Jeep Grand Cherokee

Made by the firm responsible for the original off-roader, the Jeep Grand Cherokee lives up to the legend by offering immense cross-country ability and tough American mechanicals.

Made by the firm responsible for the original off-roader, the Jeep Grand Cherokee lives up to the legend by offering immense cross-country ability and tough American mechanicals. Available with gas-guzzling petrol or fairly thirsty turbodiesel engines, the higher-spec V8 and 4.0 six-cylinder models are popular, as the early oil-burners lack the desirable leather trim and automatic box. But best of all is the 2001 2.7 CRD, which is fitted with a smooth Mercedes-derived engine. Standard kit for all includes air-conditioning, twin airbags and plenty of electrical goodies. While these Jeeps are costly to run and need regular servicing, their strong image and low prices make them a good used buy.Checklist * Air-con: fitted to all models, but prone to problems. Test thoroughly - if it fails, the cause could be a broken compressor or condenser, which will cost £600 to fix. * Service history: servicing isn't pricey, but most models need regular check-ups. Look out for a full schedule, because skipped maintenance can lead to future problem * Suspension: most Grand Cherokees do nothing more strenuous than towing, but check for any off-road abuse. Bodywork scrapes, suspension damage and steering * Electrics: being fully loaded with gadgets, Grand Cherokees can suffer from malfuncting seats, windows and sensors. Build quality on later cars is usually better. * Transmission: axles need additives at every service. Noisy gears can mean worn diff bearings, which cost £1,500 to fix. Autos can fail at 60,000 miles, so look for leaks.Driving impressions As with rivals, the Grand Cherokee is likely to spend more time on-road than off it, but there's no escaping the vague steering, wallowy handling and nervous ride. Yet Jeep hasn't rejected its legendary off-road ability, and this model is very capable in the rough. Despite an awkward driving position and cheap plastics, there's plenty of load capacity, even if the Grand is showing its age.Glass's View The Grand Cherokee has lots of equipment, is good off road and carries a strong brand. It offers better value for money than BMW's X5 and Mercedes' M-Class, but doesn't sell in appreciable numbers. Petrol versions can be difficult to sell on - demand is centred on diesels, with the latest common-rail CRD models attracting the most interest. Availability can be patchy, but those which do come on to the market have generally been well looked after. Jeff Paterson, senior editor, Glass's GuideLife With A Cherokee Incredible - that's the performance of my 5.2 V8! It's excellent in a straight line, especially considering it's 10 years old. And it's been reliable as well, apart from a few starting problems. Christian Williams, Wolverhampton My Limited's list of failures is too long - rear diffs, warped discs and electrical faults. It still looks good on the school run, though. Jean Ellis, Leeds

Verdict

If the going gets rocky, the Grand Cherokee will take it in its stride, with off-road abilities to match anything from Land Rover. Fuel economy for the 2.7-litre diesel is reasonable, but it's still disappointing compared with the Discovery Td5 and Mitsubishi Shogun 3.2 TD. The steering has a vague feel, and cornering is disconcerting at speed as the body shifts its weight on the suspension - reminders that this is an old-fashioned off-roader, and not a BMW X5-style crossover.

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