Never more in its element than on the back roads and trails of a sprawling Texas ranch, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee impressed me with its new 3.0-liter V6 diesel engine.
The pull of the diesel is outstanding. It generates 420 lb.-ft. of torque, 30 more than the available 5.7-liter V8. Not only can you count on this SUV to deliver responsive low-end grunt, but it does so while also cranking out eye-opening fuel economy numbers. Chrysler claims the Grand Cherokee diesel achieves 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway for the 2WD model and 21 mpg city, 28 mpg highway with 4WD.
Hooking this 240-hp powertrain up to the new eight-speed automatic transmission enables a potential 730-mile range on one tank. Plus, the diesel model can tow up to 7,400 pounds—compared to 6,200 pounds from the standard gas V6.
Jeep officials project that between 10 and 15 percent of Grand Cherokee customers will go for the pricey diesel option, which adds a $4,500 premium over the base V6.
And as is the case with other diesel engines in large vehicles, owners will need to add diesel emissions fluid periodically. It typically costs around $6 a gallon at auto parts stores and normally needs filling about the time of each oil change.
In any event, the grandest of Grand Cherokees drives like a dream. And a very silent dream at that. The new engine is so quiet, you probably couldn’t tell it’s a diesel from inside. It also rides well for an SUV, has comfortable seats, fine fit and finish, and off-road chops.
Other journalists were equally impressed, and crowned the new diesel Grand Cherokee the 2014 SUV of Texas.
Time will tell how many diesels Jeep will sell. We’re doing our part by searching dealer inventories to buy one for testing. And I already have some epic road trips mapped out.