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The "Green" 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The Jeep nameplate doesn't exactly come to mind when I think of an eco-friendly brand; It's just not. When I had -- and truly loved -- my '95 4-cylinder Wrangler -- it only got about 14 mpg on average! And that was sporting a 5 speed manual transmission! In fact, the only thing about this ride that was "green" was its color!

Well, things have changed a lot since then. The 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee has now been rewarded for its fuel conservation efforts by being given the

Japanese government's Eco-car tax incentive. This may sound a bit off but when you consider the details it makes more sense. Jeep's updated V-6 Pentastar engine is built to run and shut off when not needed. When the driver takes their foot off the brake it immediately the engine shifts into saving fuel mode while not impacting any vital features like the A/C or radio! Jeep describes it this way, "Fuel-saving Engine Stop-Start (ESS) lends additional appeal to the Grand Cherokee... ESS reduces fuel consumption by shutting off the engine whenever the vehicle comes to a complete stop."

There you have it. Power on demand, not when you don't need it. Another key part to this equation is what Jeep refers to as "VVL" or variable valve lift explained briefly here. "Among the key elements of the upgraded [Pentastar engine] ... 295-horsepower is a two-step variable valve lift (VVL). (It is) ...designed to remain mostly in low-lift mode – until the customer demands more power. Then it responds by switching to high-lift mode, which helps deliver more air to the cylinder, sparking full combustion and greater engine output. The result: less overall pumping work." So when the vehicle senses no need for extra oomph it basically throttles back thereby reducing any sort of power consumption, until it's told to do so as the brake pedal is released. Last but not least is Jeep's EGR feature that reduces emissions. They describe it this way. "Cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) reduces emissions, cuts pumping losses and enables knock-free operation at higher loads.

I'd be remiss if I also didn't mention the TorqueFlite 8 speed transmission that is an another key component in this vehicle's design, making it a noteworthy recipient of Japan's Eco-Car Tax Incentive. This feature achieves about 23 mpgs, (9.6 km/l) rounding out the numbers rather nicely for Jeep. This is an important milestone to achieve as more Americans want improved fuel efficiency, which also dovetails nicely with current government mandates.

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