2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Review

A go-anywhere SUV with style

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Review
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The Jeep Grand Cherokee has always been an appealing vehicle, offering buyers a unique blend of capability and comfort. The refreshed 2014 model elevates this nameplate to new heights with advanced technology, sleek design and luxury appointments, all without sacrificing off-road prowess.

FAST FACTS

1. A 3.6-liter V6 engine delivers 290 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque.

2. There’s also a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 available with 360 hp, a monstrous 6.4-liter with 470 hp and a diesel with 240 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque.

3. A cutting-edge eight-speed automatic transmission is standard in every version of this vehicle and it’s a great asset that makes the most of every pony.

4. Base models cost about $30,000. The Overland 4×4 model we tested cost nearly 50 grand.

Unlike its domestic rivals Chrysler doesn’t have a dedicated luxury division. GM of course has Cadillac, a purveyor of high-end automobiles and Ford’s got Lincoln, an entity that ostensibly tries to be the same thing. But none of the Pentastar’s brands really compete with marques like Lexus, Mercedes-Benz or Audi.

That’s not to say the folks in Auburn Hills don’t build some sumptuous, top-shelf vehicles. One of the nicest in their entire stable is trail rated and wears a Jeep badge. Yes, the Grand Cherokee Overland 4×4 is a pure-bred premium sport utility vehicle that can bash rocks like an excavator in a granite quarry yet still take you and your spouse out for an elegant night at the opera. It’s the best of both worlds in one vehicle.

THE BASICS

The Jeep Grand Cherokee received a noteworthy refresh for 2014. The vehicle gains new powertrain options, enhanced design and a raft of advanced driver-assistance technologies – things like Front Park Assist, Forward Collision Warning with Crash Mitigation and Adaptive Cruise Control. These changes make an all ready solid product even more appealing.

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The Grandest of Cherokees spans a broad swath of the market. The base two-wheel-drive Laredo starts at roughly $30,000. From there you can step up to a number of different trim levels. The Overland version sits at just about the top of the heap, right behind the fancy Summit and high-performance SRT models.

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The unit provided for AutoGuide’s evaluation jingled the cash-register bell at $49,185, including $995 in destination fees. The only option this vehicle came equipped with was the “Advanced Technology Group,” which cost an extra $1,995. This curiously named add-on gets you some of the nice features mentioned above including adaptive cruise control, forward collision mitigation and blind-spot warning, among other things.

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That’s all fine and dandy, but this vehicle’s standard equipment is even more enticing. It’s literally equipped with a laundry list of features, as any vehicle with a 50-grand price tag ought to. It’s got things like heated front AND second-row seats, a power tilt-and-telescopic steering column, Chrysler’s Uconnnect 8.4 infotainment and navigation system, 20-inch alloy wheels, a power lift-gate and much, much more.

OPULENT INTERIOR

One of the Grand Cherokee’s most appealing features is its cabin, which is lavishly trimmed. The dashboard and door panels are covered in smooth, stitched leather while the seats feature perforated cow hides with contrast piping. There’s also beautiful wood trim that you could say spruces things up. Quality abounds from the fit and finish to the materials to the way everything functions. It’s all very well done and worthy of a luxury car.

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The back seat is also quite accommodating with comfortably angled cushions and plenty of headroom. There’s also ample cargo space, nearly 69 cubic feet behind the front seats; more than 36 behind the back bench. The luggage area is even elegantly trimmed with neat metal spears on the floor, carpeted trim on the side panels and hidden storage cubbies.

There were only two things I didn’t care for in the Grand Cherokee’s beautifully crafted interior. One is the shifter, which is a bit too fiddly for my liking. It isn’t always obvious which gear you’re putting the vehicle in. Sometimes I’d want reverse and it would go into park instead.

My other complaint has to do with the seat heaters. Even on “High” I found them to be ineffective.

HIGH-TECH POWERTRAIN

Several different engines are available behind this Jeep’s smiling grille. The Overland we sampled featured Chrysler’s renowned Pentastar V6. Clocking in at 3.6-liters it delivers 290 hp with 260 lb-ft of torque, but what’s even more impressive than the raw numbers is how smooth it is. This engine is highly refined and feels like a more powerful version of Toyota’s 2GR-FE V6.

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This powerplant is matched to a bleeding-edge eight-speed automatic transmission, with one ratio for every day of the week… and then some. In practice this drivetrain combination is mostly well-sorted and the cog-crate squeezes every drop out of the Pentastar engine, which needs to build revs in order to haul the portly Grand Cherokee around.

If a V8 is more your thing you can opt for a 5.7-liter HEMI or a 6.4-liter bruiser in the SRT model. The latter option has 470 hp and nearly as much twist.

But that’s not all! The dark-horse option is a 3.0-liter compression-ignition V6. Chrysler’s EcoDiesel puts out 240 ponies, 420 lb-ft of torque and delivers up to 30 miles per gallon on the highway!

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The Overland we’ve been sampling isn’t nearly that economical. It stickers at a still-respectable 24 mpg on the interstate and 17 around town. Combined it ought to hit 19 miles per gallon.

ON-ROAD CHARACTER

In day-to-day usage the Grand Cherokee provides an on-road experience that’s nearly as nice as its interior. The powertrain combination is great, delivering a smooth, quiet and responsive drive. The transmission makes the most of the engine’s output.

Acceleration is a little soft off the line – this isn’t a big-block Mopar after all – but once you get the tachometer needle pointed upward the pace quickens noticeably.

With eight ratios in the stack there’s plenty to choose from, and with the paddle shifters you can drop four cogs and still have four more to go! There are almost as many choices as you get at a Chinese buffet.
 
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Like many of Chrysler’s other recent vehicles this Jeep is solid. It feels super rigid, almost like an ingot of some really hard metal, tungsten perhaps? That solidity benefits the Grand Cherokee in a number of ways, from improving its dynamics and eliminating squeaks and rattles, to keeping it from shaking apart as it traverses rutted two-tracks in the back woods.

OFF-ROAD CREDENTIALS

This Overland was equipped with Jeep’s Quadra-Trac II four-wheel drive system, an active, full-time technology that can transfer up to 100 percent of the engine’s torque to either the front or rear axle. Additionally it’s got a dedicated low range for serious mudslinging and an available adjustable air suspension. It can rise up for more ground clearance and drop own for easy entry and exit as well as less wind resistance at highway speeds.

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Beyond these advanced technologies the Grand Cherokee was also equipped with the company’s Select-Terrain system, which gives you five separate driving modes for all kinds of situations (sand, mud, auto, snow and rock). It’s controlled by a knob on the center console behind the gear shifter. This technology adjusts the vehicle’s torque output, wheel spin, ride height and other factors for different conditions.

THE VERDICT

The 2014 Grand Cherokee Overland 4×4 is not merely a great SUV, but an excellent vehicle. It can bash rocks off its underbody and still coddle passengers with leather seats and a premium sound system. It offers a wide range of engine options and even the base powerplant is superb.

The not-insignificant update this vehicle received for the 2014 model year has improved the breed in numerous ways, and that’s always a good thing. Chrysler may not have a luxury division of its own, but the Grand Cherokee is practically worthy of becoming its own brand. In high trim, like the Overland, it’s a luxury vehicle par excellence.

LOVE IT
  • Responsive eight-speed transmission
  • Smooth-running Pentastar V6
  • Easy-to-use Uconnect system
  • Gorgeous interior
LEAVE IT
  • Overland model isn’t cheap
  • Ineffective seat heaters
  • Fiddly shifter

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