By Mary Lowry
Success should not be messed with, and when you’re the maker of the most-awarded SUV in recorded history, you don’t tamper too much with your product. But, if your product doesn’t keep up with advancements in technology and engineering, it will soon be history.
At a media introduction of the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee last week in Austin, Texas, Rick Deneau acknowledged that there isn’t a big change in the newest Grand Cherokee. (Deneau’s title warrants its own sentence: Head of Brands, Chrysler Brand, Sales, Network Development and Fleet Communications for Chrysler Group.) “We’re trying to stay as close to our customers as we can,” he explained. So for 2014, the Grand Cherokee isn’t all-new, but it’s better.
Many will welcome the arrival of an EcoDiesel V6 engine as an option. It produces 240 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, and has a maximum towing capacity of 7,400 pounds. Two-wheel-drive versions have a fuel economy rating of 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. Jim Morrison, Jeep product marketing director, admitted the novelty of “hearing Jeep and 30 mpg in the same sentence.” Four-wheel-drive models get 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway. EcoDiesel Grand Cherokees have a driving range of more than 730 miles per tankful.
There are four trim levels for the 2014 Grand Cherokee: Laredo, Limited, Overland, and a new-for-2014 Summit premium model. The high-performance SRT version, which Jeep treats almost like a different vehicle altogether, is also in the 2014 lineup. The following few paragraphs contain information about the four models listed above; SRT information is given separately after that.
A 3.6-liter, 290-horsepower V6 engine and a new ZF eight-speed automatic transmission are standard across the board. Torque rating for the V6 is 260 lb-ft. Fuel economy is rated at 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway for 4×2 configuration, and 17/24 with 4×4.
The EcoDiesel V6 and a 5.7-liter V8 are available as an option on all but the Laredo. The V8 delivers 360 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque, and is also paired with the ZF eight-speed automatic. A Fuel Saver system on the V8 shuts down four of the cylinders when less power is needed, such as during highway cruising. They kick in again as soon as gas-pedal action signals the need for a boost. A new Eco Mode for 2014 also works to reduce fuel consumption.
Fuel economy numbers for the V8 are 14 mpg city and 22 mpg highway (4×2), and 14/20 (4×4). As modest as these numbers might seem, they’re an improvement over the previous Grand Cherokee and are not shocking for a workhorse powertrain.
New safety features have been added for 2014, including Forward Collision Warning with Crash Mitigation (it detects when the Grand Cherokee is approaching another vehicle too rapidly and gives the driver a heads-up in the form of an alert), and Selec-Speed Control, which includes hill ascent control and hill descent control, for tackling steep grades off-road, or on-road when conditions are dicey.
Among the new telematics features are Uconnect Access Via Mobile, providing one-touch connections with emergency service providers, roadside assistance dispatchers and vehicle information specialists; an 8.4-inch center-stack display; advanced cellular technology with cloud-based voice texting, Bing-connected search and on-demand Wi-Fi hot spot capability; and a premium navigation system with 3D landmarks, one-shot voice command recognition and SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link.
Jeep says the 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT is the best-performing Jeep SRT vehicle ever: 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds, a top speed of 160 mph, 0-100-0 mph in 16.3 seconds, and 60-0 mph braking in 116 feet.
The full-time all-wheel-drive SRT is powered by a 470-horsepower, 6.4-liter Hemi V8 engine (with the Fuel Saver system mentioned above) paired with an all-new 8HP70 eight-speed automatic transmission with a new electronic T-handle shifter. It delivers 465 lb-ft of torque at 4,300 rpm. Towing capacity is boosted by 44 percent over the previous model: 7,200 pounds now instead of 5,000.
A new launch control system, operated by a button behind the shifter on the center console and highlighted by a color graphic reminiscent of the staging lights at a drag strip, sets the vehicle up for optimum straight-line acceleration.
Previously mentioned new features including upgraded telematics and Eco Mode are included on the SRT.
Here are the base prices for the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee. In a departure from our usual style here, these prices do not include the destination charge of $995. I’m sorry, I just couldn’t bear to do all that math.
Laredo 4×2: $28,795
Laredo 4×4: $30,795
Limited 4×2: $35,795
Limited 4×4: $37,795
Overland 4×2: $42,995
Overland 4×4: $45,995
Summit 4×2: $47,995
Summit 4×4: $50,995
For the EcoDiesel engine, add $4,500 extra on Limited, Overland and Summit models ($5,000 on the Summit 4×4).
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is built in Detroit, and all models except those equipped with an EcoDiesel engine are scheduled to arrive at local dealerships this week. EcoDiesel models should start showing up sometime in April.