In Europe, our continental cousins have little enthusiasm for American iron--with one exception: Jeep. When cruising Germany's autobahn south from Frankfurt, Grand Cherokees are everywhere, including the fast lane. Our cousins get two Grand Cherokee models not offered here: Laredo and a Limited, both powered by the same turbocharged 2.7L common-rail diesel (CRD) found in the Mercedes-Benz M-Class.

It's no secret fuel is expensive in Europe. In Germany, diesel runs about 80 Euros/L, regular unleaded about 100 Euros/L, and premium unleaded about 110 Euros/L. Translated into dollars, a gallon of diesel is approximately $3, and regular unleaded about $4. Considering the CRD turbodiesel returns about 20 percent better mileage (20.5 mpg in the case of our recent 600-mile trip), the math adds up, reducing our fuel bill by about 40 percent less compared to the 4.7L V-8 found underhood in most domestic Grand Cherokees. (We don't even want to think about the differential between the 2.7L CRD and the new-for-'02 high-output 4.7L V-8 that requires premium fuel to extract every horsepower.)

But what if the 2.7L CRD is a slug or is so noisy it's not worth the savings? We're happy to say, based on our time behind the wheel, at up to 110 mph on the autobahn and saner speeds on tight, twisty back roads in the Black Forest in southern Germany, the 2.7L CRD is everything you'd expect from a Grand Cherokee with the powertrain refinement of any Mercedes diesel. No surprise this lusty powerplant drives the even bigger, heavier import-spec M-Class with no sweat.

One reason Grand Cherokees are so common in Europe is because Jeep builds them there, even predating the DaimlerChrysler merger. Over the last several years, it's shared space in the Magna Steyr plant in Graz, Austria, with the Chrysler Town & Country (Voyager outside the U.S.), the Mercedes M-Class, and the PT Cruiser. Jeep has also established a presence in Europe dating back to the AMC/Renault years in the '80s. (XJ Cherokees along with YJ and TJ Wranglers are also numerous in Europe.)

Everything that's made the current WJ Grand Cherokee popular since its introduction in '99 has migrated across the Atlantic, but with a few concessions to simplify manufacturing and marketing in Europe. Laredo (4.0L I-6 standard and 2.7L CRD-5 optional), Limited (2.7L CRD-5 standard, 4.7L V-8 optional), and Overland (high-output 4.7L V-8 standard) models are teamed with the Quadra-Drive full-time fourwheel-drive system with a two-speed transfer case. All come equipped with a five-speed automatic. The only option, on the Limited, is a 1300 Euro electric sunroof, standard on the Overland.