2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4x4 EcoDiesel
Cohesive, but rough around the edges.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: April 18th, 2014
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is on a roll. Since Chrysler and Fiat secured their merger, they've put together a good deal of European-bred technology that will make its way to the United States. There are whole cars, like the ProMaster van series (derived from Fiat's vans) and the Alfa Romeo 4C. There are also some new powerplants headed our way, one of which is already here - the Italian-designed EcoDiesel V-6.
RAM made a big deal of the EcoDiesel's inclusion in its lineup, as its near-30-mpg highway gas mileage gives it a nice, green advantage over the competition. But that's not all the EcoDiesel has up its sleeve. It's also an optional engine for the Jeep Grand Cherokee, bestowing the SUV with car-like gas mileage. Sure, it's a little rough around the edges, but on the whole, it's a cohesive package that I think will pull more attention Jeep's way.
Our Grand Cherokee tester came in Limited trim, one step above the bargain-basement Laredo. Along with a Limited badge, the Grand Cherokee gets certain choice options including leather seats, a heated steering wheel, heated second-row seats, premium audio, and a power liftgate. The leather makes the interior a very comfortable place to spend a good amount of time. And, as always, the inclusion of Chrysler's Uconnect infotainment puts most of the Grand Cherokee's settings no more than a couple taps away. Rearward vision is a little lacking thanks to massive pillars on either side of the liftgate, but on the whole, its off-road nature means there's ample sight lines in most directions. Most people don't off-road in reverse.
It looks like a Grand Cherokee, plain and simple. The 2014 model underwent a sheet-metal refresh, but in no way did that make it distinct from its forefathers. It looks bigger than it actually is, which gives it a terrifying presence on the road - well, terrifying for everybody else. With a slew of parking sensors and a hood that doesn't drop off into no-man's land, it's quite easy to drive and know where all your corners are.
On the Road
Our Grand Cherokee was equipped with full-time four-wheel drive, an option over a more traditional rear-wheel-drive setup. It loses between one and three mpg for the extra driven wheels, but the added versatility makes the juice worth the squeeze. It also allows you to select the Off-Road Adventure packages, which gives you dirt-friendly additions like adjustable air suspension and an electronic differential with multiple terrain modes. The air suspension made the ride quite smooth, even over Chicago's pockmarked landscape, but with all that smoothness comes handling that can only be referred to as nautical. Strangely, though, the steering is quick and accurate; it just needs a body that is capable of keeping up with it.
The diesel engine doesn't help either. It rumbles the body at idle, although the optional Hemi V-8 does the same thing, but the Grand Cherokee is a good deal noisier than similar diesel engines from, say, Volkswagen AG. When you have the music turned all the way down, it sounds a bit truck-ish. Not like a RAM, but rather like a Peterbilt. Maybe the Italians dig that rough nature, but compared to a TDI engine, it just seems crass and less refined on the whole.
I had the chance to test the Grand Cherokee's off-road prowess at Chrysler's Chelsea proving grounds last year, and I can tell you that this SUV is endlessly capable when the going gets rough and the road gets rocky. But, in the chilly confines of Chicago's suburbs, there's no good place to test these systems that won't end with police sirens and a criminal-trespassing charge. So, I'd recommend that most suburban folks hold off from the Off-Road Adventure packages. If towing is required in your household, there's a package specifically for that.
On the whole, it's a solid sport ute. It drives nicely (if a bit soft), it's endlessly capable in all manner of weather conditions, and it's got enough space for the whole family and the dog. Not that I would know - Chrysler forbids pets from entering press cars. But either way, if you're looking for a large five-passenger SUV that does more than just mall-crawling (even if it's used for mostly that), look to the EcoDiesel option to give you some financial relief at the pump. However, it's a pricey option to tack on, so you may need to do some calculations to see if it will be worth it in the long run; on our Limited tester, the EcoDiesel motor is a $4,500 option. Recouping that cost might take a while, but if you're a long-term owner, it's worth it.
Specs & Price
Engine: 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Power Output: 240 hp / 420 lb-ft
Fuel Economy: 21 city / 28 highway
Base Price: $38,095
As Tested: $48,785 (incl. $995 destination)
Luxury Group II: 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen infotainment with optional navigation, automatic high beams, bi-xenon headlights, LED daytime running lights, rain-sensitive wipers, Nappa leather-trimmed ventilated seats, power tilt/telescope steering column, dual-pane panoramic sunroof
Trailer Tow Group IV: Tow hitch, rear load-leveling suspension, full size spare, heavy-duty alternator, heavy-duty engine cooling, seven-and-four-pin wiring harness
Off-Road Adventure I: Front suspension skid plate, fuel tank skid plate, transfer case skid plate, underbody skid plate, full size spare, "Trail Rated" badge
Off-Road Adventure II: Off-Road Adventure I plus Trailer Tow Group IV, four-corner adjustable air suspension, electronic limited-slip differential, crawl-mode speed control
Advanced Technology Group: Adaptive cruise control with stopping capability, advanced braking assistance, auto-dimming exterior passenger mirror, blind spot detection, forward collision warning
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, click here: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee.