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Powerful, well-equipped 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel impresses

The diesel has finally arrived, and it is quickly becoming a staff favorite

Last updated: January 16, 2014 03:00 PM

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We waited a bit for this one. Even though we drove a preproduction 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel a year ago for our first look video, these torquey models didn’t show up in showrooms until November. This might have cost some sales by those who grew tired of waiting, according to some Jeep forums, but it didn’t deter us from purchasing one to test.  

Opting for the diesel adds a substantial $4,500 to our Limited trim line’s sticker price. That’s $1,305 more than a 5.7-liter Hemi V8. At least getting the diesel brings a $1,000 discount for the Luxury Group II option package, canceling most of that price difference between an equally-equipped diesel and the V8. While this package still set us back $3,000, it included premium upgrades, such as HID headlights, ventilated seats, power steering wheel adjustments, a big panoramic sunroof, and automatic high beams.

The technology onslaught continued with the $1,995 Advanced Technology Group, including active cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and forward-collision warning with crash mitigation. Throw in the $795 tow package—after all, that’s what a diesel’s made to do—and $400 for a navigation upgrade, and the sticker on our 4x4 hit $49,780. The dealership’s Internet department offered us nearly $2,000 off, a decent discount for the first-on-the-block Jeep.

While nearly $50,000 for a Grand Cherokee—especially one that isn’t a top-trim Overland—seems steep, it’s something of a bargain compared to other diesel-powered SUVs. A Volkswagen Touareg TDI starts at $52,520, and it lacks a lot of luxury basics, such as leather seats (it’s leatherette), sunroof, and seat lumbar adjustment. Never mind that the VW doesn’t have any the Jeep’s sophisticated electronic safety features for that money. As you’d guess, competitors from Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz cost even more.

As the picture shows, I quickly pressed this towing machine into use to haul my Airstream trailer. Combine the diesel’s torque with the eight-speed automatic transmission, and you get a very smooth and easy-going towing experience. According to the trip computer, I got 16 mpg while towing on the highway—impressive given that I seldom beat 12-13 with my Hemi-V8-powered Dodge Durango when towing the same trailer.

But our brief ownership of the EcoDiesel hasn’t been 100 percent trouble free. The line that supplies diesel emissions fluid (DEF) somehow became pinched, perhaps at the factory, setting off warnings that the truck was out of DEF with just a few hundred miles on the odometer. The local dealer remedied this problem.

As with the previously tested gasoline-powered 2014 Grand Cherokee, miles have racked up quickly on our diesel Jeep, and it is quickly becoming a staff favorite. Consequently, the break-in period is almost completed, as we’ll soon begin formal testing.

—Tom Mutchler

   

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