The Reloaded Grand Jeep Cherokee 2014

It has been three years since Jeep dramatically updated its Grand Cherokee, delivering a refined flagship with style and substance constructed on a chassis shared in large part with the Mercedes Benz M Class.

Jeep would be the first to admit that, in the past, it would slide out a new model and then ignore it for five years. No longer. The iconic brand has reloaded the Grand Cherokee for 2014 with a new engine, transmission, and other features.

All Grand Cherokees receive exterior changes for 2014. The average driver might have trouble telling the 2013 from the 2014 in profile, but the front end is markedly different. The headlamps are now shallow and squinty, as if the car had just driven out of a dark tunnel on a bright sunny day. Cool details include the tiny profile of a World War II-era Jeep depicted in the passenger-side headlamp and the words “Since 1941” in the driver’s-side unit.

Rimming the headlights are LED running lamps, naturally. The grille is slightly shallower, the lower fascia commensurately taller. As for the rear, each trim gets its own styling down low, and the liftgate has been resculpted and is topped by a larger spoiler.

Jeep redid the centre stack, not changing its essential contours but reworking the acreage to fit the corporate 5.0- or 8.4-inch touch screens and an HVAC control area with large knobs – bucking the capacitive-touch trend – that work quickly and simply with minimal eye time from the road. Also new is the three-spoke steering wheel, which looks significantly better and increases the button count. Behind that lives a revised instrument cluster, with round gauges flanking a driver-configurable display that can tell you everything you want to know about your Grand Cherokee. Open-pore wood trim is available, and the cabin retains the upscale ambience that has characterized the 2011 and newer GCs.

The most significant drivetrain news is the adoption of a ZF-engineered eight-speed automatic for all Grand Cherokees last year’s V-6 played with five forward ratios, the Hemi with six. Paddle shifters have sprouted behind every steering wheel. Also new is an Eco button that alters the gearbox shift schedule and throttle sensitivity for optimal fuel economy. On V-8 models, Eco also effects cylinder deactivation. Finally, if you have the optional air suspension, it will automatically lower the vehicle to “Aero” ride height when travelling at higher speeds. The base 290-hp V-6 and optional 360-hp Hemi are essentially unchanged. The Hemi can tow the same maximums as before – 3.2 tons with four-wheel drive and 3.3 with rear-drive – but the V-6’s tugging ability ratchets up from 2.2 tons to 2.8. Thanks in large part to the new gearbox, fuel economy improves slightly for both powerplants

Being a Jeep, the Grand Cherokee has a spec sheet that offers a mind-numbing array of chassis and suspension possibilities, including a five-mode air suspension, a multisurface chassis-control system called Selec-Terrain, rear-wheel drive, and three all-wheel-drive options. As a treat for boulder bashers, the GC now offers a slick feature on the Limited and Overland called Selec-Speed Control.

Typical hill-descent-control systems automatically work the throttle and brakes to allow you to creep downhill, but this system also lets you do the same uphill. Push the button, point the nose uphill, and you can control your rate of ascent in increments of less than 1 mph via the shift paddles. We climbed impressive rocks with the 2014 Grand Cherokee, and it was as easy as slipping into a parking spot at Wernhil.

On-road, piloting the 2014 Grand Cherokee is similar to last year’s experience. The steering is accurate and nicely weighted, and the suspension takes a predictable set when you enter a curve, yet the ride won’t splash your latte. It’s not our money, of course, but it would be difficult not to check off the boxes for the harder-core Quadra-Drive II all-wheel-drive option – it’s available on Limited and Overland models and standard on the Summit – and Selec-Terrain. The latter becomes standard on the Limited and up and offers all-weather options for sand, rock, snow, and mud, as well as an Automatic mode. And there’s still a Sport mode, but it’s now actuated with the shift lever.

Given its plethora of available models and options, the current-generation Grand Cherokee may very well be the most versatile vehicle, being equally suited for towing, off-roading, comfortable commuting, and outings to the ballet. (If it’s not the most versatile, it’s certainly a better value than others that might lay claim to the crown.) The GC is the automotive equivalent of a Leatherman multitool, and although Leatherman and Jeep might create new, better, and more-useful versions, they maintain their quintessential goodness. We’re looking forward to seeing what Jeep does next with the Grand Cherokee. We’re positive it won’t take five years to find out.

* 1 Mile = 1.61 km.

Source : The Namibian