In A rare scenario the other week, I found myself hoovering. To be precise, I was Vaxing, although equally I could have been Bosching, Electroluxing or more likely Dysoning. The fact is you can picture the scene of me with a piece of electrical equipment which uses suction to vacuum dirt and dust from the carpet. It’s a clear image… and no, I didn’t have a pinny on while I was doing the housework.
Quite simply, hoovering is a generic term which has been adopted into the language, regardless of whether the actual device is a genuine Hoover. It’s the same with cars. If you ask someone who doesn’t know or have any interest in the subject, they’ll refer to any 4x4 as a Jeep, whether it’s a Range Rover, a Mercedes, a Toyota or any of the other off-road vehicles.
They might even go a step further and refer to it as a “Land Rover Jeep” in the same way you might specify a “Dyson hoover”. It shows just how much the US brand has become part of our culture over the best part of three quarters of a century in the world’s toughest landscapes, including many battlefields. They are seen wherever there’s action. And while Jeep no doubt welcomes most of the publicity it attracts in global trouble-spots, sometimes – as in the case of the terrorist firebomb attack on Glasgow Airport six years ago – I’m sure they’d rather those involved had plumped for a different brand.
Like Land Rover, Jeep is an original – and just like its British counterpart it has had its problems over the years with build quality issues, changes in ownership and failure to keep pace with new technology. It’s still part of the Chrysler family but that’s now owned by the Italian conglomerate Fiat and they’ve brought their influence into the latest model, the Jeep Grand Cherokee – and specifically in diesel power where they’ve introduced Multijet technology to create an engine with bags of oomph that still manages impressive economy.
The whole car is a big improvement on its Mercedes-powered predecessors which came out as Chrysler was ending its disastrous relationship with Daimler. Things are finally coming right with this latest version, not least because of the silky smooth eight-speed automatic transmission. There are two diesel engines and a simply stupid 6.4 litre V8 petrol engine which is in the £60,000 high performance SRT model. I can’t see this appealing to many people other than footballers or wealthy hairdressers who won’t be put off by the price tag or the unlikely possibility of ever getting more than 20mpg as they blast from a standing start to 62 mph in just five seconds.
The diesels are more sensible, from the 188bhp version in the entry level Laredo to the 246bhp one in the Limited, Summit and Overland spec test car. It also had the most sophisticated Quadra-Trac four-wheel-drive system which feeds torque to the front and rear axles with an electronic clutch and rear differential. I didn’t get the chance to take it off road so I can’t tell whether it is as capable as Jeep would have you believe – or how it compares with its more expensive Range Rover rivals – but on the road it felt good with a nice rasp when the power was applied, if a little keen to roll more than you’d expect on fast, tight bends.
Inside, it feels like a big car with about the same boot space as the Range Rover Sport, and legroom is good front and back. The interior trim has been designed specially for the more demanding European market but its quality still feels inferior to what we’ve come to expect at this level. It’s hard to tell what is genuine wood and aluminium and what is simply painted plastic, although it all seems to be well screwed together.
Outwardly it’s got good presence on the road and is full of equipment, especially at the upper levels, even if it does feel more utilitarian than what you may be accustomed to from some of the competition.
But having said that, it has the big Jeep name across the bonnet and is way different to all those other jeeps on the road – you know, those Range Rover, Mercedes and BMW jeeps.
CAR Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 3.0-litre V6 CRD
PERFORMANCE Max speed 126 mph; 0-62 mph 8.2 secs
MPG (combined) 37mpg
CO2 EMISSIONS 198g/km