Look carefully at the front left headlight lens. Etched into the glass is the phrase "Since 1941." Then check the front right lens and you'll see a small profile of the Second World War Willys Jeep MA.
This was the vehicle that started it all 72 years ago, earning a legendary reputation in wartime and later, becoming the world's first 'recreational vehicle' in peacetime.
The name was 'borrowed' from the popular Popeye comic strip. Eugene the Jeep was a magical character that could change shape, move between dimensions and appear or disappear at will, so it was not surprising that young GI's saw the connection between the character and the remarkable '4x4 Command and Reconnaissance Vehicle' that played such a crucial role in that conflict.
Since then, Jeep vehicles - in various forms - have remained true to the original 'go anywhere, do anything' DNA of the original and the latest Jeep Grand Cherokee is no exception.
The big difference, of course, is that while today's Grand Cherokee will tackle trails - if necessary - that would deter the competition, it does so with the comfort and security of your favourite armchair.
For 2014 there are five all-new models to choose from starting with the Laredo ($39,995), Limited, Overland, Summit and SRT, with a choice of four engines.
The 3.0-litre, V6 Turbo Eco Diesel pumps out 240 horsepower and a monster 420 ft-lb of torque for best-in-class 4x4 towing capacity (7,400 lbs./ 3,357 kg) while delivering the best-in-class 4x4 fuel economy (10.9 and 7.1 L/100 km, city/ highway) and best-in-class range of 1,300 kilometres on one tank.
Move up to the 3.6-litre V6 with 290 horsepower and 260 ft-lb of torque, or the 5.7-litre Hemi V8 MDS with 360 horsepower and 390 ft-lb of torque. If you need more power, there's the 6.4-litre Hemi V8 MDS that delivers 470 horsepower and 465 ft-lb of stump-pulling torque. Each engine is mated to a new 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters from the German ZF company.
Our tester was the Grand Cherokee Summit with the 5.7-litre Hemi V8 MDS finished in Bright White Clearcoat with Brown Leather interior. The MDS refers to the Multi Displacement System that aids fuel economy by shutting down up to 4 of the 8 cylinders under low load conditions.
This Jeep is loaded with sophisticated technology that would have been unimaginable 72 years ago.
The 4x4 Quadra-Drive system with Selec-Terrain and Quadra-Lift allows you to dial up 4 settings: 'Auto' (normal) delivers 45 per cent to the front wheels and 55 per cent to the rear; 'Snow' sets you off in second gear with most torque going to the front wheels; 'Rock' uses the Low Range setting and deploys Quadra-Lift to raise the air suspension and increase ground clearance; 'Sand/ Mud' sends more torque to the front wheels and 'Sport' turns off the Traction Control and directs up to 80 per cent of the power to the rear wheels while lowering the ride height.
You can also use power buttons on the centre console to raise or lower the vehicle height to make passenger and cargo access more convenient.
Of course, you also have ESC (electronic stability control), four-wheel traction control, hill start assist and descent control and an electronic rear limited slip differential.
The Jeep also keeps you safe with a raft of features including four-wheel heavy duty disc brakes with ABS and adaptive cruise control that maintains a set distance to the vehicle ahead and will - gently - apply the brakes if you get too close.
Front and rear sensors warn you of blind spot intrusion or front and rear cross path danger (particularly useful in dangerous, crowded parking lots).
And you enjoy all of these features in a luxurious cabin that features soft leather seating that's heated and ventilated with eight-way power adjustments and lumbar control for both front buckets (the second row is heated too).
The wood and leather-wrapped tilt/ telescoping steering wheel (also heated) provides controls for cruise, uconnect voice command and hands-free Bluetooth operation.
A large 8.4-inch colour touch screen in the centre stack is your hub for the 19-speaker Premium Harmon Kardon AM/FM/Sirius XM Satellite Radio service and Navigation system while the single disc CD slot is located in the centre console (there are additional USB and auxiliary points for you other devices).
The screen also doubles as your Rear Parkview back-up camera. Soft touch surfaces in brown with double stitching across the dashboard, open pore wood veneers, bronze metal accents and chrome highlights provide a private club atmosphere to the cabin while all the main gauges and secondary switchgear are strategically placed and easy to read.
The remote Keyless Entry system lets you keep the key fob in your pocket or purse. Just slip behind the wheel and push the Start/Stop Button.
The V8 is remarkable quiet and delivers smooth and instant acceleration.
The unusual gearshift lets you 'toggle' from Park to Reverse, Neutral and Drive/Sport while an ECO button on the centre stack maximizes fuel economy by changing the shift pattern and activating the MDS system (cutting out four cylinders as needed).
The paddle shifters were a pleasure to use, providing quick shifts, up or down, adding to the driving pleasure and feeling of control.
The new power-assisted steering is light and direct with a stronger on-centre feel at highway speeds than previous models and the remarkably short turning circle makes in town manoeuvring a snap.
At highway speed the big V8 is barely turning over at 1500 rpm while using only 9.9 L/100 km.
Automatic dual zone climate control keeps everyone comfortable while the huge, dual pane panoramic Sunroof brings the outdoors into the cabin. Standard features include the power liftgate, rain-sensing wiper/washers, enhanced bi-Xenon HID headlights with washers, fog lamps, trailer tow group IV and 20-inch, 10-spoke aluminium polished wheels. The usual six airbags plus a driver knee bolster complete the safety package.
The Grand Cherokee Summit is ready to take you to the opera or over the Rubicon Trail in luxurious comfort . . . your choice.
Type: mid-size 4x4 SUV
Engine: 5.7-litre V6 VVT MDS
Horsepower: 360 @ 5150 rpm
Torque: 390 lb-ft @ 3950 rpm
Fuel economy: city - 15.6 L/100 km; highway - 9.9 L/100 km
Base price: $62,145
Price as tested: $65,734 Vehicle provided by Neal's Nanaimo Chrylser
Alan McPhee is a Canadian automotive journalist and is former editor of Carguide Magazine. His articles appear each week in this space.
[Alan Mcphee, For The Daily News] / Today's Jeep Grand Cherokee tackles trails with the comfort of your favourite armchair.; [Alan Mcphee, For The Daily News] / 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit; / The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit is loaded with sophisticated technology from drive settings to sound systems to high tech safety gear.;
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