HEELS ON WHEELS: 2014 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE REVIEW
HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel
INTRO TO THE GRAND CHEROKEE VEHICLE Since its 1992 debut, the five-passenger Jeep Grand Cherokee has proven to be an innovator where the mid-size sport utility segment is concerned by combining serious off-roading roots with pure elegance.
I drove a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee with the 290-horsepower 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 with 260 pound-feet of torque and a tow rating of 6,200 pounds, matched to an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission. It was also equipped with Quadra-Trac II four-wheel drive system with Selec-Terrain and Quadra-Lift suspension. Available in five trims – the base Laredo, Limited, Overland, the all-new Summit and SRT – my Summit test drive came with the following standard features: eight-way power front seating for driver and passenger; heated front and rear seats; heated steering wheel with audio controls; nineteen-speaker audio system; Bluetooth; Uconnect multi-media system; touchscreen display and backup camera; XM Radio; remote start; wood and leather-wrapped wheel; Bi-Xenon headlights; fog lights; twenty-inch wheels; LED headlights. Total price as described comes to $50,995.
A similar SUV with the same echelon of luxurious options paired to off-road performance includes the Toyota 4Runner. The Dodge Durango and Ford Explorer are also contenders.
HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA
Stylish But Comfortable Results: My test drive featured a lovely root beer exterior color. The Summit trim decks the cabin out with quality supple Natura Plus leather with edge welting and a suede-like lined ceiling. Highlights include the Uconnect system and the massive 8.4-inch touchscreen, the CommandView sunroof and rear liftgate glass – all built into the Summit’s price. The second row features heated seats, two USB ports, climate vents and a pull-out center console with cup holders. The Toyota 4Runner has refreshed styling, most noticeable in the grille, front fascia and headlight design, with more refined appointments and an improved Entune infotainment system – but is a few shades less in elegance than the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Function remains a draw with up to 68.3 cubic feet of rear cargo storage space.
Reliability & Safety Factor: Standard safety includes anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, and an advanced airbag system. The Summit also included all the modern safety technology you’d want, such as Park Assist, Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection, Forward Collision Warning with Crash Mitigation – trust me when I say they take away some of the labor and stress in everyday driving situations.
Cost Issues: The base Grand Cherokee Laredo starts at $31,195; the Limited at $38,195; the Overland at $46,195; and the performance-driven SRT at $63,995. A base SR5 4Runner starts at $32,820; the Trail trim at $35,725; and the Limited trim at $41,365 ($43,400 with options). And a previous 2014 Dodge Durango test drive with a rear DVD system, upgraded Bi-Xenon headlights, and a Blind Spot Monitoring System elevated the cost to $45,465.
Activity & Performance Ability:Jeep’s four-wheel drive Selec-Terrain traction management system is as simple as turning a dial in the lower center console area. Paired with the Quadra-Lift air suspension system, the Grand Cherokee’s trail-rated status can be felt from sand to snow. The 3.6-liter V6 engine with the eight-speed transmission is as smooth and responsive as they come. My only complaint is the current fascination with changing the way we work a shifter – you must press buttons to put the vehicle in drive, park or reverse, which requires a learning curve (the Dodge Durango has the same setup). Additionally, the vehicle now offers a 3-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine with 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, boasting 30 miles-per-gallon highway and a driving range of more than 730 miles, plus best-in-class towing capability of 7,400 pounds. There is also a 5.7-liter V8 engine.
The Green Concern: The 3.6-liter V6 averages 17-city and 24-highway for a combined 19 miles-per-gallon. The Toyota 4Runner with the 4-liter V6 gets 17-city and 21-highway for a combined 18 miles-per-gallon combined, but I was able to average roughly 18.5 in mixed highway and traffic driving during its test drive.
FINAL PARTING WORDS The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is luxuriously and uniquely packaged, quite capable of edging out the entire boutique crossover competition thanks to the additional trailed-rated status.
©2014 Katrina Ramser