The Jeep Grand Cherokee is all-new for 2014, but retains its SUV ruggedness and off-road prowess. Nissan took a different approach with its Pathfinder last year, moving it to a passenger-car platform for better efficiency and manueverability around town. Both deliver the versatility that today's families demand, but which is easier for us to recommend?
Where the Grand Cherokee Excels
Wearing fresh styling inside and out for 2014, the Grand Cherokee feels more refined than before, but retains its legendary off-road ability. The deep model range allows buyers to adapt the Grand Cherokee to fit most needs and budgets. Regardless of trim level, you get sophistication not found in previous editions. The high-quality interior, in particular, is evidence that Jeep is serious about pushing their flagship SUV into luxury territory.
Along with the base V6 and famed Hemi V8, Jeep now offers the Grand Cherokee with a turbo-diesel 3-liter V6 that promises 30 mpg on the highway and the same towing capacity as the V8. All engines are hooked to a new eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters.
Where the Pathfinder Excels
The Pathfinder lost 500 pounds in its transition to a crossover, but it's hard to tell where it went. The interior seats seven adults in impressive comfort, even in the third row. With the seats neatly folded, there's 80 cubic feet of cargo space. The Pathfinder's 5,000-pound towing capacity isn't too far below the old model's.
What buyers gain in everyday driveability is significant. The Pathfinder handles easily and cruises with the smoothness and quiet of a large sedan. The 260-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 takes it from zero to 60 mph in 8 seconds and delivers 22 mpg in combined driving, or 21 mpg with all-wheel drive, terrific efficiency for a pas-powered, seven-passenger vehicle. The interior is especially well-constructed and quite attractive, especially in top Platinum trim.
If off-road adventure is on your list of priorities, there's no question that the Grand Cherokee is your ticket. Buyers looking for a spacious people mover with all-weather security will be more at home with the Pathfinder.
Our Verdict: Jeep Grand Cherokee
With capability to spare, the Grand Cherokee will do anything you ask of it.