Big, bluff and a little bit crude, the Grand Cherokee represents one of the best metal-for-money equations on the road.
The third generation Grand Cherokee was the product of the then-conjoined Daimler-Chrysler corporation, a corporate monolith that resulted from the marriage of Mercedes and Chrysler that showed so much promise but ultimately failed to gel. Still, it wasn't all bad and the Grand Cherokee was one of the better-thought-out products of the American half of the relationship.
The Grand Cherokee is part of a lineage that stretches back, in its broadest sense, to that iconic original 1941 Willys Jeep – a car that celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2016. The Grand Cherokee's story began, though, in the sixties, with the release of the original Jeep Grand Wagoneer – a car that beat the original Range Rover to the punch when it came to mixing luxury and comfort with all-road ability.
The 2005 Grand Cherokee was based on the same basic mechanical package as the contemporary Mercedes-Benz ML-Class and uses the same 218hp 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel engine. You could have bought your Grand Cherokee with a grumbling, rumbling 5.7-litre 'Hemi' V8 petrol engine, but given the cost of both fuel and tax, it's not surprising that precious few ever did, even if the V8 was a more authentically American experience.
The V6 diesel is a good engine though, and probably the strongest card in the Grand Cherokee's hand. Smooth and willing, it pulls strongly and for those looking to tow, it'll haul a braked trailer of 3,500kg. You are looking at a realistic 25mpg in daily driving though.
Where the Grand Cherokee lets itself down is on the inside. The cabin, for such a big car, is annoyingly small, and there was never a seven-seat option (although you could have upgraded to the slightly larger, seven-seat Commander). On the upside, it's comfortable and very well equipped, especially compared to rivals such as Land Rover's Discovery III and the BMW X5. The quality of the materials used inside can't hold a candle to the Land Rover or Beemer though.
Neither is the Grand Cherokee as good to drive. Wedded at the time to an old-school ladder chassis and separate body, it rolls and lurches in corners and thumps into potholes and bumps. It's not a great dynamic performance.
It should be reliable, however. Although minor electrical issues will be common, and you need to check the suspension and the underside carefully for off-roaring damage, the engine, gearbox and major systems are robust and long-lived.
Never a big seller in the Irish market, so patience is the watchword if you want a Grand Cherokee. You'll have to hunt carefully and be prepared to put in the hours to find a good one. Figure on spending between €10,000 and €15,000 for a 2007 to 2009 example.
Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0-litre CRD
Engine: 2,987cc V6 turbodiesel
Maximum speed: 200km/h
0-100km/h: 9.0 seconds
Fuel consumption: 10.2 litres/100km
• Brash, American style
• Great cash-to-metal ratio
• Comfy and well-equipped
• Short on cabin space and quality
• Lumpy ride and poor handling
• You have to be patient to find a good one
Never the most sophisticated thing around, the Grand Cherokee is still a rugged, mostly reliable 4x4 with proper off-roading and towing abilities and represents terrific value for money. Expensive to run, mind.