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2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee: Refined Just Right; Raw Where It Counts

Chrysler's 5.7 L Hemi And Air Suspension

Jeep offers a variety of engines with its Grand Cherokee, including the 3.6-liter “Pentastar” V6 and a 3.0-liter diesel. Our test vehicle came with the 5.7-liter Hemi V8, rated for 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. Chrysler made some changes to the Hemi in 2008 that added variable camshaft timing (in essence, variable valve timing for a push-rod motor). Although it isn't as fancy as the latest direct-injected or dual-overhead cam motors, the Hemi does what Chrysler needs it to.

New to the 2014 Grand Cherokee is an eight-speed automatic transmission sourced from ZF. The extra gears are there to improve fuel economy and acceleration. Although we thoroughly enjoyed the SUV's spirited acceleration, its fuel economy deserves some discussion. There’s a "gas-conscious" Eco mode that alters the shift points and enables cylinder deactivation technology to make your tank last a little longer. Eco mode also lowers the Grand Cherokee at highway speeds (above 55 MPH) on vehicles equipped with the Quadra-lift air suspension, again in the name of fuel economy.

Unfortunately, Eco mode is annoying to drive with. The transmission shifts lazily, and the SUV feels lethargic when it’s engaged. Tossing the shifter into Sport mode livens the experience up, but you pay for it with fuel economy. The EPA rates our sample at 14, 20, and 16 MPG in the city, highway, and combined. We observed an average of about 15 MPG combining city and highway driving with Eco mode on. That dropped to about 13 MPG in Sport mode. Yeah, that's only a 2 MPG difference. Given how few miles per gallon the Grand Cherokee gets, switching from Eco to Sport translates to a 13% loss in fuel economy. This made me cry a little when I filled up the 20-gallon gas tank.

With that said, Jeep's powertrain is enjoyable. The ZF 8HP70 transmission is very refined, which is no surprise since BMW and Range Rover employ the same transmission in some of their vehicles. My wallet doesn't love the fuel consumption, but if you're buying an SUV with a V8, you certainly can't be surprised. Other engine options are available if you want to trade in some of that power.

Quadra-Lift Air Suspension

Jeep equips our Grand Cherokee Overland with an air suspension system dubbed Quadra-Lift. What you'll immediately like about Quadra-Lift is the ability to lower the SUV when you park it for an easy exit, the fact that it automatically hunkers down at highway speeds for better efficiency, and most important, achieving lots of lift for off-roading fun.

You get 4.2 inches of travel from the lowest to the highest setting of Quadra-Lift. The video above illustrates the differences between each height setting, including Parking, Normal, Off-road 1, and Off-road 2.

Selec-Terrain System

Since the Grand Cherokee has an air suspension system, it can dynamically alter the SUV's driving characteristics. Selec-Terrain involves a control knob that lets you manually select the optimal setup for snow, sand, mud, or rock. There’s an automatic option that lets the computer decide, also. We left the Grand Cherokee in Auto during our on-road testing, since we didn't encounter any of those conditions.

  • cheesyboy
    I hope the sponsorship money from Jeep helps pay for good stuff elsewhere on the site, because this was a damned boring article.
    Reply
  • sanilmahambre
    other then all those tech-check the actual thing that attracts customers towards Jeep is the front trademark spiral grill.
    I drove it in Far cry 2
    Reply
  • vertexx
    What's up with the miss-fitting front lighting? It looks like they re-designed all the front lighting and didn't bother fitting the front-end cutouts to the new lighting. Looks terrible.
    Reply
  • MU_Engineer
    This has to be the only car review article where the only performance graphs are for how quickly the infotainment system starts up. At the very least time it going 0-60 (it *does* have a Hemi after all), do a slalom test to see how well you can avoid text-addled drivers weaving in and out of their lane at 50 mph on the interstate, and see how many Antec 1200s fit in the back. (shakes head)
    Reply
  • poik
    How do the gauges work with polarized glasses?
    Reply
  • tuanies
    11512660 said:
    This has to be the only car review article where the only performance graphs are for how quickly the infotainment system starts up. At the very least time it going 0-60 (it *does* have a Hemi after all), do a slalom test to see how well you can avoid text-addled drivers weaving in and out of their lane at 50 mph on the interstate, and see how many Antec 1200s fit in the back. (shakes head)

    We do not have a track to test 0-60 on while maintaining consistency, nor do we have accurate equipment to test such feats. Speed limit here is 60 and most people do 70-80 weaving in and out of traffic ;). I deny going those "speeds" but the Jeep is quite competent and that HEMI, every press of the gas pedal makes me shed a tear for the fuel economy while enjoying the thrust. Either way we have a SRT8 booked next month for a quick follow up. Hopefully the Pandora and other apps work by then.

    I don't have enough Antec 1200s to test, but that's a pretty good idea for testing methods :).

    11512907 said:
    How do the gauges work with polarized glasses?

    I do not wear polarized glasses so I can't really tell you - mine are just transitions. I don't see them being a problem though. You could always just turn up the brightness on the LCD. It gets very bright.
    Reply
  • cheesyboy
    11512660 said:
    This has to be the only car review article where the only performance graphs are for how quickly the infotainment system starts up. At the very least time it going 0-60 (it *does* have a Hemi after all), do a slalom test to see how well you can avoid text-addled drivers weaving in and out of their lane at 50 mph on the interstate, and see how many Antec 1200s fit in the back. (shakes head)

    Slalom test, you say? Hope it does better than its predecessor;
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaYFLb8WMGM
    Reply
  • rezzahd
    I honestly feel like this article is a waste of time. not on my part for reading it, but on Tom's part for producing an article on a site that attracts people more towards hardware specs. If I wanna read I car review I will go to Car & Driver not Tom's Hardware.
    Reply
  • tuanies
    11513248 said:
    I honestly feel like this article is a waste of time. not on my part for reading it, but on Tom's part for producing an article on a site that attracts people more towards hardware specs. If I wanna read I car review I will go to Car & Driver not Tom's Hardware.

    We have 6 pages dedicated to the tech inside the car that traditional publications just gloss over...
    Reply
  • rezzahd
    11513294 said:
    11513248 said:
    I honestly feel like this article is a waste of time. not on my part for reading it, but on Tom's part for producing an article on a site that attracts people more towards hardware specs. If I wanna read I car review I will go to Car & Driver not Tom's Hardware.

    We have 6 pages dedicated to the tech inside the car that traditional publications just gloss over...

    Okay, sorry got a little ahead of myself. I was just saying when I think car reviews in general I just mean there are other sources I would go to. I tend not to look at the tech in cars. I actually prefer to see how well things like the motor and transmission are built over how fast boot times are for a camera.
    Reply