Jeep Grand Cherokee Test Drive

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee frontBy Barbara & Bill Schaffer

Anyone shopping for a new SUV should make a B-line for a Jeep dealership and check out the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee. The Jeep people have taken one of the original sport utility vehicles to a new level that rivals nearly any other SUV on the market, at any price.

After a total makeover in 2010, and abundant annual upgrades, the 2014 gets even more significant advancements. The mechanical changes are the big story, but there is also a new level of design and feature refinement.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee sideThe 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee lineup includes five models (six if you count the SRT performance version): Laredo, Laredo E, Limited, Overland and Summit. Each model is available in rear- or four-wheel drive. Prices range from $29,990, including the destination charge, for the two-wheel drive Laredo up to $52,190 for the Summit 4×4. The EcoDiesel engine is a $4,500 option on the Limited and Overland models and $5,000 on the Summit 4×4. All models are exceptionally well equipped and the Summit has all the available features as standard equipment, except the Blu-ray DVD rear seat entertainment system.

All five 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee models wear a distinctive new look with model-specific wheels, grille treatments and other alterations. Looking more upscale, each model starts with a shorter version of the Jeep trademark seven-slot grille and trimmer headlights. The result is a buff, shapelier look. The taillights are larger and powered by LEDs for quicker and brighter response. The rear has a more aerodynamic spoiler and there is a re-sculpted tailgate with more window area for greater visibility. The three upper level models all have standard dual exhaust tips, too.

2607 Jeep Grand Cherokee sunroofThe interior is beautiful with rich leathers,?subtle?wood accents, French stitching, and brushed aluminum style brightwork. Controls are conveniently located and well-marked. ?The seats with contrasting stitching and piping are nicely bolstered for good support.

2607 Jeep Grand Cherokee dashThe 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee models are loaded with impressive new technologies. The Uconnect Access system with the 8.4-inch touch screen is one of the best navigation/communication systems we?ve used. The icons are large, easily identifiable and the system doesn?t hesitate. When an icon is touched, it jumps. It also has some cool features like a cloud based voice texting so the driver can keep his or her thumbs on the steering wheel where they belong. There?s also a seven-inch multiview screen located in the center of the instrument pod that can be reconfigured to provide information about navigation, audio, trip computer and Selec-Terrain modes.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee sunroofSome of the features that particularly caught our attention were the integral hitch cover that hides the trailer hitch and the Selec-Speed Control. The speed control works with Hill-descent Control and the new Hill-accent Control allowing the driver to change the speed by tapping the steering wheel mounted shift paddles. Incidentally, the paddle shifters are standard on all models.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee cargoWhen it comes to features and luxuries, the upper level 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee models will hold their own against any of the luxury imports. In addition, for off-road prowess, the new Grand Cherokee is all Jeep. During the introduction early in 2013, Bill had a chance to try the Grand Cherokee on a challenging off-road course at the Inks Ranch near Llano, Texas in the famous Texas Hill Country. He drove through some typical off-road terrain like dry streambeds, over some rocks and other minor challenges, on our way to Watch Mountain?s 300-foot wall of granite. Imagine a humongous chunk of granite with a face that slopes about 55 degrees. The idea was to climb the rock, turn around and drive down.

This was a great place to check out the new drivetrain features. Set the Selec-Terrain to ?rock,? set the Selec-Speed Control and all you have to do is steer and make any necessary speed adjustments with the paddle shifters. Look mom, no feet — the Jeep walks you up the wall. This wall of granite is so steep the only way to know where you are going is watch the spotters telling you which way to turn. On the way down you are literally hanging from your shoulder harness and looking straight down as the Selec-Speed control eases you off the rock ? unbelievable, but true!

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee rockOur 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4×4 was equipped with the award winning 290-hp 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine with the new eight-speed automatic transmission. It has plenty of power for a 0 to 60 mph run of 7.9 seconds, which we thought was good for an SUV that tips the scales at nearly 2.5 tons. It even produces some very respectable fuel economy numbers of 17 mpg city, 24 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined according to the EPA estimates. We actually averaged 20.3 mpg during a week of mixed driving conditions.
Other available engines include a 360-hp 5.7-liter V-8 with Variable Valve Timing and the new EcoDiesel, a 240-hp, 420-lb.ft of torque 3.0-liter V-6. It?s rated at 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway and also boasts a 7,400 pound towing capacity. For shoppers that are looking for the ultimate Jeep on-road performance there is the SRT model with its 6.4-liter Hemi engine, rated at 470-hp and 465-lb.ft. of torque, but that?s another Jeep story.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee rearQLike all Summit models, our test vehicle was loaded with an abundance of new standard technologies like Park Assist, Blind Spot and Rear Cross-Path Detection, Forward Collision Warning, Quadra-Lift Air Suspension and Adaptive Cruise Control.

On the comfort and communication list it has heated front and rear seats, ventilated front seats, heated wood and leather steering wheel and HD and Sirius XM Satellite radio.

The Grand Cherokee compares favorably with SUVs coasting thousands more, plus it has a good ride and handling characteristics along with Jeep?s famous off-road prowess. We think the Grand Cherokee is one of the best SUV values on the road.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee climb

 

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