The Jeep Grand Cherokee is the bestselling and most awarded sport utility vehicle in the history of the segment so when the Trail Rated brand makes a big move – the industry takes notice. The 2014 Grand Cherokee features the new EcoDiesel powerplant that allows Jeep owners to haul and tow comparable amounts to the 5.7L Hemi while offering nearly 30 miles per gallon. The current Grand Cherokee is a great SUV; adding a 3.0L diesel engine that allows you to tow 7,200 pounds while offering 28 miles per gallon on the highway (not while towing) makes it one of the best SUVs today…if not the best.
My 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee test vehicle was a 4x4 model with the Limited trimline and the 3.0L EcoDiesel engine mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The Luxury Group II added $3,000, the Off Road Adventure II package added $1,795, the premium infotainment system added $400 and when added up with the $995 destination and base price, my test vehicle carried a sticker price of $48,785.
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4x4 Limited package wears just enough chrome/silver trim around the outside to look like it isn’t a base model. It doesn’t look like an overly blinged out luxury model, but features like the 18 inch split spoke wheels and the silver accents found around the lower fascia opening, around the distinct 7 slot Jeep grille, on the mirrors and on the door handles give this Grand Cherokee a far more upscale look compared to the lower priced models. Of course, the 2014 Grand Cherokee has all of the same great looks that make this the bestselling big SUV in the world. This is the Jeep which best displays the iconic look that the Trail Rated brand has become known for and when fitted with the Limited package – it’s a sharp looking large SUV.
The EcoDiesel package doesn’t add anything special, but it does have a nice looking set of badges to show off that it is a fuel friendly vehicle.
The Limited level trimline is technically midrange for the 2014 Grand Cherokee, but thanks to the addition of the Luxury Group II Preferred Equipment Package, it is impossible to tell by looking around inside. Leather seats, leather door pads and a leather center console armrest cover all in black with white stitching give this cabin a very high end look and feel with help from the minimal chrome trim scattered throughout. The front seats are nicely padded with deepish side bolsters that are comfortable for folks of all shapes and sizes while the power seat controls allow enough adjustment to make it easy for both very tall and very small drivers to safely operate the Grand Cherokee. Regardless of your size (unless you are a giant like Shaq or something), anyone sitting up front should find there to be ample seating space in every direction.
The rear seats have the same soft leather and generous levels of padding, but the rear seats are less contoured than the front. They are still plenty comfortable for a long vacation trip with gobs of leg space for even very tall adults. There is a middle seat in the rear, but I wouldn’t try to put anyone aside from a small child there for a very long ride and putting someone there really cuts down on the elbow space for everyone. Fortunately, with that middle seat empty and the armrest folded down, the Grand Cherokee has a wonderfully comfortable rear seat setup.
Unlike the Dodge Durango that rides on the same basic chassis platform, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee does not have a third row of seats and that leads to a massive rear cargo area. It is a big, flat area that is accessed via a large door opening so you can really use every bit of rear cargo space to haul large items. It will comfortably hold golf bags, hockey bags or a brand new Charbroil grill, fully assembled with any problem.
Arguably the most impressive aspect of the 2014 Grand Cherokee Limited interior is the large infotainment touch screen system that works with the Thin Film Transistor (TFT) gauge cluster to give this cabin a very high end look. The 8.4L touch screen is among one of the largest in the industry and in my opinion, it is one of the best infotainment systems on the market – giving the driver quick and easy access to control everything from the navigation system to the climate control to the hands free phone system to the boomin’ sound system. This system looks great and it works great, without any real learning curve. It is easy to go from function to function and unlike some other automakers’ infotainment systems – you won’t need to take any classes to figure this one out.
The UConnect infotainment system is controllable via the touch screen, a few knobs below the touch screen, via voice commands or by using the many buttons mounted on the steering wheel. Those buttons on the wheel also give the driver easy access to adjust the configurable driver information center in the middle of the TFT gauge cluster. In addition to the analog tachometer, temperature and fuel level gauge, the large center screen lets you pick from a wide variety of information including things like a compass, outside air temperature, nav information and more. This is the nicest gauge cluster in the segment…and one of the best in the industry…which is why the Chrysler Group is using something similar in so many of their new and popular vehicles.
The key feature of my 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4x4 Limited EcoDiesel is the 3.0L diesel engine that delivers 240 horsepower and 420lb-ft of torque to all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission and the QuadraTrac II Four Wheel Drive system. While it is a little low on horsepower, the monster torque output makes up for the horsepower numbers in a big way.
This engine doesn’t offer quite the same level of instant-on power that you get with the Hemi, but the diesel pulls incredibly hard through the mid range. This gives the EcoDiesel Jeep solid acceleration numbers from a stop and it is just as strong when putting the hammer down when moving at speed on the highway – all with very little engine sound at all. On one hand, I miss the roar of the Hemi under hard acceleration while on the other hand, I see the beauty (to some people) of a large Jeep that has so much power with so little resulting sound.
Now for the big news. The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4x4 Limited EcoDiesel is expected to deliver 21 miles per gallon around town, 28mpg on the highway and 24 combined. In my time driving the EcoDiesel Jeep I was not able to hit that average number, but around 150 of my miles were driven with the horse trailer loaded up. Even with those harder working miles, I averaged 21mpg overall and on one tank where I did not tow at all while driving most of the miles on the highway, I was able to achieve 25.6 miles per gallon. I believe that someone who lives in an area where the maximum highway speed limits are 55-65 will be able to exceed the 24mpg average figure. The EcoDiesel offers incredible fuel economy figures and it makes good on those promises.
Better yet, the 3.0L EcoDiesel equipped 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited is able to tow 7,200lbs and while I don’t have a 7,200lb trailer, I do have a 5,500 pound horse trailer that I use for all of my towing exercises. The EcoDiesel pulled my small horse trailer very nicely and the big torque allowed for smooth, easy acceleration while handling the hills fairly effortlessly. The EcoDiesel didn’t pull quite as well as the Grand Cherokee SRT with the 6.4L Hemi, but it pulled better than any other SUV of this size which I’ve tested. The diesel engine is designed to be a workhorse and it handles the heavy load just as well as the non-SRT Hemi.
Oh, by the why, while the EcoDiesel does sound a little different than the Pentastar V6 or the Hemi V8 at idle, it isn’t a far cry from the stereotypical chug-chug-chug of a heavy duty diesel truck engine…and there is no excessive soot when you put the hammer down, either. This clean new EcoDiesel engine provides the grunt of a hard working diesel engine, but it does so without any of the misconceived downsides like being very noisy or very smokey.
In terms of handling, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4x4 Limited offers a really nice, smooth ride that can sometimes be hard to find from a large SUV that can actually deal with some obstacles. While I didn’t do any offroading, I did use the adjustable terrain system to tackle some of the areas unpaved roads. I spent my time in the EcoDiesel Jeep towards the very end of winter so the melting snow had turned some of those local “Natural Beauty Roads” into treacherous offroading courses with deep mud, huge holes and flooded areas that could almost be considered ponds. These are roads that are nearly impassable for modern sedans and tricky for rear wheel drive pickups, but the Grand Cherokee made short work of even the worst muddy conditions. As you can see, the Grand Cherokee 4x4 Limited still looks good when it’s really, really muddy…after all, it IS a Jeep. It’s Trail Rated.
Once taking the Grand Cherokee Limited back on the paved surfaces, the advanced suspension and drivetrain system allows the big Jeep to ride as smoothly and as quietly inside as most sedans. Around town, the Grand Cherokee feels like a big SUV in tight quarters, but a high driving position provides a great vantage point for getting through small spaces. Really, the Grand Cherokee is a dream to drive with any engine and the addition of the EcoDiesel with so much capability and such great fuel economy makes this one of the best all around SUVs on the road today.
The Final Word
If you want a full size SUV that can tow or haul as much as most big V8s but with the fuel efficiency of a compact car – the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel is clearly the ideal new vehicle for you. The EcoDiesel engine allows the Grand Cherokee to do all of the work of the 5.7L Hemi and while the new 3.0L diesel doesn’t pack the raw acceleration of the mighty Hemi, the massive advantage in fuel economy makes up for the slight difference in horsepower. The Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel doesn’t offer quite as much go fast fun or the V8 grunt of the Hemi, but there is no other area in which the diesel mill falls short. In fact, with much better fuel economy than the Hemi, those who are willing to spend a little more now will save a bundle at the pump in the long run – all while being able to perform the same tasks.
Drivetrain aside, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4x4 offers an impressive level of luxury in a midlevel trimline so those folks who buy a Limited to save a few dollars, won’t have to drive a base looking SUV. Realistically, it is a Grand Cherokee – it’s good enough off road, very comfortable on the road, awesome in any weather condition and roomy enough to easily seat four tall adults and carry a ton of cargo. Spending a few minutes driving the 2014 Grand Cherokee makes it very clear as to why this is the bestselling and most awarded vehicle in the history of the SUV segment. You can get more luxury from the pricier trimlines, but those who want to keep the price under $50k can get a whole lot for their money with the Limited trimline and the Luxury Group II package.