Jeep Grand Cherokee will add diesel power in U.S.

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland

A diesel will be offered in the Jeep Grand Cherokee in the U.S. once again, according to a statement made by Chrysler Group chairman and CEO Sergio Marchionne while announcing that 1,100 jobs woud be added at Chrysler’s Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit, Michigan.

The diesel-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee, slated for 2013, will likely have the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 available in the Jeep SUV in Europe. That engine would fit with the current Jeep Grand Cherokee’s current line-up in the U.S. consisting of three gasoline engines: a 3.6-liter V-6, 5.7-liter V-8, and a 6.4-liter V-8. Rated at 237 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque, the engine is stout enough for most tasks Grand Cherokee owners might throw at it, yet still be significantly more fuel efficient than the Grand Cherokee’s gasoline engines. Using the European Union testing procedures, the diesel Jeep is rated at the equivalent of 28 combined mpg.

The last time a diesel was offered in the Jeep Grand Cherokee was when Chrysler was owned by Daimler Benz and the engine used was the same 3.0-liter V-6 used in the Mercedes-Benz E320. However, the urea-based Bluetec exhaust control system would have been needed to get emissions under the legal limits in all 50 states. Outside estimates placed the added cost for the Bluetec system at $4,000, which Jeep thought would be too rich for most would-be diesel Grand Cherokee buyers. Despite a modest degree of sales success for the for the diesel-powered SUV—eight percent of all Grand Cherokee sales is claimed, but we never saw one other than our 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee diesel road test vehicle—Jeep elected to drop the diesel engine after the 2010 model year, with no plans for revival.

But now, those extra 1,100 jobs? It’s a third shift to build the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango. It’s where the diesel engines will be going.