Named after the Cherokee tribe of native Americans, the Jeep was always seen as the vehicle of choice for sporty types or desert dwellers who loved its ability to cope with rough terrain, extreme-weather conditions and off-road prowess while remaining fast and reliable. It wasn’t on the radar for city slickers, or mums on the school run as it was deemed too utilitarian, boxy and, well, manly.
Fast-forward a few years and it’s now a firm family favourite thanks to its quality performance, size and practicality. But it hasn’t had any added points for style and swank appeal – until now. Jeep bosses are determined to push into the luxury space with a premium Overland version that has swank and swagger. With all the grandeur of the Grand Cherokee, but more campact, this is packed with extra luxuries to make it a 4 X 4 with class, and has what the jeep bosses call ‘sophisticated styling.’ In short it’s Posh with a capital P.
In come a range of colours – Deep Cherry Red (perfect for the school run), Bright White (my favourite though the car wash bills need to be tax deductible), Brilliant lack (which is always in style) and Billet Silver (the smart choice) along with stylish new features such as a polished front grille for kerb appeal, wheel arches and front and rear bumpers. Even the headlamps are now HID bi-xenon, which sounds very grand indeed, and a set of polished alloy wheels so bright you need sunglasses to look at them.
So we couldn’t wait to give the Overland a spin and watch those heads swivel at its super sleek lines. We chose the M27 as a good start, heading to Gun Quays Wharf in Portsmouth, surrounded in style and comfort. The seats were Nappa leather, heated (you can choose between Morrocco Black or Pearl), and vented, with four-way lumbar adjustment for the perfect fit. This Overland’s so smart it even memorises the driver’s seat and mirror settings so no more arguing when your other half changes everything when they take it for a sneaky spin.
The steering wheel has a wood insert, which looks classy, and you can choose to have the dashboard in leather for a premium look and feel. Standard extras include a sunroof, Parksense front and rear reverse assist system – no more excuses for not getting in first time – a Uconnect radio with touchscreen display, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, and an Alpine Premium sound system. There’s plenty of leg room in the front, and rear, and everything fits so snugly that it’s like being cocooned in total luxury.
Safety equipment matches that feeling with seven airbags, hill start assist, traction control, electronic roll mitigation (for 4 wheel drive users), plus brake stability control all as standard. My model had extras such as lane departure warning (useful on motorways), blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control. It can make for a lazy drive, where you just settle on the speed you like and hit the button – much like pilots in the A380, I suppose. But adventurous types, head up the M23 to the M25 where there’s never an opportunity to settle back and cruise.
As for the ride, it’s smooth, quiet, and, quite frankly, effortless. That’s because it’s a nine speed automatic that glides along the motorway. With a top speed of 127 mph and 0-62 in 8.5 seconds, this makes the Overland a vehicle to be reckoned with. This is the first time that Jeep have used the new 197 bhp 2.2 litre turbo-diesel multijet engine, which for the first time bridges the gap to its more premium rivals.
Sadly, we didn’t get the chance to take it off road, or move it out of the Auto setting. Just seeing the others for Sport, Snow, Sand and Mud made me yearn for a thrash through the woods, or for bad weather, just to put this Jeep through its paces.
Instead we zipped around the coast, from Portsmouth, to Shoreham and back to Brighton, mentally ticking off scenic places to cruise to next. Jeep have more than achieved what they wanted to – making a luxurious rival to consolidate their ever-climbing UK sales and give them a premium edge over their competitors. This is a solid performer which, like all classics, will never go out of style. ■
Jeep bosses aim to race ahead in the style stakes with the new Cherokee 2.2 Overland, the most luxury version to date. Mike Mendoza takes it for a spin