Chrysler’s 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee will employ an eight-speed automatic transmission that promises to improve driveabilty and increase fuel efficiency across all engine options. Keeping the engine at its power band with a wider selection of available gears improves the Grand Cherokee’s fuel efficiency and 4×4 ability. Picture a set of stairs you have to climb – making the stairs shorter and even height makes for a smoother and easier time getting up them. The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee’s eight-speed transmission allows for quicker acceleration and more miles per gallon, setting the 2014 Grand Cherokee apart from the flooded SUV market.
Breaking From the Pack
“Jeep has proudly separated Grand Cherokee even further from its competitors by enhancing its unique elegance, efficiency, capability and technological features,” says Mike Manley, President and CEO – Jeep Brand, Chrysler Group LLC. When it originally debuted in 1992, the Jeep Grand Cherokee sported a standard five-speed manual transmission. Engineers have been adding and splitting gears for years in an attempt to squeeze more efficiency out of transmissions.
“The eight-speed gearbox improves efficiency by allowing the engine to operate at its optimum RPM range,” says Scott Brown, Chrysler Western Region Communications Manager. “The transmission efficiency and wide ratio spread provide the best possible fuel economy by operating at a lower engine rpm in both city and highway environments.”
Although the trend in the Cherokee Grand has been toward more luxury and premium accessories, it still sports off-road capabilities. “The eight-speed gearbox basically keeps the torque and power where it needs to be so you’re not lurching forward,” says Brown. “When you’re wheeling you want less lurching, so it’s phenomenal for off-road driving.” An additional benefit is a lower crawl ratio of 44.1:1 to aid in climbing over – or through – tough obstacles, when equipped with a two-speed transfer case.
Brown points out that another big fuel efficiency measure in the 2014 Grand Cherokee is the clean-diesel engine option available. The EcoDiesel V-6 engine gives an estimated best-in-class 30 mpg and towing capability of 7,400 pounds.
Poison Spyder Customs started manufacturing Jeep protective parts in the late ’90s and modifies products to enrich the off-roading experience. Most of Poison Spyder’s products are for protection on the trail and the company mainly designs Jeep Wrangler parts. Still, they’re experiencing a tide turning toward increasing efficiency. “We’ve had a lot of people ask for aluminum armored flares and rocker protection, so now we offer both aluminum and steel,” says Dusty Sharp, Poison Spyder’s Marketing Director.
For those who are more concerned about weight, the increased efficiency aluminum brings is noticeable. “Our aluminum parts are identical in design and generally 35% of the weight of the equivalent steel part,” says Sharp. “But there is a trade-off because with aluminum parts you can’t drive a Jeep like it’s a wrecking ball.”
Sparking the Surge of SUVs
The Cherokee name first surfaced on Jeeps nearly 40 years ago. It was the downsized 1984 model designed and manufactured by American Motors Corporation that made it famous. An instant hit, in its first year alone, the Cherokee nearly doubled Jeep sales. The Cherokee’s unique unibody construction was used in the more luxurious Grand Cherokee and helped spark the surge of SUVs.
Over the years, the Grand Cherokee has become the most awarded SUV. The newly released 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is available in Laredo, Limited, Overland and Summit models.
Research by: CJ Bantam is a freelance writer in the off-road industry.