Jeep, in its last-generation flagship Jeep Grand Cherokee, introduces a diesel version to the somewhat anti-diesel obsessed North America.
On August 1st, Fiat shareholders approved the automaker’s merger with Chrysler. This is a milestone in FIAT’s history and marks the end of one of the icons of Italian industry and business.
This process started a couple of years ago when Chrysler declared bankruptcy and welcomed Fiat’s control. FIAT, Italy’s largest manufacturer and a symbol of the country’s was already struggling to adapt to globalization and in fact to survive. The bond between the the companies is in fact Mr Sergio Marchionne, an Italian Canadian and CEO of both companies. FIAT is leaving home after 115 years. The new company arising from the merger, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, will be incorporated under Dutch law, based in the UK and listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
The merger will create the world’s seventh-largest automaker.
In early May, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, as it is now called following FIAT’s acquisition of Chrysler early this year, laid out its business plan from now until 2018 and kept very few details secret.
As Sergio Marchionne, the Italian Canadian CEO of the company expressed it, Fiat Chrysler is beginning to write a completely new book. I will discuss different aspects of this plan in this and upcoming other articles.
Let’s start with the Jeep Grand Cherokee:
Jeep, one of the non-human heroes of the WWII, is, with very little doubt, the most valuable brand of the group on this side of the Atlantic.
In May 2014, the brand’s monthly sales reached a historical high of 70203 units. This figure doubles Volkswagen and triples Buick. The market growth in North America is driven by SUV and CUV’s. Who else could benefit from this trend as much as Jeep does with a portfolio consisting of just those types of vehicles.
With the Patriot and the Compass to be discontinued in 2016, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, as the flagship of the brand will be even more important, complemented by the hard core Wrangler and the new, highly successful compact SUV, the Cherokee.
With a global vision in the near future, Jeep needed more choices in terms of engines, among other things. A diesel engine is not less than inevitable especially considering the ambitious goals in Europe. The average North American driver is still largely obsessed with the bad-smelling, smoky and noisy machines from the seventies and Jeep is doing a good job to destroy this mental wall.
The Lord of the Tough Terrains did not limit its Fiat based diesel power source just to Europe. It is available in Canada and the USA. The three-liter, six-cylinder Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel delivers 240 HP of power and 420 lb-ft of torque. Mated to an eight-speed auto, the full-size SUV Jeep Grand Cherokee promises 9.8 litre in the city and 7.0 litre on the highway. Even if these numbers are more theoretical than actual, they make high promises, at least on a comparative basis. After more than 600 kilometers of mixed use my Jeep Grand Cherokee in one week, I scored an average of 11 litres. This again reminds me the fact that the consumption measurements in Canada and the USA need a redefinition and closer ties with the reality.
The eight-speed auto in the Jeep Grand Cherokee is a well-engineered transmission. Furthermore, the front wheels of the Jeep Grand Cherokee are decoupled when they’re not needed for traction and help saving fuel. The short ratios require a lot of shifting as you pull away from rest of the traffic. Luckily the shift action is nice and smooth. You will witness this diesel hitting high revs around 3,000. A frequent redliner for this type of powertrain.
In Canada, since the diesel is slightly more expensive than the regular gasoline, saving money by driving diesel is quite controversial and definitely a long-term investment. The driving pleasure of the low-end torque probably matters more.
My fully loaded test vehicle had a MSRP of CAD 69,655. (The base price is CAD 62,445) The price difference with the gasoline engine is almost CAD 5,000.
For this price you get a luxury SUV with everything from leather trimmed bucket seats (heated and ventilated), dual pane panoramic sunroof to heated steering wheel, navigation, aluminium polished wheels and much more.
The material quality and craftsmanship of the Jeep Grand Cherokee is very good and promises a level comparable to Mercedes and Range Rover, maybe more so in the next generation.
Chrysler Canada provides a five year, 100,000 km (whichever comes first) zero-deductible, fully transferable powertrain warranty.
The test vehicle (Jeep Grand Cherokee) was provided by Chrysler Canada.
For the latest specifications and the pricing info, please visit www.jeep.ca
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