The current WK2 generation of the Grand Cherokee has been around for a few years. In that time it has won a number of awards and satisfied many customers, a lot of them repeat buyers. For 2014, Jeep has made the first meaningful visual and functional changes to the Grand Cherokee. Those changes, aside from differentiating the 2014 from earlier models, are meant to increase economy, comfort, and looks.
Let’s see what’s what…
Outside, the most noticeable change is the new front grill, headlights with the requisite LED running lights, and bumper cover. In the back there’s a new LED taillights and hatch design, now without the almost-iconic pop-up glass, which rounds off the exterior changes.
The interior received a new, bigger, optional infotainment display and TFT customizable gauge cluster. On the gauge cluster, all information is easily accessible via steering wheel controls and is capable of displaying info such as wheel articulation.
The infotainment display is intuitive in that it uses seven major menu soft-keys (radio, media, controls, climate, nav,phone, apps). However, it also contains controls for such features as the heated and ventilated seats, and heated steering wheel, which should really have hard buttons on their own. The CD player is now optional, and located in the center console, if equipped. Your music can accessed via a USB port, aux input, Bluetooth, or the AM/FM/XM/HD radio.
Also new is an electronic shifter for the new 8-speed automatic transmission which is fitted to all three available engines. The shifter has three joystick-like positions: front, middle, and back. The front and back positions are momentary, while the middle position is fixed no matter which gear the transmission is in. Needless to say, the shifter takes significant getting used to; it requires the driver to look at it, or the gauge display, to know which gear the car is in.
The transmission itself seems good; it’s smooth and always seems to be in the right gear as long as the car isn’t in the “Eco” mode. This Eco mode is a V8-only feature, which my vehicle was, focuses on increasing fuel economy via engine and transmission mapping and cylinder deactivation. It can be disabled by a button or by selecting the “Sport” mode on the transmission shifter. Jeep says that the Grand Cherokee V8 should get 14mpg in the city and 18mpg on the highway. With somewhat of a heavy foot and most of time in the sport mode, mostly around the city, I got slightly less than 13mpg.
The Sport mode keeps the transmission in gear longer and provides better throttle response. If equipped with the Quadra-Lift air suspension, such as the car pictured here, it will lower the suspension, too. The engine seems to sound a little better too, more proper V8-like. I have not driven the SRT version, but this Overland would do fine for me, especially since it has the ability to venture off road, whereas the SRT realistically does not.
The list of features, especially on this well-equipped Overland model, brings up the interesting point of value. The Overland starts at $42,000 and goes up as high as the $55,000 MSRP of the pictured car. It is not an inexpensive vehicle. That is until one compares it the Range Rover, which is roughly the same size and drives very similarly, has pretty much all the same features, and yet costs twice as much.
Having driven the Grand Cherokee and the Range Rover within a similar time frame, I would have a seriously hard time justifying the Range Rover, even if I had a six-figure budget. On the other hand, I do have a need for a new family vehicle, and the Grand Cherokee Limited with a V6 engine presents itself as one hell of a value.
[Images copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Kamil Kaluski]