The Grand Cherokee's familiar styling masks added length and 2.6 inches of extra width, a concern for those who navigate the narrows of the Rubicon. The wider stance provides better roll control, according to Jeep, and in fact head toss (the sort of malady that afflicts Land Rover's taller, narrower models) is minimal in the Grand Cherokee, in all terrain. Neither of two preproduction models suffered any body creak on even the steepest, bumpiest climbs and descents.

Jeep managed the enlarged dimensions without compromising the Grand Cherokee's carlike 37.1-foot turning radius, which really came in handy when making quick U-turns on greater Moab's narrow two-lanes for benefit of the cameras.

The new model is 1.8 inches longer, on a 5.3-inch-longer wheelbase, and Jeep engineers were careful to maintain its "garageability." There's 17 cubic feet more cargo space with the rear seat up. The passengers get four more inches of knee room, and the rear seatbacks recline through 12 degrees from their standard level. Our cameraman, who grew up with Grand Cherokees, reports a much better level of backseat comfort. The topline Overland comes with a handsome, cut-and-sew leather dash and real wood accents, while the mid-level Limited's materials (including fake wood) and fit and finish are much improved, but only to the level we expect from all brands' interiors these days.

Back it out of your suburban garage for a spin on a twisty, reasonably smooth road, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee transforms from a "sport" to a "utility" vehicle. Which is to say, it's very smooth and quiet, among the best in its class; it's just not fun to drive. It has more precise steering than many in this class, with better feedback than average, but that's mostly for precise off-roading. The fun is in knowing you can carry mountain bikes and kayaks and such right up to the place far off-road where you'll use them.