Whilst Land Rover was consulting with “Posh”–read: ironically named cretinous slag- Spice in designing the new “Range Rover” Evoque (it is even less a Range Rover than the “Sport”), Jeep has gone and built a proper Range Rover competitor in the new Grand Cherokee. That’s right; if you want proper off-roader that’s somewhat posh but not over-the-top, then buy that big (yet refined) hunk of American steel. Jaguar and Land Rover are the same company, but clearly the respective management teams do not speak. How can Jag’s be so good, and Land Rover (in respect to the Range Rover nameplate) be so damned wrong. Thank God that Jeep’s new management and Italian owners get it. Jeep actually invented the posh off-roader segment (yes, well before Land Rover; hell they invented the off-roader segment and the first Land Rover was a re-bodied Jeep). They are actually the “old-money” brand, and now they have the merchandise to back up that boasting.

Last decade- when Daimler-Benz still owned Chrysler- Jeep was given the lead role in designing a common platform for both the new Mercedes M-Class and Grand Cherokee. The subsequent sale, bankruptcy, bailout, and now sale to FIAT of Chrysler may have delayed the introduction of the new GC, but it’s worth the wait. Where previous Jeeps have been dismissed (some rightly so) as cheaply built American crap, this one may be the best value-for-money proposition, well, ever. Under the old (German) regime the Merc would have to have been the better/nicer product, but, since as we all know Mercedes has been building some real turds, the Jeep would have been total crap (see the pervious generation model for evidence). Since this is no longer the case, the Grand Cherokee (in Overland trim) is better equipped (that’s right, luxury pack extras on the Rover are standard equipment), quieter, has an actual “truck” engine and transmission (i.e. not a poor repurposed Jag engine), better on and off-road, less gaudy (seriously what were they thinking with that “face-lift”), and apparently safer (beat the “safest car in the world” Volvo XC-90 in multiple tests) than the Land Rover Range Rover (the real one) for less than half the price. The Rangie only has the two advantages of better below the interior belt-line plastics and a drop down tailgate; that is it!

This isn’t just some jingoistic Pro-America babble, the Jeep has gotten glowing reviews even in places where “Death to America” is a national greeting. Fiat is going to use the new V6 engine as a basis for a new global engine family, and there is going to even be a Maserati based upon this platform. How they’re going to style a Maserati, well that’s open to discussion, because the Jeep is chiseled to just above the tear point of the steel. I guess it will have to be less rugged, oh well. That’s the point; the Jeep is both rugged and luxurious in a way that doesn’t compromise the ability to be a good car (finally). It is as if Jeep benchmarked the (pre-2010) Range Rover, but instead of mimicking it (ok the terrain response knob is a blatant rip-off) they decided to make something better. The Jeep uses proven components when necessary to avoid issues Land Rover built into the Range Rover (a dislodged ABS sensor will not just lock you in limp-home mode in the middle of nowhere, rather it turns off and a light tells you there’s no ABS currently). However, the engine (the V6) is all new, and tested to a higher standard than even the Japanese competition. Jeep still offers a revised 5.7L Hemi V8, but, rather than rush in an unproven new ZF transmission to accompany their new V6, a proven Mercedes 5-speed automatic is used instead. Conservative engineering and good use of Technology, maybe Daimler let go of the wrong half of the company? Jeep is back, and I cannot wait to sample what’s next (a new Wagoneer anyone?)!