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2013 Detroit: Jeep Grand Cherokee updates bring promise to towing enthusiasts

Consumer Reports News: January 14, 2013 05:38 PM

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Sure, a new Corvette is catnip to car journalists. But my interest runs toward new beasts of burden, since I spend most of my weekends towing a 23-foot Airstream trailer behind a 2011 Dodge Durango. So I was rather interested to hear about the 2014 improvements made to the Durango's platform-mate, the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

First up is the new optional turbodiesel V6. Getting a diesel SUV without a steep European price tag has been a challenge, but this Jeep offers an alternative. With prodigious torque and a maximum 7,400-pound towing capacity, I'm looking forward to hitching up my Airstream. And the Jeep's 30-mpg highway rating (though definitely not when towing) is quite an improvement over that of my Hemi-powered Durango.

Curiously, Jeep offered a diesel Grand Cherokee before, but it had few takers. We'll see if consumers are willing to buy the diesel in more sizable numbers this time around. At least now the Grand Cherokee is a premium vehicle, more amenable to the diesel's likely price premium.

Jeep has made towing capacity improvements across the board on the Grand Cherokee. The gasoline V6, mated to the new eight-speed automatic, is rated to tow 6,200 pounds - up from the previous 5,000-pound limit. (It never made much sense to me that the Durango, with the same powertrain, officially towed 1,200 pounds more than the Jeep.) Even the super-high-performance SRT variant came in for a towing capacity improvement, now up to 7,200 pounds from the previous 5,000-pound limit.

It's good to see that Jeep paid attention to how their customers use their Jeeps, making improvements that add capability rather than just creature comfort.

See our complete 2013 Detroit auto show coverage.

Tom Mutchler

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