2014 Grand Cherokee: Not A Tech Marvel, But Capable Off-Road
Jeep's 2014 Grand Cherokee is comfortable on-road and highly capable off-road, driven straight from the showroom. The software component of Uconnect Access is very good. We like the usability of its interface, and really dig the 4:3 touchscreen compared to the wide displays more typical of infotainment systems. It's slow to boot, unfortunately. Though, once Uconnect Access was up, responsiveness was good.
We’re glad Jeep didn’t transition to capacitive buttons, unlike Ford and Cadillac. We can’t say this often enough, but we love those physical controls. Touchscreen displays are nice for secondary input, but they simply cannot match the feedback that buttons and knobs give you. Kudos to Jeep for maintaining a good balance between modern technology and the old-school stuff we don't want to see go away.
As far as driving aids go, we were disappointed by the adaptive cruise control system. It’s a nice option to have, but as the technology goes mainstream, luxury vehicles should all have a low-speed follow function. There’s no reason why a Subaru boasts full-speed-range cruise, while this $52,000+ Jeep requires manual driver input at speeds under 20 MPH. The rest of the Advanced Technology Group is nice though, and the $1700 addition isn't bad compared to what other manufacturers are charging for similar functionality.
Jeep's top-end powertrain is quite a bit of fun. If you can afford the Hemi V8's gas bill, you're rewarded with great acceleration, too. Given a choice, we'd either step down to the 3.0-liter V6 diesel or go for broke with the 6.4-liter Hemi in the SRT8. I'm personally a big fan of the Quadra-Lift air suspension as well. I was never fond of air suspension systems before, but having the flexibility and convenience of raising and lowering the SUV with the press of a button changed my mind.
Growing up, I had a Fisher-Price Power Wheels Jeep. The plain red one, back before they got cheap with the plastic and replaced the faux lights with stickers. As a result, I've always had a soft spot for Jeep's Wrangler. However, after driving the Wrangler during NWAPA Mudfest 2013, I decided that wasn't the SUV for me. I still like the idea of a four-door off-road vehicle, but the lack of amenities doesn't suit my adult tastes.
After spending a week with Jeep's 2014 Grand Cherokee, this is the type of SUV I could see myself daily driving. It’s not extravagant or audacious like a Range Rover, but it stays true to the Jeep heritage while adding a number of technological niceties. It’s a vehicle my wife could take the kids to a play date in during the week, while I take them to the mountains on the weekend. Crossovers from BMW, Audi, VW, and even Lexus offer smoother, more car-like rides. However, the Jeep does double-duty as soccer mom-mobile and off-road champion. And that's why we like it so much; it's the Swiss Army knife of SUVs.