2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD
2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD. Click image to enlarge


Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD – By Paul Williams

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2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD

For the past two weeks I’ve been driving like an idiot. I feel like I’m in a perpetual hurry, leaping off the line in my 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel when the light turns green (only to inevitably get caught by the red light at the next intersection). Also, I’m driving at the higher end of the speed spectrum on the highway; I’ve got snow and ice weighing down my vehicle; I’m carrying extra weight in the cargo area (too lazy to take it out); I don’t drive at an even speed; and I go up and down the lanes in parking lots, trying to get a spot right next to the entrance (this takes patience, which you lose when you see someone duck into a good spot in the next row).

Actually, I don’t like driving like this: it’s stressful, and as well as being fuel inefficient, I don’t think it’s very safe (I’m conscious of being a hazard, believe me, and am emphatically not taking risks). But I seem to be in the company of many motorists for whom this is the normal way to drive a car.

No wonder people blow a fuse.

Anyway, I’m done driving like that for a while, and have now set about driving fuel efficiently. But the results over the past few weeks are interesting. The Grand Cherokee Diesel is rated at 12.0/9.0 L/100 km, city/highway by Canada’s Energuide program, and to tell you the truth, I figured that would be optimistic. The reason is that the Grand Cherokee Diesel weighs a hefty 2235 kilograms (4927 pounds) and while Jeep has smoothed out the rough edges, SUV’s are hardly the most aerodynamic vehicle category.

2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD
2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD. Click image to enlarge

However, even when practicing my eco-unfriendly driving style, I’ve only pushed the fuel consumption up to 13.9 L/100 km (pretty much all city driving). This is better than I expected, and better than some minivans and big pickup trucks we’ve tested. It’s not as good as the Energuide program says I can achieve, but frankly, it’s not outrageous for a powerful SUV. And it suggests that I can do much better.

The bottom line is that my inefficient driving style has potentially added an extra $2.20 per 100 km, or $12-15 per fill-up (assuming I can meet the Energuide rating). Consequently, it’s possible that I could lower a $70.00 fill-up to $55.00 for the same vehicle going the same distance. That’s what my fuel inefficient driving style is costing me, and really, I don’t think I’m reaching my destination any sooner.

2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD
2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD. Click image to enlarge

It’s true that the 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel uses a somewhat unusual powerplant, but its 3.0-litre V6 Mercedes-Benz turbo diesel is a forerunner of things to come in North America, and is a mighty engine at just about half the displacement of the available Hemi V8 (5.7-litre). Although it “only” generates 215 horsepower, it generates 376 foot-pounds of torque, and it’s the torque that propels you from standstill with authority (0-100 km/h in 9.0 seconds). It also enables you to tow up to 7,200 pounds.

I’m finding that in everyday driving, this diesel engine is not noisy, but you do hear it humming in the background (although turn on the audio system and that goes away). Starting in the morning? No problem. Getting heat in the cabin on a cold day? I’ve had no problem with that, either (some people have written that the diesel takes longer to warm up: not my experience). And speaking of the cold, the two-position heated seats warm up very quickly. Finding diesel fuel? No problem there, either (at least, not so far).

2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD
2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee CRD. Click image to enlarge

What may throw a wrench into my testing is the change from “summer” to “winter” diesel fuel. Winter diesel is thinner than summer diesel, and may not contain the same amount of energy. Consequently, more fuel will be required to drive a given distance, and fuel consumption will increase. I’ve sent a request to Shell for their comment on this, and for an explanation of the two grades of diesel now showing up at gas stations (regular and “ultra” at Shell stations).

In the meantime, I’m shifting to a “fuel efficient” style of driving. Check back in two weeks to see if, and by how much, I can reduce fuel consumption.

Toyota Camry Hybrid – By Grant Yoxon

2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid
2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

Photo Gallery:
2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid

While I haven’t been driving our Toyota Camry Hybrid “like an idiot”, I have been driving it normally.

Okay, what I might describe as normal, others might consider idiocy.

The Camry Hybrid, powered by Toyota’s full hybrid system, combining a 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine with a high torque electric motor/generator to produce 187 horsepower is not particularly quick off the line. When the light turns green, it goes, but it tends to lag behind everyone else. I can hear the driver in my rear view mirror, “Get going, you idiot!”, at least until I stand on the accelerator to catch up to the rest of the in-a-rush world.

Where the Camry hybrid excels though is in passing power and freeway on-ramp acceleration. Press down hard on the accelerator when you need the power and your input is rewarded with a quiet whoosh of energy and a significant increase in fuel consumption. You know its using fuel, because the large tachometer-like real-time fuel consumption gauge pins it’s needle at 30 litres per 100 kilometres and stays there until you back off the accelerator at a comfortable 120 km/hour.

In two weeks of “normal” driving, I maintained some bad habits: accelerated briskly, let the car warm up before leaving the house, turned the accessories on full power to get heat as soon as possible, left the car running while waiting for passengers – just about anything I could think of to waste fuel without really going anywhere.

2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid
2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

Sound familiar? Judging by the number of cars warming up on our street in the early morning, or sitting idling in front of the High School, not to mention that driving 20 to 30 km/h over the posted freeway limit is necessary just to keep up with the traffic, I would say that fuel in-efficient driving is normal and those who drive slower or accelerate more gradually are regarded by the majority of drivers as “idiots.”

So how did I do? The Camry Hybrid has an Energuide rating of 5.7 L/100 km in both city and highway driving. My baseline drive came in at 7.8 L/100 km, a little more than 2.1 L/100 km over the Energuide rating.

Before we criticize the hybrid, keep in mind that the Energuide rating for a non-hybrid four-cylinder Camry is 9.5/6.5 L/100 km city/highway, while a V6 powered Camry gets 10.7 and 7.0 city and highway.

Driving the Camry Hybrid hard, I couldn’t get it to use more fuel than the four cylinder model.

That the Camry Hybrid shuts down its gasoline engine at stoplights and will idle only momentarily or not at all while waiting in the warmth of its leather equipped interior helps explain why it was difficult to use more fuel.

2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid
2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid. Click image to enlarge

Over the next few weeks, we’ll see if I can reduce that fuel consumption to something closer to the Engerguide rating with more fuel-efficient driving behaviour.

At $35,680 listed price ($32,000 base), the Camry Hybrid comes equipped with all the comforts one would expect in a vehicle priced over $30,000: leather seating with power adjustable and heated driver and front passenger seats, power moon roof, smart key/push button start, 60/40 folding rear seats, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, dual zone climate control, eight-speaker JBL audio system, electrochromatic rear view mirror and, of course, power doors, windows and locks.

Dealers will sell for less, given the current very competitive pricing environment, and the federal government will give you back $1,500. Various provincial rebates are available as well.

More Fuel Economy Challenge articles: Introduction | January 7 update | Conclusion, Part One

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