In the world of motoring, as in nature, nothing ever stands still, and nowhere is this survival-of-the-fittest struggle more intense that at the top of the SUV food chain, where the Jeep Grand Cherokee competes with the Porsche Cayenne, the Audi Q7, the ML-Class Mercedes-Benz and the BMW X5.
So it is perhaps inevitable that the Grand Cherokee has evolved for 2014; the signature seven-slot grille is flatter, the headlights (now with b-xenon projectors and LED daytime running lights) are slimmer and the lower section of the front apron has been lifted, with the fog lights slightly raised and more pronounced.
At the rear there are new, larger LED tail lights, a larger and more aerodynamic rear spoiler, new bumpers and a re-sculpted tailgate for greater visibility.
The big news, however, is under the bonnet: a new eight-speed auto transmission - standard across the range - with individual shift maps that adapt to specific driving conditions, controlled by 'intelligent' software that takes into account variables such as acceleration, engine torque gradients, kick-down points and speed.
LOTS OF COW AND TREE
The most visible interior trim change is a new three-spoked steering-wheel, but there are also infotainment upgrades in terms of an 215mm touchscreen for satnav and UConnect functions, a new 180mm configurable cluster display and, on the flagship SRT, a 19-speaker, 825W Harman Kardon surround sound audio system.
The 2014 Grand Cherokee will be offered with a choice of five interior finishes, each rich in leather and wood veneer, and named after places where Jeeps traditionally come into their own: Morocco, with black leather and black walnut trim, New Zealand, in two-tone black and light grey with lightly gold-tinted aluminium trim, Vesuvio in brown and blue with open-pore brown or black wood-veneer trim and Nepal in brown and grey with open-pore brown or black wood-veneer trim.
The SRT8 model will also be available with special Laguna leather and alcantara trim.
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee will be released in South Africa in August 2013 in a choice of three derivatives:
The Grand Cherokee Limited comes with a 3.6-litre V6 Pentastar engine rated for 210kW at 6350rpm and 347Nm at 4300rpm, driving all four wheels through the proven Quadra-Trac II system with high and low-range transfer case, using the antilock braking sensors to control traction.
The Overland model offers a choice of Pentastar V6 or 5.7-litre Hemi V8 power - all 259kW at 5200rpm and 520Nm at 4200rpm of it - delivered via a Quadra-Drive II high and low-range transfer case, with an electronic limited-slip differential on the rear axle.
Quadra-Lift air suspension and the Selec-Terrain traction control are standard on Limited and Overland models.
The SRT8 has a 6.4-litre Hemi V8, for which Chrysler quotes 344kW at 6250rpm and 624Nm at 4100rpm, modulated by a Quadra-Trac active on-demand all wheel-drive transfer case, with brake traction control on the front axle and an electronic limited-slip differential on the rear wheels.
A retuned Select-Trac dynamic control system actively tunes the chassis set-up according to driver input and driving condtions.
3.6 Limited - R584 000
3.6 Overland - R646 990
5.7 Overland - R679 990
SRT8 - R879 990
A three-litre CRD V6 common-rail turbodiesel will join the line-up at a later date.