Since its last redesign for 2011, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has held a unique spot in the American family SUV market. While models such as the Ford Explorer and Nissan Pathfinder have found softer shapes and more carlike powertrains, the Grand Cherokee is refreshingly different: handsomely rugged, stylish, and as off-road capable as ever. Unfortunately, it’s also been a bit less fuel-efficient than other family crossovers.
Now with the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee that Chrysler reveals at the Detroit Auto Show it might be easy to fixate on those slim new headlights. But really, that’s a minor point; this American icon takes a step away from compromise, thanks to new eight-speed automatic transmissions across the lineup, a new EcoDiesel V-6 that achieves up to 30 mpg on the highway, refreshed interior materials and trims, and new active-safety features and connectivity features.
From EcoDiesel's 30 mpg, to SRT8's Track Mode
The new EcoDiesel makes 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, and it has a best-in-class towing capacity of 7,400 pounds (same as the V-8), while the V-6 models have gotten a boost to 6,200 pounds. Output for both the standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 remain the same (290 horsepower and 360 hp, respectively) although the new eight-speed automatic should yield better performance on the road, as well as higher mileage in both instances—up to 25 mpg on the highway for the V-6 or 21 mpg highway for the V-8. Or opt for the top-performance SRT8 and you get the 470-hp, 6.4-liter V-8, along with the eight-speed and a new Launch Control features, as well as a Track Mode that sends 70 percent of torque to the rear wheels.
Jeep’s Quadra-Lift air suspension includes a new Aero Ride Height mode, as well as a Sport mode, and at the top of the lineup there’s the same Quadra-Drive II four-wheel drive system and the Selec-Terrain management system, which automatically caters the powertrain settings for the terrain (Sand, Mud, Auto, Snow, and Rock). Also of interest to off-roaders, in all versions, is that the new eight-speed automatic enables a lower crawl ratio.
On the outside, new slim, horizontally oriented headlamps provide a new sense of proportion, widening the Grand Cherokee at first glance; the height of the expected Jeep grille has been reduced, too, while the chin has been raised and the lower fascia reshaped. Summit models get adaptive (swiveling) headlamps, while most of the lineup gets LED rear lamps that echo the shape of the front lamps. In back, there’s a single chrome outlet for the exhaust.
Cabin materials inspired by nature
Inside, the new Grand Cherokee gets a little more fashion-forward, too. Interiors have been refreshed with all new materials and trims, like Natura leather and open-pore wood trim; cabin color palettes are new as well, with some of them inspired by nature scenes. Even the cargo bay is now sided with wood trim in some models. The steering wheel has a new three-spoke design, and a new ‘E-shifter’ (shift lever) is on the center console, just behind a center stack with new Uconnect screens.
Tech highlights for the new Grand Cherokee include an new Uconnect Access Via Mobile, with embedded cellular technology, plus natural-language voice controls, a back-seat Blu-Ray entertainment system, and an 825-watt Harmon Kardon audio system.
See our preview page on the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee for more information.
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This story originally appeared at The Car Connection