The already capable and luxurious gasoline versions are less expensive and come with all the regular Grand Cherokee goodness…

The introduction of the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee showcased the direction of the new Fiat-Chrysler partnership.

It went on to win more awards that any other SUV; in fact, I chose it as one of my favourite vehicles that year. Sales have been strong for not only Jeep but the entire Chrysler group. Freshness has been into each new vehicle and this latest 2014 EcoDiesel version is another example. For this model year, the Grand Cherokee gets a refreshed front and rear, plus interior tweaks and a thrifty diesel under the hood.

Looks

The most noticeable updates for 2014 include a thinner front grille, narrower front headlights with LED accents. This really makes the latest model pop; especially when you compare it to the last model. The EcoDiesel option is only available in two trim levels, and this an expensive vehicle. The Overland is the cheapest diesel and it starts at roughly $58,000, $3000 more than a V6 model but the same price as the V8. The top of range Summit diesel starts at $62,000.

In comparison, the base VW Touareg diesel starts at $55,000 but most of the other German mid-sized SUVs with a diesel, like the ML from Mercedes or the X5 from BMW also start in the low $60,000 range.

Inside

One of the biggest changes at Chrysler has been the attention to detail now placed on interior design and refinement. The latest U-connect computer interface is one of the best in the business; many high-end makers could learn a thing or two from Chrysler. The large 8.4-inch screen is one of the biggest on the market and it is very quick to the touch, going from one function to the next is logical and responsive. Pairing a smartphone takes under 30 seconds and the best feature is the map screen, which enables the embedding of a picture in the same way as picture-in-picture TV does. The dash is covered in stitched leather and the cabin overall is simple and elegant. All EcoDiesel models come with leather seats and the back seats can even be heated.

Drive

The biggest change for 2014 is the introduction of an all-new 3.0-litre direct inject turbocharged V6 diesel engine along with an 8-speed automatic. With 420 lb.-ft. of torque, this engine just rockets away from a light and cruises effortlessly on the highway. There is a big premium to get this engine over a V6, or lower trim level V8 gasoline versions, but there are some compelling reasons to choose it. Fuel economy is number one. This heavy truck is rated at 9.8 L/100km in the city and only 7.0L on the highway. With aggressive driving and mostly city, I averaged 12L. I did notice on highway runs that the fuel economy improved radically and quickly.

The towing capacity of the EcoDiesel is the same as the 5.7-litre Hemi V8 at 7200 lbs, but this truck gets substantially better fuel economy. For those that drive a lot without a trailer, the improvement in fuel economy is something to factor in. If you don’t drive a lot each year, the diesel option might not be worth the added cost.

Verdict

Chrysler considers the Jeep Grand Cherokee a premium offering but I would not put this on a par with the Mercedes ML, BMW X5, Audi Q5 or a very nicely equipped VW Touareg.

It is a very nice truck with as much diesel power and efficiency as the competition but the German brands have been at the whole diesel thing a lot longer and are a known entity in the market.

The Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel would be a very easy choice if it were about $50,000, not $58,000. If you drive a lot or tow, the diesel might be worth it, but as it stands now the already capable and luxurious gasoline versions are less expensive and come with all the regular Grand Cherokee goodness.

Contact: zack [dot] spencer [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca

The Lowdown

Power: 3.0L turbocharged diesel V6 with 420 lb-ft. of torque

Fill-up: 9.8L/7.0L/100km (city/highway)

Sticker price: $58,000-$62,000

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