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

Jeep's Off-Road Adventure II Package

This isn't a true Jeep unless it can flex its off-road prowess straight from the showroom, right? Our Grand Cherokee came with the Off-Road Adventure II package that adds 18-inch polished aluminum wheels, all-season on/off-road tires, Selec-Speed Control, a more capable Quadra-Drive II 4WD system, an electronic limited-slip rear differential (with a 3.09 final drive), and skid plates to protect the front suspension, fuel tank, and transfer case. Since we try to test every feature possible, we loaded up the Grand Cherokee into a convoy consisting of Toyota 4Runners and this SUV's predecessor, a WK Grand Cherokee (2005-2010), and headed to Wilkeson, WA to play on the forest service road.

The Quadra-Drive II 4WD system takes the standard Quadra-Trac II 4WD and adds an electronic rear-limited slip differential. Jeep’s Quadra-Trac II 4WD is a pretty standard full-time 4WD setup with a 4-low mode. There is no way to force it into rear-wheel drive mode. However, the transfer case does not engage the front wheels unless the rears are slipping.

In terms of the Off-Road Adventure II's electronics features, there’s only Selec-Speed Control. While most manufacturers tout hill-descent control features that let you maintain a vehicle's speed going down a hill, Selec-Speed Control does the opposite, allowing you to define a speed for ascending a hill and maintaining it, no matter how hard you mash the gas. We played with the feature a bit and found it neat, but found ourselves modulating the throttle manually most of the time.

A quick aside about our journey to Wilkeson, WA. The first obstacle we encountered was a technical off-road hill. We were third in the convoy, sending the fourth-gen 4Runner and WK Grand Cherokee, both with mild lifts and beefy tires, through first. Exercising a bit of caution, both made it through easily. When it came our turn, we left the Selec-Terrain system in Auto, enabled 4-low, and raised the Quadra-Lift air suspension to its Off-road 2 setting for maximum ground clearance. Likewise, we made it through with ease, escaping without a scratch.

As we drove up the service road, we found some remnant snow to play with. We sent off the first-gen 4Runner to scout it out, since he was the lightest vehicle of the bunch. He got stuck a couple times and we had to help him out. He made his way back down, making room for the Jeeps to play. The WK Grand Cherokee and its beefier off-road tires went up first, while we followed in our show room-fresh model with 5000 miles on the odometer. With the Selec-Terrain system dialed in for snow, we traversed the snow-covered incline in Off-road 1 mode. The snow got a bit high, and started scraping the bottom of the SUV, so we raised it to Off-road 2. With one press of a button, we were on our merry way again.

The Off-Road Adventure II package, combined with the fantastic Quadra-Lift suspension, really delivers. During our off-road expedition, my friends in their lifted 4Runner and Grand Cherokee were equally impressed with the stock Grand Cherokee's utility. I consider the added off-road features in this package worth the $995 you're asked to pay.