Fiat Freemont 2015 review
James Stanford road tests and reviews the Fiat Freemont Crossroad with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
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Brand has its battles but the able and thrifty diesel handles the rough along with the smooth.
These are troubled times at Jeep. The "I Bought a Jeep" campaign has been a huge hit but sales zoomed up and then crashed down, the Cherokee arrived with troubles, we've been inundated with owner complaints — and one unhappy Jeepster actually torched the car to highlight its shortcomings.
In recent weeks there have been lots of emails in support of Jeep, as well as big promises from Fiat Chrysler Australia about a total revamp of the customer support at head office and across the dealer network.
"We are investing heavily," says FCA spokeswoman Lucy McLellan. "But it's not about money. It's an overhaul of all dealer service centres and the customer experience process."
Against that colourful backdrop, the latest Grand Cherokee cuts through to the basics. It's a good, honest, solid, family SUV that will go deep into the four-wheel drive territory and handle the toughest towing.
If I were looking at the Grand Cherokee, and only the car, it would get The Tick for sure.
But it's not just the car and that makes things tougher. I know it's tough because FCA has just run a two-month campaign with a $6000 discount on the Grand Cherokee, for an overall $7000 value boost, to try to lift sales of its Down Under headliner. And I'm still getting emails from aggrieved owners.
It is still smart shopping in a landscape dominated by Japanese SUVs.
For me, it's a more pleasant drive than the Toyota Prado, which is the default purchase for a lot of people. The Jeep's basic price of $47,000 is attractive, although that's with the petrol engine and only two-wheel drive.
The test car, bottom line $59,000, is still smart shopping in a landscape dominated by Japanese SUVs. It has all the gear you need and goes without the leather trappings that work best on the school run.
I first drove this Grand Cherokee in the US. I recall how it seemed both more rigid and more compliant than any Jeep I can remember, going back to the 1970s.
It's the same today, and some time with the heavy-hitter SRT8 in March reminded me that the basic platform easily copes with that variant's 344kW and rousing 624Nm of torque.
The Laredo, with "only" 184kW/570Nm from its 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel, is still plenty quick enough and it will tow easily at Jeep's 3.5-tonne rating.
So it's no wonder I get lots of questions from people who are planning The Big Trip around Australia with a caravan.
Jeep now has capped-price servicing but a sixth-monthly service interval is not good.
The view is good, the seats are comfy, the car is light to handle and easy to park and there is a full-size spare below the boot. The eight-speed automatic works well, keeping the engine in the meaty area of the torque band.
On a country run, I easily beat the claimed 7.5L/100km fuel consumption. It's also surprisingly brisk from the lights, despite a heft of well over two tonnes, with a claimed 0-100km/h sprint time of just 8.2 seconds.
The Grand Cherokee rides well, although it's not as plush over speed humps as the Subaru Forester that's also in the garage. The braking is better than I remember from the rival Prado and it also has a more confident cornering feel than the Toyota.
Jeep also has a five-star safety rating, although it goes without a lot of the latest hi-tech gear. It's good to see Jeep now has capped-price servicing but a sixth-monthly service interval is not good.
Would I recommend the Jeep to my mates? Yes. There are also the matters of servicing, dealerships and the rest of the ownership experience, which brings in an element of "maybe".
It's a split vote. If you were getting a Grand Cherokee as a company car, with all the enjoyment and none of the risk, it's definitely a candidate. If the buck stops with you, think carefully and visit the local dealership to check whether they're on board with the new customer support package.
On balance, the Grand Cherokee gets over the line for The Tick.
|75th Anniversary (4x4)||3.6L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$32,878 – 49,999||2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee 2016 75th Anniversary (4x4) Pricing and Specs|
|Blackhawk||3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$33,888 – 38,990||2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee 2016 Blackhawk Pricing and Specs|
|Laredo (4x2)||3.6L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$25,989 – 31,990||2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee 2016 Laredo (4x2) Pricing and Specs|
|Laredo (4x4)||3.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$21,989 – 38,998||2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee 2016 Laredo (4x4) Pricing and Specs|