This was my second go around with a Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Eco-Diesel in 2014. Earlier in the year Criag Fitzgerald, Dave Nutting, and I had taken one on a 2,000 mile weekend road trip that saw us get insane mileage in great comfort throughout the trip. While it was great to see the machine in those conditions, I really wanted to nab one for myself and spend some quality time in it doing the stuff that SUVs are supposed to do. Stuff like off roading, road tripping, and carrying a family around on its adventures. The Grand Cherokee is one of the last SUVs that actually holds to the tradition of ruggedness and the ethos of the original sport utility vehicles in the sense that it is still sold and known as a truck that can get you in and (most times) out of the situations you place it in. No one thinks of a Tahoe or a Suburban in the same light as a Grand Cherokee. Different animals but all classed under the same umbrella.
To go from the outside in, I am a big fan of the styling of the current generation Jeep Grand Cherokee. I think the lines are taught and that there’s no real “flab” hanging off the vehicle in any direction that you look at it. When you dump the air suspension all the way down into “entry” mode it looks like a street Jeep for sure, but when you crank ‘er all the way up while off roading the thing is as high riding and has as much ground clearance as you would need for most, ok, almost all situations. As you will see, we took the truck off roading and never had an issue with ground clearance. The wheels are great and the tires were very good, especially in the silt that we encountered at the secret BS off road testing grounds where we shot our photos.
The interior of the truck is great, if a little on the “black hole” side for our tastes. There are optional colors that one can click off when ordering and we’d have gone with a lighter tone in there. Not that there is anything wrong with black but when the whole interior is essentially black, it all kind of melds together. Jeep has a great interface to use with navigation, satellite radio, etc and it is certainly one of the better ones we have used in 2014 MY cars and trucks. The seats were nicely bolstered to provide support while off roading and even during cornering situations on the highway. This is not a vehicle that you’ll win an autocross with but it does drive great and we’ll get into that more below.
While all of that stuff is really nice, the real story here is how the rig works and what it is like dynamically to drive. In short, I am in love with this one and it was honestly the first car or truck we have driven all year that I told my wife I would buy that day given the money to make the purchase. The range with the diesel is incredible, the performance is not drag strip winning but it is fine for an SUV and at no point did I worry about being down on power or needed to pre-plan things I normally do with the accelerator pedal. We took the truck off-roading as a family one day and the next we embarked on a day-long road trip through rural central Massachusetts in the finest traditions of exploring. We stopped and munched at a couple cool restaurants, visited our old college, and cruised back home….leaving 350 miles of fuel left in the tank AFTER both days of combined fun. 30+ mpg in a vehicle wth the size and comfort of the Grand Cherokee feels like cheating. It feels like you are getting away with something when the gas gauge simply does not move and the range counter also seems to be stuck.
The price of the Jeep, as tested was hovering in the $55,000 range. That’s a bunch of money and while the majority of owners will not be romping in the sand, the woods, and then rolling around the state over the course of the weekend, some will and there’s no better way to do it than in one of these. If I sound like a complete fanboy on this one it is only because I am. This is one of the best vehicles for sale in America today, end of story.
WE’RE GOING TO TELL YOU THE REST OF THE STORY THROUGH PHOTOS AND CAPTIONS BELOW!