Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel: The Details

Sections: Fuel Economy, Powertrain

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The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, seen here at its North American International Auto Show Debut in January, will get a 30-MPG diesel engine and 8-speed automatic transmission combo. (Photo courtesy Chrysler.)

We told you it was coming. Jeep has revealed its next-generation Grand Cherokee with a diesel engine that promises to be the model’s most-efficient powertrain option yet. How efficient?

According to a Jeep press release, the EcoDiesel, as they’re calling it, should manage 30 MPG highway in two-wheel drive trim, which would make it the most fuel-efficient choice in its class. The engine will make 240 horsepower and a 420 ft-lb sized glob of torque. With a displacement of 3.0 liters, the V6 diesel has four valves per cylinder and should even eke out 22 MPG in city driving, Jeep said.

The low-RPM torque of a diesel is well-suited for pulling a load, and the Grand Cherokee’s EcoDiesel will be no exception. Jeep says it will be rated to tow 7,400 lbs. The other thing diesels tend to excel at is highway range, and here again the Grand Cherokee proves no different from that stereotype, with a highway driving range of more than 730 miles on a single tank, Jeep claims, noting its fuel economy is “43% more than competitive gasoline-powered V-8 SUVs in the segment.”

Helping the diesel mill achieve those impressive numbers in both towing and fuel economy is the Torqueflite 8 automatic transmission also found in gas-powered Grand Cherokees, though the best a gasser Grand Cherokee will do is 25 MPG highway if you opt for the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. The HEMI 5.7-liter V8 will return 22 MPG highway, Jeep says. Since Jeeps are all about off-road credibility, four-wheel drive models equipped with a two-speed transfer case have a granny low crawl ratio of 44.1:1 to help them over the most difficult terrain. The transmission also comes with steering column-mounted shift paddles just in case you feel like a little flappy-paddle action.

A final contributing factor to the fuel economy of the new Grand Cherokee despite your engine choice is the new-for-2014 Eco Mode, which Jeep says optimizes the transmission’s shift behavior and, in V8-equipped models, cylinder deactivation system. It also tweaks the Grand Cherokee’s adjustable-height suspension, lowering it to reduce wind resistance. Eco Mode is automatically engaged at each startup, Jeep says. That means if you don’t want any of those features to interfere, for whatever reason, you’ll have to turn them off yourself.

Jeep fans have clamored for another diesel-powered Jeep model, something they haven’t had since the Liberty CRD discontinued in 2006 in the face of tightening diesel emissions standards. Those fans had better hope enough folks take Jeep up on the diesel engine if they want to see it in the model lineup more than just a couple years, as was the case for the ill-fated (but in retrospect, much-praised) Liberty CRD.

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  • Wayne

    After seeing some rough pricing numbers, I’m wondering if owning the diesel will be worthwhile. I’ve been waiting for an American (ok in badging I guess) modern diesel SUV. The feds certainly issued tax breaks for those buying an alternative fuel vehicle (diesel) from Germany like the BMW X-5…I can only hope that they’ll offer up the same tax breaks for a vehicle built in the US even if it has an Italian engine. An additional $2000 would sure make the purchase more affordable.

    As is, I’m thinking a used Toyota 4Runner would be the more reliable product but I’ve been hoping to buy Jeep. I’m not made of gold and conserving cash is the big thing even if I do like the idea of an “American” company finally bringing a diesel SUV to market. I want to buy one simply from that fact alone and get more diesel rigs to market. I enjoy my 1 ton dually diesel truck but not something I want to use as a daily driver. But who knows what job I’ll wind up with when I return to the US.

  • Kenny Kamel

    I am looking forward to the new Grand Cherokee diesel but as a former Liberty CRD owner I have no idea how anyone can say that it was “much-praised.” I had nothing but problems with my Liberty CRD and the fuel mileage at best was 26mpg over a long interstate trip (it usually averaged 20-22mpg) and I’m a conservative driver. The engine was great, it had more power than the vehicle needed but the Jeep wrapped around the engine was garbage. Even at that the engine has many notorious issues and the Liberty CRD was not suitable for anything other than light offroad usage. At best it was a novelty vehicle, nothing worthy of praise IMHO.

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