THE JEEP Grand Cherokee Laredo is a very handsome, neatly styled vehicle which provides plenty of room for up to five passengers to travel in comfort and style. The Laredo is one of three vehicles in the Grand Cherokee lineup, and ‘CRD’ refers to the Jeep's 2.7 litre Constant Rail Diesel engine.
This jeep is the sort of vehicle that drivers enjoy. A four-wheel-drive it may be; a tank it certainly is not. While the external dimensions signify that the new Jeep is certainly not a small vehicle, the brilliant turning circle makes it very easy to manoeuvre in confined areas. As such, this is a very easy vehicle to park in the city or to weave in and out of trees or other obstacles in the bush. The Grand Cherokee Laredo has a very light feel about it which makes for very easy driving all round.
The ride is one of the best in the business. Jeep uses a Quadra Coil multi-link suspension system with coil springs at each wheel, high pressure gas chock absorbers plus solid axles all round. The rear suspension also features one upper and two lower control arms, and the three link set-up serves to improve rear axle articulation and reduce body roll as well. It sounds very technical, but anyone driving the Laredo will definitely notice that there’s a great deal of axle (and wheel) movement available to counter very uneven or rough surfaces. The vehicle also corners very flat, with very slight under steer, when pushed into hard turns.
Passengers won't feel much more than a slight vibration when the Jeep is travelling on corrugated or rough surfaces, so good is the suspension set-up – and there are enough creature comforts to please most passengers anyway, even if the driver insists on taking a short cut between two logging trails by travelling overland. Infrared dual zone climate control air conditioning is a standard item in the Laredo. So too, is a sound system that is a large cut above the ordinary. The radio/CD player is linked to Jeep's Infinity Gold sound system, featuring six speakers plus a 180W six-channel power amplifier. My 17-year-old son really liked this system and spent a lot of time seated in the car listening to it.
The seating was superb. While the Laredo misses out on leather trim –standard fare on Grand Cherokee's Limited and Overland models – the cloth trimmed and well upholstered seats were still very comfortable, and with all dimensions of a full adult standard. Even after hours at the wheel the driver's seat, with its multitude of electronic adjustments, was a pleasure to be in. The three back seat passengers also enjoy wide squabs, supportive back rests and lots of leg room. Windows, mirrors, and aerial were all power assisted. Safety equipment includes supplemental side curtain air bags fitted to the head liner above doors, designed to deploy in the event of a side impact collision.
I liked the overhead trip computer set up above the rear view mirror. The unit features a trip computer, outside temperature indicator, compass and vehicle information data readouts. It was nice to see the fuel consumption figure of 10.2 litres per 100km being displayed after a run up to Toowoomba and back from the south side of Brisbane.
Extended country cruising with the cruise control set right on 100km/h would better that figure of course, and here's why. On record is a trip from Melbourne to Adelaide which took 10 hours, averaged 81.5km/h with fuel consumption recorded as 6.56L per 100km. That sort of consumption, admittedly set by Guinness Book record holders John and Helen Taylor, would have given the Jeep a range of 1286km on its 79L fuel tank. There were some 28.53L of fuel left in the sealed tank after the vehicle (with three passengers plus gear) travelled the 815km from Melbourne to Adelaide.
Driving the Grand Cherokee Laredo is a real surprise. This car is unbelievably quick for a diesel powered automatic thanks to the 2.7L engine's highly advanced technology. The four valves per cylinder intercooled engine features Constant Rail (very high pressure) direct injection plus variable geometry turbo technology, which changes the angle of the turbo blades to produce maximum turbo boost at even low engine revolutions. Throttle response is virtually instantaneous while figures of 120kW of power and 400Nm of torque are very creditable for a 2.7L engine.
Mated to the Laredo's four-speed automatic transmission the 2.7L CRD engine delivered effortless, smooth, power for any application whether moving off smartly from city traffic lights or with low range engaged and negotiating some serious obstacles well off the road.
Jeep have always enjoyed a solid reputation for off-road performance and the Grand Cherokee Laredo upholds the marques strongest traditions. Ground clearance is very good at 220mm with a totally flat and obstruction-free underfloor pan, while approach and departure angles of 36.7 and 28.6 degrees respectively are up to the best Jeep standard.
Loading up for a weekend away is as easy as lifting the rear tail gate to allow access to the large cargo compartment, and with the rear seats split folded 60/40 as required there is a surprising amount of room available.
Whether you’re driving in city traffic, country roads or up the beach the Grand Cherokee Laredo 2.7 CRD will make pleasurable work of it all. Things that I particularly liked about the car were the great turning circle, the driving position and one touch cruise control, and the terrific responsiveness of that brilliant engine. Jeep is making much of the CRD's 2.7 engine and rightly so – it really delivers the goods.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo CRD is priced at approx. $59,890 (price excludes on road costs).
1) The Laredo’s sleek exterior styling is timeless.
2) The Grand Cherokee Laredo has great capability both on- and off-road.Reads: 2558