When you realise the Range Rover costs £71,310, suddenly the Jeep Grand Cherokee seems very reasonable.

It starts at £36,995, not bad for an iconic car and one of the few American motors which have done well over here.

In fact, even in this gadget-laden upmarket version, the Grand Cherokee Summit, it still undercuts the Range Rover at £49,495.

OK, so it’s not cheap. And not everyone could afford the emissions (198g/km) though the fuel economy is offers a rather respectable 37.7mpg on a combined run and more than 43mpg on a run.

But if you find yourself in the market for a fifty grand machine that will cope with snow, ice and, I imagine, earthquakes and volcanoes, then the Jeep Grand Cherokee might just be your thing.

And it’s not as tacky or in-your-face as you might imagine for a brutal American 4x4. Refined? Well, yes. Not as posh as a Range Rover or as polished as a big Lexus or Mercedes-Benz 4x4, perhaps, but it is surprisingly elegant.

In fact, Jeep are quite happy with the way it’s moved upmarket. The outside looks cleaner and sleeker but it is still a powerful slab of a car.

Inside you will find better soundproofing, a smarter eight-speed gearbox and a splendid new ‘infotainment’ system to match the best that the rivals can offer.

The engines are a big improvement, too. No longer just big and powerful, now they are refined and smooth. European markets are just more demanding than North American ones, so Jeep has come to realise that global success demands success in Europe. That’s why the UK will only see diesel models, with the exception of a handful of monstrous V8-engined SRT versions.

The test version is called Summit. I don’t doubt for a minute that it could conquer the most trying of peaks, but Summit really refers to the fact that it is so well equipped. Heated and chilled seats, full leather upholstery, 19 speakers and arguably the world’s best trip computer.

Add to that a dazzling array of hi-tech features to keep this vehicle moving in all conditions.

It’s hard to overstate the extent of the interior changes, even if the exterior updates are limited to a little pinching and lifting for a meaner first impression.

This is a seriously technological car, with a partially digital main instrument cluster that can be customised with different data displayed at different parts of the screen. It lets you fit it to your preferences, so you can keep the data most relevant to you right there.

The computer’s functions even extend to giving a 3D-effect map of the car’s chassis and wheels, displaying both the front wheel turn angle and the state of the multiple differentials. It’s a hugely useful setup for proper off-road driving.

Among the toys on this car are a low-range gearbox, hill descent control and ‘Selec-Terrain’, which adapts the traction control settings for various surface types.

But despite the clever adjustable air suspension on Summit and Overland models, it’s on tarmac where Jeep has made the biggest improvements.

The air suspension also works wonders.

Criticisms? Well, even a £50,000 4x4 can’t be perfect. The boot could be bigger for such a formidable beast and the steering isn’t quite as precise as you may expect.

Wind noise is minimal, however, and it is quite possibly the best motorway car I’ve driven. Certainly the best at this price.

Overall the Jeep is a hit. The cabin now has the quality to match the excellence of everything else.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit PRICE: £49,495. Range starts at £36,995 ENGINE: a 2,987cc, V6, 24 valve unit generating 247bhp via all four wheels PERFORMANCE: Top speed 126mph and 0 to 60mph in 8.2 seconds COSTS: combined 37.7mpg EMISSIONS: 198g/km INSURANCE: Group 43 WARRANTY: Three years, 60,000 miles warranty