2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit Review: Introduction
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit proves what many repeat buyers of the brand already knew: namely, that Jeep has been making steady progress at cracking the luxury SUV nut over the course of the past several years. The introduction of a turbodiesel edition of what, after its most recent refresh, was already one of the best mid-size SUVs around merely confirmed that Auburn Hills was homing in on the European kill. With no Japanese or other domestic premium people movers featuring an efficient and powerful diesel drivetrain, this Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel is clearly designed to do battle with vehicles like the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, the Audi Q7, and the BMW X5.
Does it surprise you to learn that Jeep has set its goals at such a lofty level? Are you even more shocked, then, to find out that the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit is essentially a ‘mission accomplished’ writ in metal? It’s no hyperbole to suggest that Germany is now playing catch-up to Jeep in almost every important area of the luxury SUV landscape thanks to this versatile and gorgeously-styled turbodiesel Jeep.
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit Review: Models and Prices
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is available in five different trim levels, but I am going to restrict myself to describing only those that can be had with the EcoDiesel engine option. The Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited (MSRP $36,195) features heated front and rear seats (with power adjustments up front and a memory function for the driver), 18-inch rims, power windows and door locks, a heated steering wheel, dual climate controls, Bluetooth connectivity, a power lift gate, keyless entry and ignition, and the base Uconnect touchscreen. The Grand Cherokee Overland (MSRP $43,195) adds 20-inch rims, a panoramic sunroof, HID headlights, rain-sensing windshield wipers, the 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen, cooled leather seats, power adjustments for the steering wheel, and a navigation system (bundled with the better Uconnect), while the Summit (MSRP $48,195) features all of the above plus a number of trim upgrades, special 20-inch rims, a full complement of advanced safety gear, and a louder stereo system,
Keep in mind that the prices quote above are for the six-cylinder versions of each respective trim, as opting for the EcoDiesel engine requires you to fork over an additional $4,500 to $5,000 on top of what’s already written on the window sticker. The vehicle I drove for a week- the Summit trim with EcoDiesel and Quadra-Drive II four-wheel drive – cost $57,190.
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit Review: Design
- The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit introduces a number of styling tweaks to both the interior and exterior of the vehicle.
As with many vehicles, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee’s recent refresh is best appreciated in its top trim level. Enter the EcoDiesel Summit, which brings with it the narrower grille, more svelte headlights housing daytime running lamps, a spoiler at the top of the now one-piece tailgate, different fonts spelling out Grand Cherokee on the side of the SUV, and marginally bigger tail lights framing the back end of the SUV. You’ll also notice the phrase ‘Since 1941’ engraved into the vehicle’s headlights, which is a subtle call-out to the brand’s heritage. The Summit model in particular gains a bulkier front bumper, mesh for the grille, body-color trim, 20-inch rims, and unique dual exhaust outlets. Overall, it’s a handsome package, and I caught myself turning around to look at my deep red tester more than once while walking away from where I had parked it.
Drivers of the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee will benefit from a new seven-inch LCD gauge display that offers a wide array of information about the vehicle (including off-road wheel and suspension position) as well as additional inputs from the vehicle’s navigation and entertainment system. It’s a well-executed design, which should come as no surprise given that the Summit model’s standard Uconnect system (upgraded to the 8.4-inch screen for 2014) is without peer in the luxury, or indeed any, segment. You also get an Alcantara headliner in the Summit model as well as nice wood trim and of course the kind of leather upholstery befitting this type of luxury beast. Jeep has stepped up its game in the details department, and the Grand Cherokee looks and feels as though it was assembled with care. It’s a stark contrast to the plastic-oriented interiors of vehicles like the Lexus GX 460, or the more barren confines of the Mercedes-Benz ML350 BlueTEC.
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit Review: Comfort and Cargo
- The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit does not introduce any new comfort or cargo features.
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit resists the temptation to stuff a third row of seating inside a mid-size package and instead delivers comfortable and spacious accommodations for up to five passengers. Having tried and failed to create a seven-seater off of the previous-generation Grand Cherokee platform (the unlamented, now-deceased Commander), Jeep knows better than to slap something together just to add another feature of dubious utility to its options list. The rear seats in the Summit are heated, which is a treat for anyone forced to deal with as many months of winter as I am in Montreal, and so is the steering wheel and of course the two forward seating positions. Unlike certain other luxury SUVs, the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit remembers whether I had these respective heaters on or off the last time I drove the car, and it also flashes their on-screen controls immediately on start-up so I can start getting toasty without the need to wait for the Uconnect software to fully load. Other brands, please take note: if you can’t give me a hard button, at least follow Jeep’s lead here.
Cargo capacity is quite good in the Grand Cherokee, measuring in the neighborhood of 68 cubic feet with the rear row folded forward and a still-useful 35.1 cubic feet with a full load of passengers. This past summer I managed to haul a queen bed frame over 700 miles inside the confines of a Grand Cherokee SRT (thanks in part to the exceptionally long loading area), so trust me, this is an extremely practical vehicle. The huge panoramic sunroof that came with my test vehicle made the EcoDiesel Summit feel even bigger than it already was to anyone riding in the rear thanks to all of the sunlight that it let in. Probably the only area of the SUV that seems small is its center console: mine was almost entirely taken up by a useless CD-changer that afforded me no room to store anything larger than a set of keys.
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit Review: Features and Controls
- The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit gains the latest version of Uconnect.
- A new LCD screen serves as the gauge cluster for the Summit model.
- Jeep has installed its new electronic shifter for the vehicle’s automatic transmission.
I’ve already touched on the LCD gauge cluster that comes with the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit, as well as the excellent functionality of the revised Uconnect system and it’s 8.4-inch touchscreen. Intuitive to use, Uconnect also allows you to install various apps – if that’s your thing – as well as use voice commands to control them. You get additional buttons on the front and the back of the steering wheel to interact with both the dashboard and the center stack screens.
The EcoDiesel Summit does suffer one ergonomic injustice, however, and it’s found on the vehicle’s console. The electronic gear shifter that has proliferated across Chrysler’s line-up in the wake of its new eight-speed automatic transmission is truly terrible to use on a daily basis, as the lack of physical détentes in the shift action make it difficult to put the car in reverse without accidentally selecting Drive (or, going the other way, Park). Even when paying careful attention to the actions of my right mitt I still found myself mystified by the secret handshake required to consistently choose the cog I originally intended. Let’s boil it down: I hate this shifter.
One other unusual quirk that I observed while driving the Grand Cherokee in colder weather that I hadn’t noticed during my summer stints behind the wheel. The automatic climate control system blew too warm no matter what temperature I selected, eventually causing me to chose the lowest possible setting merely to stay comfortable. A little research has shown that I am not the only one who has had this issue with the Jeep.
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit Review: Safety and Ratings
- The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit adds forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring, and rear cross-path detection to the options list.
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit comes dual forward airbags, side impact airbags for front occupants, side curtain airbags, and electronic stability control and traction control. Optionally, the Grand Cherokee can also be equipped with a blind spot monitoring system (that also serves as a cross-path detection system when the vehicle is in reverse), as well as a forward collision warning system.
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit Crash Test Ratings: The Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit enjoys four-star (two-wheel drive) and five-star (four-wheel drive) ratings for crash safety from the NHTSA, and a rating of ‘Good’ in each important crash test administered by the IIHS.
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit Review: Engines and Fuel Economy
- The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit introduces a turbodiesel V-6.
- A new eight-speed automatic is also offered as standard equipment.
The 2014 Jeep Grad Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit is motivated by a 3.0-liter, turbodiesel V-6. Sourced from VM Motori in Italy, this engine produces 240 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque, and it is yoked to an equally-new (and previously-mentioned) eight-speed automatic transmission.
Four-wheel drive is available with the EcoDiesel Summit, but you can also get rear-wheel drive if you aren’t interested in any all-terrain funny business. When only two wheels are powered, the turbodiesel Grand Cherokee delivers fuel mileage of 22-mpg in city driving and 30-mpg on the highway, while four-wheel locomotion knocks one and two miles per gallon from each respective measure. These are outstanding numbers when compared to the SUV’s optional 5.7-liter V-8 (14-mpg city / 22-mpg highway) and even the fairly thrifty standard 3.6-liter V-6 (17-mpg city / 25-mpg highway). The EcoDiesel’s frugality is borne out in the real world, too, especially on the highway where it’s easy to meet the manufacturer’s rating.
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit Review: Driving Impressions
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit is a pleasure to drive, and it’s in this respect that it trumps competitors like the ML350 BlueTEC and even the Volkswagen Touareg TDI. In fact, you have to climb up the fiscal ladder into the cockpit of a Porsche Cayenne Diesel in order to find a more planted and comfortable ride in the premium turbodiesel SUV segment, as the Quadralift air suspension that my Summit model rode on was equally competent at turning corners and absorbing broken pavement. I wasn’t completely happy with the Jeep’s steering feel, as it bordered on vague when traveling at lower speeds, but there’s no faulting the SUV’s handling dynamics – it’s interesting to drive, most of the time.
The Jeep’s Quadralift suspension is a boon off-road as well, where it can be adjusted to offer a total of 11.3 inches of total ground clearance (a sizable improvement over the non-air-lifted Grand Cherokee). I have driven the Grand Cherokee up steep rock faces, through muddy streams, and across dry river beds, and I have to say that short of a much more expensive Land Rover or Land Cruiser you’re not going to find a five-passenger SUV that’s more capable of devouring the landscape than this one. Even the persistent snow and ice that book-end Montreal’s all-too-brief summer season were no match for the traction offered by the Selec-Terrain and Quadra-Drive four-wheel drive system (one of three available) outfitted to my tester.
One doesn’t have to head out into the great unknown to appreciate the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit’s many charms, and indeed, most never will. Tooling around town in the turbodiesel SUV reveals an engine that is willing to serve up every lb-ft of torque necessary to get you to your destination with remarkable civility. The eight-speed automatic that comes standard with the EcoDiesel is perfectly matched to the 3.0-liter V-6’s powerband, and while some might find the Grand Cherokee slower from a dig when compared to its hefty Hemi sibling, such differences disappear once above 15 miles per hour where the turbodiesel six can dip into its seemingly infinite well of thrust with ease. Speed demons can get their jollies by standing on both the brake and the gas at the same time and then bracing for impact once they’ve built up boost and are ready to travel down the torque tunnel.
What comes across crystal clear when driving the EcoDiesel Summit is that this is a zero-sacrifice, fuel efficient option for anyone who wants to travel an unreasonably long distance on a single tank. You won’t be pining for a V-8 from behind the wheel of this particular Grand Cherokee – rather, you might instead be wondering why anyone wouldn’t pony up the extra cash required to go EcoDiesel instead.
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit Review: Final Thoughts
Extra cash is indeed the order of the day when considering the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit, for even discarding the fact that this vehicle rests at the top of the SUV’s trim pyramid, there’s still that $5,000 premium for the turbodiesel mill. Depending on how much driving you do, you might be able to bridge that gap with fuel savings within a reasonable window, especially if you haunt the highways more than the bumper-to-bumper scene on your commute.
But even if it seems like recouping might take a bit longer, there’s a lot to like about the way the EcoDiesel drives – and how well it’s equipped compared to similarly-priced European turbodiesel options. The Summit model gives you standard features that you’d have to pay more to get on a Mercedes-Benz, BMW, or Audi, which makes it enticing for those of us who would like some actual luxury to go with our luxury, please. The best argument for purchasing the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit? Test driving it back-to-back against the usual suspects. You will definitely be surprised.
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit Review: Pros and Cons
- Excellent power and fuel efficiency from turbodiesel engine
- Comfortable ride, spacious interior
- Unparalleled off-road capability
- Uconnect interface is top of the class
- Stylish and luxurious
- Shifter is an exercise in frustration
- You pay a premium to go diesel
- Sticker shock for anyone not prepared to pay luxury prices for a Jeep-branded vehicle
- Limited center console storage space when CD-changer is specified
- Loose steering feel at low speeds
Chrysler Canada supplied the vehicle for this review