We are definitely fans of the Jeep Grand Cherokee. One read through the updates of our 2011 long-termer will fully bear that out. And it’s hard to believe it’s time for a change, as it still looks and feels new to us. Never the less, the Jeep Grand Cherokee gets an updated for 2014, and it’s a surprisingly thorough one. So, let’s see if there’s still plenty to cheer about.
The biggest news for the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is the return of a diesel engine option. This Italian-built 3.0-liter turbocharged EcoDiesel V6 is a direct result of Jeep now being in the Fiat family. With urea injection that needs topping off at 10,000 mile oil changes intervals, output is 240-horsepower and 420 lb-ft. of torque.
The turbo-diesel boosts fuel economy to 22-City and 30-Highway for a 2X4. 21/28 for a 4X4. That’s a 24% gain over the Grand Cherokee’s standard gas V6. Range should top 700 miles, but towing capabilities match the GC’s gas V8 option at 7,400 pounds.
All Grand Cherokees sport a new 8-speed automatic transmission, the same ZF-designed box used in the Ram 1500. It boosts the Jeep’s standard gas V6 fuel economy from 23 Highway to 25.
Now if you opt for the turbo-diesel, 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. There’s heaps of diesel torque off the line, but a muted throttle pedal from turbo lag, means you have to wait an instant or two for it to catch. But when it does, hold on! If this is your first turbo diesel, it’s something that might take you a little time to get used to.
But 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. The lower fascia and fog lights have been raised slightly to reassure that even with the fancier face, this Grand Cherokee is still ready for the trail. Chunky but sleek side panels are highlighted by muscular trapezoidal wheel arches over our test Overland’s standard 20-inch wheels.
While around back larger LED lighting is featured, and the tailgate gets reshaped for improved visibility; plus more prominent Jeep badging and aerodynamic spoiler.
We spent much of our drive time around Texas in the Grand that most will buy; the standard gasoline-fueled Pentastar 3.6-liter V6.
As before we found power to be sufficient for just about any task you can think of, 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 versions of Quadra-Trac all-wheel-drive, as well as a Hi/Lo Quadra-Drive II four-wheel drive with Electronic Limited Slip Differential. On top of that you can add Quadra-Lift air suspension, which can pump your ride 4.2-inches, and an updated Selec-Terrain system which now has settings for Sand, Mud, Snow, Rock, and Auto.
Regardless of whether you’re battling boulders or dropping the kids at school, you’ll find plenty to like in the Grand’s re-vamped interior. Most notable is a new center stack, steering wheel, and Audi-like shifter. A few staff members weren’t fans of the shifter’s lack of mechanical feel, but keep in mind that it’s just a fancy electric switch.
Another change that we’re not fans of: Jeep has done away with the two-piece rear lift-gate. No longer are you able to open just the upper glass portion. While not a feature you’ll use every day, folks that tow or use hitch cargo carriers will miss it.
A quick trip down our test track fully reaffirmed our early seat-of-the-pants expectations, as the 8-speed helps the Pentastar V6 GC jump off the line with much more authority, getting you to 60 in 8.3-seconds. Once the 8-speed starts shifting, it takes 16.4-seconds and 84 miles-per-hour to run out the quarter mile.
While never a bargain, the Grand Cherokee has always been a solid value, providing you choose wisely. Prices start at $29,790 for a base Laredo model, but quickly escalate from there, approaching $50,000 for a loaded Summit. You’ll have to spend $41,000 to get a diesel.
Considering that and the premium price of diesel fuel, the EcoDiesel is going to appeal mostly to those that frequently drive long distance or tow. Otherwise, the standard 3.6 V6 with the new 8-speed will suit you just fine.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee’s success has been a key factor in the current rosy financial health of the Chrysler Group. And, changes to the 2014 GC give us plenty to cheer about. So, to Jeep we say; “Let the good times continue to roll.”
Engine: 3.6-liter V6 / 3.0-liter turbocharged EcoDiesel V6
Torque: 420 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 8.3 seconds
1/4 mile: 16.4-seconds @ 84 mph
EPA: 22 mpg city/ 30 mpg highway