While we didn't get to take the Grand Cherokee out on a rough trail, you don't have to be a genius to realize that, when you combine the gearing advantage of a Jeep's transfer case with the huge low-end torque numbers of this engine, the available pulling power has no equal in its class. That said, we were a bit disappointed with the fuel-economy numbers we got. During our relatively easy freeway driving routes, putting several hundred miles between fill-ups, we barely hit 20 mpg. It would've been nice to have a sixth gear, because at 70 mph we were turning 2500 rpm. Our numbers would doubtless have been much better had we been patient enough to stay in the slow lane.
Our test unit came in Limited dress, which gave us all sorts of extras for a starting price of $38,340. Still, you can expect to pay a $3700 premium to get the 3.0-liter V-6 and five-speed automatic. The diesel will initially be offered only in Limited and Overland formats (average transaction prices will most likely be between $40K and $45K), but that may change as Jeep monitors demand. Look for other manufacturers to be watching Jeep closely as well, as GM and Ford have smaller V-6 and V-8 diesel programs available for their own midsize players.
There's great promise for the midsize-SUV segment to make huge diesel inroads for those looking for better fuel economy and more towing capacity. Is that a large sales number? Probably not (but we'd guess quite a few Truck Trend readers are in that group). Chrysler is predicting that, in the next 10 years, as much as 10 to 15 percent of the truck and SUV market could be diesel converts if that class is promoted properly. We say bring it on.