When it comes to big hitters in the world of large sports utility vehicles they do not come much bigger than the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

It is a quarter of a century since the large American off-roader rolled on to the UK’s roads and it has been comfortably carving a sizeable sales niche here ever since.

As competition in the SUV sector grows apace, the Grand Cherokee’s well-established qualities of practicality, ease of driving and, above all, comfort continue to make it a serious contender.

Make no mistake, this is a big vehicle in every sense with a roomy interior, large bootspace and engines to match.

There is no hint of any petrol/electric/hybrid political correctness showing in the power range yet, with the car driven here powered by a meaty 3.0-litre, V6 turbodiesel pumping out a potential 250 horsepower, mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

That is the sort of power that delivers superb towing ability, refined motorway cruising and for those that need it, awesome off-road capability.

Despite its size, this 2.3-tonne vehicle is surprisingly easy and a lot of fun to drive. I didn’t venture on to any road more challenging than a track through the New Forest – no worse than many of Oxfordshire’s pot-holed roads – but I did face spells of torrential rain on both traffic-packed motorways and the A34 and there are few vehicles that inspire more confidence when coping with such horrendous driving conditions.

The Grand Cherokee’s reassuring ride quality and calming sense of all-round competence make it an impressive performer, despite having been on the market for so long.

Getting settled is easy thanks to an eight-way adjustable driver’s seat and a memory package that stores settings from not only the driver’s seat and door mirrors, but also from personalised preferences in the nine-speaker audio system.

The technology packed inside has also been stepped up, with everything from keyless entry and exit, to a powered tailgate aimed at making life at the wheel more relaxed.

All seats come with heaters, as does the steering wheel, and the eight-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard, which looks after everything from satellite navigation and Bluetooth telephone link, comes with voice control.

Driving around town is helped by a front and rear parking assistance system, complete with reversing camera. Safety features such as a ‘stop' function up to 7mph when reversing and full-speed forward collision warning are included for the first time.

New electric power steering with selectable drive modes – sport, comfort or normal – has also been introduced. Faster driving is aided by cruise control and a trailer sway assist system.

The test car came in mildly menacing Night Eagle specification, which adds whopping 20-inch black alloy wheels, a black seven-slot grille and window surrounds and dark-tinted tail lights.

The deliberately un-PC style that marks the whole Jeep brand was further underlined earlier this year when the US brand used the Geneva Motor Show to display the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, the most powerful and quickest Jeep SUV ever sold, powered by a supercharged, 6.2-litre V8 engine delivering 700 horsepower – and it is coming here.

Auto facts

Model: Jeep Grand Cherokee Night Eagle

Price: £50,215 as tested

Insurance group: 41E (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 40.4mpg

Top speed: 126mph

Length: 482.8cm/190in

Width: 194.3cm/76.5in

Luggage capacity: 27.6 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 20.5 gallons/93.5 litres

CO2 emissions: 184 g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles