I have to confess I was ready to give this vehicle short shrift. I was all set to dismiss it as a crude, gas-guzzling leviathan favoured by a certain sort of US hillbilly who, given half the chance, would use it to tow an unfortunate wetback immigrant around by his heels before handing him over to the border force.
I was probably going to compare it unfavourably with several Land Rover products which, while equally bulky and thirsty, are a good deal more technologically sophisticated. I was going to note with shock that the mpg readout at one point dipped as low as eight on the motorway and the NOx emissions are way off the scale. I was going to wonder why those smart Italian engineers - Fiat now owns Jeep as part of Chrysler - couldn't give the whole thing a serious style over.
That is until I took it down to Dartmoor for the New Year break. The best vessel for the trip may have been that used during Noye's Fludde: an Ark. The whole place was awash. You could have kite-surfed the road past Hound and Hay Tor. There was mud, broken branches and rocks.
We sailed across a flooded road with water about nine inches deep that had written off a friend's 3 Series BMW when he mistakenly stopped in the middle and sucked a lungful of muddy water into the engine.
Right back to when they went zipping over the Normandy landing beaches, Jeeps have a proud off-road heritage. This one has a rotary dial to adjust the suspension according to the terrain you encounter: the Selec-Terrain offers a choice of auto, snow, sport, sand/mud and rock. You can adjust the suspension up and down, as well, to see more rain coming over hedgerows. There's an all-new eight-speed ZF automatic gearbox to replace the clunkier five-speed box and changes now are far smoother. The costlier models also come with air-suspension which helps the ride. It drips free extras that cost zillions on a BMW X5. All this is of bugger-all consequence in London where all it means is that upper middle-class kids inside can look down on the great rain-washed at the bus stop. But I grew thankful for it out in the western sticks.
If this earth-warming apocalypse is real then you begin to see why anyone with much sense in the countryside during winter tools about in a battered 4WD such as a Land Rover Defender. (They want to get home without having to get the Speedos out of their kit bags.) You could plump for a 4x4 Fiat Panda for £14,500 or pay 37 grand more for one of these.
Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0 CRD V6 Summit
Engine: 2,987cc V6
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Fuel consumption: 37.7 mpg (combined cycle)
CO2 emissions: 198g/km
Power: 184 kW /247bhp @ 4,000 rpm
0-62 mph: 8.2 seconds
Top speed: 126 mph