Test Drive: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4x4 EcoDiesel car test drives luxury cars jeep greenreviews
Test Drive: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4x4 EcoDiesel car test drives luxury cars jeep greenreviews
Test Drive: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4x4 EcoDiesel car test drives luxury cars jeep greenreviews
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel. Click image to enlarge

Review and photos by Greg Wilson

In recent years, German automakers VW, Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche have successfully introduced diesel-powered SUVs into North America, but American automakers have largely ignored diesels for their SUVs, instead flirting with hybrid gasoline powertrains and small-displacement turbos with limited success. The reasons for this may have something to do with American buyers’ general dislike for diesels, but given that modern diesel engines are much cleaner and quieter than earlier oil-burners, it seems like a no-brainer that diesel engines would be well-received in fuel-hungry American SUVs as well.

Ironically, it’s an Italian diesel engine that’s helping the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee lead American SUVs back into the diesel market.  A new turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 diesel engine, available as an option in the Grand Cherokee, is supplied by VM Motori Cento of Ferrara, Italy, a well-known diesel engine manufacturer that is now owned by Fiat (which owns Jeep).

The appeal of this new diesel engine is obvious once you look at how its performance and fuel economy compares to the alternative gasoline engines: the turbocharged, intercooled DOHC 24-valve 3.0L V6 diesel engine offers more torque (420 lb-ft at 2,000 rpm) than the Grand Cherokee’s standard 3.6L V6 (260 lb-ft at 4,800 rpm) or optional 5.7L V8 (390 lb-ft at 4,250 rpm) and matches the V8’s payload (475 kg/1,050 lb), towing capacity (3,300 kg/7,200 lb) and GVWR (3,084 kg/6,800 lb) while offering fuel economy that’s approximately 43 percent better overall.

EPA fuel consumption estimates for the 3.0L V6 EcoDiesel in the Grand Cherokee 4X4 are 11.2 L/100 km city/8.4 L/100 km hwy (US mpg: 21 city/28 hwy) compared to the 3.6L V6 with 13.8/9.8 (17/24 US mpg), and the 5.7L V8 with 16.8/11.8 (14/20 US mpg).  Compared to the V8, the diesel engine’s fuel economy is approximately 50 percent better in the city and 40 percent better on the highway!  That’s impressive for a vehicle that weighs close to 5,000 pounds.   Our journalist-driven Grand Cherokee Summit test vehicle with 3,000 km on the odometer showed an average of 11 L/100 km, but I was seeing as low as 9.3 L/100 km during the week that I drove it.

Compared to other mid-size diesel SUVs, the Grand Cherokee’s fuel economy is mid-pack: slightly better than the VW Touareg TDI and Mercedes-Benz ML350 Bluetec, but not quite as thrifty as the BMW X5 xDrive35d and Audi Q5 TDI.  All are better than their gasoline counterparts with the exception of gasoline hybrids like the Toyota Highlander Hybrid and Nissan Pathfinder Hybrid, which have better fuel economy in the city but only half the towing capacity.

Test Drive: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4x4 EcoDiesel car test drives luxury cars jeep greenreviews Test Drive: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4x4 EcoDiesel car test drives luxury cars jeep greenreviews
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel. Click image to enlarge

Back to the Grand Cherokee: its fuel economy is enhanced by a standard ‘Eco Mode’ that adjusts transmission shift timing to improve fuel economy. Though shifts are less aggressive in Eco Mode, we didn’t notice a big difference in performance between Eco Mode and Normal mode.  Eco Mode engages automatically at start-up, but can be disengaged by pressing a button on the dash.  Eco Mode also lowers the Grand Cherokee’s air suspension at freeway speeds to improve aerodynamics and fuel economy.

A big selling point for the diesel-powered Grand Cherokee is its driving range: with a 93-litre fuel tank, the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel has an estimated highway range of over 1,100 kilometres.

A common objection to diesel power plants is the clattering sound of the engine, but that’s largely solved in the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee: the ‘EcoDiesel’ engine is almost as quiet as its gasoline-fueled counterparts.  At idle, the engine emits a muted rattle but it seems to quiet down as the engine warms up.  Under acceleration, this diesel engine is no noisier than the base 3.6L V6, and in everyday city and highway driving, it’s barely audible.  There will be times when you forget that there’s a diesel under the hood.




About Greg Wilson

Greg Wilson is a Vancouver-based automotive journalist and contributor to Autos.ca. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).