Jeep celebrates 75 years of being with a brace of special editions.
Every year there seems to be a significant car maker milestone of some description and in 2016 it’s Jeep’s turn, celebrating 75 years since the birth of the Willys MB that helped ‘us’ win the war. There have been various 75th celebrations around the Jeep world, and even a few concept vehicles to mark the occasion. If you want to own a bit of Jeep history, the brand’s marketing department has rolled out some special edition anniversary models for the Wrangler, Cherokee and Grand Cherokee lines. The latter pair we spent a bit of time in.
Those hoping for something that would celebrate the ‘iconic’ off-road heritage of the brand – lift kits, snorkels, winches, spotlights and big tyres – we have some slightly disappointing news in that the 75th models are cosmetic specials only, but they do look good. Each is available in white or black, and comes with ‘low gloss’ bronze-hued alloys and bronze and orange exterior accents. The interior treatments are similar, with various 75th logos and unique trims.
The Cherokee is based on the Longitude model which means a 3.2-litre V6 engine, a nine-speed auto and on-demand AWD system. The 18s are a unique design, the interior trim gets an orange accent and there’s the 8.4-inch touchscreen radio, all for $54,990, so the 75th edition is a no-cost celebration offering, essentially. The Cherokee has always been at the pricier end of the mid-size SUV pack and yet it lacks for active safety features, not to mention sat nav, a smart key and you’re seated on cloth trim too. It is robustly built however, while the linings tend towards the premium end of the scale. The nine-speed auto is one eco-minded transmission, always changing up to conserve engine revs, and it helps return a round-town fuel use average in the 11s. The six potter is hushed generally, though like most smaller capacity V6 atmo mills needs to rev to get a giddy up. Once the auto has cottoned on to your requests, it holds gears longer, giving you freer access to revs and the power that comes with them.
There is also the Sport mode of the Terrain Select system if you’re really going for it, or you might use it to access the various off-road modes for the all-wheel drive and traction systems. We have a feeling however most Cherokee owners will keep the switch firmly in the default Auto mode. This is an an urbanised Cherokee, built more for the school run than running canyons; you’ll have to pony up for the cool-looking Trailhawk version for that kind of stuff. The regular Cherokee is lower riding, making it easier to get in and out of, and it’s roomy as the SUV breed tend to be, with enough boot space and a flexible interior arrangement. It’s comfortable too with big accommodating seats and a cushy progress. It does feel heavy on the go, the V6 has its work cut out, while the chassis trait is one of predictable understeer, though the all-wheel drive system does help keep it rather orderly.
You will have to love the look of the Cherokee of course, and be prepared to pay extra over the usual mass market offerings, but we simply prefer the Grand Cherokee. It’s a more premium offering but also costs an extra $30k. The 75th model is based on the Ltd specification, and costs $84,990 for the 210kW 3.6-litre V6. For those who prefer diesel torque, there’s the 184kW 3.0-litre V6, though it’s an extra $7000 again. The 75th treatment is similar here too with bronzed highlights and alloys while the interior leather gets embossed 75th Anniversary logo and ‘tangerine’ accent stitching.
The Grand, for a proper big off-roader, is rather refined, with a settled round-town ride and there’s enough low-end go from the V6 for easy cruising as the eight-speed auto sorts it nicely. Even so, the fuel use average for general commuting was in the 15s. But then we opted to switch the Eco button off as the throttle pedal felt dead for the first 20 per cent of its travel in this mode. We also fiddled with the steering setting, preferring Comfort where it’s light and breezy in a traditional American way. The Grand is not overly huge in a hard-to-park sense but it’s large enough to have that big on-road presence SUVs buyers want. Like the Cherokee, the Grand too feels heavy at speed, and the steering is slow and mute. However, this rig can rumble along nicely, the V6 kept up to speed by the auto as long as it’s in Sport mode. There are more gadgets on board here reflecting it’s bigger sticker price, but it still lacks for active safety, though you’re fairly well sorted in an infotainment sense. The Grand too has properly comfy seats, with heaters for all, (even a warmed steering wheel) and there’s good adjustment, especially if you’re big. We’re glad to see the back of the hard-to-use gear shifter, but we wish they’d kill off the foot-operated parking brake too.
It’s genuinely roomy in the rear, and though the Grand is a five-seater only, the boot is suitably sizeable. And there’s all that off-road ability which we didn’t use, plus it’s rated to haul 3500kg which makes it a more capable and cheaper proposition than the likes of VW Touareg.
|Model||Jeep Cherokee 75th edition||Price||$54,990|
|Engine||3239cc, V6, EFI, 200kW/316Nm||Drivetrain||9-speed auto, on-demand AWD|
|Fuel Use||10.0L/100km||C02 Output||232g/km|
|Model||Jeep Grand Cherokee 75th edition||Price||$84,990|
|Engine||3694cc, V6, EFI, 210kW/347Nm||Drivetrain||8-speed auto, all-wheel drive|
|Fuel Use||10.4L/100km||C02 Output||244g/km|