The trailblazing Jeep Grand Cherokee continues to break new ground in 2014. Sporting an eight-speed transmission and offering a diesel engine in the lineup, it hasn’t missed a step with the latest generation.
Jeep recently delivered a Grand Cherokee Laredo E 4X4 for review. While not the fanciest trim level, the Laredo E will probably be the most popular and with good reason.
While the premium Jeep gets credit for creating the luxury SUV segment, the mid-level Laredo feels just as solid and plush with its premium cloth seats. The stitching along the dash is nice plus the seven-inch digital display in the instrument cluster can be customized to show a variety of information. I always keep my average fuel economy calculator showing to optimize fuel-efficient driving.
While the diesel will beat most gasoline-powered engines with a best-in-class 30 mpg on the highway, the 3.6-liter V6 with 290 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque on the Laredo has an EPA estimated city/highway fuel economy of 17/24 mpg. I averaged 19.2 mpg. A 5.7-liter V8 is also available.
Rock crawling remains a Jeep specialty and the Grand Cherokee offers three 4×4 systems, a class-exclusive Quadra-Lift air suspension, and class-leading Jeep Selec-Terrain traction management system with new Selec-Speed Control.
Grand Cherokee also boasts best-in-class towing of 7,400 pounds (6,200 with the V6) and the eight-speed transmission improves its 4×4 performance with a lower crawl ratio. I didn’t get to test it on this drive but at the launch last year near Enchanted Rock, Texas, it crawled with finesse.
On road, the Laredo moved fluidly and quietly, plus all Grand Cherokee models include standard paddle shifters mounted on the back of the new steering wheel.
There offers more than 60 available safety features, including Front Park Assist, Forward Collision Warning with Crash Mitigation, Adaptive Cruise Control, and a blind sport monitor. Unfortunately, the test model did not include any of these, nor can they be added to the Laredo. Also missing is a back-up camera.
What the Laredo E did include was Electronic Stability Control, Keyless Enter-N-Go, anti-lock brakes, side curtain and knee airbags, and Hill Start Assist, among other features.
Upgraded exterior details, like new headlamps and grilles that distinguish each trim level are matched to new features on the inside including a seven-inch customizable gauge cluster and five-inch touchscreen on the center stack. The 8.4-inch touchscreen is available but not on the base model. The extra large screen, however, has converted a CD player into a $200 option.
Creature comforts include dual-zone air conditioning, cruise control, Uconnect entertainment system with integrated voice command and Bluetooth, and a leather wrapped steering wheel.
Added equipment like Sirius Satellite Radio came with the Customer Preferred Package ($1,700) and heated front seats and the Selec-Terrain system were added via the All Weather Capability Group ($1696). The Security and Convenience Group ($1,350) added a power liftgate among other features.
Available in four trim levels, pricing for the 2014 Grand Cherokee starts at $30,190. The as-tested price for the 2014 Laredo E came to $37,530.