Saturday, January 19, 2019

2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4X4 EcoDiesel Review

What’s Best: Free diesel! Well, sort of free. But, for the summer, it is a no-charge option (normally $4,995) on Overland and Summit trim levels.What’s Worst: EcoDiesel not available on lower-priced models.?What’s Interesting: This Italian-built turbo-diesel for Fiat started off as a potential engine for the European Cadillac CTS when V M Motori was partially owned by GM.

With apologies to Bill Shakespeare, that’s a dang good question.

Especially for sport utility shoppers and Jeep Grand Cherokee fans.

The five-passenger Grand Cherokee has been holding down the top spot in the Jeep lineup for more than 20 years now, with a steady evolution of technologies and refinements keeping it competitive in the popular mid-size SUV segment.

2015 Jeep Gr Cherokee EcoDiesel interior

The current fourth generation version was refreshed just last year. Changes included an exterior facelift with, among other things, new slimmer bi-xenon headlamps and new LED daytime running lamps (DRLs), a refined interior with new colours, open pore wood trim pieces and other upgrades, a new Eco mode, improved ride and handling tweaks and a new electric power steering system along with a brand new 8-speed automatic transmission.

2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee detail

And, oh yes, a new diesel engine offering.

The GC lineup already had all the powertrain bases pretty well covered, starting with a standard 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 making 290 hp and 260 lb/ft of torque while offering a fuel economy rating of 13.9/9.8L/100km (city/hwy).

For the “more muscle” fans, an optional 5.7-litre V8 makes 360 hp and 390 lb/ft of torque while returning a 17.3/11.5L/100km (city/hwy) rating, the respectable highway numbers due to Fuel Saver cylinder-deactivation technology.

And, then there’s the maniacal 6.4-litre Hemi V8 with 475 hp and 470 lb/ft of torque and an 18.5/12.6L/100km (city/hwy) rating, powering the performance SRT machine.

2015 Grand Cherokee engine

But now, bolstering the Grand Cherokee lineup and tested here, the 3.0-litre EcoDiesel V6, a turbo diesel unit, makes a class-leading 240 hp and 420 lb/ft of torque.

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It’s that torque number that gets things done here, with the kind of stump pulling oomph that tows a best-in-class 3,266 kg (7,200 lb) in this 4X4 configuration.

Jeep is keeping things in the Fiat family with this engine, sourced from the VM Motori plant in Italy.

Funny thing is, this motor’s origins trace back about 10 years ago to when GM was a part owner of VM Motori and a project was initiated to design a 3.0-litre diesel for the European version of their Cadillac CTS.

That was before the auto recession crunch, changes in ownership and changes in design.

This engine’s come a long way since and, like most diesels, along with the towing muscle, it also offers a fuel economy advantage with a rating of 11.2/8.4L/100km (city/hwy).

2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee engine

After 665 km of mixed driving, my real world results came in at a wallet-pleasing 8.9L/100km (comb). Jeep likes to boast a potential 1,100 km range with this diesel but, even with my numbers, this Grand Cherokee could travel over a 1,000 km before a fill-up.

During the test, diesel fuel was also about a dime cheaper per litre so every 93.1-litre tankful would cost about $10 less. But, of course, that’s a bit of a crapshoot.

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We’ve seen diesel bounce on either side of the regular gas prices over the last few years.

There are a few caveats that might dissuade potential diesel buyers, like the minor glow plug delay and the bag-of-pots-and-pans clatter of a cold start morning, neither of which particularly bother me, particularly as the exhaust noise tends to smooth out quickly on cruising.

There’s a little extra maintenance involved with a top-up of the 30-litre diesel exhaust fluid recommended annually or every 16,000 km. You can also do it yourself at a cost of about $2 per litre,

Diesel gas pumps are fewer and farther between. And, at the risk of sounding sexist, I find that women in particular, are not too fond of the smellier, greasier results of the diesel self-serve experience.

Ah, but the clincher for the “it just doesn’t make economic sense” crowd is the normal $4,995 extra cost for the diesel engine. I must admit, I might have wound up on the nay-saying side of the argument myself.

But then Jeep blindsided me with a summer promotion that removes the $4,995 extra charge and makes the 3.0-litre EcoDiesel a no-cost option.

That’s right, a no-cost option deal that holds until August 31, 2015.

I might still quibble about the EcoDiesel being only available in the upper trim levels – the Overland ($60,290) and Summit ($65,290) versions – and not in the base Laredo ($41,395) and Limited ($51,490) models. Because if it were available for free across the board, it wouldn’t just be a no-charge option, it would also be a no-brainer.

But while I still lean towards the standard 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 for the sake of entry-level pricing, for sport utility customers searching for an upgraded ride within the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland and Summit trim levels, a free fuel efficient and powerful diesel option seems like an opportunity too good to miss.

2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee

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BODY STYLE: Mid-size premium SUV.
DRIVE METHOD: Four-wheel drive (Quadra-Trac II)
ENGINE: 3.0-litre V6 EcoDiesel (240 hp, 420 lb/ft)
CARGO: 1028 litres, 1934 litres with rear seat folded flat.
TOWING CAPACITY: 4X4 3,266 kg (7,200 lb).
FUEL ECONOMY: 11.2/8.4L/100km (city/hwy); as tested 8.9L/100km (comb)
PRICE: Jeep Grand Cherokee 4X4 Overland MSRP $59,245. As tested $63,685 includes Advanced Technology Group ($1,495), Rear DVD ($2,150), Off-road Adventure II ($500), Maximum Steel Metallic paint ($195). Destination Charge ($1,695) and other fees not incl.

Rob Beintema

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