3,000 Miles and (Nearly) 30mpg – The 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit EcoDiesel Hauls More Than Just The Family

3,000 Miles and (Nearly) 30mpg – The 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit EcoDiesel Hauls More Than Just The Family

(Photos by Dave Nutting) – When the time was coming and the plans were being formed up for a 3,000 mile family road trip up and down the East Coast by way of mostly two lane roads, there was one rig that I wanted to use as our family truckster on the adventure. That was a Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel. This is the third time that one of these babies has appeared on BangShift and the second time we have chewed up thousands of miles in one. The first time was last year’s winter adventure that saw Craig Fitzgerald, Dave Nutting, and I venture to Ohio, Indiana, and Michigan, before heading home over a long weekend. This year it was my wife, the kids, and I populating the seats with a load of supplies, presents, and personal items for a family week in North Carolina on the shore. As I have started to show you over the last couple weeks, we stopped at nearly 20 drag strips (living and dead) along the way and we took two lane roads for the vast majority of the trip, choosing to avoid the horror of Route 95 and instead take the slower, longer way there and back. The 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit EcoDiesel was made for such a strategy and from the time we left the driveway in Massachusetts, did all of our driving, and pulled back in again, the observed fuel mileage was 29.1 MPG. That is out of an SUV that was loaded to the gills with options and our stuff, carried everyone in comfort, and was pretty fun to drive as well. The efficiency, the capability, and the total package do not come cheaply though, as our tester carried a base price of $51,695 and a total price of $61,175 on the window.

2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit011One of the things that you’ll not see in these photos is the cool root beerish look of the Deep Auburn Pearl Coat paint on the GC. The cloudy skies kind of knocked the edge off of the gleaming look that the Grand exhibited in bright sunlight. We can tell you that the paint color did a good job hiding the road grime and dirt accumulated during the journey until it really got heavy and then we ran it through the wash to make things nice again. The Dark Sienna Brown interior color was nice and while we’ll get into the comfort and amenities stuff a little later here, we really enjoyed it. If the ultimate test of a vehicle’s comfort is the ability to spend about six 12-hours days in it, this thing came through with flying colors.

Mechanically there was nothing much to note as far as differences between the 2014 models that we drove last year. Engine performance out of the 3.0L turbocharged diesel V6 is more than adequate for jumping on the highway and passing. The eight speed transmission is certainly a big part of this and while the Jeep is not a drag racer, the short gearing through the first few shifts gets things happening in a reasonable hurry. Obviously being a diesel, the torque output is impressive and a key to the spectacular mileage we got was lots of driving on roads where we maintained a speed of 45-55 mpg with the adaptive cruise control on. The thing would get into 8th gear and stay there.

We did zip through some incredible mountain roads in Virginia and the Jeep was fun enough through them. Obviously this is an SUV and you know it when trying to push the thing through switchback corners on a mountain, but body roll is very well managed. The steering ratio being a bit quicker would help the fun factor in those situations but the reality is, the thing isn’t ever going to be a sports car (SRT-8 GCs non-withstanding).

I’ll gripe about the shifter for a minute. The t-handled unit is a switch that you kind of knock up and down to make the Jeep do what you want. It isn’t doing anything but activating electronic stuff and it can be finicky at times. More than once I pushed it up to go into park and I went to get out of the Jeep only to find it either in neutral or still in gear. If it happened once it would have been an anomaly but since it happened 4-5 times over the course of our trip, I’m calling it a flaw. My opinion, take it for what you will. The brakes are solid and even when used in an aggressive setting (coming down very windy mountain roads) they did not fade or ever feel anything but surefooted.

The air suspension is cool and adjusting it to lower so the girls could hop in while nicely dressed or cranking it up at the highest setting for off-road fun, it worked as it is designed. At highway speeds, the GC sucks itself down for better aero and this also aids the fuel mileage cause. Storage space is ample as you would expect and the GC swallowed all of our stuff (and there was a ton!) without issue.

We let the kids use the backseat entertainment screens sparingly and they worked great with their wireless headphones that allowed them to see some SpongeBob and us to continue listening to the radio. They got about an hour of that a day, typically after dark but the rest of the time they were staring out the windows, reading, and clamoring over drag strip fences when we stopped. It was an old fashioned road trip in a modern four wheel drive chariot.

We’re going to tell the rest of the story of the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit EcoDiesel through photos and captions below –

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After getting home from our trip, Nutting and I took the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit EcoDiesel out to our famed BangShift east coast off road testing facility. This was before the glaciers swallowed the region.

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I have always found the proportions and look of the current generation GC appealing and outside of some very subtle exterior changes this one is virtually identical to the 2014 model.

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While the vast majority of the 3,000 miles we put on this Jeep were on-road it was fun to get it into the dirt and sand to test the different driving modes the GC offers. In the “sand” mode it favored wheel speed and the stability control was reduced so it was possible to pitch the Jeep around,

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Even in the soft silt the Jeep never had a problem and always clawed along. The stock Goodyear tires are pretty impressive for an all season.

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See the eyeball looking thing in the grill? That’s the sensor for the adaptive cruise control which we used through the entire trip almost non-stop. It is a function that makes cruising, no matter the setting, pretty effortless.

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Note the height of the GC in this photo. Here we had the air suspension set on the highest setting possible.

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The V6 diesel does not look like the most fun engine to service or work on. We had no issues with this setup in more than 8,000 total miles driving these rigs on multiple trips. Power is good with 240hp and more than 420 lb/ft of torque.

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This thing looks like something out of a Terminator movie.

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We like the look of the wheels with their forked spokes. While not a sports car by any stretch, those wheels do give an interesting sporting flair to the GC.

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The large and in-charge storage area was filled to capacity on our trip with suit cases, Christmas presents, coolers, and whatever else we acquired on the journey.

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Interior comfort and quality is really, really good in the Summit edition. Two little kids, two adults, and all our stuff for 12 hours a day (for six days total) means that the interior will either stand up and shine or flaws will be exposed quickly. We all loved the guts of this GC.

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Thick rimmed heated wheel was nice on cold mornings, heated seats for the same. Gauges are easy to read and are identical to the 2014 GC. That little shifter, though. As much as I am not a “dial guy” like the rest of the Chrysler line-up has, it would be better than that thing.

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Massive glass center section of the roof lets in lots of ambient light and gives the interior a very airy quality. It is a nice option to have on long drives and the kids liked staring out of it.

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Front seats are wide and bolstered slightly. They kept us planted in the mountain sections but since this thing won’t be pulling 1G laterally any time soon, they are not anything you’ll be looking to swap into your pro touring car if you know what we mean.

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The center stack and 8.4″ touch screen are great. Controls are well laid out, easy to reach, and the Chrysler screen and software are just about the best in the business. One of the strongest points of the lineup from top to bottom is right here. No matter the trim level you are working with the same software/controls layout. Good stuff.

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Driving modes do change the personality of the GC pretty drastically. Button shifting into four wheel low is kind of disappointed to gearheads due to the lack of a lever, and the controls to raise and lower the Jeep are simple to use.

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Rear passengers have great room and HVAC control access. The back seats are also heated and that is always a bonus for cold weather climates. Very high marks for the experience this GC gave the kids in the back.

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Here’s a look at the fold out screens for the entertainment system and the wireless headphones. We let the guys indulge a little but tried to keep them on the straight and narrow path of “road trip scenery appreciation.” They did a heck of a job and this thing worked great. The wireless headphones are genius.

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My third (and longest term) experience with the Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit EcoDiesel was on par and perhaps better than the previous two. The efficiency, the comfort, and the fun of driving this SUV has me raving (again) about how good it is. The price certainly places it in a stout bracket and with the currently depressed fuel prices, the “bargain” of diesel is lessened, but if you can swing the dough and you are SUV shopping, this is a great, great vehicle to put on your list.


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5 thoughts on “3,000 Miles and (Nearly) 30mpg – The 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit EcoDiesel Hauls More Than Just The Family

  1. john

    $61,000 smackers???? Drive it out the door and it’s now worth $50,000. I’d like to say just wait for a few years and buy a used one but…by then so many of the gadgets will be broken, the leather seats will be dried a cracked and the motor will be junk do to the lack of service. Been there, done that, no more.

    1. Beagle

      we sound kind of whiney, but dang, that’s a lot of coin! I have a really hard time wrapping my head around that number.

    2. ColoradoKid

      Yeah . ! And just think . For damn near the same price you can buy the newest version of the Mercedes ML Class rather than this two model old version in a JEEP party dress that’ll actually hold its value longer than five minutes … not to mention the ML would be a whole damn lot more reliable that the JEEP will ever be [ like to guess how many recalls the ML and Mercedes in general have had in the last five years ? Try … ZERO ] … seeing as how everything Mercedes that Dodge/Chrysler/JEEP gets their grubby paws on gets ” Lost in Translation ”

      $61k for a freaking two model old ML in JEEP guise indeed ! No wonder the pundits are already calling for JEEP’s eventual demise despite the fact that its the only profitable division in all of FCA

      $61k ! And to think . There’s actually people out there stupid enough to pay that much for the damn thing ! Oh well … there truly are a couple thousand suckers born every minute .

      $61k . And y’all [ Mr Lohnes ] are actually applauding this ?

      Errr … so much for putting that incoming sponsorship money to good use !

  2. Beagle

    only 62k huh. The first thing I spent 62k on had a lot more room and a couple of toilets, plenty of comfy leather seating, and a garage.

    29mpg seems almost low but it probably spent a lot of time getting “tested” – did you get a chance to roll it over some scales?

  3. TheSilverBuick

    Other than being $15-20k over priced ($20k buys A LOT of fuel), it appears to be a sweet ride.

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