My late father had a saying, “A Jeep is a Jeep ‘nuf said.” Yep he was a Jeep guy, one of those GIs returning from WWII who came home with an incredible affection for the Jeep. Having lived with more than one of these ¼ ton utility trucks for a few years they knew the versatility and abilities inherent in them. This dedication only grew deeper as he had one on our dairy farm where he instilled in me the affection. Yep, I am a Jeep guy, with a caveat. I am a Jeep fan with prejudice in the twenty-first century.
There are a few Jeep models I am not overly excited about, however, there are a couple I continue to enjoy and recommend to buyers, even friends and family. I was encouraged even more when the Jeep folks said they were going to make the Grand Cherokee available with a diesel engine here in the USA.
The new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel engine offers an alternative to gasoline power that is quiet, by diesel engine standards, and gets an estimated 30 miles per gallon of fuel. The Grand Cherokee is offered with diesel power long with Pentastar V-6, which is rated at 25 miles per gallon and even the big 5.7-liter V8 achieves a 22 MPG rating.
The big news though is the availability of the EcoDiesel because as Volkswagen has found, buyers are seeking diesel power. Even though many auto companies are not so convinced, the upward trend says otherwise.
One of the biggest reasons Grand Cherokee buyers anticipated the diesel was the improved fuel economy, of course. However, when these buyers looked at how they would put the Grand Cherokee to use they could easily see there are plenty more benefits.
When we look at the numbers you quickly get the idea. As most diesels the horsepower isn’t the big reason for its performance, although it is important. The Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel produces 240 horsepower, not bad in the scheme of things. But look at the torque number and you will salivate at the chance to go off-roading and climb a mountain. Consider the 420 lb-ft. of torque will pull a tree out by its roots, well maybe only if you wanted to. The Grand Cherokee Eco Diesel can pull a load with a towing capacity up to 7,400 pounds.
These capabilities are certainly helped by the new eight-speed automatic transmission now available in the Grand Cherokee. One aspect added along with eight speeds is a lower crawl gear ratio of 44.1:1 which aids in climbing over those nasty rocks and trees laying in the trail.
Jeep offers three different four-wheel drive systems to better fit a person’s needs and pocket book. Quadra-Trac I delivers full-time four-wheel drive that is more road-worthy than rugged off-roading, though it will still get you to that back country fishing spot via forest trails and such.
Quadra-Trac II steps it up a notch with a two-speed transfer case which reads tire slip via a number of sensors and sends power to the wheels with traction. Quadra-Drive II adds a rear electronic limited-slip differential that increases traction in even the worst conditions.
Using the Selec-Terrain system (Jeep speak for electronically controlled four-wheel drive) is simple via the rotating knob on the center console. Driver selectable positions include Sand, Mud, Snow, Rock and Auto. Each mode is programmed for the corresponding conditions. With Quadra-Lift air suspension the Rock position raises the vehicle to a maximum height of 11.3 inches, plenty of ground clearance for clearing large rocks.
Just a few models ago Jeep came under fire for putting their off-roading badge of honor, “Trail Rated,” on a few vehicles that were a bit less off-road capable than some thought they should be. The Jeep Trail Rated badge on the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee indicates that the vehicle is designed to perform in a variety of challenging off-road conditions including traction, ground clearance, maneuverability, articulation and water fording. The Trail Rated badge on the Grand Cherokee means business. Though there will probably be few owners who will attempt to take their Grand over the Rubicon Trail this is one Jeep that could conquer that rugged trail. I’ve seen past models do it and would love the opportunity to prove this one can as well.
Paved street comfort is a top consideration potential buyers want in their SUV. However, in the back of their minds there sits an itch they can’t quite satisfy. They want to know they could go bounding over the Outback without a worry, if they so chose. The Grand Cherokee is such a vehicle, able to satisfy that tickle.