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Jeep Cherokee Laredo: a Grand affair

BY RORY DALEY
Observer writer
daleyr@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, September 21, 2018

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Luxury may vary depending on people and cultures. For Americans, space and freedom are the ultimate luxuries; the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo embraces both to separate itself from other rivals in the segment, something it does admirably.

The Laredo trim provides the base styling for the rest of the trim levels, so ultimately how it appears depends on the options it's fitted with, ranging from the tough off-roader look to the high-performance bodykit on the SRT trims. Still, the Laredo fits easily into the premium sport utility space with a square-jawed athletic presence and the expected nod to its original Jeep heritage, a version of the iconic front grille.

Given its external appearance, the real surprise happens when the door is opened and one slides into the comfortable leather power-adjustable driver's seat. The Grand Cherokee may not look much larger than rivals on the outside, but inside is truly grand on the space side. Passengers might as well be in a next postal code. All major functions, headlights, interior lights, wipers are either automated or well within reach, but the vastness of the interior cannot be ignored, especially when trying to reach the rear seats. Trunk space is just as generous ensuring that all cargo, human or otherwise can easily be transported in comfort. The positives continue from the main driving position as the Grand Cherokee Laredo pulls off the trick of inverse proportions since despite the room, those in the driver's seat still can feel cosseted.

The ode to America continues throughout the cabin, with a different colour and material composition than the segment competition. The Laredo is available with a multitude of trim options, but regardless, the colour palette gives it a different feel to German and Japanese rivals.

The model we tested had a cool copper tone, matched with chrome accents and wood trim, all with good fit and finish.

The base infotainment may not impress at first with its screen size, but it offers good speed and connectivity via the usual suspects: USB and Bluetooth. A secondary screen in the centre of the instrument cluster supplements the main. Audio quality is high, not that one would spend much time listening to it as the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo continues down the most American of paths: V6 power.

With nothing less than six cylinders powering one of America's finest, the Jeep lets out a pleasing growl when the accelerator is pressed in an enthusiastic fashion. On the road it shines, able to eat up miles in whatever fashion the driver wants. Slip the Laredo into ECO and cruise in luxury and comfort, confident that the suspension and four-wheel drive will handle local roads while saving as much fuel as possible. SPORT mode is that, as the eight-speed transmission, brakes and chassis are up to the task allowing it to be hustled at speed making full use of the 3.6-litre engine's output figures of 293hp and 260lb/ft of torque.

On the freedom angle, the Laredo offers the ability to go only where eagles dare. Jeep has a long tradition of off-road performance and the Grand Cherokee has been at the tip of that spear. Chunky wheels, plenty of ride height, and a well-developed four-wheel drive system that can be made to operate in specific terrain at the spin of a dial. The only thing the Grand Cherokee Laredo might get stuck in is Corporate Area traffic.

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