Camp Jeep is an event that gives customers and enthusiasts a first-hand experience of the capabilities of Jeep vehicles. Outside India, it is typically conducted indoors during major auto shows. In India however, FCA/Jeep thankfully decided to conduct Camp Jeep events in the great outdoors! The event has already covered major cities like Delhi, Bombay and Kochi. Camp Jeep Bengaluru Camp Jeep Bengaluru was conducted on the 25th and 26th of March, at Wild Retreat Adventure Club, Bannerghatta Road. I had expressed my interest to attend the event, while visiting KHT Prime last month. So, Kiran, the Jeep Sales Manager enrolled myself and 3 others for the event by promptly calling us a week before. We reached the venue by 11:00 AM on Sunday, the 26th, and my Punto was picked up by a valet. We then proceeded to the Registration Desk where we met Kiran. After filling the enrolment form and signing the indemnity form, we were good to go. All 4 of us were put in a Grand Cherokee with our instructor Prithvi, who is a Bangalore Off-Road Drivers Association (BODA) member; he was a consultant for the event and helped setup the off-road course at Wild Retreat. 3 of us got to drive the GC for a little over half-an-hour in total through a purpose built off-road course. The track comprised of sections that demonstrated the following capabilities: Traction Control Water Fording, through about a feet of water/mud Articulation Manoeuvrability Hill Climb Assist Hill Descend Assist Ground Clearance 50 Degree Incline Rock Crawling (only for the Wrangler) A downhill section of the track (longer and steeper than how it looks on this picture): Hill Descend Assist on We could occasionally see a Wrangler on the course, attacking harder obstacles with ease! My Drive I had no prior experience in off-roading, but the Grand Cherokee was so good that it made some extreme trails feel so easy! This is a very capable vehicle off-road, even in the stock form. It was fairly easy to find a comfortable driving position once I got it. The seats are electrically adjustable and the view out is good. The steering is light (compared to a Punto; it's an electric unit after all), but it’s direct and didn't feel vague. I wish it was a tad heavier to match the size of the vehicle (like the Hexa's). However, the lightness makes the off-roading work pretty easy. There’s dollops of torque available at lower rpms. The GC climbed a 50 degree incline with 5 of us on board at as low as 1750 rpm and 5 kmph - all this with no signs of strain! Wheelspin is almost non-existent while the GC hunts for traction in the slippery gravel and mud! I was mostly driving on the Selec-Terrain ‘Auto’ mode so I couldn’t figure out the differences on the other modes like Sand, Mud and Rock (Snow anyway isn’t applicable here!). On a 40 Degree Side Slope, the GC felt surefooted and held it's ground with no jittering. Again, in the Articulation section, it remained composed and pushed ahead, although only the diagonal 2 wheels had ground contact! The hill descent control is also pretty neat, with the GC slowly analysing the terrain and moving downhill accordingly. You can increase descent speed with the paddles. Body roll is minimal and it soaks up bumps well. The course had 0% tarmac so I couldn’t gauge how good it is on road. Probably not Cayenne or X5 good, due to its off-road credentials. Prithvi told us that the GC handles about the same on road as well. I’ve been in a GL-Class as a passenger during the Mercedes Stardrive in Bangalore years back and I think it’s safe to say that the GC exceeds the GL in the capability department, although not in interior opulence. The interiors are nice, typical American truck-like, with the AC vents flanking a big screen. The instrument cluster is also well laid out with the tacho and speedo on either side of a big colour screen. Switchgear inside seems to be acceptable quality. The chrome lining on the rear flip out screen was gone – bad QC or bad passenger?! Overall, it seemed more like function over form. The rear bench could accommodate 3 adults comfortably without shoulders touching each other or knees brushing the front seats. A panoramic sunroof (CommandView) brings a lot of airyness to the cabin. Continued.. --- Double Post Merged, Mar 31, 2017, Original Post Date: Mar 31, 2017 --- After completing the drive, we were asked to fill a feedback form, back at the Registration desk. With this, our drive was completed. There was a foosball table and mini golf. A buffet lunch counter. A lounge with air coolers. The official event photographers clicked our pics in front of the Grand Cherokee and Wrangler on display. They also gave us a goodie bag with brochures of the Grand Cherokee and Wrangler and a wood-finish pen drive with our pictures that were clicked by their photographers. Camp Jeep branding, even on the valet parking tag! Overall, a well-organized event. The only gripe I had is that I couldn’t drive the Wrangler, although I had booked for it in advance. Mercedes has the LuxeDrive (earlier StarDrive) and Audi has the R-Drive - both events that give the general public a chance to experience their vehicles and the technology they have, up close. I guess FCA missed it by a long shot during the Abarth launch. Such an event would have definitely elevated the brand’s perception by at least a small margin. How hard was it to bring a 595 Competizione and 2-3 Abarth Puntos for an experience event in the major cities?! Amidst all the bad decisions FCA has taken and is still taking, I think Camp Jeep is a step in the right direction. It gives prospective buyers, enthusiasts and casual participants a chance to know what the Jeep brand is and what their vehicles are capable of (and also that they are not some overpriced Mahindras!), especially with the upcoming Compass launch. Special thanks to Kiran from KHT Prime for letting me be part of Camp Jeep. Thanks for reading! Note to Moderators: It would be a good idea to open a new section for Jeep, since the FCA India family has grown bigger with Jeep and because the Compass launch is following soon.