2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee review
By James Tate of MSN Autos
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee continues to be the flagship of Jeep's lineup. Wrangler owners would argue with that contention, but the Grand Cherokee is Jeep's best-selling model, and it is also in the midst of a sales renaissance — not only in the U.S., but worldwide; sales outside North America have increased 250 percent since 2009. The 2014 Grand Cherokee offers many engine and powertrain options, including a new diesel — but at what point are there too many ways to draw up the same SUV?
Under the hood
More difficult to understand are the various 4-wheel-drive systems, of which there are three available: Quadra-Trac I is the most basic, with a single-speed transfer case providing full-time 4-wheel drive. Quadra-Trac II uses "throttle anticipate" to stop tire slippage from a stop (with as much as 100 percent of power going to the axle with the most traction when needed); QTII has a 2-speed transfer case that catches and corrects tire slip as quickly as possible. At the top of the line is Quadra-Drive II, which adds an electronic limited-slip differential to the tech of the other two systems, enabling the transfer of torque not just front to rear, but also side to side. All variants are equipped with a new 8-speed, paddle-shift automatic transmission.
The instrument cluster in the 2014 Grand Cherokee is excellent, with a 7-inch screen that allows for a customizable readout that can include the status of the Select Terrain traction control and Quadra-Lift systems. In a particularly neat touch, the center image of the cluster changes along with the Select Terrain setting, showing the Grand Cherokee amid snow, rocks, sand, etc., depending on where the system is set.
The wood-trimmed steering wheel in the Overland and Summit iterations, along with heated and ventilated front seats, add layers of luxury and comfort to the Grand Cherokee's spacious cabin.
On the road
New safety features and driver assists include hill-start assist, ParkSense rear object detection (with front sensors on the Summit model), and forward-collision warning with crash mitigation, which alerts the driver when it senses a crash may be imminent.
On the road the SRT is two and a half tons of fun. We got to flog the 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT around the Formula One course at Circuit of the Americas near Austin, Texas — a place where the big Jeep felt anything but out of place. With 3.4 miles and two big straights, the race course gave us plenty of opportunities to test the limits of what the SRT Cherokee can really do. The handling of the SRT is spot on, and in Track mode it even allows for some swing-the-tail-out fun. That we can use the phrase "tail out fun" in regard to a 5,000-pound SUV speaks to the impressive work the SRT team has done with it.
The 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT even has a launch-control feature, which firms up the suspension, tightens the transmission shifts, and sends torque in a 30-70 front-rear split to help it achieve a 4.8-second zero-to-60-mph time. The SRT Cherokee doesn't feel as "immediate" off the line as a performance sports car, but let's see your Porsche 911 tow 7,200 pounds.
Right for you?
(As part of a sponsored press event, the automaker provided MSN with travel and accommodations to facilitatethis report.)
James Tate cut his teeth in the business as a race team crew member before moving to the editorial side asSenior Editor of Sport Compact Car, and his work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Automobile, Motor Trend and European Car. When not writing, Tate is usually fantasizing about a vintage Porsche 911.