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New Jeep Cherokee excels on-road, Grand Cherokee gets an eco diesel

Monday - 11/18/2013, 11:27pm  ET

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The 2014 Jeep Cherokee has a nine-speed automatic transmission. (WTOP/Mike Parris)

Two jeeps, two experiences

WTOP's Car Reporter Mike Parris.

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WASHINGTON - Two different Jeeps bring varied experiences behind the wheel, but both deliver when it comes to reliability.

I recently attended the media launch for the new 2014 Jeep Cherokee and Grand Cherokee Overland Eco diesel and I tested both for a short time.

2014 Jeep Cherokee

I spent time on the road with a top-of-the-line limited model with a four-cylinder engine and a starting price of $30,000. Then, I went off-road in the Trailhawk model with a sweet V6 model, which starts at around $29,500.

No matter which Cherokee you choose, there are six available trim levels and you get a class-leading, nine-speed automatic transmission. This really helps out on fuel economy, since I logged 29 mpg in my 36-mile drive of lightly-traveled back roads. I found the limited model to be very comfortable and car-like with nice leather seats. The four-cylinder engine had adequate power as well.

The real fun model is the Trailhawk with a great V6 engine. The trick Jeep Active Drive 2 turns a nice crossover into a true off-road machine, and the select terrain control made hitting the trails an easy affair. It was impressive.

2014 Jeep Cherokee Overland

The Jeep Cherokee Overland has an eco-diesel option. (WTOP/Mike Parris)

A loaded Cherokee Eco Diesel model comes in at $53,000. The 2014 model has a refreshed exterior, a new eight-speed transmission and an available diesel engine. The diesel returns some very good fuel economy. I averaged 27 mpg in my short, 40-mile cruise with a little stop-and-go.

I was very impressed by the torque of the diesel and it's quiet ride. The diesel engine is a $4,500 option for the Limited, Overland and Summit trim levels. The option makes it more costly to buy than similarly equipped V8s, but it will pay for itself in fuel savings in the long run.

I really enjoyed the ride and the comfortable seats, and the fuel economy of diesel makes for a good SUV.

Editor's Note: Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI ,FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.

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