If you want to buy a new diesel-powered 2008 SUV, you can choose from just three manufacturers in the USA: Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, or Jeep.
Make that three manufacturers and two engines …
While it may be news to many folks, Jeep began offering a Mercedes-Benz diesel option in the Grand Cherokee back in 2007. The combination of a Jeep soul with a Mercedes heart is tough to beat.
The 3.0 liter Mercedes-Benz common rail diesel (CRD) is well-suited to the Grand Cherokee, producing 215 horsepower and a very healthy 376 foot pounds of torque. The torque figures put the diesel on a par with the 4.7 liter V-8 (305 HP and 334 foot pounds of torque) and 5.7 liter HEMI V-8 (330 HP and 375 foot pounds of torque). It’s an even match up when it come to grunt, but when it comes to fuel efficiency, the 3.0 liter CRD shines.
2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4WD EPA Mileage Estimates:
|4.7 liter V8||14||19|
|5.7 liter V8 HEMI||13||18|
|3.7 liter V6||15||19|
|3.0 liter V6 CRD||17||22|
Over the test period, our Grand Cherokee’s turbo-diesel delivered endless torque as it turned in a very respectable 21.6 miles per gallon (MPG) combined, with 24.3 MPG on the highway. Those are excellent numbers for a 5000 pound Trail-Rated SUV with full-time four-wheel drive. When it comes to 4WD capabilities, this isn’t a poseur … it’s the real thing.
Driving the diesel Grand Cherokee is different from any other green SUV. The power comes on right off the line and doesn’t stop. The engine makes its presence known when the throttle is dropped, but the din isn’t obtrusive.
While the steering feels heavier than the Lexus 400h or Ford Escape Hybrid, it’s not heavy in a bad way … it feels solid at freeway speeds where a lighter SUV might dance a bit in crosswinds.
It’s a solid ride with understated luxury.
As it stands, the diesel option is quite compelling. Some tweaks could put it over the top.
At 65 miles per hour, the Grand Cherokee’s CRD engine turns at roughly 2500 RPM. It seems like the transmission might benefit from an additional overdrive gear to drop the revs and pick up a mile per gallon or two at highway speeds.
An aero package could yield benefits, as well … as the Grand Cherokee isn’t the most aerodynamic SUV out there.
They’re’ as American as German Apple Pie …
After completing a two-week review of the CRD-equipped Grand Cherokee, we’re convinced of not just the domestic viability of diesel-power for SUVs and other passenger vehicles, but of the inevitability of of the technology, if only given the chance to succeed in the United States.
Chrysler is to be commended for sticking to plan. There are huge benefits to come from efficient diesel-powered SUVs running on domestically sourced fuel. We hope to see a full line of Jeep diesels available here in America in the near future.
Grand Cherokee Diesel courtesy of Bosch
- by Daniel Gray
March 14th, 2008
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