All the power and toughness of today’s Grand Cherokee, now in a less-thirsty diesel formula.
That was the gist of the inaugural press conference for the 2013 Detroit Auto Show, with Jeep opening the event Monday morning with the the unveiling of its overhauled large-SUV lineup.
The Grand Cherokee joins only a handful of SUV’s sold in the U.S. with a diesel, most from luxury marques including BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi.
Also new is an eight-speed automatic transmission on all Grand Cherokee models, also to boost fuel economy. Other changes include minor interior and exterior upgrades and a new Eco feature for additional efficiency.
But the diesel is the biggest news. This will be the first time a Jeep product has been sold in the U.S. with a diesel engine since the 2008 Grand Cherokee.
“This powerplant is everything our customers have been asking for,” said Mike Manley, president and CEO of Jeep. “It’s a fuel-efficient diesel with the torque it takes to pull even bigger boats, RV’s, and trailers, and conquer even more challenging terrain when they’re off road.”
The new 3.0-liter V-6 diesel will make 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. Its towing capacity is rated at a healthy 7,400 pounds.
When paired with the eight-speed automatic transmission on two-wheel-drive models, the motor gets 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway, according to Jeep. This combination gives the Grand Cherokee a range of more than 730 miles. Four-wheel-drive models will be rated at 20 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway.
The diesel engine will only be available on the top three trim levels of the Grand Cherokee, meaning buyers will likely have to spend at least $40,000 to get one.
Gas-powered models, both V-6 and V-8, will see modest efficiency gains as a result of adding the new eight-speed transmission as standard equipment.
The move gives V-6 Grand Cherokees ratings of 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway for both 4x2 and 4x4 models. The previous ratings were 17/23 and 16/23, respectively.
Meanwhile, the V-8 sees its highway fuel economy rise from 20 to 21 mpg.
But the updates aren’t limited to mechanical changes. All 2014 Grand Cherokees get refreshed interiors and exteriors so the neighbors will know you’ve got a new toy.
Exterior changes are subtle, but include slimmer headlights similar to those on the current Chrysler 300 sedan. The grille is shorter and the front bumper sits higher, giving the 2014 model a more prominent snout. At the back, LED taillamps are now standard, and are now larger and more prominent.
Turning inward, the 2014 Grand Cherokees get a revised center console with a standard five-inch touchscreen. An 8.4-inch touchscreen will be optional.