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Saturday, Aug 30, 2014
Autos

New again: 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee

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I reckon Jeep must have a new motto: Donít let the grass grow under the tires.

You see itís only been two short years since they last did an extreme makeover of the best-selling Grand Cherokee sport-ute.

Now, lo and behold, the folks at Jeep have just unwrapped a brand-new version, with fresh styling, more engine choices, a new transmission and an interior so good that it could have come from Robb & Stucky.

Normally itís at least three, maybe four years before an automaker will spend the cash to refresh a model. Not Jeep, which right now is on a roll bigger than Tiger Woods.

The logic is simple: Donít give your customers an excuse to get bored and go shopping elsewhere.

So for 2014, this refreshed Grand comes with a new-look front end, skinnier headlights with bright-white LEDs, and a funky, chrome-ringed lower air intake.

Inside, quality levels take another step up, with lots more soft-touch plastics, high-rent cloths and leathers for the seats, and a new 8.4-inch touch screen.

But the big news is whatís under the skin. Thereís a new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel turbo V-6 that can deliver up to 30 to the gallon. Thatís in addition to the carry-over 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and 5.7-liter Hemi V-8.

The best news however is the addition of a new standard eight-speed automatic to replace the old five-speeder. Thatís huge.

Take your pick of Laredo, Limited, Overland or flagship Summit models, with prices ranging from $28,795 all the way up to $50,000-plus.

Yet in my humble view, itís the base Laredo 4x2 Iíve been driving that still offers the best bang for the buck. The carry-over Pentastar V-6 now feels even zippier courtesy of the new eight-speed auto. Itís quiet, refined, rides smoothly, and is nicely equipped, especially with the $1,700 E-package. Out the door for under $32,000.

And definitely no grass in its tire treads.

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