Jeep delivers the fun, cargo space and off-road capability for adventure
Violent fall storms were in the forecast so the drive to Black Rock Oceanfront Resort on the west coast of Vancouver Island threatened to be a challenging one.
A more cautious man may have postponed the trip but my reaction was – bring it on!
In the driveway was a Jeep Grand Cherokee 4X4 Overland edition, loaded for bear. Whoops, the latter comment might be considered a little insensitive in some parts, but you know what I mean. This luxuriously appointed and techy vehicle promised to perform every required task on tricky terrain.
Judge its 2014 refreshed looks for yourself but it doesn’t set my pulse racing. There’s really not a lot you can do with your basic SUV big box look. I don’t really care unless its plug ugly. I’m looking for an efficient and roomy vehicle and this Jeep meets both of those tests.
For this trip, cargo space was a major consideration. Four sports bags loaded with clothing for wet and windy weather, including boots, plus evening wear for the posh resort. Ah yes, and two cases of wine for private functions. Didn’t even need to fold the rear seat flat to get all luggage safely stowed. Apparently, 1,028 litres was more than adequate. Folding the leather seat would have maximized capacity to 1,934 litres but reduce passenger capacity from five to two! I’m being a smart a** quoting these numbers. Does anybody really know what a litre looks like when it comes to luggage?
Without more ado, let’s get tester on the road. It was powered by a 240-hp 3.0-litre turbodiesel V-6 (the base engine is a 295-hp 3.6-litre V-6 and a 360-hp 5.7-litre V-8 is a further option). Not your grand-pappy’s diesel. Neither smelly, nor noisy.
Fast forward to the ferry dismount, heading north on Highway 19 for what is largely a 40-km mix of urban stop-go traffic and suburban highway. It was an important test of the vehicle’s urbanity because let’s face it, most examples will spend most of their time in civilization rather than the back woods. It happily takes on the role of a comfortable higher-end sedan with the additional commanding row of the road.
The fun began within minutes of taking exit 60 onto Highway 4, which is also known as the Pacific Rim Highway. The next 150 km or so took us underneath the massive trees that form Cathedral Grove, through the quaint community of Port Alberni and by the river where we counted fish jumping. Well, my passenger did.
The rain fell along twisty road around Sproat and Kennedy Lakes, though it wasn’t the downpour promised. It was a blessing because it meant taking the truck to the speed limit and it just hugged the road in the corners. The air suspension guaranteed a luxury limo ride.
The eight-speed transmission offered smooth ascent and descent through high country that forms Sutton Pass. In some uphill stretches, there were a few too many gear changes but slipping it into sport mode fixed that. A couple of hours travelling through breathtaking scenery brought us to the Tofino/Ucluelet junction and sunshine! Minutes later, the first bottle was cracked and the magnificent view from the room’s balcony of Big Beach and a rocky grove enjoyed.
Day two took us through slippery conditions on trails around the amazing Long Beach, which offered a glimpse of the Jeep’s considerably off-road capabilities. (Resisted the temptation to surf there.) Off-road fans are not going to buy this to pursue their hobby but it’s a fabulous vehicle for winter sports fans.
By the way, safety equipment on all models includes electronic stability control with roll mitigation, ABS with brake traction control system, trailer sway control, hill start assist, frontal airbags, front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, driver’s knee airbag, active head restraints, and tire pressure monitor. Safety options featured in the tester, included hill descent control, hill ascent control, rear camera, parking sensors, adaptive cruise control with collision warning, blind-spot monitors and rear cross path detection.
Power: 3.0-litre V6 EcoDiesel (240 hp, 420 lb/ft),
Transmission: 8-speed TorqueFlite auto
Drive: Four-wheel drive (Quadra-Trac II)
Towing: 3,266 kg (7,200 lb).
Fuel economy: 11.2/8.4L/100km (city/hwy)
Tank Range: 1,100 km
Sticker price: $59,745, as tested $68,225