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Car reviews - Jeep - Grand Cherokee - CRD 5-dr wagon

The Car

2 Dec 2005

THIS is a Jeep that lifts the famous off-road brand into direct competition with a tough line-up of mid-size SUV opponents. For a two-tonne-plus off-roader it’s neat and nimble on the tarmac, yet retains its Jeep credibility in the muddy, rocky and slippery stuff. The icing on the cake is the Benz-contributed 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6. A new generation of oil-burning engines has been showing how crisp, clean and thrifty diesels can be. This one shows just how close they are getting to petrol-engine levels of smoothness and quietness.

THERE is little point having a four-wheel drive model line-up these days without at least one diesel-engine version in the range.

Mercedes-Benz, for example, developed no less than three turbo-diesels for its new ML range – there are two V6s, in 2.8-litre and 3.0-litre capacities, and, down the road, a 4.0-litre bi-turbo V8.

The Benz V6s form an interesting backdrop to the Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD launched in Australia this week with an all-new, Mercedes-sourced 3.0-litre V6.

Following the petrol-engine versions introduced last month, the diesel-powered Jeep succeeds the previous 2.7-litre five-cylinder inline CRD turbo-diesel and offers a power increase of 33 per cent, while torque goes up by 28 per cent.

Diesel sophistication doesn’t come much higher than in this new engine. It is fed by a Bosch common-rail, direct-injection fuel supply system and a variable-geometry turbocharger, while its architecture mimics the latest petrol-engine design trends with all-alloy construction, twin camshafts per cylinder bank, four-valve cylinder heads and a counter-rotating balance shaft.

The 72-degree, long-stroke V6’s all-alloy construction means it weighs in at just 208kg, consigning thoughts of heavy, primitive and clunky diesels to the history books. And it’s clean, being compliant with Euro 4 emission regulations.

This is due to the clean-burning fuel delivery and cylinder head design, as well as the adoption of twin diesel catalytic converters placed optimally to ensure fast light-up and minimise initial exhaust belching when the engine is started cold.

The Grand Cherokee’s turbo-diesel winds out an impressive 160kW (at 4000rpm) as well as the expected mountain of torque – in this case, 510Nm at a barely-spinning 1600rpm.

This means it will accelerate from zero to 100km/h in a mere 9.0 seconds – half a second faster than the 4.7-litre petrol V8 version of the new Grand Cherokee.

Just as importantly, the efficient oil-burner means the almost-2.2-tonne Grand Cherokee has fuel consumption figures that any regular full-size petrol-engined car would be proud of.

The CRD’s combined ADR 81/01 figure of 10.2L/100km is almost good enough to banish thoughts about the resource-wasting wantonness of large 4WDs.

The downside is that the CRD is priced $2600 above the 4.7-litre equivalent.

The CRD is available with one transmission – a sequential five-speed auto.

Consistent with Jeep’s traditional off-road credibility, the CRD also gets the topline Quadra-Drive II dual-range, full-time 4WD system otherwise only seen in the 5.7-litre version of the new Grand Cherokee (4.7-litre models get the less sophisticated Quadra-Trac II). It also gets limited-slip front and rear differentials.

The suspension is the same all-coil, independent front/live rear axle combination seen in the petrol-engined Grand Cherokees. It also uses the same electronic safety systems including stability control, traction control, ABS brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and Jeep’s Electronic Rollover Mitigation System.

The CRD is available in either Laredo or Limited form, the latter sitting mid-way between the V8 engines on price.

This means the CRD Laredo comes with standard gear including multi-stage driver and front passenger airbags, full-length curtain airbags, power front seats (eight ways for the driver, four ways for the passenger), 60/40 split-fold rear seat, an "Electronic Vehicle Information Centre", air-conditioning, a tyre-pressure monitoring system, 17-inch alloy wheels and roof rails.

Did you know?

The CRD Limited adds dual-zone climate-control, leather trim, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rain-sensing wipers, rear park assist, heated front seats and a 276-watt Boston Acoustics six-speaker sound system with a six-stack CD

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