Jeep Grand Cherokee ready for rough stuff

Iain Dooley checks out Jeep's Grand Cherokee premium SUV, which boasts an attractive price tag and no shortage of ability.

Engines – Being an American car, it's no surprise to see a bias towards V8 petrol engines. Realistically the sole 3.0-litre diesel unit offers a more economical performance. With plenty of torque, off-roading, cruising and towing is made easy. Refinement is good, too.

Exterior – Presenting a more rounded face to the world than its predecessor, this Grand Cherokee looks suitably modern in appearance. It's still a big vehicle, but its soft curves help to lessen its visual impact.

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Interior – Along with the improved exterior, this new-for-2005 Grand Cherokee boasted a welcome cabin overhaul. Space and quality are both improved, with the latter bringing the car closer to its European rivals. There's no shortage of kit, too.

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Driving – Softly-sprung and lacking the sharp edge of something biased towards mainly on-road running, the Grand Cherokee is your typical old-school sport utility vehicle. Jeep products work well off road and the Grand Cherokee is no different. On-road performance won't please keen drivers but it's comfortable and prefers to be driven in an unhurried fashion.

Ownership – Assuming you have the space, the Grand Cherokee is an easy car to live with. The lofty driving position, cabin space and all-weather capability are attractive plus points. Urban parking duties might take longer than with a supermini, but the Grand Cherokee's other attributes easily outweigh this small issue.

What to look for – As with any SUV it's important to check for damage – over-enthusiastic off-roading could have resulted in underbody damage, which you won't spot during a casual inspection. A test-drive should highlight any obvious glitches. If fitted with a tow bar always ask what it was used for. And it goes without saying that a full history is essential.

Model history – 2005, Jeep launches all-new Grand Cherokee, complete with revised suspension and powertrains. Improved on-road performance and cabin quality are the key changes. Generous levels of standard equipment plus a competitive price strategy helped to boost interest. Also, European drivers could choose a wallet-friendly diesel option.

Reasons to buy – All-weather ability, diesel engine performance, rugged brand image, affordability.

Reasons to beware – Thirsty petrol V8 models, Europeans still do luxury better, won't please keen drivers.

Pick of the range – Grand Cherokee 3.0 CRD Overland.

What to pay – 2006 06 �13,300; 2007 07 �16,000; 2008 08 �19,375; 2009 09 �22,325; 2010 10 �25,325. Figures relate to showroom prices for cars in A1 condition.

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