Detroit 2013: Big Fuel Economy, Comfort Gains In Store For 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee

We praised our Four Seasons 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee for its impressive creature comforts, well-dressed cabin, and improved fuel economy. At the time, it was hard to imagine much room for improvement, but Jeep managed to amplify each of those points in the revised 2014 Grand Cherokee.

Let’s start with fuel economy. Each and every 2014 Grand Cherokee – yes, even the high-performance Grand Cherokee SRT – is now equipped with a ZF-licensed eight-speed automatic transmission. That gearbox helps eke further mileage from the SUV’s existing powertrains. With the 3.6-liter V-6, the eight-speed helps improve fuel economy by roughly 24 percent; with the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, the eight-speed helps increase EPA figures by roughly five percent.

But if fuel economy’s your true concern, you’ll want to order the new 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6, which Jeep named the EcoDiesel. In concert with the eight-speed automatic transmission, the six-cylinder diesel should be rated at 21/30 mpg in two-wheel drive form, and boast a range of roughly 730 miles. Better yet, it offers 420 pound-feet of torque, and can match the 5.7-liter Hemi’s 7400-pound tow rating (7200 pounds on 4x4 models). There may be no silver bullet in the quest to improve fuel economy, but it’s hard to argue this engine/transmission pairing isn’t an incredibly tempting package.

Improvements to the interior are but icing on the cake. Designers have pushed to use more soft-touch materials throughout – and, at that, extend the reach of colored accents in two- and three-tone interior schemes. Top-trim Summit models are incredibly opulent, boasting warm copper-hued dash accents and open-pore wood trim, which tantalize the eyes. Exterior revisions help the Grand Cherokee look a little more intimidating, but in the grand scope of things, are fairly mild – the headlamps are tauter, and the grille surround looks a little wider than before.  In person, the exterior is familiar, but cleaner and smoother than the preceding design.

At this point, only pricing remains an unknown, especially surrounding the diesel option. Chrysler representatives tell me it will carry a premium over the base 3.6-liter gasoline V-6, but they still think the diesel will account for 15 percent of all 2014 Grand Cherokee sales. It could easily increase – with those sorts of numbers, there’s a chance that shoppers previously looking at midsize crossovers for the sake of fuel economy could easily be swayed into the larger, more luxurious 2014 Grand Cherokee.

For our full first look on the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, click here.

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