The Jeep Grand Cherokee. So far it has been a wonderful car. Yes it has its faults, which I will cover later in this review.
Firstly, we wanted a vehicle to tow a caravan that was just under two tonne, with a ball weight of about 180kg. Without being a full-on 4WD, we wanted something that also needed to drive "car like."
That eliminated the likes of the Ford Ranger, Ford Everest, and Toyota LandCruisers. A few others could handle 2-tonne (only just) but they struggled with tow ball weight, so the safety margin was too small for my liking.
That left the Ford Territory, which is pretty much an obsolete car, even if it was fit for purpose and drove well.
This then got us to the Jeep. While we were mindful of past history, we took a punt. It can tow three and a half tonne with a tow ball rating of 350kg, so the safety margin was huge.
That 3.0-litre diesel, what a beast! 570Nm of torque, and once moving, has more than enough power to cope with anything. Overtaking and hill climbs are a breeze. Not much else compares with that.
The 8-speed auto blends perfectly with the engine, and is never left struggling or hunting for the correct gear. If required when towing, the paddle shifters work well, but more often than not I just leave it to look after itself.
The fuel economy around town is about 8.5 litres per 100 kilometres. When towing two tonnes on two recent 10,000km and 2,500km trips achieved an average fuel consumption of 12.9L/100km. And the bonus 93-litre fuel tank gives us a very useful range of over 600km when towing with a good bit left in reserve. We can travel 900km without a caravan.
The car is very comfortable, quiet, and very "car-like" to drive, with a surprisingly agile turning circle. The reverse camera works very well, which makes hitching the van a one-man show.
It also has the usual features of dual-zone air con, cruise control, and sat-nav.
Now it's not all plain sailing, as it does have a number of negatives.
It has such a brilliant engine but it does have a fair degree of turbo lag, which is very noticeable when unladen - although not so much when towing. My observation is that when moving off with an extra 2-tonne we expect a slight delay, so it does not become so noticeable. Unladen from standstill we expect instant response, which you don't get with gentle acceleration.
The parking brake; I think the days of foot operation have long gone, and it's time for a change to electric.
I don't mind indicators on the left, but on that one stalk on the left we have, indicators, wipers, front and rear, high beam, you name it. It's all on one stick. Give me two stalks, one each side, I don't care which side. Yes it does have auto wipers and high, but sometimes you need to manually operate them, and with the current setup it can be a lucky dip to select the right function.
It does have wonderful multimedia controls on the steering wheel; three buttons on the right side and three on the left side, but why are they on the reverse side of the steering wheel facing the dashboard, with no visible icons to show what the functions are? There is real estate space on the front facing the driver for these controls.
Are these negatives a deal breaker? Definitely not.
Is the vehicle fit for the intended purpose? Most definitely.