from FCA have thrown the cat among the pigeons. When you mention the name Jeep the first picture is of a rugged military application vehicle with an American military star on the bonnet. The last thing to imagine is a luxury, sleek family mover. In South African markets, we have never enjoyed those huge petrol guzzlers that can’t even fit in your standard garage.
Toyota has always been the king of people’s mover in South Africa; however, several manufacturers have come out with guns blazing taking no prisoners for the top spot. Currently, luxury family movers have been dominated by the Germans. Koreans have brought value so have the Chinese. The Japanese model borders on reliability and dependency.
The Swiss family movers are pioneers of technology adorned with beauty and oozing with every kind of gizmo to keep your precious cargo safe, The Brits are known for their no-nonsense quality standards. 2022-23‬ looks like a bumper year for new arrivals forms all motoring’s stables. ‬‬‬‬
As the SUV trend is growing globally, Fiat Chrysler automobiles “FCA” has also been bitten by the family mover’s bug. This is the very first attempt of the 3rd row variant by Jeep on our shores. The much-anticipated Jeep Grand Cherokee L has finally made its way onto our shores. We have managed to get one for a short test drive. As we all know Americans are generous with sizes. I was expecting the Cherokee Grand L to be a behemoth of a vehicle. Possibly bigger than its German rivals; only to meet a well-thought-of, well-sized family movers suitable for South African shopping malls parking spaces and our standard garage.
Approaching from the front I could but notice some of the WK2 Cherokee sort of DNA on the grille. There is an almost similarity with the previous generation of Cherokee. The lights are slimmer and the intake is huge. The test model was white with a bit of black and the chrome suited it so well.
Frankly having seen most colours of this model, this will be my choice of colour. There are clean flowing lines on the side. The doors are adorned with some more chrome to make that American statement; with the grand Cherokee also written in silver on the front doors. Proceeding to the back of the vehicle you are greeted by Slim LED rear lights that emit a red stripe of light that goes almost to the side of the vehicle if you depress the brake pedal.
The lights are incorporated onto the boot door. I must admit that this car looks flawless from the outside. It is a real head-turner. Coming inside you immediately recognise that American luxury feeling with a bit of Italian taste here and there.
The first thing I noticed was the absence of a gear lever which is a trend in most stables. As per all luxury brands, the seats are motorised. The cockpit is fully digital; you might mistake it for a Lear jet cockpit.
The test model had a generously tilted 10-inch infotainment, next to the start button that is also facing slightly up. I must admit I am still used to the old WK2 gear lever. Knob gear selection will need a bit of time to get used to. The infotainment is easy to use and practical. I was expecting that loud jeep noise when I heat the start button. The cabin is surprisingly quiet. You need to open the windows to listen to that motor purring like a contented feline. The steering feels quite responsive for such a giant. The brake pedal is reassuringly firm and always keeps this beast in check. The suspension is smooth and the 3.6L litre engine has no lack of oomph. The Americans have always been known to be gluttons and guzzlers when it comes to fuel, however, on the brief trip I couldn’t fault this newcomer much.
I was told there is only one petrol version for now in South Africa which is a 3.6 mated to an 8-speed ZF gearbox. The McIntosh 19-speaker system ensures that you are well-relaxed on those long trips. I am around 1.8meters tall and as such, I do test all seating positions. Honestly, if I fit on any seat, almost everybody can fit. The first two rows are spacious and comfortable. The third row can accommodate an average adult well, but it is a bit smaller compared to the likes of X7 and GLS.
It is a bit difficult to compare a Jeep with anything as it is in a class of its own.

Cherokee L features
List price: R1.3million for an entry Limited – R1.4million for the test model overland
Engine: V6 3.2L220
Power: 210kw
Torque: 344Nm
Gearbox: F 8-speed gearbox
Fuel-type; Petrol unleaded
Consumption: 10.6L/100L
Capacity: 87
Fuel range: 820km per tank
Tyre Size: 255 50 R20
It costs about R5 500 per tyre or R22 000 for a set of 4

Considering that the X7 and the GlS petrol cost around R2.7 million, Overland makes good sense. Although Jeep’s long-term use reliability is not its strong point.
I hope the new kid on the block will make a case for Westerners. A 3-year 100 000‬km and an instalment of just around R50 000 per month might seem appealing to some executives.‬‬‬‬

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