Photo by Kareem Girgis.
The diesel-powered Grand Cherokee, which was introduced when Jeep refreshed the model for 2014, offers another impressive example from a crop of new light-duty diesels.
Fortune 500 companies provide Grand Cherokee SUVs as executive vehicles, and we can see why after we drove the 2015 Summit 4x4 model, which offers an air-suspension-enhanced ride, a precise forward-collision system, and stout truck fuel economy performance. Fleets added more than 4,100 Grand Cherokee SUVs in 2013, making it No. 3 in the mid-size SUV category.
The Grand Cherokee Summit is a near-luxury SUV, and makes strong first impression with its 20-inch satin carbon wheels, chrome grille detail, and LED DRLs and tail lamps.
In the cabin, our truck's dark brown interior includes a saddle-stich-style dashboard and leather-trimmed bucket seats that provide plenty of comfort while you're perched in a higher driving position.
A spring-loaded shift lever lets you toggle from park, drive, and neutral modes with your foot on the brake pedal. An extra pull toward you in drive mode puts the vehicle into sport mode. This isn't the most intuitive process and the shift button will be in an odd position if you have larger hands.
Photo by Kareem Girgis.
A push button starts up the 3.0-liter V-6 turbo EcoDiesel that has been effectively muffled in the cabin. The Grand Cherokee's smooth ride is helped by the Quadra-Lift air suspension, and low-speed cornering becomes enjoyable. The vehicle's stability at higher speeds is also impressive.
FCA US has included an array of safety features on the Grand Cherokee, including blind spot alerts and a feature they call "cross path detection" that senses cars behind the vehicle. The vehicle also includes a forward collision warning system and adaptive cruise control both with engine braking.
These systems use a fairly new FCA US system first added to the 2014 Jeep Cherokee that relies on a combination of grille-mounted radar and rear-view-mirror-mounted camera technology to identify an oncoming vehicle.
The system uses the radar to detect the car and cameras to confirm it to prevent false positive alerts that trigger the alert when in proximity to vehicles in adjacent lanes. The vehicle applies engine braking to lessen a higher-speed collision, and will bring the vehicle to a complete stop when you're traveling less than 25 mph.
Lastly, the Grand Cherokee offers impressive highway fuel economy for a mid-size SUV. I achieved 29.5 mpg on a 244-mile trip of mostly highway driving that includes stretches of gridlock from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara and back. The EPA has rated the vehicle at 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway.
The Grand Cherokee Summit 4x4 starts at $51,995 and our model would retail for $59,480. A base model rear-wheel Grand Cherokee starts at just under $31,000.