The Jeep Grand Cherokee was revisited for 2014, with many changes to the basic design to improve creature comforts and efficiency. The Jeep remains privileged over the related, larger Dodge Durango, having two extra engine options — a diesel and a high-power SRT V8 — but it also still has the “Curse-O-Matic” shifter, while Durango has moved on.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee (allpar photo)

For 2016, we’ve been told that the Jeep Grand Cherokee will finally get a conventional style shifter, still electronic (no cables) but not flaunting its non-mechanical nature. It will reported not be gated, as in the Mercedes days, or at least will not be as gated (“gates” are the zigzags that force one to move left or right as one moves the shifter up and down).  There will be different spatial positions for Park, Drive, etc., while today the shifter snaps back to the default position.

In addition, both Durango and Grand Cherokee are to get the Pentastar engine upgrades, noted earlier, to increase both fuel economy and low-end and midrange torque. One source wrote that the 5.7 and 6.4 liter V8 engines might be upgraded by the time the 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee is issued, as well; both these engines would probably have similar upgrades (direct injection, better economy, more low-end torque for the 5.7).

City mileage, currently a shortcoming of both vehicles — albeit not unusual for the class — is to be increased both through the Pentastar upgrade and via a stop-start system, which can be shut off by the owner. The stop-start setup might be V6-only on the assumption that V8 owners don’t care as much about gas mileage, depending on the mix of cars Jeep and Dodge sell now.

Both cars are likely to retain their current appearance for the most part, with changes likely being applied to lighting and minor points for this minor refresh.

The next generation appears to have been pushed back as the company considers replacing the underpinnings, which date to a joint venture with Mercedes. Most likely, Auburn Hills engineers will adapt the underpinnings they will soon be sharing with Alfa Romeo, but they could also be looking at other options, such as re-engineering the current setup, as we head into “WK3.”

Whether the Dodge Durango will remain based on the Jeep Grand Cherokee after 2018 remains an open question, as the Jeep Wagoneer, long promised but never delivered, draws closer to reality. The Grand Cherokee and Wagoneer could presumably share more parts, as Durango currently has an on-road-optimized suspension and a Dodge look, while Durango could move to the new rear wheel drive format or be minivan based, or even move to the body-on-frame Ram chassis to replace the long-lost Ramcharger. With pressure on FCA to increase gas mileage, the latter option is unlikely.