Drive Type: Auto
Trim: Rock Crawler
Jackson, Missouri, United States
There will forever be a soft spot in my heart for the Jeep Wrangler. The last one I owned was red, and, as a 1990 model, had the square headlights derided by Jeep enthusiasts who grew up on the Civilian Jeeps that descended from their General Purpose military ancestors. As a teenager, I couldn't have cared less what shape its headlights happened to be - to me, a Jeep Wrangler represented freedom; a carefree do-it-all machine equally at home with the top stowed away in the summer or with the heater on full blast in the snowy clutches of Old Man Winter. In Dr. Seuss parlance, my square-headlighted Sneetch was just as worthy as any round-headlighted Sneetch.
All that said, I'll be the first person to advise against buying a Jeep Wrangler of any sort for owners who don't plan to use it as its makers intend. There's no good reason to punish yourself with a stiff and springy ride, a loud and somewhat drafty (though generally water-resistant) interior or the poor fuel economy expected of a block-shaped vehicle if you don't enjoy its other, more exciting benefits.
Of course, Jeep has done its darndest over the years to make the Wrangler as civilized as possible while keeping it as capable as federal law will allow. The 2013 Jeep Wrangler Moab edition is one of Jeep's latest attempts to attract attention from the upper reaches of the active lifestyle set, and I spent a week with one to see what makes the Moab special.
Hennessey Performance Engineering has created an HPE650 package for the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT fitted with the 6.4-liter Hemi engine. When it leaves the showroom floor it has 470 horsepower and gets from 0-60 miles per hour in 4.8 seconds. When it leaves Hennessey's garage floor after the upgrade it has 650 horsepower - 530 hp at the wheels, according to Hennessey - and gets to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds on its way to running the quarter-mile in 12.6 seconds.
There's more than just a Roots-type supercharger bolt-on, with ported cylinder heads and high-flow headers among the many changes made to the engine. You can watch this pre-2014 facelift silver model prove its spec sheet on the drag strip in the video below.
This is indeed a case of not knowing how much we wanted something until it arrived. We've been big fans of the Jeep Grand Cherokee ever since the new model arrived a couple of years ago, and while the update you see here might seem just a slight refresh, it's actually much more than that.
For starters, the 2014 Grand Cherokee marks the return of a diesel model here in the States, with Chrysler's new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6 under the hood, churning out 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Of course, all of the Grand Cherokee's usual off-road goodies are on hand, with moderate tweaks to make it an even more capable vehicle when the going gets rough. Both the gasoline-fed 3.6-liter V6 and 5.7-liter V8 get the new eight-speed auto, as well.
The high-performance Grand Cherokee SRT also trudges on into the new model year, with very subtle tweaks found underneath the aggressive, slightly redesigned sheetmetal. The 6.4-liter Hemi V8 also gets eight-speed gearing, which Chrysler says will improve not only 0-60 times, but mid-range performance as well. Bring it on, we say.