Jeep’s latest Grand Cherokee has been an Autoweek favorite since it went on sale roughly 2.5 years ago, but Jeep fans who are also diesel devotees—more than one AW staffer matches the profile—have moaned about the lineup’s lack of an oil burner ever since Jeep dropped its old 3.0-liter V6 diesel after the 2008 model year.
Fiat’s takeover of Jeep parent Chrysler unlocked the cross-Atlantic sharing of platforms and technologies (see Dodge’s Alfa Romeo Giulietta-based Dart), which benefits the 2014 Grand Cherokee in the form of a clean-burning, 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 cranking out 240 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. Still available are the familiar 3.6-liter, 290-hp, 260-lb-ft Pentastar V6 and the 5.7-liter, 360-hp, 390-lb-ft V8.
The Italian-built EcoDiesel V6 meets global emissions standards thanks to the use of urea after-treatment and a particulate filter; the 8.5-gallon tank of urea should last about 10,000 miles, meaning you’ll need to replenish it at the same time you change the oil.
Opting for the EcoDiesel means you’ll pay a $2,300 premium over the optional V8
on Limited, Overland and Summit models; it is not available on the entry-level Grand Cherokee Laredo. The premium rises to $4,500 compared to a similarly optioned V6 model—and while the cheapest V6-powered Laredo stickers for $29,790, you can’t touch a diesel Grand Cherokee for less than $41,290.
The EPA rates the engine at 22 mpg in the city, 30 on the highway for two-wheel-drive models and 21/28 for 4WD. That’s significantly better than the gas V6, which gets 17/25 (2WD) and 17/24 (4WD). (Jeep’s old oil burner carried a rating of just 17/22, so we’ve come a long way.)
Diesel buyers get better fuel economy without giving up prowess: The diesel equals the 2WD V8 with a 7,400-pound towing capacity.
Also new and notable is an eight-speed ZF automatic transmission standard on all models, replacing the previous five- and six-speed gearboxes. Along with quicker acceleration, especially apparent in the midrange, and better fuel economy, the eight-speed offers a crawl ratio of 44.1:1 (when you opt for the two-speed transfer case).
Our initial impressions of the EcoDiesel are a mixed bag. The engine is not as smooth or as quiet as other modern diesels on the market, a characteristic most noticeable at idle and on partial throttle openings when accelerating away from stops; it’s light-years ahead of its predecessor but feels more “diesely” than what we have become accustomed to. That said, it’s impossible to ignore its towing grunt and solid mileage. Its 24.6-gallon fuel tank provides a potential 730-mile driving range.
Do you want the EcoDiesel? It depends greatly on how you intend to use your Jeep. If the V6 model’s towing capacity (6,200 pounds in both 2WD and 4WD versions) doesn’t meet your requirements—and you also do not want to take the mpg hit with the V8, and don’t care about all-out speed and response—then, by all means, the EcoDiesel is worth considering. If your driving consists of suburban duty and limited towing, it’s hard to justify the $4,500 price hike.
Turbodiesel or gasoline, the 2014 editions are extremely solid improvements that will hold us over just fine until an all-new Grand Cherokee arrives, likely in 2016.
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel
Base price: $41,290 DRIVETRAIN: 3.0-liter, 240-hp, 420-lb-ft turbodiesel V6; RWD, eight-speed automatic CURB WEIGHT: 4,545 lb 0-60 MPH: 7.8 sec (est) Fuel economy (City/Hwy/Combined): 22/30/25 mpg