Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins
In 2011, Jeep re-engineered the Grand Cherokee with a broader and uniquely tougher design, advanced its off-road capabilities and tweaked the interior styling. It would finish atop everyone’s list and soon became the most awarded SUV on the planet. For its 2014 model, Jeep redefined the go-anywhere, premium SUV with stately characteristics including a new 8-speed automatic transmission, advanced user-friendly technology with Uconnect, three superior 4×4 systems, Jeep Selec-Terrain traction management system, the availability of a 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine and a bevy of active safety technology.
Welcome to the multipurpose world of Jeep.
Capable in various dimensions from adventure treks to luxury lifestyle to sporty culture, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a tri-athlete in its own respects. Customers of this chiseled but defined sport-utility have the versatility of loading up the family in lavish style while hauling their boat or trailer. Once the camp is set up then the fun begins when you take the Jeep off-road to test its trail rating. All the while peace of mind is solidified knowing the Grand Cherokee is amended with 70 standard or available progressive safety systems such as Forward Collision Warning which alerts the driver of an impending crash; Blind Spot Monitoring which warns you of any vehicle in the blind spot area; ParkSense park assist which alerts you of objects around your vehicle; seat-mounted side thorax bags, front and rear curtain air bags; and electronic stability control with electric roll mitigation to name a few.
Beginning with its traditional talents, we recently had a chance to explore the 2014 Grand Cherokee’s capabilities in Austin, Texas. The big news for this Jeep is its aforementioned 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 which has 240-horsepower and an impressive torque rating of 420 pound-feet and can tow up to 7,400 pounds, the equivalent amount to the 5.7-liter V8 which has 360 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. When paired with 4×2 running gear, the diesel will achieve 22 city and 30 highway mpg while the V8 4×2 sees 14 city and 22 highway mpg. Keep in mind there is a $4,500 upcharge (Limited, Overland, and Summit and $5,000 on Summit 4×4) for the EcoDiesel and its 24.6-gallon tank which delivers a driving range of more than 730 miles! The water-cooled turbo diesel will launch in the second quarter of this year. The third engine of choice is Chrysler’s go-to 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 with 290 horsepower, 260 pound-feet of torque, 6,200 pound towing capacity and a 600-mile drive range. All three engines are mated to Jeep’s new 8-speed transmission, which is engineered to provide varying shift characteristics. It also features Eco mode for additional fuel savings and a Sport mode (located on the E Shifter) for more ardent driving.
My personal choice for the Grand Cherokee is the diesel powertrain for obvious reasons. Diesel engines typically have more power than their gasoline brethren and allow the vehicle to travel much greater distances per tank due to roughly 30% better fuel economy overall. Additionally, diesel powertrains are reliable and resilient with some diesel powered vehicles lasting 2 million miles before significant engine rebuilds. My family owns a diesel Audi Q7 TDI and it’s the best vehicle purchase we have made to date. It makes you wonder why auto manufacturers are not putting more effort towards diesel technology.
More luxurious than ever, Jeep’s craftsmanship now includes amenities found in European vehicles. They’ve modernized the design with increased lighting technology such as daytime running lights, shortened and widened the 7-slot grille, introduced a new tailgate and larger tailgate spoiler from SRT, removed the rear chrome bar, and increased the size of the tail lamps. Yes, Jeep wanted to increase the differentiation from all models, but you will be hard pressed trying to figure out which model is which. They all look good to me.
Step inside the new Cherokee and discover a brave new world of interior craftsmanship. Themes for each inspiration were cued by cultural environments around the world such as Morocco in the evenings. Cabins are articulated by either warm or high-gloss finishes, true woods, pristine leathers replete with the revised technology display centered around the the 8.4” or 5” touchscreen Uconnect multi-media center. Uconnect not only provides precise and graphically enhanced navigating, but also operates your media devices, music, climate and WiFi through partner Sprint; and has Bluetooth for phone pairing while offering an array of apps just like an iPad. Uconnect is in Automotive Rhythms’ top three along with BMW’s iDrive and Audi’s MMI. Impressive! However, I am not a fan of the new electric T-handler shifter associated with the 8-speed. It feels awkward in hand and for that reason the paddle shifters were very practical.
Back to the grind, Jeep allowed us to tackle rocks, hills, and slippery slopes with the vehicle’s 4×4 proficiency. Three AWD systems are available including Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II with the later being the more capable. Pair that with Quadra-Lift air suspension and your Grand Cherokee will rise up to 11.3” off the ground. Using Selec-Speed Control it was brilliant that we were able to crawl up a 45-degree wall of bedrock and then creep down it. If you switch to the proper setting, the Nav screen shows off-road views to ascertain you are following the course precisely. Personalization comes in the form of Selec-Terrain with 5 environmental settings for various conditions such as when we drove a few miles on a sandy road.
Aimed at a diverse pot of SUVs buyers, Jeep is offering the 2014 Grand Cherokee with packaging just as diverse including a Grand Cherokee Summit model. Pricing starts at $28,795 (excluding $995 destination charge) for a Laredo 4×2; $35,795 for a Limited 4×2; $42,995 for an Overland 4×2; and $47,995 for a Summit 4×2. A multitude of fresh wheel styles come in 17, 18 and 20-inch configurations. The specific model we spent most of our time in was a True Blue Pearl Coat 2014 Grand Cherokee Overland 4×4 with 20-inch rims and Advanced Warning and Adaptive Cruise Control. It totaled $48,685.
For Jeep lovers who need more excitement in their lives then opt for the 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT. It’s a perfect mixture of performance, luxury, and ruggedness. What a magnificent afternoon we experienced at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin with Jeep’s high-octane $62,995 Grand Cherokee SRT. Typically the racetrack is not a place to showcase the features of an SUV, especially one that is known more for handling boulders opposed to apexes. Yet, the SRT is well-versed in sportscar-like performance and utilized updated skills to maneuver through the 3.4-mile, 20-turn (11 Left, 9 Right) Formula One course proficiently. Enhancements include:
- New eight-speed automatic transmission with Eco Mode to optimize shift schedule.
- Towing capacity improved 44%, up to 7,200 pounds.
- Retuned Selec-Trac system delivers more torque to the rear wheels in Track Mode.
- New, standard launch control.
- 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds; quarter mile in mid-13 second range; top speed of 160 mph; 0-100-0 in 16.3 seconds; 60-0 mph braking in 116 feet.
- Exterior enriched with new signature LED lighting.
- Uconnect with 8.4-inch touchscreen that accommodates SRT’s exclusive Performance Pages, plus a 7-inch programmable multiview gauge cluster.
- Features safety technologies such as Forward Collision Warning and Rear Cross Path detection.
- First that has an SRT specific steering wheel. Jeep benchmarked 10 different industry wheels.
The new Grand Cherokee excels as a tri-athlete. Off road, sports car performance or trips to the concert hall – you choose the “sport,” and it will aptly apply the skills necessary to win the rivalry.