You pay $83,000 or more for a Land Rover Range Rover sport-utility vehicle because you are looking for something other than transportation.
You are seeking status, or confirmation of belief that yours is an elevated place among the rest of us.
Otherwise, you’d save at least $37,000 and buy the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4x4, driven for this week’s column, which is as good as or better than the Range Rover in almost every way.
I write these words after months in the most expensive SUVs available, the Range Rover chief among them. My conclusion: Unless you place extraordinary value on the intangible of prestige, I see no real reason to spend the extra money.
I am especially convinced of this after a week in a “fully loaded” Grand Cherokee Limited 4x4 — one sold with almost every conceivable option, including adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning/mitigation, advanced brake assistance (which, in an emergency, applies brakes more quickly than humanly possible) and a driver-side knee-bolster air bag.
Of course, should you be among that rarest breed of SUV owners who actually take their vehicles off road, the mostly-new-for-2014 Grand Cherokee Limited 4x4 can meet that challenge, too. You’ll just have to put together the right off-road package to meet your specific needs and wants.
Most of us will be happy with the Quadra-Trac II 4WD system that comes as standard equipment on the Grand Cherokee Limited 4x4. It is more than adequate for crawling through grass, gravel and dirt, and it handles with confidence in heavy rains and through low-rising water.
The caveat “low-rising” is important for those of us whose driving is mostly commuting. Water moving swiftly across streets and highways can be very dangerous regardless of what you are driving. Avoid such hazards. Don’t let your SUV become your four-wheeled tomb because of misplaced confidence in your vehicle’s capabilities.
For true off-road enthusiasts, Jeep offers several packages that most of us don’t need or want to pay for. Frankly, that also holds true for the off-road prowess of Range Rovers, most of which will remain unchallenged in that department for the lifetime of the vehicle.
So, what it comes down to is this: Is this Jeep safe, comfortable, fun to drive, easy to drive, well made, reasonably fuel-efficient for a full-size SUV and reasonably affordable for the five-member families it is designed to serve? It gets a resounding “yes” on all of those, with the possible exception of affordability.
Look at the model that I drove. It comes with a base price of $37,795. But throw in $6,790 in optional equipment — including 20-inch-diameter aluminum wheels, automatic high-beam headlamp control and other items — and the price rapidly rises toward $45,000. It easily tops that amount with the addition of a $995 factory-to-dealership transportation charge.
Is it worth it? I think so, especially when you look at how most SUVs are used — which is as station wagons hauling at least five people and their stuff.
The new, sleekly restyled Grand Cherokee Limited 4x4 handles the station-wagon task superbly. The interior is attractive, a work of supple leather and wood-tone veneers. It is a pleasant, comfortable spot for five people on a long drive. Bring your computers and iPads. With the Luxury Group II equipment included in the test model, this Jeep is a rolling WiFi zone.