Consumers are starting to learn what we've known for years: Diesels are great engines to have in just about any vehicle—especially trucks and SUVs.
Once a favorite of our staffers, the 2007 to 2008 Grand Cherokee CRD with the Mercedes-sourced 3.0L diesel V-6 went away when the current WK2 platform was introduced to the U.S. as an 2011 model. With the 2014 model year refresh, Jeep is once again offering the diesel engine to American consumers. Since the EcoDiesel-equipped Grand is definitely one of the most talked about diesel vehicles in the past year, we had to get our hands on one for a long-term test.
Starting with a base price of $46,195 for our Overland trim level and four-wheel-drive model in Billet Silver, we added the Advance Technology Group ($1,995), Off-Road Adventure II Package ($1,095), and, of course, the 3.0L EcoDiesel engine ($4,500), for a grand total of $54,780 when you factor in the destination charge of $995.
| 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland EcoDiesel Fuel Door
The most affordable diesel-powered Grand Cherokee can be had in the one-rung-less Limited trim and in 4x2 for $41,990, while the top-tier Summit 4x2 EcoDiesel starts at $53,690. For comparison, the 360hp and 390-lb-ft-of-torque 5.7L Hemi V-8 commands a $3,195 premium, just $1,305 less than the more fuel-efficient diesel, which makes the EcoDiesel seem like a bargain to us.
Like the old Mercedes mill, the new diesel is also a 3.0L DOHC V-6, this time sourced from Jeep partner and Italian diesel engine specialist VM Motori. The single-turbocharger engine puts out a respectable 240 hp and 420 lb-ft of twist and is paired with ZF's excellent 8HP70 eight-speed automatic transmission, operated by what can best be described as a recalcitrant joystick. The computer-controlled shifter's detents aren't as defined as we like, and it doesn't like to be rushed—especially when going from Reverse to Drive or vice versa. We much prefer the dial that operates the same transmission in the Ram 1500
Powertrain updates aside, the Grand also received a revamped interior with a new center stack, instrument cluster and Driver Information Center (DIC), and new color options. The highly configurable DIC now uses a computer-generated image of a speedometer (or alternately a readout of speed) in the instrument cluster, which mixes traditional physical gauges with a 7-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) screen that can be configured to show all sorts of different data points about the vehicle's operation.
Joining the interior updates are a freshened face and more chiseled rump. Thoroughly contemporary, signature LED lighting adorns the front and rear of the Grand, making it instantly recognizable out on the road.
| 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland EcoDiesel Shifter
From the first push of the ignition button, the EcoDiesel lights up immediately and settles into quiet and smooth idle. Once you're underway, the engine retains a slight mechanical growl that is a welcome reminder there's no gas engine under the hood. The eight-speed's shifts are quick, and the transmission is responsive to throttle inputs, never really getting lost between the many gears. Paddle shifters nestled behind the fat, wood-and-leather-rimmed steering wheel also give the driver extra control at his or her fingertips.
While the diesel is plenty powerful, it isn't overwhelming and there is a little bit of lag just off idle before the turbo gets spooled up. Once lit, the torque provides a welcome shove into the seatback.
Seemingly made for highway jaunts, the Grand is smooth and steady on the open road, especially as the air suspension hunkers down in aero mode. It's quick and comfortable, steering is well weighted, and the suspension compliant; however, you won't mistake it for anything with sporty pretenses in the vein of, say, the SRT version of the Grand. Around town, the ride is good but lacks some refinement of other air-suspended SUVs, as some harshness and booming can be felt at the travel limits when traversing gutters, ditches, and bumps at speed.
During the first 5,000 miles, our Grand averaged 22.35 mpg in mixed driving, with a best highway tank of 27.48 mpg, nearing the EPA's highway rating of 28 mpg. That's significantly better than the 4x4 gas V-6 model at 24 mpg highway, and especially the 4x4 5.7L Hemi V-8 at 20 mpg. Despite a tight engine, we still saw our best tank deliver a real-world range of 648 miles, not too far from the theoretical range of 688 miles. As we've rolled on the miles and the engine has loosened up, we've seen our fuel economy steadily improve—and we expect to see even better numbers by the time we file our next report.
The EcoDiesel boasts the same towing capacity as the Hemi (7,200 pounds for the 4x4, 7,400 for the 4x2 models) but better fuel economy than the gas V-6—and we have to really like the fact that it delivers the best of both worlds on paper. However, with what is certainly a premium price tag over the gas models, will the extra fuel economy and diesel driving characteristics be enough to make the EcoDiesel a better choice in the real world? Well, time will tell, and we have an entire year to find out
| 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland EcoDiesel Dash
|2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland EcoDiesel|
|Report:|| 1 of 4|
|Previous report(s):|| None|
|Base price:|| $46,195|
|Price as tested:|| $54,780|
|Miles to date:|| 5,185|
|Miles since last report:|| First Report|
|Average mpg (this report):|| 22.35 mpg|
|Test best tank:|| 27.48 mpg|
|Test worst tank:|| 19.64 mpg|
|Problem Areas:|| None|
|We Like: ||Classy looks, good highway range, tons of features, high towing capacity.|
|We'd Change:|| Surly shifter, some
|We Say: ||A diesel SUV worth your
|"The Chrysler Group Uconnect system is
the best in the biz, uber functional, and
super easy to use."|
"Fuel economy isn't quite what I expected,
but the engine is still pretty green."
"The glass roof is great—especially for
passengers in the back who will enjoy the
extra light and visibility."
"Wasn't sure I'd like the virtual speedometer, but I've gotten used to it, and the function
of the DIC is awesome."
"This shifter is going to take some getting
used to; I always seem to end up in Reverse
instead of Park or Drive instead