2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee
by John Davis
The current generation Jeep Grand Cherokee sport utility vehicle was all-new for 2011, and it has been an unqualified sales success. In fact, it is largely responsible for the Chrysler Group’s current rosy financial picture. We too are fans of the now familiar Grand Cherokee. Still, time flies and 2014 brings some significant change for Jeep’s biggest ute.
At the top of the list is the return of a diesel engine option. The Italian-built 3.0-liter EcoDiesel turbocharged V6 is a direct result of Jeep now being in the Fiat family. Complete with urea injection, output is 240-horsepower and a stout 420 lb-ft. of torque.
The EcoDiesel drives fuel economy up nearly 25% over the GC’s standard gas V6, and the diesel will tow 7,400 pounds, the same as the available gas V8. The new 8-speed automatic by itself also makes fuel economy news, boosting ratings for both gas engines as well.
If you opt for the EcoDiesel, you will hear some old school diesel clatter at startup. But once moving, things quiet down nicely, and you settle into a smooth and steady drive.
The drivetrain is just the tip of the newness iceberg, as the Grand’s exterior gets a pleasant update marching continually upscale. The seven-slot grille remains, but it’s now shorter, matching the slimmer headlights; and LED daytime running lights are now available. Around back, larger LED lighting is featured, and the tailgate is reshaped for improved visibility.
We spent much of our initial drive time in the Grand that most will buy; the standard Pentastar 3.6-liter V6.
As before, we found power to be sufficient for just about any task, including towing up to 6,200 pounds. But, with the new 8-speed transmission, the Grand drives like a whole different vehicle. Acceleration is more brisk, and shifting is done more smoothly, though also more often.
And naturally, we had to get off the road as well, to check out the new GC’s “Trail Rated” credentials. There are both single and two speed transfer cases available with a variety of add-ons including Electronic Limited Slip Differential and height adjustable suspension.
There is also plenty to like in the Grand’s revamped interior. The most notable changes are a new center stack, steering wheel, and Audi-like transmission shifter. One change that we’re not fans of is doing away with the two-piece rear lift-gate. You are no longer able to open just the upper glass portion, a feature folks that tow or use hitch mounted cargo carriers and bike racks will miss.
Considering the extra up-front cost of a diesel engine, and the premium price of diesel fuel, the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s new EcoDiesel V6 turbo option is going to appeal mostly to those who frequently drive long distances or tow. The standard 3.6 V6 with the new 8-speed will likely suit most buyers just fine. Taken with all the rest of the improvements made to the 2014 Grand Cherokee, it looks like good times will continue to roll for Jeep.
For a complete road test of the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3242, which begins airing on June 21, 2013. For a complete listing of the public television stations broadcasting MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click find your station. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on the Velocity cable channel.