Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland
The ever-growing SUV market has meant that many a manufacturer has had to increase their offerings, and Jeep have followed suit. Not only have they increased the offerings, they now also cater for basic SUVs that would not make it past a muddy curb – let alone the beaten track. That being said: the updated Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland is definitely more than capable to take on the toughest terrain, even with its new fashionable looks.
The new look has brought smaller headlights with LED surrounds making the front look like a body builder with more than just muscles. The famous seven-slotted grill remains, ensuring that this vehicle is never mistaken for any other on the road. In Overland guise, the front tow hooks are chromed, as well as the lower section of the bumper. The large 20-inch polished wheels and flared wheel arches unquestionably complete the brute look. The rear end though is a bit of a disappointment in that the tail lights look bulky and old fashioned compared to the front. The rear bumper also has chrome treatment including a chrome load plate that assists in keeping the bumper nick free during loading. The darkened windows at the rear make the vehicle perfect for transporting politicians and celebrities alike, or just your loved ones.
As you open the front door, you immediately smell the Nappa leather seats and can almost feel the luxury before even touching it. The high ground clearance means that you will have to climb into the vehicle. The seats are soft yet supportive and with the heating and cooling features you will always feel perfectly comfortable. If that’s not enough, the seats are electronically adjustable, so that you can find the perfect seating position for yourself. The leather-bound multifunction steering wheel has all the controls for the infotainment system and the cruise control. The dashboard has a large touchscreen display that is not only easy to view, but even easier to operate. Just below the screen is the climate control. The dark wood grain of the door panels and dashboard adds to the sophisticated look. The gearshift is one of the nicer ones that I have used. The vehicle comes with five different modes including Snow, Sand, Mud, Rock and of course Auto. If that is not enough, there is also the option of raising or lowering the height of the vehicle and for real off-roading there is also the choice of low-range four-wheel driving. In these modes, together with the three-litre V6 turbo-charged diesel motor, you are able to literally go anywhere. And that in absolute comfort. Unlike many large SUVs, this vehicle is rather frugal, especially on the open road.
On the road the vehicle feels well poised and smooth even on uneven surfaces. High speeds are easily reached, especially if you don’t keep an eye on the speedometer. The vehicle also manages to corner as good as any modern sedan, which is a real plus given the size of the vehicle.
If luxury is what you are after, this vehicle has it all and more, with ample space for five and a good-sized luggage compartment as well. The only problem is that you will not feel like loading anything on top of the plush carpeting that covers the luggage compartment. The opening and closing of the tailgate is electronically controlled and what is a real nice feature is that this can also be controlled from the front, with a button that is located just above the rear-view mirror.
All in all, Jeep has done an amazing job in lifting the game within the SUV market. It has managed to mate its world-renowned off-road capability to a luxurious cabin. This is possibly one of the finest balances between luxury and sheer capability and an absolute winner in my books.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland
Engine: 3,0 l V6 Turbo Diesel
Power: 179 kW
Torque: 569 Nm
0–100 km/h: N/A (claimed)
Fuel: Average N/A l /100 km
CO2: N/A g/km
Price: From R724 990
Mercedes-Benz Viano 2.2 CDi Fun
The first thing that comes to mind when you look at a Viano is possibly luxury or corporate people mover, yet Mercedes-Benz have decided to launch a range with the nameplate of ‘Fun’.
On the outside there is not much of a change that is easily visible, except for a small black rubber strip surrounding the roof, so it looks just like all the other standard Vianos. The mag wheels look a bit small for the size of vehicle and the ‘Fun’ nameplate is just behind the front wheel arches. The front end keeps up the corporate look with its large Mercedes badge that is centrally located on the elegant slated grill that flows with the steeply raked bonnet. The rear end is typical van style, with a huge tailgate and longitudinal lights on its flanks. To make this vehicle feel a bit like a car, each side has two doors, one for the front passenger and the other for the rear passengers. The only difference is that the rear doors are sliding doors that are probably the size of a small city car.
Inside, the test vehicle had leather seats that not only looked good, but were comfy and supportive. This vehicle is designed to carry seven people in comfort with its three rows of seats, a bench at the back and four individual seats for the front two rows. The second row of seats can be spun on its axes, which makes it possible for the passengers to face forwards or rearwards. Added to this, there is a central console between the second row seats that can be moved forward or backwards. This console opens up into a large table, which is fantastic for long trips as the rear passengers can have a discussion or even a meeting whilst on the move.
Over and above this, the trick that the ‘Fun’ model has a roof top tent that is opened at the touch of a button from the front light console. Once opened, the tent is accessible by standing on the front seats. Inside the tent there is a full-sized double bed with ample space, even though the rear end does taper down. The tent also has vents that can be opened to allow air in – but thankfully no mosquitos. For the rest of the occupants, there is an additional fold-down section in the luggage compartment. This, together with the rear bench, makes for another double bed. This makes for comfortable sleeping but not for all seven. The luggage compartment is big enough to carry whatever your seven passengers may require, but just in case, there are draws below the bench seat. Thanks to the curtains on the rear windows you will actually manage a good night’s sleep.
The front seats are positioned high off the floor, which gives the driver a feeling like they are on top of the world. The large windows and windscreen add to the overall visibility and make driving the countryside an absolute pleasure as the driver can also enjoy the scenery.
Finding the perfect driving position is easy and the manual gearshift is perfectly placed for your left hand on a raised platform that is connected to the dashboard. The gear changes are smooth and precise. All the controls are easy at hand and the driver also has control over the rear ventilation and air conditioning. If all you want is fresh air, the rear windows pop out so that fresh air is circulated without having large gushes of wind pushed through the cabin.
On the road, the vehicle is easy to drive but, make no mistake, it is big. The power steering wheel is light and easy to use, and so is the clutch and gearshift. The road holding is decent for the size of vehicle while parking is not that easy due to its width and length, but thanks to the rear camera and park distance all round it is possible for anyone to park it with a few more moves than normal.
The 2,2-litre diesel motor has ample power and the best was the overall consumption, which really impressed me. On the long road I managed 7,2 litres per 100 kilometres, and that was at a speed of 100 km/h with a full load. The one drawback is the air leak from the roof that does become irritating.
Overall, Mercedes have created a great holiday vehicle as long as you don’t go off the beaten track. It’s easy to drive and light on fuel. But best of all, the rear passengers will always be happy and you will always have a place to sleep in comfort.
Mercedes-Benz Viano 2.2 CDi Fun
Engine: 2,2 l 4-cylinder Turbo Diesel
Power: 120 kW
Torque: 360 Nm
0–100 km/h: 12,1 s (claimed)
Fuel: Average 7,1 l /100 km
CO2: 187 g/km
Price: From R686 964
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