Hail to the Chief

Last April 26 CATS Motors, the official distributor of Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge in the Philippines, held the Jeep Thrills Pinatubo edition, showcasing the the power and capabilities of both the 2014 Wrangler and the 2014 Grand Cherokee. The drive was meant to experience Jeep’s capability to “go anywhere and do anything.”

Geared up to take on tough terrains surrounding Mount Pinatubo, Jeep owners and people from the media gathered at the automaker’s showroom in Greenhills at 6AM to get ready for some hardcore off-road action.


The new Grand Cherokee

At the 2014 Manila International Auto Show, CATS Motors debuted the 2014 Grand Cherokee, an off-road capable SUV powered by a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine that can deliver an output of 243 PS with 569 Nm of torque mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The Marketing Head of Auto Nation Group (the new distribution company of CATS Motors), Tonette Lee, gave the itinerary and the final instructions before the group headed out on the open road. We initially thought we would be riding in the Wrangler but, upon instruction from the organizers, we would be riding and driving the latest iteration of the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

With that in mind, I took the front passenger seat on the way to Pampanga, while Contributing Editor, Inigo Roces, drove the Grand Cherokee.

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Cherokee capacity

The first thing that got my attention was the interior of the vehicle. Being inside an SUV that is as big as the Grand Cherokee will pose some problem for the vertically challenged guy like this myself. Thankfully, the leather seats of the Grand Cherokee can be adjusted in various ways, such as configuring its height level, to give ultimate ride comfort.

The instrument panel display can be customized to your own taste. It can have a digital or analog speedometer and displays necessary information such as the vehicle’s wheel articulation. The Grand Cherokee also has a touchscreen infotainment system that can be easily connected to mobile phones. Moreover, the system also features a GPS navigation system, however, we were not able to use it because the Jeep representative told us that it’s not yet updated.

When you put the transmission in reverse, the infotainment system turns into a rear view camera with grid lines that follows the movement of the vehicle’s steering wheel; this way you'll know what path the vehicle would take while reversing.

The center glove compartment of the vehicle situated between the front row seats houses an A/C vent to give rear passengers ample amount of cool air. The second row seat can easily accommodate three people. At the center, it has a folding armrest that comes with cup holders.

Drinking water or tumbler has its special place courtesy of the vehicle’s door panels that are infused with holders. Lastly, the spacious luggage compartment of the vehicle can easily house coolers and travel bags.


On the road...

The Grand Cherokee easily absorbs the impact of EDSA’s impaired roads; making the ride smoother than usual. As we hit NLEX, the power of the Grand Cherokee can be felt instantly as it accelerates out on the open highway.

Engine noise was quite minimal even though the speedometer registered 100 km/h. Changing lanes at high speed is also not a problem for this SUV. With just a slight motion of the steering wheel the Grand Cherokee responds immediately despite its size.

...and off it.

Of course the main draw of the Jeep Thrills Pinatubo drive is the off-road adventure. The rough terrain of the lahar beds left behind by the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo is a perfect place to experience the off-road capability of the Grand Cherokee.

Before heading out to the trail, I familiarized myself with the different off-road features of the Grand Cherokee. Near the gearshift lever there are controls where the drive can choose from a number of off-road conditions such as snow, sand, mud and rock. The said options will enable the vehicle to tackle different off-road conditions with confidence; for this drive, we used sand and mud.

The suspension height of the vehicle can also be elevated up to three times higher than the standard setting, giving the Grand Cherokee a better fighting chance going through tough (read: rocky) terrain. The Grand Cherokee was also set up to venture onto steep drops because it is equipped with hill descent assist that automatically applies brake force while the vehicle is going down a slope, allowing the driver to totally focus on just steering the vehicle in steep descents.

As I drive the Grand Cherokee in tough terrains it posed no problem for the vehicle. It mightily ventured through uneven rocky paths, slippery surfaces, cross through several streams and possibly any kind of terrain that lay in our path and still it asked for more.

With its off road driving capabilities, the rough roads of Pinatubo can be traversed with confidence aboard Grand Cherokee even if there is a beginner off-roader (read: me) behind the wheel. The Grand Cherokee is more than just a prim and proper luxury SUV for the pavement as it is built to conquer any road condition. The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee will unleash its power whenever you wish to go anywhere and do anything.