Chrysler Group is set to unveil the reengineered version of its flagship sports utility vehicle, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, at the 2013 Detroit Auto Show. The Grand Cherokee for model year 2014 boasts of new eight-speed automatic gearbox, a new optional diesel engine and carmaker’s latest Uconnect 8.4-inch touch-screen infotainment system.
Designers implemented a slight restyle in the Grand Cherokee's front fascia and rear taillights. Designers also added new front and rear LED lighting and larger tail lamps. Chrysler will also be displaying a re-engineered and restyled SRT version of the Grand Cherokee, blessed with the eight-speed transmission.
The latest restyling and reengineering works came less than three years since the vehicle was modified in 2010. Manley, head of the Jeep brand, remarked that he remembers the days when they used to launch a vehicle and leave it for six years, and then wonder why their segment share had downsized by half.
The Grand Cherokee is the latest rear-wheel-drive Chrysler vehicle to be fitted with an eight-speed automatic transmission, following large sedans and Ram 1500 pickups. According to Chrysler, the transmission will enhance driving dynamics and fuel economy as well as help cut down road noise. The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is powered by a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 as the standard engine, while the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 is available as an option.
Interested customers in the United States could avail of an optional 3.0-liter diesel engine that returns 240 hp of output and 420 pounds-feet of torque. For the 2014 model year, Jeep will divide its top-end Grand Cherokee trim -- the Overland Summit -- into two distinct trim levels: Overland and Summit.
The lower-end Laredo and Limited trims are still available. To enhance the SUV’s fuel economy, Jeep has installed an Eco mode on all levels of the 2014 Grand Cherokee. Eco mode adjusts the eight-speed automatic's shift schedule as well as raises and lowers the SUV. For Grand Cherokees equipped with a V-8 engine, the Eco mode enables cylinder deactivation.
The three engines fitted to the Jeep Grand Cherokee will all be paired to the automatic 8-speed transmission developed by the Chrysler Group. Aside from having a smoother shift, it allows for a quicker acceleration and even improves fuel economy. If equipped with the two-speed transfer case, it results in a 44.1:1 crawl ratio which is excellent in going over or across very tough obstacles.
Compared to the crawl ratio of the previous generation, this is a 46% improvement. While the EcoDiesel version of the Grand Cherokee is known for its remarkable torque, it remains robust enough to contain the new 2014 gearbox. This same gearbox has the needed durability while at the same time, the precise shift schedule greatly improves the ride quality to the same level as that of luxury cars.
Going back to the new automatic eight-speed transmission, it is completely electronic and has shift map on-the-fly changing. Manual shifting capability is available with the steering-wheel paddle controls allowing for Electronic Range Select.
There are at least 40 individual and different shift maps that can be used for specific conditions. They allow for the shift quality and shift points to be optimized for better fuel economy, drivability, and performance. Mircea Gradu, who is the Vice President and Head of Transmission Powertrain and Driveline Engineering, revealed that in order for the new Grand Cherokee to meet the expected performance levels, it was important to have the new 8-speed transmission.
This was because the transmission had, he added, an aggressive torque-converter lockup, quick shifting, high numerical first-gear ratio, and wide ratio spread. All of these, he continued, are possible without compromising the vehicle’s fuel economy.