The flagship of the Jeep line — the five-passenger Grand Cherokee sport utility vehicle — is both a grand and high-mileage traveler for 2014.
The roomy interior can be luxuriously appointed with stitched leather seats, panoramic sunroof, suede-like ceiling material and a Blu-Ray rear entertainment system with two video screens.
But that's not all: With the addition of an impressive diesel V-6 from Jeep's parent, Fiat of Italy, the 2014 Grand Cherokee 4X2 now boasts a federal government travel range of 615 miles on a single tank of fuel, the best ever for a Grand Cherokee. It is rated at 22 miles per gallon for city driving and 30 mpg on the highway, for an average of 25 mpg.
That makes the Detroit-built SUV third best in fuel mileage among diesel-powered SUVs sold in the United States, behind the 2014 Mercedes-Benz GLK250 Bluetec with a four-cylinder diesel and a government fuel economy rating of 24/33 mpg. The 2014 Audi Q5 SUV with diesel six cylinder is second, with a rating of 24/31 mpg.
But neither German competitor carries enough fuel onboard to rival the Grand Cherokee's travel range.
The diesel Grand Cherokee is priced competitively when standard features like leather seats, eight-way, power front seats, heated steering wheel and rear backup camera are factored in. Starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, for a 2014 Grand Cherokee 4X2 with 240-horsepower, EcoDiesel V-6 is $41,990.
The lowest starting retail price for a 4X4 Grand Cherokee with the diesel engine is $43,990.
These prices are higher than base Grand Cherokees with a gasoline V-6, though. Starting MSRP, including destination charge, for a base, 2014 Grand Cherokee Laredo 4X2 with 290-horsepower gas engine is $30,490. The lowest starting retail price for a four-wheel drive, 2014 Grand Cherokee Laredo is $32,490.
By comparison, the 200-horsepower, 2014 Mercedes GLK250 Bluetec starts at $39,905, and the 2014 Audi Q5 with 240-horsepower V-6 and all-wheel drive starts at $47,000.
The test Grand Cherokee, with brown metallic paint and with dark brown leather seats, looked sharp with its 20-inch wheels.
It was right-sized, too, driving like a small vehicle but providing good passenger comfort and ample cargo room of up to 68.3 cubic feet. In fact, the Grand Cherokee's 38.6 inches of rear-seat legroom is more than that of the GLK250 and Q5.
There were no running boards, as the vehicle was ready for off-roading with an easy Selec-Terrain traction management system and Quadra-Lift Air Suspension.
The 3-liter, double overhead cam EcoDiesel V-6 mated to an eight-speed automatic was the star, moving the more than 5,000-pound Grand Cherokee 4X4 tester with spunk, even on mountain highways.
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