Jeep builds on its popular Grand Cherokee SUV for 2014 with a new fuel-sipping diesel engine, an updated exterior design and a new 8-speed automatic transmission. The Grand Cherokee can be as utilitarian or as upscale as you want it to be with a range of models, all of which can be outfitted with Jeep’s well-known off-road capabilities. Models include Laredo, Limited, Overland and Summit.
The new V6 diesel engine will produce 240 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque, it has an incredible highway range of 730 miles and it can tow up to 7,400 pounds. Perhaps best of all, it is EPA rated at 22 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway for 4x2 models (21 mpg and 28 mpg for 4WD models).
Other Grand Cherokee engine choices include a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 with 290 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque. The V6 gets 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway on 4x2 models. The big boy of the group is a 5.7-liter V8 with 360 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft. of torque.
All engines are paired with a new 8-speed automatic transmission.
Our test vehicle was the Grand Cherokee Laredo 4x4, which is priced at $30,795. For that price, you get Jeep’s Quadra-Trac I full-time 4WD system, but the test Jeep was upgraded to the optional Quadra-Trac II, which adds a Selec- Terrain traction control system with manual settings for sand, mud, automatic, snow or rocks.
An optional Quadra-Lift air suspension system provides even more versatility with five vehicle height settings: Normal is at 8.7 inches of ground clearance, Off-road 1 adds 1.3 inches to the normal setting, Off-road 2 is an additional 2.6 inches above normal, Park lowers the vehicle 1.6 inches for easy loading, and Aero lowers the Jeep 0.6 inches from normal for optimal aerodynamics on the pavement.
When Jeep buyers select these off-road systems, their vehicles are labeled “Trail Rated” by Jeep. When a Jeep has a “Trail Rated” badge it means the vehicle is designed to perform in five key categories: traction, ground clearance, maneuverability, articulation and water fording.
Exterior updates to the Grand Cherokee for 2014 include a shorter upper grille and slimmer headlights. Also, Jeep says the lower front fascia and fog lights have been slightly raised. In back, there are new and larger tail lamps with LED lighting, a more aerodynamic rear spoiler and a redesigned tailgate with more visibility.
The Grand Cherokee has had great success with its upscale interiors of late, and the 2014 model will be no exception.
Laredo and Limited trims get dark wood trim on the dash and doors, while Overland models have stitched leather and open-pore wood. The Summit model has premium leather seating, open-pore wood, available copper accents and upgraded sound.
Although our test vehicle had 4WD equipment, we didn’t get to take it off the beaten path. Standard equipment included a 7-inch multi-display, Uconnect infotainment, Bluetooth, 17-inch aluminum wheels, keyless entry, six-speaker sound, a USB port and running lights. The vehicle also had a capless fuel tank that made gas stops easier.
On the road, we found the 2014 Grand Cherokee a good performer with plenty of power and ample room for five. We liked the new 8-speed transmission, but weren’t as fond of the electronic shifter. When shifting from drive back into park, we found it difficult to make sure that the car was in park, and we had to look down every time to make sure.
Made in Detroit, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is the company’s top selling model, with nearly 5 million sold since 1992. It is still a solid entry in the mid-size SUV segment, and it’s the champ after the pavement ends.
Test model base price:
$30,795 ($37,530 as tested)
EPA mileage rating:
17 mpg city / 24 mpg highway