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2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee First Drive

The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee comes in multiple flavors, now offers four different engines

What It Is
Five-passenger family hauling at its finest.
Best Thing
The addition of a 3.0-liter turbo EcoDiesel V-6 engine raises the number of available engines to four.
Worst Thing
Only one model costs less than $30,000.
Snap Judgment
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee lineup offers something for everyone with the addition of a diesel engine and eight-speed automatic transmission.


The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee lineup gets a major shot in the arm with the addition of a 3.0-liter V-6 turbo EcoDiesel engine. The $4,500 option joins the lineup along with a new eight-speed automatic transmission on all models, regardless of engine choice. Throw in a refreshed interior and new front and rear styling--along with the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, 5.7-liter V-8, and the SRT's heady 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 engine which are all still available--the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is shaping up as an even more serious competitor in its segment.

Of course, how much Jeep enjoyment you want depends on your wallet's thickness. As evident on the price tag of each trim level, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee lineup is filled with more luxury than in years past. The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo starts at $28,795 and the Limited trim begins at $35,795 while the Overland will set you back $42,995. The top-tier Summit trim starts at $47,995 and $62,995 will get you off the lot if you want the performance-inspired SRT model.

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While the styling revisions and new eight-speed automatic transmission are all compelling, the new diesel engine is what really got our attention. All aforementioned models include a $995 destination charge, but if you want a diesel engine--available on every model except the Laredo--you'll have to pony up an additional $4,500. Is the addition of a diesel engine a game-changer in the full-size SUV segment? We went to Austin, Texas to find out for ourselves.

Walkaround

From head-on, the first thing that stands out on the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is the headlights, which have been ripped directly from the Chrysler 300. These new bi-xenon high-intensity discharge headlights are standard on the Overland and Summit models and are an available feature on the Limited too. A new signature LED daylight running bar outlines the headlamps, making the Grand Cherokee visible from a ways out no matter the time of day. The LED running lights originate at the top corner of the grille and trace the outside of the light all the way around the lens. Turning indicators get the full LED treatment, as well.

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The taillights are bigger for the 2014 model year and, like the headlights, are outlined with an LED light bar. The taillight assembly is outlined with chrome and the LED bar illuminates when the headlights are on. Jeep added a bigger spoiler to help with aerodynamics, and the bumper design depends on what model you pick. All model levels come with chrome dual exhaust tips as a standard feature. On the SRT variant, a new front-end is added for the 2014 model year giving it a menacing look. This same front grille was used as a template for the rest of the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee lineup.

Sitting Down

It's tough to look anywhere inside the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee without seeing something new or updated. The first thing to catch your attention is the new three-spoke steering wheel, wrapped in leather and held together with contrasting stitching. Overland and Summit models get a section of real wood at the top of the steering wheel, but all models come with paddle shifters that are mounted behind the wheel itself. Other alterations to the steering wheel include a D-pad on the left spoke, which cycles through different options in the 7-inch Thin-Film Transistor screen on the instrument cluster, and cruise control buttons on the right spoke. The bottom spoke has an opening, giving lazy-handed drivers somewhere to place their fingers, and features Jeep's "Since 1941" slogan, which pays homage to the first Willys MB models.

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Behind the steering sits an all-new 7-inch TFT screen, which can be customized to your exact specifications. As Chrysler Group's head of interior design Klaus Busse told us, the customizable instrument cluster is like an iPod; when you first get it, there are generic settings, but as you get more familiar with it, you can set it up to your liking. The redesigned instrument cluster is one of many clean looking features inside the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The center stack holds an 8.4-inch infotainment touchscreen with Chrysler's Uconnect system where you can control multiple functions inside the cabin. Just to be safe, Chrysler including redundant physical buttons underneath the infotainment system too. The all-new ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission calls for a redesigned shifter handle with letters on the side that illuminate in blue and a reverse gear that's red.

Driving

Diesel engines are known most for the substantial amount of torque they produce, and the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel is no exception. Sourced from the Italian engine company VM Motori, this new diesel engine continuously pulls you down the road quickly and quietly. Jeep's parent company Fiat owns 50 percent of VM Motori; interestingly, General Motors owns the other 50 percent.

The all-new eight-speed automatic transmission glides through the gears smoothly, without ever disrupting the EcoDiesel engine's power distribution. Towing numbers are impressive with the EcoDiesel's ability to pull up to 7,400 pounds. Both fuel economy and torque numbers see an increase over the gas-powered V-6 engine at 30 percent and 62 percent, respectively. Jeep promises that, when equipped with the EcoDiesel engine, you can cover 730 miles between fill-ups. Refilling the Diesel Exhaust Fluid--an additive that reduces diesel soot emissions--is easy too as it's located under the gas door and next to the gas tank port. According to Jeep, the eight gallons of DEF that ride onboard will last up to 10,000 miles, which lines up perfectly with recommended oil change intervals.

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Competing for star of the show honors with the diesel was the revised Grand Cherokee SRT; from here on out, the performance-oriented Grand Cherokee will drop the "SRT8" moniker from its name and will simply be known as the Grand Cherokee SRT. The 5,000 pound Grand Cherokee SRT hustled around Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, like a vehicle half its size. When you mat the throttle, the 470-hp and 470 lb-ft of torque Hemi V-8 engine is awoken snarling loudly as you take off down the front straightaway. The eight-speed automatic transmission worked well with the Hemi's power output and seamlessly climbed up and down through the gears; for the first time, the SRT also matches revs when downshifting, which only exacerbates this knuckle dragger's desire to be knocked around a track. The full-bodied Grand Cherokee SRT had little trouble shifting its weight from side-to-side as it snaked through the track's tight turns and the Hemi V-8 would quickly pick itself up and off you'd go. On the back straightaway, we touched 127 mph, but after running out of paved real estate quickly, the Brembo brakes, standard feature, brought us to a halt with little trouble.

Summary

We spent time both on and off-road with the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee and came away very impressed with the all-new 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel engine and eight-speed automatic transmission. If you have an extra $4,500, we highly recommend you spring for the diesel; it was quiet, and provided endless power. A 730 mile range and a 7,400 pound towing capacity is just icing on the cake. On the other end of the spectrum, the 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 engine and SRT trim as a whole is a performance bargain,, even at close to $70,000, because of its impeccable imitation of a German luxury SUV. The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT is even more attractive because it costs almost $20,000 less than the cheapest German competition too.

As always, we recommend you take a good look at all competitors in the segment you're shopping. If you happen to be in the market for a full-size SUV though, your search may be a short one, as the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee lineup is just too much for the likes of the Ford Explorer and Chevrolet Equinox. With four different engine choices, one being the all-new 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel engine, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee has something to offer to everyone, whether you're an off-roader, or track day warrior. We're very anxious to get our hands on another 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee with the 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel engine to do some more mileage testing so stay tuned.

Basic Specs

3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6, eight-speed automatic transmission, two-wheel drive, 240-hp, 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway
3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6, eight-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive, 240-hp, 21 mpg city/28 mpg highway
5.7-liter V-8, eight-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive, 360-hp, 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway
6.4-liter Hemi V-8, eight-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive, 470-hp, 14 mpg city/20 mpg highway

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