Photos by Adrian Wong
The other night I was at Serangoon Gardens for supper with friends and I watched in semi-amusement, semi-sympathy at this Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV) driver attempt endlessly to squeeze his giant of a car into a parallel parking lot. It was a Friday night and the car parks were all filled, hence any space means nearer to getting food and the driver was trying his best to manoeveure his MPV into this tight, tight lot.
Initially I felt a surge of annoyance mixed with frustration overwhelm my insides as I waited impatiently for him to perform this daunting task. However, as the seconds wore on and turned to minutes, I could not help but shake my head in disbelief as he refused to give up and kept inching in and out of the lot to make the huge Continental family mover fit.
Almost 10 minutes had past and he didn’t seem to be making much progress and the line of cars behind me was starting to stretch out of that narrow one-car lane out into the roundabout. Irritated by being stuck there, some cars behind me started to honk in great dissatisfaction, cursing and swearing at the unnecessary queue.
Eventually the guy managed to wedge slightly more than half of his vehicle into the lot, eating some into the free lane. As a result, cars passing had to slow down dramatically to ensure that no side mirrors would go missing. I was in my humble Japanese sedan that night so getting past on that lesser lane was no problem; I cannot imagine what would happen if a similar sized MPV were to drive through next though.
This incident remained at the back of mind and when I took the Jeep Grand Cherokee out for a test drive recently, it refreshed in my memory. Realising that I don’t want to be caught in such a situation, I planned my journeys carefully and avoided taking the Grand Cherokee to challenging spaces that put my judgment of tight spaces to the test.
The Grand Cherokee was first introduced almost 20 years ago in 1992 and the latest version is now here in Singapore with a 3.6-litre V6 engine under the bonnet. The four-wheel drive Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) comes with a five-speed automatic transmission that is easy to engage.
Performance figures for this 1.78-metre tall and 4.8-metre long vehicle is a maximum power output of 286bhp at 6,350rpm and maximum torque of 347Nm at 4,300rpm. Taking 9.1 seconds to hit 100km/h from rest, I don’t recommend doing this too often as the car is meant to be more of a comfort cruiser than a maniac standstill warrior.
A first for Jeep, the all-new Quadra-Lift air suspension system helps to enhance the Jeep’s off-road capabilities. Basically, it provides height control and lifts the car up to 4.1 inches from Park mode to a peak ride hright of 10.7 inches. The Selec-Terrain technology then offers a selection of five driving modes to choose from – Auto, Sport, Sand/Mud, Rock or Snow; of which you would probably only use Auto and Sport most of the time.
There is the basic Limited variant that comes with leather-trimmed bucket seats and 18-inch tyres. Top up $10,000 to get the Overland variant (as per the test drive unit here) and you will find premium leather-trimmed seats, ventilated front seats, power tail liftgate for convenience grocery-loading, 20-inch tyres and of course, the new Quadra-Lift air suspension system.
With the overwhelming car population in Singapore and increasing buildings, big cars are becoming less city-friendly but there is still a need for SUVs like the Jeep Grand Cherokee for comfort and convenience.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 3.6 (A)
Engine: 3,604cc DOHC 24v V6
Transmission: Five-speed automatic
Max Power: 286bhp at 6,350rpm
Max Torque: 347Nm at 4,300rpm
0-100km/h: 9.1 secs
Top Speed: 206km/h
Price: $230,000 with COE
Distributor: Chrysler Jeep Automotive of Singapore