I absolutely love this engine.

Before you turn the page and scoff at the thought of driving a vehicle with a diesel engine, give me a couple of paragraphs to peak your interest.

For the first time in a full-size sport utility vehicle, Jeep has included a Common Rail turbo Diesel (CRD) powerplant in the Grand Cherokee lineup.

I know, I promised to get to the point.

How about this — the new 3.0-liter turbo diesel V-6:

Provides a 30 percent improvement in fuel economy over the gas engine options (20 mpg city, 25 mpg highway for 2WD and 20 mpg city, 24 mpg highway for 4WD); Has a range of 425 miles on a tank of gas; Offers a class leading towing capacity of 7,400 pounds; The engine, built by Mercedes-Benz and featuring clean diesel technology, has approximately 20 percent fewer CO2 emissions.

It gets better mileage, provides better towing capability, has absolutely outstanding performance on and off the road and, it’s better for the environment.

What’s not to love?

It is about time North America discovers what Europeans have known for decades — diesel is a better way to go.

I give Jeep — and its parent company Daimler-Benz — all the credit in the world for adding this engine to the Grand Cherokee lineup. It takes the Grand Cherokee from an average contender in the ever growing and already crowded full-size SUV segment to “stand up and take notice” status that leapfrogs it to the top of list.

While six miles per gallon may not sound like much on paper, that benefit becomes abundantly (and painfully) clear at the pump with today’s rising fuel prices. Keep in mind, performance is improved and emissions are reduced for a Jeep Trail Rated vehicle that is designed to go off-road.

If you still have doubts about diesel, go to your nearest Jeep dealer and ask to take a CRD Grand Cherokee out for a test drive.

See for yourself.

It will change your perception of diesel engines.

Now, about the Grand Cherokee — it’s all about choices.

Consumers have their choice of three lines — Laredo, Limited and Overland.

It’s available in rear- or four-wheel drive, with 4WD buyers having a choice of three 4WD systems — Quadra-Trac I, Quadra Trac II and Quadra-Drive II.

There is also a choice of four engines. In addition to the CRD, the Grand Cherokee is offered with a 3.7-liter gas V-6; a 4.7-liter flex-fuel V-8; and a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8.

Standard safety features include electronic stability program, dual front airbags, side-curtain airbags with roll-detection system and remote start on Limited and Overland models.

There is also a long list of premium features available such as auto-dimming headlights, ParkSense back-up system, and navigation, to name but a few.

For consumers in the market for a full-size SUV, the CDR Grand Cherokee is a must test drive.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for more than 15 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association. Comments may be sent to Neal at neal.white@waxahachiedailylight.com.