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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Review: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Altitude and Overland

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      America's Finest

    The Jeep Grand Cherokee has been the shining star in Jeep’s lineup since its introduction back in 1993. It was the company’s vehicle to take on the world’s best. During its 20-or-so year life, it's had a mixed record on trying to accomplish this mission. But at the Detroit Auto Show this year, the off-road brand showed it meant business. Thanks to a reinvigorated Chrysler and a bit of help from Fiat, Jeep showed off a refreshed Grand Cherokee and made its intent very clear; we’re going to take on the world’s best. To see if the Grand Cherokee can handle this mission, I went back to back with two Grand Cherokees; an Altitude equipped with the 3.6L V6 and a Overland equipped with the new 3.0L EcoDiesel V6.

    The Grand Cherokee’s shape hasn’t strayed far from the first-generation model shape. Sure the fourth-generation model has a few more angles and a new rear tailgate design, but park the current Grand Cherokee alongside the first-generation model and it's plain to see a family resemblance. From the iconic seven slot grille up front to the square-shaped rear-end, Jeep designers were able to make new Grand Cherokee stand out, but retain a bit of the DNA from the first-generation model.

    2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Altitude 7

    Dependent on which trim level you go for, Jeep has made sure each one is different. The Grand Cherokee Altitude I got first follows the same treatment as the Cherokee Altitude a reviewed a few weeks back. There is a blacked-out grille and a set of twenty-inch wheels wearing a coat of black paint. Contrasting the red paint on my tester, I found myself really liking the looks of the Altitude. Then there is the Overland which adds a chrome grille, HID headlights, twenty-inch chrome wheels, and LED taillights. All of the changes make the Grand Cherokee Overland comparable to a Range Rover in looks.

    Inside the Grand Cherokee, Jeep has made some big changes. The interior now follows the ideals set by the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger with better materials used throughout the cabin, a screen placed in the middle of the instrument cluster to provide speed and trip computer information, an eight-inch touchscreen with UConnect, and the love it/hate it lever control for the automatic transmission. People sitting the rear seat will find a decent amount of leg and headroom.

    2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland EcoDiesel 13

    Again, each trim level has their own take on interior treatment. The Altitude came with black-suede seats which I found to very comfortable and brushed faux-aluminum trim around the dashboard. Like the Cherokee Altitude, the Grand Cherokee Altitude comes with the UConnect system minus the navigation. The system is very easy to move around and navigate, plus you can get navigation from your local Chrysler dealer for a few hundred dollars extra. The Overland fills the Grand Cherokee with a number of luxury appointments such as leather seats with the Overland logo embroidered in the front, heated and ventilated front seats; wood trim, and a premium sound system. Stepping out of the Altitude and into the Overland, I was surprised how much the Grand Cherokee changed. From the sporty feeling I got from the Altitude to luxury in the Overland, I have to say Jeep really nailed making each trim level look and feel different from one another.

    The Grand Cherokee Altitude came equipped with the 3.6L V6 producing 290 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This is paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. I have written a lot about 3.6L in previous Chrysler vehicles, praising it for being one of the smoothest V6 engines on sale today and being able to move any vehicle with authority after reaching a certain point in the rev range. The story is very much the same in the Grand Cherokee as the V6 is able to move 4,545 pound vehicle with no problem at all. The eight-speed is smooth and provides smart shifts to keep the vehicle in motion. Fuel economy is rated at 17 City/24 Highway/19 Combined for the V6 equipped with four-wheel drive. My average landed around 22.1 MPG.

    2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland EcoDiesel 10

    But the big story lies under the Overland. It came with the optional 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 with 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. All of the torque is available at 2,000 rpm which means the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel moves very swift. Whether leaving a stop-light, or making the run onto the expressway, the 3.0L EcoDiesel is able to provide the power when needed. The eight-speed automatic helps keep the diesel engine right in the sweet spot of torquey-goodness. The most surprising part of the EcoDiesel is NVH levels. Step outside the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel when its idling and you can barely tell its running. The clatter usually associated with diesel engines is not apparent. On the fuel economy front, the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel is rated at 21 City/28 Highway/24 Combined. I got an average of 24.2 MPG.

    As for suspension, the Altitude goes with a coil spring setup, while the Overland comes with an air suspension setup. The air suspension setup allows the Grand Cherokee to raise and lower its ride height to provide better aerodynamics out on the expressway and get through some of the roughest off-road trails. Both suspension setups provided excellent ride qualities on even some the roughest surfaces Metro Detroit had to offer. On the curvy bits, both suspensions kept the Grand Cherokee in check by minimizing body roll and lean. That doesn’t mean the Grand Cherokee is sporty as the weight of the vehicle puts that idea out to pasture. If you want sport, then you want the Grand Cherokee SRT.

    It should be noted that I didn’t get the chance to take either Grand Cherokee off the beaten path. That is something I hope to change whenever I get another Grand Cherokee.

    After spending two weeks and putting a number of miles on the Grand Cherokees, I came away very impressed. Jeep has built possibly one of the best all-rounders in the midsize class. Taking the 2011 Grand Cherokee redesign, Jeep made a number of changes that fix a number of problems of past Grand Cherokees. But those changes allowed Jeep to pull off a big feat with Grand Cherokee; the wide range of trims that make each one feel like they can take on a different part of the midsize SUV class. There’s the Altitude which provides a stylish alternative to those looking at crossovers, while the Overland gives a formidable challenge to the likes of the Mercedes-Benz ML, BMW X5, and Land Rover LR4.

    The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee sets a new bar for excellence in the SUV class.

    Disclaimer: Jeep Provided the Grand Cherokees, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas and Diesel

    Year: 2014

    Make: Jeep

    Model: Grand Cherokee

    Trim: Altitude 4X4

    Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6

    Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive

    Horsepower @ RPM: 290 @ 6,400

    Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 4,800

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 17/24/19

    Curb Weight: 4,677 lbs

    Location of Manufacture: Detroit, Michigan

    Base Price: $31,195

    As Tested Price: $38,485 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:

    Customer Preferred Package 23Z - $5,100

    Power Sunroof - $995.00

    Year: 2014

    Make: Jeep

    Model: Grand Cherokee

    Trim: Overland 4X4

    Engine: 3.0L DOHC Diesel V6

    Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Four-Wheel Drive

    Horsepower @ RPM: 240 @ 3,600

    Torque @ RPM: 420 @ 2,000

    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/28/24

    Curb Weight: 5,393 lbs

    Location of Manufacture: Detroit, Michigan

    Base Price: $46,195

    As Tested Price: $55,680 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:

    3.0L EcoDiesel V6 - $4,500

    Advance Technology Group - $1,995

    Rear Blu-Ray Entertainment System - $1,995

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    As I said on Facebook: The Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of my favorite vehicles on sale today. If you ask me the generic question "What car should I buy?", chances are this is going to be on the "must test drive" list.

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    This is one of my favorite suvs out there currently. The pictures you see from the outside do it no justice. It is extremely roomy. Luxury is excellent, and for a truck has some get up and handles very well.

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    A friend of mine has this vehicle and, although she loves it to death, she has been experience some minor mechanical issues. So far, she has had to take it in to the shop a number of times to get the kinks out.

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    A friend of mine bought a late build 2014 GC Limited with the 3.6L, 20" Wheels, Sunroof and Towing Package, and loves it. It's a very rich tough feeling ride, and very roomy 5 passenger. She downsized from a Mountaineer, but the features in the Jeep, especially the dash setup and look are great. It's the epitome of smooth with the 3.6L and 8-speed. She had a V8 before in the Mountaineer, but there's no reason at all to get anything other than the 3.6L in the new Jeep, and it's much quicker and more efficient than the Mercury's 4.6L V8 before anyway.

     

    I don't think they build more than a handful with optional Hemi anymore.

     

    I think the only complaint I've heard from her is the "flick" shifter, as when she's reached into the cubby in front of the shifter while driving, she said it's far too easy to bump the shifter and it goes into Neutral accidentally, many times. Minor gripe.

     

    Other than that, seems to be doing well, especially later build models after they worked out some electronic oddities.

     

    I see so many of them, they clearly have no trouble selling them. It's kind of a Range Rover for the everyday man, with many alternating trim levels that vary widely to fit your needs. The new Altitude trim looks great.

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    Is a Grand Cherokee really that much a downsize from a Mountaineer?

     

    Definitely shorter, without the extra space where there was a 3rd floor, and a lower roof. The Merc/Explorer was a boxier taller shape.

     

    The GC is still large, but shorter and more angled at the rear.

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