A bit of chassis sharing between Mercedes-Benz and Jeep sees the new Grand Cherokee rolling on the same basic chassis as the upcoming Benz ML-Class. And it shows - in refinement, comfort, safety, noise reduction and many other areas. The big Jeep even handles pretty well considering its 2.0 tonne weight.
We have been driving the penultimate Limited V8 Grand Cherokee which sells for $60,000 neat (more if you go the options boxes). It's an impressive piece of kit particularly in the looks department and ride comfort.
The Limited scores leather, Alpine premium audio, a 30 gig hard drive music register and plenty more. Safety is bolstered by a wide range of electronic systems as well as hardware like six air bags and safety cell body/chassis.
Distinctive Jeep styling permeates the whole body but it's been brought into the 21st century and is as handsome as anything out of Europe or the US. Grand Cherokee is a five seater with plenty of occupant room and a large load space. The assertive exterior is set off on Limited by 20-inch alloys and dual exhaust tips.
The Limited V8 runs a tried and true 5.7-litre Hemi V8 with overhead valve operation and Jeep's version of cylinder deactivation to save petrol. The same engine can be found in the Chrysler 300C. It's not the most powerful donk around but generates an honest 259kW/520Nm output, sufficient to push the big Jeep with real purpose when you push the accelerator.
But the good thing is how fuel efficient it can be thanks to the cylinder deactivation. We got into the 10s/100km on the freeway with average combined consumption hovering in the 12s, impressive for something this big.
It has a lovely rumble to the exhaust and idles completely still. Drive goes to all four wheels via what's called Quadra TracII all wheel drive with high and low range. Select-Terrain allows drivers to dial up the correct settings for a range of driving including rock, snow, mud, sport, sand and auto all of which change ride height, power delivery, gearing and other dynamic functions.
Hill descent is another handy off-road aid. Power goes through a well-fettled five-speed auto transmission that offers a sequential shift mode on the selector.
Made in Detroit, the new Grand Cherokee is surprisingly good value when you look at what you get. Similar vehicles from other makers cost a lot more.
We'd have one in a flash, but probably the new 3.0-litre V6 turbo diesel even though the V8 petrol isn't that thirsty.