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.