There are two kinds of diesels. There are tres civilized Mercedes-Benz automotive diesel vehicles, including the Mercedes-Benz E320 CDI we recently tested. And then there are the more manly diesels, including the 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4×4. There are more examples of each, of course, from the smaller Volkswagen TDI on the one side and the rattlin’ good Cummins Diesel-powered Dodge Ram 2500 pickups on t’other.
The surprise? The E320 CDI and the diesel-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee have the same engine. They have the same engine block, the same heads, the same BlueTec emissions controls, and they come out of the same Mercedes-Benz factory. They’re not exactly the same, calibration resulting in 210 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque for the Benz and 215 horsepower and 376 lb-ft of torque for the Jeep.
Hmmm. There’s that delicious spread of torque, however. That 376 lb-ft goes from 1,600-2,800 rpm.
The Jeep has a max tow rating of 7,400 pounds. Match that, Mr. E320 CDI.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to get a clean fuel economy reading during our tenure with our diesel Jeep, but we’ll buy the EPA’s 17/22 mpg city/highway estimates.
Manly rattlin’ What we found surprising, however, were the sounds the Jeep made compared to the Mercedes. The E320 was quiet, sounding like a large sewing machine. The Jeep, on the other hand, has a manly diesel rattle. The ordinary person might notice something different about the Benz’s idle—at least from the outside because it’s inaudible inside—and the peculiar thrum on acceleration, but only if asked.
The Jeep is most definitely, just by its sound, a diesel. It won’t fool anyone.
We don’t know why this is, but perhaps it has something to do with the big engine cover on the Benz and the rubber seals around the edges of the hood. Perhaps the engine in the Benz isn’t any quieter, just better muffled.
Not complainin’ We doubt that any Grand Cherokee owner will complain about the sounds from the diesel, however, because they’re what a diesel Jeep should sound like, a manly diesel rattle that’s not so much loud as it is ever present, inside and out of the Jeep. It’s instant street cred, except in a woodsy, green and he-man sort of way. You’re out in the woods saving the planet and being a man, all at the same time.
That, of course, and a bunch of other good stuff. Such as the Jeep Cherokee Limited having one of the best quality interiors from the Chrysler group. It’s handsome with a nice medium gray over dark cream treatment. The woodgrain is, well, woodgrain, which means Not Wood, but at least it’s good Not Wood. The front seats are wide and comfy, with bolsters for lateral support, though the rear bench seat is more of a perch.
Keep them flats comin’ The rear seatback folds forward on top of the seat bottom, almost but not quite flat. The floor of the cargo area lifts up, exposing a shallow storage area underneath. Turn the lift-off floor over, however, and it becomes a large rimmed tray with a plastic finish, just the thing for bringing home plats of annuals.
Another useful feature is the 115W A/C electric plug on the back of the center console: no more dedicated car chargers for laptop or cell phone. Just bring your usual house charger.