By Emme Hall.
This may come to some surprise to my fellow single people out there, but many people have families. And some of those families are large and require a large car to haul everyone and their gear around. Enter our two comparisons for the day: the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit and the 2014 Acura MDX. Both have enough room for a typical family and offer great performance, but only one can come out the winner.
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4×4 is available with a 3.6L Pentastar V6 and a 5.7L V8, but I was lucky enough to get in the 3.0L EcoDiesel V6, producing 240 horsepower and an incredible 420 lb/ft of torque. Power goes to the wheels via a new 8 speed automatic transmission. Fuel economy for this engine with the 4×4 powertrain is 21 mpg in the city, 28 mpg on the highway, and 24 mpg combined.
You’ll get many standard features in the Summit trim line, including 20” polished aluminum wheels, room for 5, a dual pane panoramic sunroof, heated mirrors, power accessories, dual zone climate control, 19 speaker Harman Kardon sound system, satellite radio, 8.4” touch screen with the excellent Uconnect system, navigation, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, heated leather wrapped steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, keyless entry/ignition, remote start, back up camera, forward collision warning, Quadra-Drive II 4WD system, the Selec-Terrain traction control system, and a Class IV towing receiver hitch with 7 and 4 pin wiring harness.
Upon first acceleration it becomes obvious that this is a diesel engine. It’s fairly blah until 2000 rpms, when the turbo spools up and all the torqui-ness is unleashed. That’s when things get fun. The new automatic transmission shifts smoothly and you get full control via the paddle shifters. Sport mode tightens up the steering and throttle noticeably. While it can be vaguely frightening to attack corners in a vehicle weighing over 5000 pounds, the Grand Cherokee handles the turns with aplomb, never feeling out of sorts. Steering gives enough resistance in high speed cornering while still offering a good feel at lower speeds. While I did not get to test the Grand Cherokee off road, it is Trail Rated and carries with it the legendary Jeep capabilities in all kinds of terrain.
The 2014 Acura MDX with SH-AWD gets a 3.5L V6 engine good for 290 horsepower and 267 lb/ft of torque. Power goes to the wheels via a six speed automatic transmission. EPA fuel ratings are 18 mpg in the city, 27 mpg on the highway, and 21 mpg combined.
The MDX gets a whole slew of standard features including 19” aluminum-alloy wheels, room for 7, heated and cooled front seats, heated 2nd row seats, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, blind spot monitoring, 12 speaking premium audio system, iPod integration, satellite radio, Bluetooth, back up camera, 8” color display, rear seat entertainment system with a 16.2” screen, power accessories, automatic climate control, heated mirrors, forward collision warning, and keyless entry and ignition.
The MDX handles more like a car than one would expect for a 7 passenger vehicle. Even on wet pavement the SH-AWD keeps the car planted in the corners and easy to maneuver. There are three ways to drive the MDX: comfort, normal, and sport. Comfort leaves something to be desired as both throttle and steering are much too loose. Normal brings a fairly neutral throttle with sharper steering that gains a bit more weight but remains light at parking lot speeds. Those wanting performance will find themselves in Sport mode, where gears are held longer, throttle is very responsive and steering is crisper and sharp.
The 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4×4 starts at $51,195 and our test model with the Eco-Diesel engine comes in at $56,195. You can shell out an additional $1995 for a rear seat entertainment package. The 2014 Acura MDX with SH-AWD starts at $44,290 and our test model with the Advance Entertainment Packages comes in a $56,505. My money is on the Grand Cherokee, especially if your family likes to get out and about. Remember, AWD is not the same as 4WD and the Jeep makes sure you can take your luxury anywhere you want to go.