EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

March 23, 2014

Jeep Grand Cherokee spreads the wealth

Driving the Overland version of the Jeep Grand Cherokee was no different than driving a pampering hauler from one of the more obvious luxury brands, like Lexus, Mercedes or BMW. True, the Grand Cherokee is a Jeep, made by the vehicle brand that got its start making go-anywhere work horses that slogged with American soldiers through World War II, the brand that retains that association with toughness and drive-everywhere ability.

Still, the Grand Cherokee Overland comes with a power rear lift-gate, a big panoramic sunroof with power shade, automatic high beam headlamps and distinctive LED running lights, heated mirrors with puddle lamps, big, 20-inch painted alloy wheels, rain-sensitive wipers, power adjustable and heated steering wheel, heated front- and second-row seats, leather upholstery, navigation, rear camera and parking assist, air suspension, plus other luxuries.

But even more than its useful and extravagant add-ons, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland I evaluated last week displayed the solid, smooth-sailing confidence that is characteristic of luxury vehicles. The cabin atmosphere inside the middle-sized, five-passenger SUV was ample. It motored with a sense of serene command, thanks to its optional, 360-horsepower V8 engine and a smooth-touch eight-speed automatic transmission – a new addition in 2014 models, whether the Grand Cherokee is equipped with its standard V6 engine or the optional V8.

I think I would have felt the same even if my test model had been equipped with the standard V6 engine (hardly a slouch at 290 horsepower): This is one classy sport-utility vehicle.

The starting list price for the Overland is $46,195 for a four-wheel-drive model. That certainly pushes into the price range for luxury vehicles. But a major strength of the Grand Cherokee, according to Antonio Martins, is that it comes is a wide range of trim levels. You can pay much less and still get the fundamental qualities that are the most luxurious aspects of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, he stated.

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