Car Review: 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk Diesel.

It’s a warm welcome back to Fiat Chrysler Australia and what a way to do so, with the big, boofy, but bucketload of fun 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, priced at just over $78200 driveaway with the V6 diesel, finding its way to the AWT driveway.Out front is the party piece for the Trailhawk, a 3.0 litre capacity V6, with a handy 184 kW and a Superman stopping 570 torques. That comes in at 2000 revs and getting there has a minor hiccup. When the accelerator is pressed there’s no response for a moment or two. It doesn’t feel like turbo lag as there’s no forward motion at all. However, when the all wheel drive system engages, the big machine (2.9 tonne GVM) will launch to 100 kph in 8.5 seconds. Even with that weight, economy is far better than expected, with AWT’s final figure of 9.1L/100 km pretty much on par with Jeep’s quoted figures around town. That’s from a wallet breaking 93 litre tank, however.It’s a physically imposing machine with 4828 mm of length, rolling on a 2915 mm wheelbase, stands 1792 mm in height, and 1943mm in width. What this means for the inside is 782 litres of cargo space with the rear seats up. There’s also a 12V socket (and one up front) and a torch. The rear leg room is almost as much as the front between knee and thigh however the chunky transmission tunnel for the eight speed auto and Selec-Trac drive system does intrude.That is a comparatively minor thing as you sit in plain looking but comfortable cloth and leather trimmed seats, which offer heating for both front and rear. The cabin itself is more a function over design, with a grey wood trim splitting the black plastic as fitted to the review Trailhawk. It’s not unattractive, it’s just not overly exciting, with a somewhat plain look in the test car. There’s a huge list of trim options, by the way, for the interior and exterior.There’s the typical double redundancy control systems for the climate control, with buttons,  dials, and tabs on the 8.4 inch touchscreen. The screen itself is more a square than widescreen and houses a DAB/FM/AM audio system with depth and punch. The seats up front are, of course, electric, and are heated along with the rear seats. There’s even heating for the chunky feeling steering wheel, which seems odd but knowing this machine is designed for a go anywhere in any weather North American market, makes sense.The centre console houses a pair of cup/bottle holders, a deep “bin” and the dial for the simple as anything to use Selec-Trac drive system. Be it Mud, Snow, Rock, Sand, and Auto (the most common usage, one suspects) the Trailhawk will deal with them all. And there’s a story behind this, as with any vehicle badged Trailhawk, it’s met Jeep’s stringent off-road requirements, covering Traction, Articulation, Ground Clearance, Water Fording, and Manoeuvrability.Part of that is thanks to the airbag suspension system, coupled to the double wishbone independent front end, and multi-link rear. The Trailhawk will rise up once started, with a simple icon on the full colour LCD dash screen showing as such. Once done and under way, it’ll flash a message stating it’s reached aerodynamic efficiency. On stopping and exiting, there’s a couple of muted clunks as it hunkers down.There’s also the meaty off-road compatible Goodyear Wrangler rubber; it’s got thick cut blocks and on the Trailhawk is set at 265/60/R18, meaning a broad footprint. Mounted on black painted alloys, if you look closely you’ll note a nod to history: a little Willy’s Jeep icon is painted on them.Up front is the traditional seven bar grille; it’s been surreptitiously nipped and tucked, as has the front bumper. LED lights and indicators look and are efficient, there’s black-outs on the bonnet and window frames, a full length glass room, and powered tailgate to complete the picture.Ridewise the Trailhawk is mild mannered, sedate, composed, on tarmac. The airbag suspension does sometimes feel harsh but never to the point of a hard jolt, it’s merely taut and any intrusion disappears quickly. With the Selec-Trac system, it’s as simple as turning the dial and the Trailhawk makes mincemeat of almost any surface, and with with a wading depth of 500 mm, is highly able to take you nearly anywhere. There’s the approach angle of thirty six degrees and departure of twenty five degrees to consider also.The steering rack is set to provide a nimble feel, a responsive feel, and the sub twelve metre turning circle answers that call. It’ll move lanes rapidly and without qualm, belying its mass. Overtaking is effortless and the brakes, although feeling numb initially, quickly haul down the big machine without complaining. As a driving experience, it’s confident and actually quite engaging.Safetywise, there’s seven airbags, tyre pressure monitoring, the usual assortment of mandatory electronic aids, however Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, and Rear Cross Path Alert, found a model or two further up, including the monstrous V8 SRT, are missing, however can be optioned.

At The End Of The Drive.
It’s rare that AWT feels that extra time with a vehicle would be welcomed, however the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk is one of those. It’s a delight to drive, economical enough although filling from empty would frighten the bank manager, roomy and comfortable, and has enough tech to keep you happy. The fact that it’s received the coveted Trailhawk name thanks to the tests Jeep levy upon it also means that should you wish to go offroad, you do so with confidence. On tarmac, there’s a five year warranty to back you up plus 24/7 roadside assistance for peace of mind.
2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee range is where you’ll find more information.


Car Review: 2017 Holden Astra RS.

Holden’s move to bring in its range of vehicles from Europe has already paid off with the fully European sourced Astra. With an all turbocharged engine range, the 2017 Astra family, which starts at $23990 driveaway, offers power, performance, and plenty of tech, as A Wheel Thing drives the 2017 Holden Astra 1.6L RS manual.It’s the 1.6L four here, with an immensely handy 280 torques between 1650 to 3500 revs and rolls off to the 147 kW peak output at 5500. So far it’s a numbers game, including six, six being how many forward ratios in the manual transmission supplied. It’s a delight, this transmission, with a beautifully progressive clutch pedal and a pickup point that feels natural. The gear selector is also well weighted, with no indecision in the close throw and tautly sprung lever. Reverse is across to the left and up, easily selected by a pistol grip trigger on the selecter’s front. It’s a delightfully refined package, one worth investigating, and a prime reason why we should move away from automatics as our primary transmission. Economy? A Wheel Thing finished on a sub 7.0L per 100L of 95 RON from the 48 litre tank.It’s a sweet looking machine too. A sharp yet slimline nose, with striking silver accents, rolls into a steeply raked front window, with good side vision before finishing with a somewhat odd looking C pillar design incorporating a pyramidical motif. There’s a black sheet between this and the roofline and there’s further eyeball catching with the deep scallops in the doors. Beautifully styled tail lights finish off what really is a handsome vehicle.  Inside you’ll find a well sculpted office. There’s piano black highlights that contrast with charcoal grey black plastic and cloth trim on the seats in a checkerboard pattern. The dash design itself is organic, flowing, and evokes the design ethos of higher end luxury cars. The pews front and rear are wonderfully supportive and have just the right amount of give and bolstering. Rear seat passengers get enough leg room for comfort also and there’s no problem with head room for front or rear with 1003 mm and 971 mm respectively. The driver and passenger do not get electric seats, though, however there is DAB for the high quality audio system that’s part of the GM family’s MyLink set. There’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility along with streaming apps. For those that like to carry kids and shopping, there’s 360L pf cargo space with the seats folded up, cupholders front and rear, USB charger point, seatback pockets, and door pockets as well.The driver and passenger do not get electric seats, though as they’re reserved for the RS-V, however there is DAB for the high quality audio system that’s part of the GM family’s MyLink set. There’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility along with streaming apps and the leather clad tiller has audio and cruise controls that are pure GM in their ease of use. For those that like to carry kids and shopping, there’s 360L pf cargo space with the seats folded up, cupholders front and rear, USB charger point, seatback pockets, and door pockets as well.It’s its road manners and driveability where the Astra RS really shines. The six speed manual is fluid, smooth, and completely complements the torque delivery of the 1.6L powerplant. What makes the Astra RS a delight to drive is the beautifully balanced suspension. It really is one of the best ride packages you’ll find. Period. The suppleness of the suspension is deft in its ability to change with road surface changes, whilst it firms up to provide a sporting feel when required. Rubber is from France, with lightning bolt 17 inch alloys wrapped in Michelin 225/45 tyres.From smooth freeway surfaces such as those found in western Sydney where some areas have been freshly resurfaced, to gravelled and rutted entrance roads, the Astra RS feels comfortable and poised across these and every surface in between. Thrown into off camber turns the hatch sits flat and under control and rarely does the rear end feel as if it’s not attached to the front. The steering itself is weighted just so, with a fine balance of effort versus connection to the front. There’s a bare hint of understeer being a front wheel drive car and while hint ar torque steer when the go pedal is given a hard push from standstill.Holden will give you a three year or one hundred thousand kilometre warranty, which, given the levels of warranty offered by others is starting to look a little dated. However they do offer Lifetime Capped Price Servicing plus you can take the car for a twenty four hour test drive to make up your own mind. Yes, you’ll find driver aids on board and the RS gets Automatic Emergency Braking in the suite of aids.

At The End Of The Drive.

The RS Astra, priced in the mid twenty thousand dollar range, is perhaps one of the most complete packages you can buy as a driver’s car. A torquey engine, a slick manual transmission, a comfortable office and with enough tech on board for emjoyment and safety, plus a beautifully tuned chassis add up to provide one of the most pleasureable drive experiences available. And that price makes it a competitive package in regards to value as well. Go here to check it out plus look at the new sedan: 2017 Holden Astra hatch range