Everyone at Hooniverse loves diesels, we’d even put one into a Corvette. When Jeep announced that they will put a diesel into the current Grand Cherokee, a vehicle I like enough to consider buying for myself, I almost had an aneurism. Imagine this great off-road capable SUV with super torque-y engine and the fuel economy of midsize sedan, win-win, right?
I finally got to spend a few days with this compression-ignited Jeep and I can tell you that Chrysler nailed it! It’s quiet, refined, powerful, and gets great gas mileage. The loaded Summit models seen in these pictures will stand up to any of its competition in terms of features and off-road ability. Yes, Jeep got it right.
Well, almost right…
The biggest problem with the diesel-equipped Grand Cherokee is that starts at over $46,000 in the Limited trim (the diesel engine is not available on the entry-level Laredo). The diesel engine option alone is $4500, but a $3000 Luxury Group II package is mandatory. Basically, you can have your oil-burning Grand Cherokee in any way you want it, as long as it’s loaded. The vehicle pictured here is top-of-the line (except for SRT8) Summit 4×4 which, with the diesel engine, has a MSRP of $57,190, and that is a lot of money.
Whether it’s the $46,000 Limited or $57,000 Summit, approximately fifty grand buys many other off-road capable luxury SUVs, such as the updated for 2014 Land Rover LR4 (now with supercharged V6) or a Lexus GX 460, not to mention a plethora of soft-roaders or lower priced off-road capable SUVs such as the Toyota 4Runner. Comparing diesels-to-diesels, the other diesel alternatives start at the below listed prices, and can easily be equipped with $10,000 of options:
- Audi Q5 TDI (
4-cyl6-cyl) at 46,500
- Audi Q7 TDI (6-cyl) at $52,900
- BMW X3 xDrive28d (4-cyl) at $43,750
- BMW X5 xDrive35d (6-cyl) at $56,600
- Mercedes GLK250 BlueTEC (4-cyl) at $38,980
- Mercedes ML350 BlueTEC (6-cyl) at 51,790
- Mercedes GL350 BlueTEC (6-cyl) at $63,000
- Porsche Cayenne Diesel (6-cyl) at $56,600
- Volkswagen Touareg TDI (6-cyl) at $51,650
In the six-cylinder diesel game, the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel is winning the price wars. The bigger question is, however, if the diesel alternatives are worth the price over their gasoline-powered versions, and it is not a fair comparison. Much like many compare the price of hybrid vehicles to gasoline, the mathematical results do not always yield the whole answer. Anyone thinking of buying any diesel, or any hybrid, should drive each of the vehicles and then make a subjective decision.
When trying to figure out an objective, often mathematical, decision on the diesel options, please consider the fact it will likely have a higher resale value, too. Below chart shows the price premium for the diesel engine over the base V6 powertrain, the optional V8, and relative comparisons.
|3.6 liter DOHC 24-valve V6
|5.7 liter OHC 16-valve V8
|3.0 liter DOHC 24-valve V6 diesel
|(+$3695 On Limited, Overland, Summit)
|(+$7500 Limited, +$6495 Overland, +$5000 Summit)
|290hp at 6400rpm
|360hp at 5150rpm
|240hp at 3600rpm
|260lb-ft at 4800rpm
|390lb-ft at 4250rpm
|420lb-ft at 2000rpm
|MAX TOW CAPACITY
What the numbers don’t tell is the fact that all of these engines are really good:
- The V6 won’t win many drag races but is more than adequate for 90% of applications and is good on gas too, and there is no price premium for it.
- The V8 could actually win some drag races, it turns the Jeep into a little hot rod, is fun, and you’ll want to drive it fast, but you’ll be watching that gas needle move down quickly.
In daily driving the diesel is smooth off line and highway passing power is plentiful; just tip the pedal and the Jeep responds with a strong, drama-free, pull. With the transmission in sport mode, it is fun to drive, but it’s not jumpy like the V8. While louder than the gasoline engines, the diesel specific low frequency noise is most audible inside of garages, while outside the vehicle. Otherwise, neither passengers nor most pedestrians will know what’s propelling your Jeep unless they notice the small badge in the back.
The diesel gets a benefit of 700-mile range out a tank of gas (24.6 gal). The weight gains are minimal, with approximately 150 pounds heavier than V8, and 400 pounds over the V6 model, bringing the total weight to around 5300 pounds for a 4WD model.
On the highway, driven sensibly, 30mpg should be achievable. In mixed city and highway driving I was getting mid-twenties out of a gallon. When put it into sport mode and hooned it, the average fuel consumption dropped to 19mpg, which is really good for any SUV of this size. Yes, some cross-overs claim similar numbers but that is with four-cylinder engines and 2WD. In the real world, in mixed driving, expect low 20s from most SUVs and teens from anything with a V8 engine.
Everything else is the same as on a conventional Grand Cherokee. On the good side are nicely finished interior, good space, and features. On the bad side are poor visibility and electronic shifter. I also don’t like the fact that I have to go through the touch screen to turn on the heated/ventilated seats and/or heated steering wheel, but those are rather minor complaints.
Chrysler, specifically Jeep, threw everything they could at the Jeep to make it class leader, and with great success in terms sales and various automotive awards. The diesel engine is not for everyone, mostly due to its cost, but everyone should be glad that it is an option. There is no doubt in my mind that the diesel option would be chosen by significantly more people than the V8 version if it was equally priced. Those who opt for it will love it, as I sure did.
[Images copyright 2014 Hooniverse/Kamil Kaluski]