There was supposed be a heat wave, yet Santa Barbara was socked in. It was cold and moist, and if not for the taillights of the vehicle ahead, we couldn't see the sharp turns in the twisty two-lane road. For those without the capability of getting above the clouds, that would make for a miserable day. But it wasn't long before things got better.

Jeep Grand Cherokee V-8 Overland
Going uphill, these sport/utes nosed their way out of the fog, and we finally had the chance to get up to speed. The Jeep performed well on the smooth tarmac. The low-slung, muscular Grand Cherokee responded quickly to driver input, whether accelerating, braking, or changing direction. It feels like an overenthusiastic puppy, eager to please.

Its 360-horsepower, 5.7-liter engine and five-speed automatic have no trouble bringing the relatively lightweight sport/utility up to speed. The Grand Cherokee reached 60 mph in 7.3 seconds. But while on-road feel and gut instinct suggest the Grand Cherokee is outperforming the Land Rover, in actuality, the LR4 is faster to 60 and in the quarter mile. So the lighter, smaller SUV with Hemi power was left in the Land Rover's dust -- and took 20 more feet to stop from 60 mph.

The Overland Grand Cherokee has an impressive air suspension that comes standard with this topline trim level. Selec-Terrain is incredibly easy to use and the Grand Cherokee continues to excel as an off-roader. There are plenty of goodies here to help when off-road, including hill-descent control, hill-start assist, and an altimeter within the navi system that shows the vehicle's current elevation.