ROAD TEST:2014 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE ECO DIESEL OVERLAND EDITION
THE GRAND CHEROKEE DIESEL IN FRONT OF THE AMERICAN BANTAM CAR CO BUILDING IN BUTLER. HOME OF THE FIRST JEEP.
SOFTER LINES ALSO HELP THE GRAND CHEROKEE ATTAIN CLASS LEADING FUEL MILEAGE
HISTORICAL MARKER AT THE OLD FACTORY IN BUTLER
The Jeep Grand Cherokee Eco Diesel has easily been one of the most anticipated luxury SUV’s to roll down the street in awhile. There is no full size American made Diesel engine SUV so if you have wanted the torque of an oil burner and the space of the upright squared off wagon and wanted to buy one of the big three you were out of luck. Enter the Grand Cherokee.
Body and looks wise it remains the same, a comfortable well constructed vehicle that will get you up to that cabin away from civilization wherever off the beaten path it may be. This diesel version has enough torque to pull that cabin down the mountain and into your backyard.
The Italian made Eco Diesel V6 engine makes noise. There is no doubt that this is a diesel…it clangs and clacks and even slightly shudders…a marked difference from the Germans who have perfected the art of making a diesel that makes you think it is a gasoline engine. You know this one is there. In some ways I liked that…if you are going to pay a $5000 premium for the diesel you should do like Ram Diesel owners do… wear it as a badge of honor.
While the engine does make noise at idle, in every other way but two, it is the same as a gasoline engine and those two ways are pretty good…torque: the eco diesel delivers a seat pinning 420 lb/ft of it. It hustles the Jeep down the road quite quickly…almost as fast as the Hemi SRT version actually and it delivers a whopping 7200 pounds of towing capacity. Right…out of 6 cylinders!
The other is fuel mileage…21 city 28 highway mpg with a range of over 700 miles on a tank of gas. Think of that a second…a full size American four wheel drive that delivers 28 MPG and actually scores well in Federal Government pollution tests. The Grand Cherokee is a way to tow that boat AND leave less of a carbon footprint.
I took the Grand Cherokee through the hill country outside of Butler, PA. Some of the same roads where the original Jeep prototype from the American Bantam Car Company were tested back in the forties. While it was quiet inside the cabin the Grand Cherokee delivered power and smoothness The 8 speed ZF transmission certainly helps with that keeping shift points on cue. In a little off road action the GC really shone delivering enough power to get up a series of rocky hills while keeping my teeth intact. The combo of the diesel, the 8 speed automatic, the Quadra Trac power distribution system and the SelecTerrain system that adjusted height while giving me options for snow, mud, ice, dry, just about any driving condition you can come up with made me feel like this car was bullet proof wherever I needed to take it yet on the asphalt it was well behaved, hanging in on curves, giving you good road feel in the steering and exhibiting great road manners.
My only real complaint about the GC was the smell of Diesel fuel that was present outside the vehicle. No smell on the inside of the GC though and I thought it was traceable to the capless fuel filler. The odor seemed much stronger after filling the car up.
Sticker price on the Grand Cherokee Overland Edition with the 3.0 Turbo Eco Diesel was $54,780 and as stated before mileage figures come in at 21 city 28 highway 24 combined and it has a Five Star crash test rating from the Federal Government with a full suite of safety equipment including collision warning and blind spot systems.
The Italian made diesel makes the Grand Cherokee a monster truck. Big towing capacity, maybe the best off road capability in its class, comfortable on the road as well as off of it and the abil;ity to drive to NYC and back without adding fuel. Shoot the Grand Cherokee to the top of my list of big SUV’s. While the Germans may have the market cornered on smooth the Jeep delivers a most capable on and off road performer that flies the American Flag on it’s antenna!