The Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland was in the CarAdvice garage for a total of six months, and at the end of its tenure it left us feeling content that we had spent sufficient time to really get to know this big hunk of metal.
Outside the daily grind in traffic from Elizabeth Bay to CarAdvice HQ in North Sydney, the Grand Cherokee was put to the test out on the highway around regional NSW (including a trip to Mount Panorama in Bathurst), driven along scenic coastal roads in both directions from Sydney to Jervis Bay and Hawks Nest respectively, and made to negotiate some pretty tight parking spaces within the city limits.
All of which, it has to be said, the Overland has accomplished without hurting the hip pocket too much at the service station.
That's thanks to its 3.0-litre turbocharged diesel engine and eight-speed automatic, which returned a net fuel consumption reading of 12.5 litres per 100 kilometres at final inspection – pretty impressive for a car of its size, though still well over the claimed figure of 7.5L/100km.
Impressed as I was with the Jeep over my several month stint behind the wheel, it would be irresponsible of me not to mention the big hairy elephant in the room.
For all my gushing love for this big mover, we experienced some significant electrical faults that required more than one interruption to my day-to-day routine with a trip back to the local Jeep dealership.
The most worrying of the faults is the complete electrical display blackout when the car was travelling at a steady cruise of 60km/h. This rendered the Grand Cherokee’s electronic vehicle information centre and odometer display useless.
CarAdvice’s founder Alborz Fallah accompanied me to the mechanic and we were assured that this was due to a software update that was required. Once fixed, the issue did not repeat itself. Indeed, the brand issued a recall for that exact fault.
Add to this a reoccurring issue we had with the reverse camera where the 8.4-inch screen would display an image resembling something similar to a fuzzy static TV. Every now and then when the Overland was put into reverse, we felt like we were watching a TV from the 70’s that had been left on after midnight.
But the worst was yet to come.
This time it was one CarAdvice’s photographers who experienced the issue. Glen put his hand up to shoot the Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland in Peats Ridge, he didn’t get far before a warning signal lit up advising him the exhaust filter was 100 per cent full and that he should restrict his pace to “Highway Speeds to Remedy” - a common issue with diesel vehicles with particulate filters.
Luckily a Jeep dealership was within crawling distance and Glen was able to will the big black SUV into the capable hands of the mechanics.
Sadly, that is where the Overland lived for its last few weeks on our long-term loan.
It was a shame because overwhelmingly we feel it deserves its rank as one of Australia’s most popular large SUVs. In fact, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, it topped the sales charts for 2014 in the Large SUV segment.
Reflecting on our six months living with the Grand Cherokee Overland, there is one overwhelming feeling now it’s gone: we miss it, despite the niggling problems we encountered.
We miss the incredibly comfortable seats that heat your tush in winter and cool your back in summer; the deep throaty burble engine note when pressed to overtake on the highway; and the reverse-dipping side mirrors that made inner-city parking (of what felt like a monster truck at times) relatively easy.
If it was a choice between the Grand Cherokee and the next best-selling large SUV, the Toyota Prado, this tester (remember, a city driver first and a regional cruiser second) would choose the Grand Cherokee every time.
From the sharp, sporty design of the exterior to the luxurious finishes of the interior, the Grand Cherokee offers some pleasing advantages over its rivals.