Engine: 3.6-litre petrol V6, 210kW/347Nm
Transmission: eight-speed auto, rear-wheel-drive
Overall fuel economy: 10.1litres/100km
C02 emissions: 234g/km
Equipment: Includes Bluetooth and reversing camera
Safety: 5-star ANCAP rating
Factory warranty: Three years/100,000km
A Jeep has to have 4WD, right? Wrong. That maxim flew right out the window when Jeep began to make softer urbane SUVs like the Compass and the Patriot. Now it’s the turn of the Grand Cherokee to lose all-paw traction, but fear not, it’s only the base Laredo model of the 2014 GC range that reverts to rear-wheel-drive.
Personally, I think this shift in focus is long overdue. Jeep’s own research shows that only 10 per cent of Gee-Cee owners take their vehicle off-road. So why does the premium SUV buyer continue to stump for something they never use? Even tasks such as towing the boat up a slippery ramp are easily handled by a rear-drive version with half-decent electronic traction control. The Laredo’s loss of heavy powertrain components like a couple of differentials and driveshafts is mostly to its owner’s gain.
For starters, steering is a lot more precise without the front tyres having to perform torque-transfer duty as well. Performance and efficiency are other wins as the powerful 3.6 V6 of the 4×2 Laredo has roughly 80kg less mass to haul around than the 4WD version. With the latter 4×4 Laredo costing another $4000, the savings that the 4×2 offers last long after the initial purchase. For it uses roughly 5 per cent less fuel than the all-wheel-drive version.
At $64,990, the 2014 Laredo 4×2 costs the same as the outgoing 2013 4×4 version, but you do get a number of new features in return. These include a new eight-speed automatic gearbox that is light years ahead of the five-speed auto of the older vehicle, new electronic architecture that enables and links together a greater number of desirable extras, and styling revisions that add finishing touches like LED daytime running lights to what was already a handsome vehicle.
Losing 4WD is one of the best things to happen to the Grand Cherokee.
Not so good
Foot-operated parking brake should have been binned as well.