The previous Grand Cherokee was an extremely likeable, good-looking, and capable vehicle. This updated 2014 model is even better. The exterior is mildly revised with fresh sheetmetal as well as new head- and taillamps. The new look is different enough to distinguish it from the older GC without stripping it of its visual heritage. It's nicely done overall, though I think the rear end -- which now strongly resembles the Durango's -- looks a bit frumpy. Interior changes are minor -- not a bad thing since it was already excellent -- but I was instantly smitten with the new digital speedo in the center of the gauge cluster. It's big and bright and in a simple but elegant font, making it easy to read and reducing the amount of time your eyes are off the road.
The new-for-2014 8-speed transmission is refined but shifts don't seem to happen in a big hurry. This isn't such a big deal around town but it might become one on the highway, although I never made it onto the interstate to find out. What the Grand Cherokee does extremely well, and far better than its competitors, is provide a velvety smooth, magic carpet ride regardless of the surface its being driven on. What's even more impressive is that it's more capable off-road than its competitors as well.
Jennifer Misaros, Managing Editor, Digital Platforms
When our Four Seasons 2011 Grand Cherokee's year was up, I found myself trying to rationalize a reason to buy it back from Chrysler. I told myself, no, wait until the 2014 updates when it will get the eight-speed and the updated Uconnect system. Had this Grand Cherokee tester been equipped with the Pentastar V-6, rather than the Hemi V-8, I might not have brought it back. (The V-6 gets much better fuel economy without sacrificing much power, and at 4685 lbs the Grand Cherokee doesn't really need the extra 70 hp of the V-8.)
What Jeep did for the 2014 model year is deal with our two biggest qualms with the pre-facelift Grand Cherokee: it gave it a modern transmission and brought the infotainment into the 21st century. Had it left everything else alone, I would still be on the verge of running off with a Grand Cherokee as soon as my wallet allowed. But, no, Jeep also updated the rest of the interior and gave the exterior a little nip and tuck. The outside aesthetics keep the Jeep looking fresh (not that the previous look wasn't ageing well), but the cabin enhancements bring the Grand Cherokee to another level. We often found ourselves comparing our Four Seasons car to the likes of the Land Rover LR4 and BMW X5 -- premium-brand vehicles that play in a segment above the Grand Cherokee's. Now, with its swaths of soft-touch plastics, matte wood trim, and buttery leather, the Jeep's interior is on par if not better than those from blue chip brands.
Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor
Chrysler has always been very good at producing a hit when times are desperate. The K-cars, the minivans, and the LH-sedans -- they all played a role in saving the company from extinction. What it hasn't been as good at is maintaining and updating those hits to avoid the next crisis. That's why it's nice to see that the Jeep Grand Cherokee (along with other key products like the 300 and the Ram) has already received critical updates. The vehicle was already very good. It was the first sign of life from Chrysler after bankruptcy and proved that this company knew how to design and execute premium vehicles.
The big improvement here is the eight-speed automatic. You don't really notice the difference in drivability with this V-8, but Hemi buyers will appreciate the extra two mpg on the highway. The eight-speed should also only improve the six-cylinder Grand Cherokee. As Donny notes, that engine really is the better choice with this vehicle.
Mid-cycle facelifts can sometimes look a bit overdone, with new elements affixed incongruously to an older design. Thankfully that's not the case here. The more modern looking head- and taillights nicely update the vehicle's look without overdressing it.
David Zenlea, Associate Editor