JK-Forum’s Road Trip with the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel

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There’s no better way to gauge the true appeal of an SUV than putting it on the road for a long haul.

Sounds simple enough, right? However, most of my test loans as an auto journalist typically only last a week. And in most cases the assessment of the vehicle consists of 100 miles or so aside from the occasional weekend getaway where I might add a couple hundred more on the odometer.

It’s a decent formula for getting a feel for new cars, but to get a better idea of how the 2014 Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel lives up to talk of it being a great road vehicle, I decided to up the ante. Now, after nearly 1,800 miles logged in one of the SUVs on a family road trip with four other adults, I can say I have a deeper appreciation for the EcoDiesel and the Grand Cherokee in general.

Here are my top ten takeaways from my recent road trip with the diesel Jeep Grand Cherokee.

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1. Timeless Appeal – After nearly 20 years on the market, the Grand Cherokee has proven that the Wrangler isn’t the only Jeep worthy of legendary status. While enhanced by a number of new styling elements, the SUV has retained many of the classic design elements that’s made it popular over the years.

2. Twice the Fun – Much has already been said about the Grand Cherokee’s enhanced off-road capabilities thanks to features like its Quadra Lift air suspension system. But the nearly 1,800 miles logged on my trip proved the Jeep is as much fun on the highway as it is maneuvering through rocky terrain.

3. Bigger on the Inside – With four adults packing for a two-day excursion in a midsize SUV, luggage can be a major concern, but the Jeep team has made great use of the interior space in the Grand Cherokee to give you a lot more room than you’d expect in the cargo area.

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4. Driver’s Dream – Typically after driving 400 to 500 miles on a road trip in any car, you’re ready to ride shotgun. It’s the normal fatigue that comes with long hours trying to stay attentive. However, with features like the leather-wrapped steering wheel and the dual-pane sunroof, you’re always engaged on the road, which keeps the thrill of driving at its peak.

5. Icon in the Making ­– Despite all the talk of electric vehicles, range continues to be a concern — and it probably will for quite some time. With a rating of up to 30 miles per gallon and a driving range of more than 730 miles, the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel has the potential to become one of the most popular Jeeps in the lineup for those who do a lot of road trips.

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6. Big on Tech –  From the availability of in-car Wi-Fi to the actual diesel technology itself, the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel is packed with some of the latest technology. More importantly, features like the vehicle’s Uconnect infotainment system are extremely user-friendly, which makes the idea of a high-tech Jeep easier to digest even for the more traditional enthusiast.

7. Four Max – After driving a few hundred miles with four adults, you quickly learn to appreciate the value of personal space. The Grand Cherokee gives you a lot of that in a midsize SUV with enough legroom for the haul even when seated in the rear of the SUV with the ability to recline 12 degrees. Transporting five adults is probably best limited to two- or three-hour trips at the longest.

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8. Loaded with Luxury –­ Whether it’s the touch of the premium leather seating or watching Mission Impossible on the rear entertainment system, it’s easy to forget you’re riding in a Jeep when sitting in the Grand Cherokee. The lengths that the brand has gone to refine the interior become more prevalent the more time you spend in the SUV.

9. No Boundaries – One of the beauties of the Grand Cherokee is that despite everything noted above, it’s still very much a Jeep with all of the capabilities you expect from the nameplate. When the opportunity for an off-road adventure arises, the turn of a knob makes the road-to-off-road transition easy to tackle.

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10. Nice Bang for the Buck ­–  Despite what initially might seem like a pretty hefty price tag for a Grand Cherokee at $55,680 as tested, you get a lot for the money considering the benefits of having a diesel engine and the premium feel of the Overland edition. In fact, when measured against some other luxury SUVs in the market that come with far less content, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel is actually a steal.

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