2014 JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE SRT IS MUSCLE WITH STYLE

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee

By Tom Crosby

Jeep’s flagship vehicle, the Grand Cherokee, receives some inside and outside refinements for 2014, including a new 8-speed transmission that when driven in Eco-mode deactivates four of eight cylinders to improve gas mileage.

One of five models, our test drive SRT is one of the most powerful sports-utility-vehicles (SUV) on the road with 470-horsepower in a 6.4-liter Hemi V8 engine (There is a V6 engine).

Power creates a thirst for fuel – hence the Eco-mode, one of three driver settings, which helps best on long highway drives.

We averaged roughly 18.5 miles per gallon on the highway during a 1,600-mile trip.

The other two settings are Drive and Sport. As a “King of the Road” mid-size SUV, the SRT commands a high price but its standard features are often options in competitive vehicles.

Four-wheel drive can be selected manually by the driver for off-road use and on-road standard safety features are impressive – adaptive cruise control to maintain automatic distance from the vehicle ahead, blind spot monitors with rear crossing detector and warning, a forward collision system that automatically applies more braking power with Brembo brakes, if needed, and lasers to pinpoint parking edges.

Steering wheel paddles can manually operate the transmission. In automatic, gears smoothly shift. Our options included a towing package ($995) that also added a spare tire – rare today when manufacturers are seeking to reduce weight; upgraded Harmon Kardon audio system with 19 speakers that sounded like front seat at a concert ($1,995), and all-season tires ($895).

The SRT is fun to drive and the 37.1-inch turning radius surprises. A firm ride comes from an active damping suspension working with independent front and multi-link rear suspension systems.

Handling was excellent, improving in Sport mode with road feedback and minimal lean in turns. Access with a standard 8.3-inch ground clearance is eased with overhead grab handles.

Front seating is spacious, rear seating acceptable for adults and cargo space grows nicely when rear seats are easily folded flat.

Inside, major changes this year include an 8.4-inch touchscreen loaded with information waiting to be searched, a programmable gauge cluster that can digitally display miles-per-hour, and improved voice commands via Chrysler’s Uconnect system that includes voice-texting.

Towing capacity grows to 7,200 pounds. A slightly larger seven-slat iconic Jeep grille and new LED lamps distinguish the 2014 SRT exterior. The Grand Cherokee won 2014 SUV of the year from Esquire Magazine.

LIKES: Power, cargo space, quiet, comfort, ride, handling, looks
DISLIKES: City mileage, price
BOTTOM LINE: Muscular and good looking, if you can afford it, don’t worry about mpg

FACT FILE: JEEP GRAND CHEROKEE SRT

  • Base price w/destination charge $64,665
  • Vehicle weight 5,150 lbs.
  • Wheelbase 114.8 inches
  • Length 191.3 inches
  • Width 84.9 inches (with mirrors)
  • Engine 6.4-liter, Hemi, V-8, DOHC
  • Horsepower 470 hp at 6,000 rpm
  • Torque 465 ft-lbs. at 4,300 rpm
  • Transmission 8-speed automatic
  • EPA Rating 13 mpg city and 19 mpg highway
  • Range 24.6-gallon tank, premium recommended
  • Performance 0-60 in about 5 seconds