The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Heels on Wheels Review

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Rock'n Along

By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

Since its 1992 debut, the 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, most aptly represented by the all-new Summit trim grade with a diesel engine garnering 28 miles-per-gallon highway.

I drove a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee with the 3-liter EcoDiesel V6 engine with 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque plus best-in-class towing capability of 7,400 pounds. Also matched to an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission, my test drive was 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, my all-new Summit test drive and SRT – the Summit 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 $51,195.

Although the diesel engine definitely makes the Grand Cherokee unique, similar SUVs with the same echelon of luxurious options paired to off-road performance includes the Toyota 4Runner and Ford Explorer.

In Stock - On Sale Today


Stylish But Comfortable Results: The Summit cabin is loaded with quality materials, from the Natura Plus leather with edge welting to the 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. For an additional $1,995, you can get the available rear Blu-Ray DVD player.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the Grand Cherokee ratings of “Good” in all areas omitting small overlap front, which earned just “Marginal.” You can view actual results on their website. 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.

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. Note the diesel engine adds $5,000 to the price. (see specs for all below article)

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-liter diesel engine is a surprising option if you want to stretch your gas numbers – it retains an average 24 miles-per-gallon combined, although the heaviness of such a powertrain affects handing a bit. My only other complaint is the current fascination with changing the way we work an automatic shifter – with the Grand Cherokee, you must press buttons to put the vehicle in drive, park or reverse, which requires a learning curve. I have also tested the 3.6-liter V6 engine with the eight-speed transmission, which was both smooth and responsive; and there is also a 5.7-liter V8 engine.

The Green Concern: The 3-liter diesel engine is a great choice at 21-city and 28-highway foe a combined 24 miles-per-gallon. 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.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is luxurious and capable and is unique out with its available 3-liter diesel that delivers a combined fuel economy of 24 miles-per-gallon, making this a mid-size SUV that stands out in a very competitive class.

2014 Katrina Ramser