Jeep Grand Cherokee

The Grand Cherokee was a huge image booster in the UK for Jeep, giving it hardcore off-road credentials to compete with premium 4x4s like Land Rover's Discovery.

The Platinum makes sense for fans of the Grand Cherokee, as the equipment levels on offer are extremely generous. However, the extra kit doesn't do enough to swing the balance in the Jeep's favour compared to rivals. The American off-roader is really showing its age, and is outclassed by most competitors.

But these days, the American firm's biggest SUV feels a bit long-in-the-tooth, especially compared to fresher rivals such as the Volvo XC90, new Discovery and Lexus RX300.

Jeep knows this and a brand new model will reach Britain next year. Meantime, it has given the current car a final boost with this Platinum special edition, based on the flagship Overland.

The newcomer gets a host of extra kit compared to the standard model - sat-nav, rear parking sensors, metallic paint, 17-inch alloys, CD autochanger, climate control and leather are all included in the £33,995 price. It also comes with a chrome grille and tinted glass, all of which give the car a great deal of road presence.

Step inside, and there is plenty of room for people and luggage, although the rear is more cramped than in some rivals. Overall, the cabin is a comfortable place for passengers to spend time, although some of the switchgear feels poor quality compared to that found in other 4x4s.

The Mercedes-sourced 2.7-litre oil-burner is powerful, and works well with the four-speed auto to give adequate pace on the road. But it sounds unrefined under hard acceleration.

The steering is light, but is also vague, which can make it hard work on the motorway, while twisty roads show up the age of the basic separate chassis, with a harsh ride and excessive body roll. And the Jeep's limitations are also apparent in town, where the good-looking 17-inch alloy wheels do no favours for the ride.

However, the model comes into its own when you take it away from tarmac. The torquey engine and four-wheel drive deliver excellent off-road performance, but in this plush trim level, few owners will ever find out. As a luxury car, the Grand Cherokee Platinum offers plenty of kit, but little in the way of driver pleasure.

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