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Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo (4x2) road test

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The test car (brief details):

Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo (4x2).

Drivetrain: 3.6 litre V6 engine (petrol), 8-speed automatic transmission.

Standard safety features include: Electronic Stability Control (ESC) with Trailer Sway Control (TSC); seven airbags; reversing camera.

Fuel consumption rating: 10.1 litres/100km (combined cycle), 14.0 (urban), 7.9 (highway).

Price: from $46,000 drive-away** (special promotional price for a limited time).

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by Ivan Walker

11th May, 2014

A two-wheel drive Jeep?

Well that's a little different to the normal 4x4 for which Jeep are famous. Looking at the drive car, I was thinking that it looks no different to the ever popular Jeep Grand Cherokee 4x4. However, on the inside it is obvious that there is a little difference, as there is no 4x4shifter for high and low range.

Our test car this time around was the American-made Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo. This entry level model comes as a 4x2 or in the traditional 4-wheel drive format. Our 4x2 car was equipped with the 3.6 litre V6 petrol engine coupled to a eight-speed automatic transmission - the only drivetrain available with the 4x2.

One of the key points about this vehicle is that there is no key - just a touch pad to lock and unlock the car. Well you don't have to unlock, just pull the door handle. Though in testing this feature I found you have to stand close to the car for the keyless entry to unlock the door. Jumping in and off we go at the press of a button. All car should have with this keyless entry/start feature fitted! Shift into gear and a day of driving is at your command.

Ergonomically, this Jeep is great, so much leg room for the driver, could not have the seat all the way back and that is unusual, plenty of adjustment tilt, lumber make yourself comfortable, I'm sure it would suit all drivers.

This is an extremely quiet vehicle to drive as I had to listen hard and look at the rev counter to be sure that the engine was turned off before getting out and into the daily business routine.

The dash lay-out is fantastic, just love it. Speedo, tachometer, fuel and temperature gauges just appears so different to other makes. Also, there is a compass for those who don't where they are going until they get there.

As a gadget guy I like to talk about 'media' as I am a big fan of listening to music on iPod, phone etc. For some reason it never occurs to me to listen to the radio. Jeep has installed a great hands free system for phone, Bluetooth, iPod, USB and memory card for music or spoken books of choice.

Reversing camera is also fitted which is great for preventing bump parking or lining up that trailer.

Driving the Jeep is a breeze with good visibility and all controls are within easy reach. A drive through Brisbane city and then through Brisbane Forest Park and around Mt Coot-Tha was enjoyable. The Jeep Grand Cherokee, for a large vehicle, handled the narrow winding road with ease.

Motorways and wide highways don't really offer much in the way of a test drive. None the less we loaded the Esky for a trip from Brisbane to Brunswick Heads for a family outing and to enjoy a lunch of fish and chips. The Jeep's performance is outstanding, quiet and smooth and fuel efficient on a long run, revving at about 1,800 to cruise at 100 kilometres/hour. A non-eventful drive but because it was a long week-end, coinciding with ANZAC Day, the traffic was heavy. We arrived fresh and relaxed - something you should consider is how you feel after sitting in a car for a couple of hours or so. The Grand Cherokee delivered on this comfort requirement suggesting that they are designed and built for taller and larger people - a bonus for us here down under.

Driving this Jeep around is very easy, as mentioned, it is responsive, easy to park with a little help from the reversing camera, plenty of room in the back for shopping, luggage and/or golf clubs.

If you choose to use this model for caravan towing you will be restricted with a tow capacity of 1,600 kg's. That's OK for pop top caravans, camper trailers and smaller vans. On the up side the plenty of room to carry plenty of gear in back particularly if folding the back seats down, this makes a huge amount of space for gear. Other tow purposes (boats and horses for example) require consideration of the maximum weight limit, too - as always.

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Let's talk about the economy side of this Jeep, this is where it shines as the V6 only used an amazing 11.6 litres per 100 km during our drive period. Considering that most of our driving was around the suburbs and that the Grand Cherokee is a large vehicle. This is just another reason why the Grand Cherokee is easy to enjoy.

My thoughts are that not too many buyers would be disappointed in the two-wheel drive version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. But if you like the great outdoors, 4x4 driving or beach driving then the 4x4 version would be for you. There is not much difference in pricing between the two models but if you require a large SUV without 4x4 the Jeep Grand Cherokee 4x2 would look good in your garage.


NOTE:

* Manufacturer's List Price (MLP), when mentioned, excludes dealer delivery fees and the numerous statutory charges (commonly known as on-road costs). Additionally, please note that all prices, fees and charges are subject to change without notice, as are the specifications.

** Drive-away price includes the on-road costs mentioned above.

E&OE.


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