Archive for the ‘grand cherokee’ Tag

2015 Nissan Murano: First Drive

As we’re getting acquainted with the 2015 Nissan Murano for the first time, it’s eye-opening to note all that this mid-size crossover doesn’t have: There are no multiple drive modes here, no variable steering assist settings, and no steering-wheel shift paddles, no low range or towing mode either.

This is a vehicle that’s easy to figure out. You get in, and the driving interface is what most people are used to, yet with just the right gloss, gleam, blanketing, and buffeting.

And yet on the outside, it’s gloriously complex. It’s as much a rolling sculpture as some sports cars, and you’re turning heads, every step of the way. The Murano really is that good-looking—and something refreshingly different next to the likes of the Hyundai Santa Fe, Ford Edge, and Jeep Grand Cherokee.

That aside, for the moment, the 2015 Nissan Murano feels like it was cleverly reverse-engineered to be exactly what it needed to be—stylish, comfortable, quiet transportation for empty-nesters, with plenty of capability to bring friends along.

There’s a lot more than a grain of truth to that. The second-generation Murano, which made its debut in 2009, never lived up to the sales numbers of the first-gen model—although in all fairness, the recession may have been more to blame.

Nevertheless, Nissan reached out to existing owners of the Murano and asked them what they wanted a future Murano to be. From that, “Provocative, Premium, Optimistic,” was the theme used to sum up the feedback. Owners wanted, above all, a vehicle that was visually striking yet sophisticated.

Straightforward in its mission, stunning in its presentation

And they sure did get it with the 2015 Nissan Murano. What makes this one of the most noteworthy new vehicles of the year from an otherwise straightforward, predictable template is the absolutely stunning exterior of this crossover.

In profile, in stance, and in the exterior details, the Murano follows very closely in the steps of the Resonance Concept that was shown at the Detroit Auto Show less than two years ago. And we can actually say we like the production car better, for its synergies in some of the design details, in the ‘boomerang’ design of the headlights and taillights, the ‘V-motion’ grille and hood sculpting, and in how the arched flare above its front wheelwell is echoed over the rear wheels, where the beltline pinches upward toward the ‘floating’ roofline in one of the most distinctive design cues.

The overall result is a vehicle that plays a multitude of visual tricks—appearing lower and far more sport-wagon-like than its predecessor. It’s unlike any other crossover, whether with a luxury badge or a mainstream one.

Murano owners wanted a vehicle that was even more daring in appearance, without giving up comfort. And they wanted even more refinement and features inside—with an interior that they could happily use to take other couples out on a date, or for a weekend-afternoon trip to Wine Country, for instance.

‘Jet Age’ interior inspiration—and no woodgrain, thank you

So Nissan reached out for something new, and sculpted the interior after the early jet age of the 1960s, “when travelers were pampered with luxury and flew with style,” elucidated Ken Lee, the senior creative manager with Nissan Design America, where the Murano was designed.

In short, we love the result. The wraparound look doesn’t limit interior space, and there are plenty of fresh details. For instance, there’s no woodgrain anywhere inside—no fake woodgrain either. Instead, there’s a brushed-metal style trim used for the interior beltline and door and console inserts; but even better, we’d choose the light-colored material that looks a bit like Mid Century Modern linoleum.

All the while, there’s a simple layout to the interior. Nissan has reduced the number of physical buttons from 25 down to 10, but used them where they make sense—like for the climate control—and there’s a straightforward infotainment system that responds well to navigation and infotainment needs.

In California’s Napa Valley region, during the #rainpocalypse this past week, we piloted several different front- and all-wheel drive versions of the Murano, finding it confident and surefooted—and perhaps more notably, finding the interior sublimely quiet and isolated from the gales and pouring rain.

Familiar goods under the hood

The Murano doesn’t have anything groundbreaking under the hood, but its familiar 3.5-liter V-6, making 260 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque, feels quick, smooth, and relatively responsive with the continuously variable automatic transmission (CVT), which is essentially a version of what’s used in the Pathfinder.

The Murano also doesn’t have the issue that affects a lot of its other CVT-equipped vehicles—sluggishness at lower speeds when you need a quick burst of power. Thanks to plentiful low-rev torque from this engine, it gathers speed quickly as the CVT lowers the ratio. And if you accelerate at more than half throttle (but not quite full throttle) you’ll find the transmission now follows some pronounced ‘gears’ along the way—as part of a so-called ‘D-step’ strategy.

The way the Murano rides and handles is very carlike, and much like that of a large sedan—albeit maybe with a little more body lean. The electrohydraulic rack-and-pinion steering has a good, relaxed feel on center, and it loads up nicely. One thing to keep in mind is that models with the 18-inch wheels handle just as well as those with the 20-inch wheels—except for a slight bit more precision in quick transitions. With the larger wheels, you do introduce more road harshness as well.

Composed ride, comfortable seats, conversation alley

In any case, the ride is composed and very comfortable. So is the seating, which has been conceived to be just as accommodating to those in back as in front. The so-called Zero Gravity design—for more back support—not only applies to the front seats but to the outboard seats in back. And while the front seats didn’t entirely win us over, those back seats we’d venture to say are best-in-class.

With a wide center console and those impressive seats, Nissan terms the middle area of the vehicle conversation alley; considering the quiet interior, you should have no problem catching up with back-seat passengers while cruising along.

Thanks to reduced weight and improved aerodynamics, the Murano is about 20 percent more fuel-efficient than the outgoing model, Nissan says. That leads to new EPA ratings of 20 mpg city, 28 highway for the entire model line—and our 24-mpg average over a mix of road conditions suggests you might see about that or better in real-world driving.

The Murano has always fit into a different place in the market than most of Nissan’s other vehicles. Like the Maxima, it’s more of a gateway to luxury-brand models; and in its best-equipped models, it’s a full-fledged luxury vehicle in all but the badge.

Top-of-the-line Platinum breaks into luxury territory

This year that’s underscored with the introduction of a new, top-of-the-line Platinum model that adds things like ventilated front seats, heated back seats, LED headlamps, and power-folding rear seatbacks. Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Alert is included, and on the Platinum and the next-highest SL you can opt for a Tech Package that adds Blind Spot Warning, Forward Emergency Braking, and Predictive Forward Collision Warning.

How does the Murano add up for value? That’s one we’re still pondering. In all, the top Murano SL and Platinum models feel like true rivals to the Lexus RX 350 or Acura MDX. But at about $46k for a loaded Platinum they’re not priced much higher.

We tend to think that the Murano S and SV models, with their low-to-mid-30s price tags, offer the strongest value of the lineup. That’s where you can actually stop focusing on what the Murano doesn’t have and instead relish what it does have: stunning good looks, an ease about the driving experience, and a true four-adult interior that might just remind you how much fun road-tripping can be.

As read on: http://www.thecarconnection.com/news/1095800_2015-nissan-murano-first-drive

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Grand Cherokee diesel on the road

While it’s been neglected by most people in favor of the Ram 1500 diesel, the Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel was the first Chrysler vehicle sold in North America to have the VM 3.0 V6 engine.  We tested this briefly at a Chelsea, Michigan test track, and found it to be instantly responsive, more so than the Hemi — which has far better acceleration numbers, but doesn’t respond quite as quickly to the throttle.

Chrysler has dabbled in diesels as a non-hybrid solution to large fuel-economy boosts, but applications have been limited so far partly due to cheap gasoline and high premiums for diesel engines. The diesel, which uses compression rather than spark to ignite fuel, is much more expensive to build, partly due to the extremely high pressures involved, and partly because of the need to control small particles in the exhaust which have been reliably and consistently linked to cancer. The current popular methods of dealing with emissions controls are diesel emissions fluid (DEF) and exhaust gas recirculation (EGR).

The company may be able to add more diesels soon, if the next generation VM and Fiat four cylinders prove to be suitable. A Fiat 3-liter four-cylinder is due to appear soon on the ProMaster van, for example, though this has been deemed unsuitable for “civilian” cars.

Allpar has added a second Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel test, by Daniel Bennett, to our existing Bill Cawthon road test. The article also includes an analysis of the payback time. It’s worth noting that diesels tend to have less of a fuel economy reduction when towing or carrying heavy loads than gasoline engines.

As read on: http://www.allpar.com/news/index.php/2014/12/grand-cherokee-diesel-on-the-road

Chrysler limits colors for Durango and Grand Cherokee

Chrysler is echoing Henry Ford’s famous quote: “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.”

The only difference is that Chrysler is adding white, gray and silver to the choices.

Automotive News reporter Larry Vellequette writes that orders for new Dodge Durangos and Jeep Grand Cherokees will be temporarily limited to those four colors as the paint shop at the Jefferson North Assembly Plant is upgraded to allow tricolor finishes on the popular SUVs.

Even though the limitation will be in place until at least February 2015, it most likely won’t be too onerous. According to automotive paintmaker PPG,  the most popular color in North America in 2014 has been white, followed by black, gray and silver – 72% of all 2014 vehicles were painted in one of those colors. Silver, once the most popular color, has fallen from favor in recent years.

Vellequette notes that just 19% of the Jeep Grand Cherokees and 8% of the Durangos on dealer lots are painted in a color other than the top four.

Of more concern to dealers is the fact the plant will shut down for three weeks from December 22 to January 12. This is the first time in several years the assembly line has been halted for such an extended period. In October, the plant produced 38,241 vehicles, up 20% from a year ago. October NAFTA region sales of the Durango and Grand Cherokee totaled 22,017 and the Grand Cherokee was the second-best-selling Chrysler Group vehicle.

As read on: http://www.allpar.com/news/index.php/2014/11/chrysler-limits-colors-for-durango-and-grand-cherokee

Get a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Before it’s too Late

Back in May Chrysler made some announcements about their enthusiast-focused SRT brand. They had spun it off as a separate division but that didn’t work out so well so they decided to reconsolidate it as part of Dodge.

But this move resulted in a lot of questions, chiefly what would happen to other high-performance vehicles in the company’s portfolio including SRT versions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chrysler 300 sedan? Answering part of this query, it appears as though the big, bad Jeep is sticking around, for the time being at least.

Model year 2015 Grand Cherokee SRTs can be ordered by dealers, but for how long is anyone’s guess. A few months back the company filed to trademark the name “Trackhawk,” which is rumored to replace the SRT version and go on sale in 2016.

The introduction of this and other special-edition models could coincide with the Jeep brand’s 75th anniversary, which takes place in the same year. The SRT Jeep Grand Cherokee starts at around $65,000 and features a 475-hp, 6.4-liter V8 engine.

Read more at: http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2014/10/get-a-jeep-grand-cherokee-srt-before-its-too-late.html

Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT Review

Classification of vehicles in the auto industry has become a messy business. All sorts of new products blur the lines between SUVs and crossovers, compacts and mid-sizers and so on. But the SRT Grand Cherokee stretches into two categories that rarely cross, SUVs and sports cars.

This is the only domestic vehicle of its kind, and the only real competitors in this tiny niche segment come from Germany. Trying to wear many hats all at once, the SRT-tuned Jeep Grand Cherokee makes very few compromises in its goal of delivering tight-track handling along with the typical duties of an SUV, namely towing and hauling people and cargo.

STRAIGHT LINE SPEED

Powered by a 6.4-liter HEMI V8 that makes 470 hp at 6,000 rpm and 465 lb-ft of torque at 4,300 rpm, the SRT Grand Cherokee is capable of a 0-60 mph sprint in 4.8 seconds according to the brand, though our time with GC SRT at a drag strip elicited times just north of 5 seconds. The powertrain is responsive, and matched to an eight-speed transmission that doesn’t miss a beat. Downshifts come quickly, and hammering the throttle from a stand still is met with fast upshifts that are nicely timed, after the initial blast of torque rips you off the line.

The immense powertrain combines to make this Grand Cherokee feel much lighter than it actually is, carrying a 5,150 pound curb weight. Just because you don’t feel it, doesn’t mean it’s not there however, and all those extra pounds being carried around prods the powerplant to drink an excessive amount of gas.

GAS HOG

Officially rated at 19 mpg on the highway and 15 mpg combined, we averaged 13 mpg, which is also the SUV’s city mpg rating. Now, if a fuel efficient SUV is what you are after, the Grand Cherokee can be had with a 3.0-liter diesel. If, however, you want the ludicrous speed of the SRT, dismiss all notions of saving fuel. Not that you can’t drive slow, of course, but the burst of speed and agility that comes when the throttle is depressed is so addictive that it is hard to keep out of it.

It seems that the folks at SRT were also having so much fun hammering the throttle, that they installed a feature specifically designed for straight line speed. A button located beside the gear shift initiates launch control, a system that optimizes the SRT’s all-wheel setup along with the powertrain to deliver the fastest 0-60 mph sprint possible and it couldn’t be easier to use. Simply hit the button, and the information screen provides step-by-step directions on what to do. Step 1: fully depress brake. Step 2: fully depress throttle. Step 3: release the brake, and try not to soil yourself when this mammoth jumps off the line like a jackrabbit.

STICKS LIKE GLUE

But that’s enough about speed because frankly, sticking a massive engine in an SUV isn’t this SRT’s greatest feat. That would be its handling. Coil springs along with a Bilstein adaptive damping suspension is found all the way around, along with front and rear stabilizer bars. Cornering is flat and planted while understeer is suprisingly minimal.

On the race track when speeds are higher, you can feel this sports SUV start to push a bit in the corners, but the speeds at which it can be flung around a track are mind bending compared to its heavy set nature.

Thanks to the Bilstein adaptive suspension setup, the Grand Cherokee SRT offers five different drive modes: auto, sport, tow, track and snow. Track mode, being the most hardcore, offers optimized performance for racetracks, but we found that the stability control system was still a little too intrusive.

LUXURY INTERIOR

Despite us gushing about performance, the SRT Grand Cherokee isn’t only about asinine speed. The insides of this beast are stylish and comfortable. Real carbon fiber accents along with soft-touch materials and real chrome adorn the dashboard and center stack, building on the already lush Grand Cherokee interior. The SRT model has a bit more of a business feel to it than some of the wood-trimmed cabins offered in the line. Importantly though, the sort of feeling you want from something that costs over 60 grand is well represented here.

One point of contention for us is the gear-shifter found down to the right of the driver, which can be finicky to operate. Attempts to go straight from drive to reverse almost always ended up with the SRT in park, as the motions used to control the gears must be precise.

Another complaint, albeit more of a personal gripe, has to do with the steering wheel. The button and paddle layout is well done, but the overall girth of the wheel is a little too chunky for our tastes.

GERMAN COMPETITION

As mentioned above, the only true competition for the SRT Grand Cherokee comes from German brands, specifically Mercedes-Benz and Audi. From Benz, we have the ML63 AMG with a starting price of $97,250, which makes 557 hp. Audi brings us the S Q5, which undercuts the SRT with a starting price of $51,900, but performance lacks with only 354 hp.

The SRT Grand Cherokee starts at $64,990, which actually makes it a fairly good value when you put it next to its competition. The interior is nice enough to make even Mercedes-Benz loyalists smitten, and the performance is not lacking in any area, with the ML63 and the SRT Grand Cherokee even sharing the same 4.8 second 0-60 mph rating.

THE VERDICT

While still expensive, the SRT Grand Cherokee offers good value in its segment and it is absolutely riotous to drive. It is truly a statement to what can be achieved against the odds. A small, sleek sports car already has a lot going for it when engineers set out to make it handle well, but a 5,000-lb goliath of an SUV has all of the traits that sports car buyers hate. And yet somehow, SRT merges two worlds that never should have met, defying convention to bring us a great product.

Read more at: http://www.autoguide.com/manufacturer/jeep/2014-jeep-grand-cherokee-srt-3753.html

The diesel-powered Dodge Ram 1500

I bought a new test truck, and there was much rejoicing. Celebration for the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, the first half-ton diesel truck in more than 25 years, goes far beyond the yard work needs of the Consumer Reports auto test staff.

Evidence of this came from very strong initial orders from dealers, with customers practically lining up to buy. We saw this firsthand as we tried to buy our diesel Ram. Getting our hands on a truck took several weeks, and it was a challenge to find one that wasn’t super-loaded with options.

Even taking that into account, our Ram wasn’t cheap. Not even close. We opted for a midevel Big Horn Crew Cab 4×4 with the shorter of the two bed length choices. Adding the diesel ramps upped the price by a cool $4,000.

After that, our truck is packed with many nice options—$6,000 of them. A $410 integrated trailer brake controller and towing mirrors seem to be a natural match for the diesel’s talents. We’re also big fans of the $505 Uconnect 8.4 touch-screen infotainment system. Once you have experienced heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, it’s hard living without them here in New England. There goes another $395. We regretted not getting a $595 backup camera with park assist on our last Ram, so this one has it.

Added all up, our truck was sticker priced at $49,155. That seems like a lot for a truck with cloth seats. Most trucks seem to be priced to reflect the inevitable thousands of dollars in incentives as manufacturers fight for dominance in truck sales wars. Even though we still got some money off, buying the first one on the block that wasn’t presold didn’t help bargaining.

We’ve called the Ram 1500 “the luxury truck” among its peers, and the diesel makes it even more civilized. Compared to the Hemi’s roar and burble, the diesel goes about its business unobtrusively. The torquey powerplant sounds quieter here than in our tested 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel. Power flows out smoothly, thanks to the eight-speed automatic transmission, but the 240-horsepower EcoDiesel lacks the acceleration of the Hemi. It will be curious to see how the diesel does when towing; we were impressed by how the Jeep pulls a load.

The biggest question: how good is the fuel economy? According to the trip computer, I got 25 mpg overall on my commute. I’ve never broken 20 mpg on the same route with a Hemi-powered truck or SUV. Instrumented testing will come after the truck gets break-in miles; it had less than 100 miles on it when I drove it. It also had a bed full of brush—like I said, all of us at the track have a lot of yard work to do—but it’s unlikely those picked up sticks mattered here.

I also found some surprises. Despite all of those options, including various “comfort” and “luxury” packages, our truck lacks automatic climate control. Also, since it’s quite a stretch to jump up into the bed to unload yard debris, I was surprised there’s no step or ladder. Our truck was certainly shiny at delivery, but the dealer didn’t fill up either the diesel tank or the diesel emissions fluid tank. (We do like the analog gauge that shows the fluid level.)

Maybe the biggest surprise: Our truck’s 1,233 pound payload rating is pretty modest. With its 3.55 rear axle ratio, the truck can tow 7,750 pounds. Say you tow a 6,500-pound camper; it will probably have 650 pounds of tongue weight, leaving you with less than 600 pounds of capacity for your kids and stuff in the truck.

Still, this is a rather impressive and quite refined machine. Of course, many of the Ram 1500’s attributes remain intact here, such as best-in-class ride from the rear coil spring suspension, comfortable front seats, and a roomy cab. In the weeks ahead, we’ll see if this diesel-burning Ram can outscore the Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra at the top of our truck ratings.

Read more at: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/05/dodge-ram-1500-ecodiesel-first-drive-review/index.htm

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT

Let’s talk asses for a moment. What do they have to do with the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, you ask?

Well, we’re here to tell you that this SRT can haul some. Lots of them, as a matter of fact: Jeep has increased the towing capacity of its most powerful SUV to 7,200 pounds. Assuming the average donkey weighs about 400 pounds, the Grand Cherokee SRT can haul ass to the tune of 18 burros, give or take a covered trailer or so, which is significantly more than it could in previous years. In 2013, the machine could manage 5,000 pounds, while the first generation was rated at just 3,500. The increase is mostly attributable to a new eight-speed automatic transmission and beefier rear axle, and it’s a welcome update for those who’d like to use their SUV as, well, an SUV with an emphasis on utility.

You’ll be pleased to know that this isn’t the only kind of ass hauling the 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT is capable ? it can also accelerate really, really quickly ? 0-60 in 4.8 seconds to go along with quarter mile times in the low 13-second range and a top speed of 160 miles per hour. That’s extraordinary for a vehicle of this ilk ? and the run to 60 matches that of the last-gen model despite an extra shift taking place due to the new gearbox. Passing performance is even more impressive, as evidenced by a 35-75 mph sprint that’s almost four seconds quicker than it was last year, again, thanks to the extra three gears in the transmission. It goes without saying that the 470 horses grazing on premium unleaded and spitting out 465 pound-feet of torque are also responsible for these accelerative antics, along with the full-time four-wheel-drive system called Selec-Track, which provides more traction than the most stubborn mule in the animal kingdom.

We’ve been rather fond of previous versions of this menacing machine, and with a slew of meaningful enhancements on the menu for the 2014 model year, we took to the track at the brand-new and most excellent Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas at the invitation of Jeep to find out just how Grand the iconic Cherokee nameplate has become.

We’ll start with the styling. “Aggressive” is the word that best describes the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, from its massive 20-inch wheels ? a different pattern than last year’s controversial “Spider Monkey” alloys is now available ? wrapped in Pirelli P-Zero P295/45/ZR20 tires (Pirelli Scorpion Verde all-seasons are also available) to the unique blacked-out front fascia dominated by Jeep’s traditional seven-slat grille. Viewed in profile, there aren’t too many clues to the casual onlooker, besides the massive wheels, of course, that this isn’t your average SUV. But look a little closer and you’ll see details like blacked-out headlight clusters with LED surrounds and a deeply scooped hood with functional heat extractors ? telltale signs that this mule is built to haul.

Even if you happen to be behind this brutish ‘ute, it will be impossible to miss Jeep’s SRT ? if the unique rear fascia doesn’t tip you off, the rumble emanating from the dual exhaust tips is sure to seal the deal. The soundtrack belted out by the massive 6.4-liter Hemi V8 will stir the souls of all those enamored with big displacement and natural aspiration ? you can count us among that group ? just as surely as it will irritate your grandparents on long highway slogs.

If nothing else, looking at and listening to the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT proves that SRT CEO Ralph Gilles isn’t just blowing smoke when he says that the brand is “Unapologetically selling high performance.”

It’s also worth noting that the rear glass is no longer separate from the rest of the tailgate. Jeep says the change makes the piece lighter while improving rear visibility. That’s all true, but the ability to stick long objects out the back without a fully erect lid is now lost, though that may at least partially be forgiven since the tailgate is now power operated.

The look inside the cabin has also been fine-tuned for performance drivers. Carbon fiber trim replaces the wood accents found in less powerful Grand Cherokee models, and the so-called Laguna leather and suede seating surfaces are nice and grippy. New for the model year is a dual-pane panoramic sunroof option. Oh, don’t forget the bright red engine start/stop button. Racy!

SRT’s new-for-2014 steering wheel deserves mention. According to Gilles, the automaker purchased wheels of high-performance models hailing from the likes of Audi, BMW and Porsche to make sure its wheel, one of the most tactile parts of the driving experience, is truly world class. As far as we’re concerned, SRT has nailed it ? the wheel is nice and meaty where your hands want to rest, and the buttons and controls don’t get in the way while driving. Similarly, the big metal paddle shifters on either side of the wheel are easy to locate and feel good to the touch.

Along with the new transmission comes a new shifter. Shaped like a traditional T, the lever is now fully electronic, with separate detents when moving from Park to Reverse, Neutral or Drive. As with all such doohickeys, this one takes some time getting comfortable with, but it eventually becomes a non-issue. Directly behind the shifter is a rotating knob with settings labeled Track, Sport, Auto, Snow and Tow, and just to the right of that is a button labeled Launch. We’ll talk more about these bits and pieces later.

The biggest changes to the interior are the new 8.4-inch Uconnect central infotainment system, of which many Autoblog staffers voted tops in its category when it won the AOL Technology of the Year Award for 2012, and the seven-inch customizable display in the gauge cluster.

For the 2014 model year, Chrysler is introducing Uconnect Access Via Mobile, which includes navigation and apps like Aha Radio, Pandora, iHeart Radio and Slacker, plus safety features that include an embedded cellular chip that can contact emergency services; remotely lock, unlock or start the car; and alert the owner of a possible theft.

The entire Uconnect system can now be activated using voice commands, from switching radio stations, changing climate settings, answering or making phone calls or calling upon the cloud using Bing search for directions, places of interest or phone numbers. Drivers can also send and receive text messages if they have connected their phone via Bluetooth.

Since this is an SRT model, the center screen also displays performance data. For instance, the driver can call upon a series of gauges to monitor the vehicle’s vital signs, a graphic display of the car showing the g-forces from every direction, lap times or current and best acceleration and braking figures.

Directly in front of the driver is a new seven-inch instrument cluster screen that can electronically display things like the car’s speed, current powertrain and suspension settings, trip information, fuel economy, radio settings and plenty more.

Now that we’re familiar with our surroundings, it’s finally time to hit that big red button to start the engine.

You might think that driving the 2014 Grand Cherokee SRT is all about the engine… and you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong.

The grunt underhood does indeed dominate the driving experience, and we mean that in the best way possible. Acceleration from a dead stop is effortless up to freeway speeds and beyond, though you won’t be lighting up the rear tires as with other products from SRT. Instead, instant all-wheel-drive traction is the name of the game, and holeshot starts are as easy as touching the Launch button we mentioned earlier.

One press puts the car into a predetermined mode that optimizes everything for straight-line acceleration. The suspension hunkers down, the transmission goes into its sportiest programming mode and the engine settles into a 2,000-rpm hum. Let your foot off the brake while mashing the throttle, and you’ll be to 60 mph in well under five seconds, each and every time, so long as you’re not driving on something as slick as snow, mud, snot or marbles.

Assuming you’re interested in more than just pin-your-passengers-back antics, we suggest you investigate the dial to the right of the Launch button. If you’re driving at a track, there’s a dedicated mode that takes as many of the electronic nannies away as Jeep’s engineers felt was safe, including the removal of anything that would take full power away from the engine, along with a torque split that sends 70 percent to the rear tires. There’s still roll mitigation and some small level of traction control, however, and that’s likely a good thing for everyone but professional race car drivers.

Sport mode adds some of those failsafe features back into the mix, but still allows enough wheelspin to make an aggressive driver feel fast while still being under control with a 65-percent rearward torque bias. This is probably where you’ll want to keep the knob pointed on the street. Auto mode is self explanatory, as are Snow and Tow, but you may be interested to know that Auto provides the cushiest ride while Snow and Tow modes lock the torque distribution at 50/50 front to rear.

We already talked a bit about how the eight-speed transmission improves performance, but it’s also worth mentioning that the gearbox now includes rev matching, meaning the throttle is automatically blipped when downshifting for smoother and quicker shifting. All in, Jeep says its test drivers shaved six-tenths of a second off their lap times due to the upgraded transmission at Nelson Ledges Road Course in Ohio. That’s a massive improvement when talking all-out hot laps.

Braking performance is also very good. Jeep quotes a stopping distance of 116 feet from 60 mph along with a 0-100-0 time of 16.3 seconds. We were only given the opportunity to take the SRT around COTA for two laps at a time, so we can’t say if brake fade will be a significant issue. We can say, though, that the 15-inch rotors with six-piston Brembo calipers at the front and 13.78-inch rotors with four-piston Brembo calipers stopped the heavy SUV with authority over the course of our track time, limited as it was.

Steering the Grand Cherokee SRT, we were reminded how polished the final generation of hydraulic power steering systems have been… because this Jeep is still fitted with one in lieu of the electronic units that are becoming commonplace. As such, you won’t find driver adjustable steering feel or any changes in ratio, which is locked in at 17.5:1. That’s just fine and dandy, though, because the settings chosen by SRT’s engineers for the rack-and-pinion work perfectly well.

Throwing the 2014 SRT into a corner demonstrates a few interesting points. First, there’s hardly any body roll when the vehicle is in Track mode, and second, there’s quite a bit of grip available to be exploited by the driver. It’s easy enough to set the car into a controllable four-wheel drift around sweeping corners, and it’s just as easy to scrub a bit more speed for the sake of quicker exits and lap times. Pick your poison ? either way, you’ll be having way more fun than should be lawful in a block-shaped vehicle weighing 5,150 pounds.

On COTA’s long back straight, the Jeep’s heft and general lack of aerodynamic efficiency becomes apparent as acceleration slows once into triple-digit speeds. That’s not to say it’s actually slow, it’s just not accelerating as fiercely as it does at lower velocities. In any case, we’d wager a paycheck or two that high-speed acceleration significantly improved with the three additional ratios for 2014 compared to previous years, saddled as it was with an aging five-speed unit.

Fuel mileage is not going to be at the top of the target buyer’s list of concerns, but we’re happy to report that the 2014’s estimated ratings of 13 miles per gallon in the city and 19 on the highway are each one mpg better than before. Click the car into Eco mode and those figures improve, according to Jeep, by around six percent. Fear not, hot shoes, full throttle in either Eco or normal modes is the same.

Interior dimensions mirror those of other Grand Cherokee models, with 40.3 inches of legroom up front and 38.6 in the rear. Cargo capacity maxes out at 68.7 cubic feet, or at 35.1 with the rear seats in their full upright and locked positions. You’ll be able to fit four adults inside comfortably, or five if you have to, and they will all enjoy heated seats (cooled up front, too), an attractive and airy cockpit with reasonable visibility and even an optional rear-seat Blu-ray/DVD entertainment system with monitors that swing up from the front seatbacks.

Put another way, strip all the go-fast goodies from the SRT and you’re left with a highly competitive sport utility vehicle. But why in the world would you want to do that? If you’re in the market for a super ‘ute, put your local Jeep dealer on your must-visit list, and make sure you bring at least $62,995 (plus $995 for that pesky destination charge) along with you.

By choosing the Jeep, you’ll be saving more than $20,000 off the price of anything else that might be called competition, vehicles including the BMW X5M or Porsche Cayenne Turbo, and the European contenders boast option prices that will easily put you into a second mortgage if you’re not careful. Yes, those vehicles, along with the Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG and Land Rover Range Rover Sport Supercharged, may be a little quicker, faster or more powerful. They might boast more brand cachet and they may be more refined than the beast from Jeep. But they won’t be any more practical, and we’re not sure they’re that much more fun, either. Besides, when the automotive discussion turns toward track-biased super-performance sport utility vehicles, fun thrown in the face of conventional wisdom really is the name of the game, don’t you think?

As read on: http://m.autoblog.com/2013/02/25/2014-jeep-grand-cherokee-srt-first-drive-review/?p=1&icid=art_prev

Jeep’s upcoming 5 year plan

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Machionne presented a five-year plan for the company brands this morning, with Jeep first up on a long day of presentation. Jeep’s head honcho Michael Manley wasted no time in laying out what the foreseeable future will look like for what he calls the “lead global brand” of the company.

Big goals for the next half-decade will include expanding the lineup from five nameplates built in one country, to six nameplates build in six countries. That expansion of models will include both a three-row competitor, and, of course, a small vehicle to slot below Cherokee. The company is also seeking to add a whopping 1,300 dealers over the next few years, to sell all this new metal, and has an aggressive goal of doubling Jeep sales by the time 2018 rolls around.

As expected, that first salvo from the off-road brand will be the debut of the much ballyhooed Renegade small crossover in the third quarter of this year. Jeep has already designated that Renegade will get refreshed for the 2017 model year, as well.

The three-row vehicle in question will be a redux of the Grand Wagoneer nameplate, slated to come to market in the second half of 2018. Manley called the upcoming product the “most premium Jeep we will have ever made,” which sounds promising considering recent product offerings.

2016 will be an unusually important year for Jeep; fitting as it will also mark the company’s 75-year anniversary. An as-yet unnamed C-segment SUV will make its debut in ’16, and the current Cherokee will be due for its mid-cycle refresh as well while both the Patriot and the Compass lines will meet their maker by 2016.

Finally, on to brand cornerstones Wrangler and Grand Cherokee. According to the company, we should expect a completely new Wrangler in the second quarter of 2017, though there is, as of yet, little to no detail on what we should expect. The current Grand Cherokee is slated to get a refresh in the fourth quarter of 2015, before the next generation debuts in the third quarter of 2017.

As read on: http://www.autoblog.com/2014/05/06/jeep-5-year-plan-grand-wagoneer-new-models/?ncid=edlinkusauto00000016

2016 Jeep Wrangler To Get Diesel Engine

Just the Facts:

– Jeep plans to boost the Wrangler’s fuel economy with the introduction of a diesel engine.
– A freshening is planned for the Wrangler when the diesel goes on sale.
– No word on pricing, but the diesel likely will be costly.

AUBURN HILLS, Michigan — Jeep Wrangler enthusiasts who have been asking for a diesel engine will get their wish in about two years.

The diesel will be available in the 2016 Wrangler, which will debut in 2015.

“The engine will be introduced toward the end of the model’s lifecycle to boost sales before they bring in the redesigned model,” according to an industry source who asked not to be identified.

At the same time, the 2016 Wrangler will be freshened, possibly with new interior trim and exterior colors.

Automakers sometimes introduce new technology or a new engine to create a buzz for a model that is nearing maturity. In particular, diesel engines are being added by automakers because of rising fuel prices and a government mandate for better fuel economy.

The specifics about the Wrangler’s diesel engine are unclear, although it is likely to be the same engine that is optional in the 2013 Ram pickup and 2014 Grand Cherokee.

The Grand Cherokee is available with a turbocharged 3.0-liter Ecodiesel V6 that is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The V6 is produced by VM Motori, an Italian engine maker in which Fiat holds a stake.

The engine produces 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. The Grand Cherokee’s fuel economy is rated at 21 mpg city and 28 mpg highway for the model and 30 mpg highway for the 4×2. Sales begin this spring.

A diesel engine is a pricey option. Jeep is asking a $4,500 premium for the Grand Cherokee’s diesel engine, making it $2,305 more expensive than the Hemi V8.

In addition, depending on the state, the price of diesel per gallon can be considerably higher than gasoline.

The AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report on Friday pegged the average price for a gallon of diesel fuel at $4.13 versus $3.77 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline.

Edmunds says: It no surprise a diesel engine is planned. After all, both consumers and the feds are demanding the same thing — better mpg.

As read on: http://www.edmunds.com/car-news/2016-jeep-wrangler-to-get-diesel-engine.html

Closer Look: 2014 Jeep Cherokee at NAIAS

You may remember when the 2014 Jeep® Cherokee made its debut last year at the 2013 New York International Auto Show. This year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, we wanted to bring you an up close and personal look at our newest vehicle.

While we were there, we talked with Ron Frank, Jeep brand product specialist. He took us through some of the highlights of the vehicle, which you can see in the video below.

Two Jeep brand advocates, Chase Carver and Daniel Luenzmann, also came to check out the vehicle for themselves.

“The Cherokee instantly grabbed my attention,” said Luenzmann. “The first thing I walked up to was the new Trailhawk. It stuck out to me with its aggressive stance, small lift, and oversized tires.”

“Once you get used to all the interior luxuries you start to notice smaller things. For example, on the exterior there are some nice front and rear red tow hooks and a trailer hitch coming through the rear bumper. There are also two options to attach your trailer lights, a four-pin hookup and a sever pin if you have a trailer with electric breaks. Overall it’s a well-made vehicle with a ton of personality and style.”

Carver agreed that the 2014 Cherokee stood out to him as well.

“The highlight of my trip was definitely getting to learn about the 2014 Jeep Cherokee,” said Carver. “The interior of the Jeep Cherokee is loaded with an 8.4-inch touch screen system with navigation, flat folding front and rear seats, a back-up camera, 10 air bags, and over 70 safety features including LaneSense Lane Departure Warning-Plus and Blind-Spot Monitoring. All these great features coupled with its trail-readiness make the Jeep Cherokee a great daily driver and weekend warrior.”