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Auto blogWed, 23 Oct 2013
Jeep appears to have nailed it this time. After two decades of assembling its Grand Cherokee sport utility vehicle, the American automaker has finally delivered a world-class off-roader capable of taking on everything in its segment - and more - with a high likelihood of coming out on top.
And if you drove last year's model, it's time to climb behind the wheel again as Jeep has significantly updated the SUV for 2014 with a bold new exterior appearance, an upgraded interior with enhanced electronics and a new transmission that completely transforms the way it drives.
We recently spent a full week with a dark blue 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland 4x4, a well-optioned model fitted with the standard gasoline-fed V6. While it didn't have the punch of the range-topping V8-powered SRT8, or the fuel-sipping economy of its new EcoDiesel sibling, the high-volume variant left us quite impressed.
The 2015 Mazda2 is quite high up on our must-drive list. Yes, the teeny, tiny successor to the 100-horsepower five-door is worth getting excited over, largely because the previous generation was one of the absolute best smiles-per-dollar values on the market.
While we eagerly await for our opportunity to take to the 2's helm, our expectations of the new car have just been heightened thanks to its win in Japan's Car of the Year competition. Called "Demio" in the land of the rising sun, Japanese journalists handed out Mazda's second COTY award since the CX-5 took the title in 2012.
In more surprising news, the new Jeep Cherokee has made the list of 10 Best Cars in Japan. The Jeep's triumph marks the first time an American car has cracked the top ten, finishing eighth. It's not, however, the first Fiat Chrysler vehicle to snag the title, following in the footsteps of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta and Fiat Panda. Still, the fact that an American brand can make such impressive inroads into the traditionally tough-to-crack Japanese market is a seriously big deal.
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.