Elegant Beast Arrives To Save the Day
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel arrived with perfect timing, like some superhero swooping in to rescue a damsel in distress. Well, I’m not really completely comfortable with that analogy, but the arrival of the EcoDiesel coincided with one of the worst storms of the decade hitting Northern California. It actually made me feel like a superhero. I found myself looking for rivers to ford, or at least flooded roadways to navigate. I wouldn’t have been phased with a mudslide or two, but, alas, didn’t encounter any of those either. A few downed branches and plenty of rain was all I had to challenge the Jeep. It laughed and motored on.
Jeep’s reputation precedes any vehicle with that nameplate and a seven-bar grille, so even though its almost 60 grand price tag belies the division’s rugged off-road roots, it should come as no
surprise that the Grand Cherokee Summit 4×4 exuded confidence in inclement weather.
So, here’s a slight diversion on the price of this elegant beast. The base price for a Grand Cherokee is slightly higher than $30,000, but that’s for a two-wheel-drive model, which, of course, does not qualify as a real Jeep. The diesel is only available in higher trim level models like the Summit we tested, so the torque and fuel economy will take you above $50,000 on the Monroney. It was the Blu-Ray entertainment center that boosted our models price up a bit, so there are savings to be had.
Diesel Engines Brings Along More Equipment
The EcoDiesel package is a $4,500 option that includes a heavy-duty battery, electronic limited-slip rear differential, anti-lock four-wheel disc heavy-duty brakes, a selectic catalytic reduction aftertreatment system and a unique EcoDiesel badge. There’s nothing bad or superfluous in that group, other than the badge, and the diesel rumble will do the job to announce the powerplant in your vehicle on arrival. And a 30 mpg highway tag is a nice touch, too, particulary for a vehicle of this size and heft.
But back to the car. The price tag may be a little steep, but it’s not out of line among its SUV compatriots, particular those with a pedigree approaching Jeep’s (which would be basically Land Rover—everyone else may be capable, but they haven’t won a war lately).
The array of equipment designed to deal with those environmental catastrophies I never encountered is vase. Start with Quadra-Trac II (or Quadra-Drive II, Jeep seems to use the terms interchangeably), one of Jeep’s classic four-wheel drive systems. Add Selec-Terrain, which dials in the vehicle’s transfer case and front and rear differentials for the type of landscape you’re engaging, i.e., auto (the wimp’s way out—let the Jeep decide), snow, rock, sand/mud and sport (not really a terrain, but a way to kick the rear wheel drive punch of the grand Cherokee into gear and move on quickly). The rotary dial still seems a bit non-traditional, but since it’s all electronically driven, it makes sense. And it works.
Jeep Moves Beyond Its Rustic Roots
Jeep has moved well beyond its rustic roots and the Grand Cherokee is the epitome of that movement. While the original CJ was pretty bare-bones when it came to technology of any sort, this Grand Cherokee has all the latest tech, from a rear-view camera, park assist, blind spot and rear cross path detection, forward collision warning w/crash mitigation, hill start assist (it is a Jeep after all so you’ll be starting on some hills) and a 8.4-inch touch screen display. Along with that, this Jeep has Chrysler’s Uconnect system, which does work as advertised, integrated voice
commands with Bluetooth connections.
The comfort level is light years beyond those old Jeeps, or even the Jeeps of a few decades ago. This model had remote start with heated eight-way adjustable drive and passenger seats (and the second row is heated, too!) and steering wheel. So there are no excuses about braving the winter weather. The wood and leather-wrapped steering wheel, which is a nice touch of luxury, includes paddle shifters. Finally, the massive interior space can be filled with the 19-speaker premium sound system.
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel features nine airbags and an array of safety technology, including Electronic Stability control (ESC), Electronic Roll Mitigation (ERM), an Antilock Brake System (ABS) and All-speed Traction Control. The supple suspension soaks up bumps and its responsive steering delivered a sense of total control.
Filling out the option sheet are some nice-to-have features such as 20-inch wheels, a panoramic sunroof, power liftgate, fog lamps and rain-sensitive windshield wipers.
Jeep has a fairly standard warranty package:
5-year, 100,000-mile Powertrain
3-year 36,000 Basic
5-year, 100,000-mile Roadside Assistance
It also boasts a 5-star safety rating.
So the Jeep Grand Cherokee arrived to save the day during the worst winter storm of the season. It didn’t even seem like a challenge for this solid player. The suburban challenges of rain and wind didn’t faze the Jeep. If anything, it overpowered everything the weather threw its way.
The fuel economy from the power-laden diesel was as advertised. It wasn’t a challenge to keep the mpg in the high 20s, although the torque from the engine did encourage some aggressive driving.
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel is the poster child for American off-roading (or pseudo-off-roading in most cases). It’s big, puts its driver and passenger up high with a commanding view of the road, has plenty of power and technical prowess. It’s so American it should come wrapped in the stars and stripes.
Then you read the federally mandated window label two items jump out immediately.
Country of Origin: Engine – Italy
Country of Origin: Transmission – Germany
It might be a little disconcerting, but then you see:
Final assembly – Detroit, MI
All is as it should be. I don’t mean to make too much of this since Jeep has passed in ownership from French and those two countries the Jeep helped defeat during WWII during the past three
decades. All the while, it remains true to its roots as a potent off-roader that has now graduated to a near-luxury vehicle packed with advanced technology. The EcoDiesel package takes it into a new realm of efficiency and, while pricey, delivers on its promises with power as well as fuel economy. The Grand Cherokee remains the benchmark for this category of SUVs.
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