2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel, the espresso shot: Motoramic Drives
Most automakers wax eloquent about the need for efficiency — all eco-boost this and green-blue-drive that. While the conversations sound commendable, it doesn’t take long to figure out the impetus comes not from a green-hearted longing for Mother Earth, but the dictates of Uncle Sam.
As U.S. fuel economy standards march toward new heights, automakers have scrambled to put their greenest efforts forward. BMW has temporarily shelved its fuel cell technology in favor of the upcoming i-Series electric cars, a business Nissan flogs through the Leaf EV, while GM counters with its Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid platform. For Chrysler and its Jeep and Ram trucks and SUVs, the answer appears to be diesels — baptised by marketing-speak into models like this, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel
The reason? Fiat already makes some of the best small diesel engines on the planet. Their 1.5-L turbos found in the Panda already zip more Italians around on a daily basis than dark roast espresso shots. With no real hybrid platform to fall back on, Fiat has elected to bestow Jeep with its diesel know-how (although the 500e provides a solid EV platform should Fiat ever choose to expand their realm of zero-emission vehicles outside of California).
The logical move was to import the same EcoDiesel engine that’s been available in European Grand Cherokees since 2010: a 3-liter, six-cylinder unit developed by Fiat subsidiary VM Motori. A couple pokes and prods bring it up to NAFTA standards and voila! — Jeep has its own efficiency superstar, boasting a best-in-class 30 mpg highway rating. The same engine was also transplanted into the burly Ram 1500, giving the resurging truck brand its alternative fuel option.
But while the 240-hp EcoDiesel meets its limitations on the massive 4,800-lb Ram 1500, the engine’s 420 lb.-ft. of torque proves more than sufficient for the Grand Cherokee. Weighing about 600 lbs. less than the Ram pickup, the motor compliments the SUV well. Zooming the crests of those same Malibu hills that highlighted the 1500’s underpowered performance offers the Grand Cherokee plenty of opportunities to shine. The high torque grants the Grand Cherokee surplus power to quickly pass tourists absorbed by the picturesque hills and multi-million dollar mansions — even when going uphill.