The Jeep Grand Cherokee straddles the line between contemporary and traditional styling expertly. The latest grille and front-end styling are less assertive than in the past, but it still fits together in a way that's entirely cohesive. The blue-collar look is gone, replaced with something a bit more pedigreed and affluent.
We rate it at 9 out of 10, for on-point styling inside and out. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The Grand Cherokee stands as a pretty sophisticated piece, even if you take it into perspective alongside luxury-brand rivals. The side view does remind us a bit—or a lot—of the BMW X5, while the all versions now get a spoiler. The LED taillights give the rear-end appearance a little more attitude—all amplified, of course, for the high-performance SRT model.
Perhaps in a move to fit in a bit better with the more radical look of the smaller Cherokee, the look of the front end and the grille were toned down a couple of years ago. As it stands, the grille is a bit thinner and smaller than it was, and it's an understatement in a segment that seems to prefer flesh and big chrome.
Grand Cherokee interior
Even considering the now beautiful interiors for the Charger and Durango, and the excellent, stylish look afforded to the Jeep Cherokee and Renegade models, the Grand Cherokee stands on its own. And it's fairly amazing in how it feels like an GLE-Class, which it sort of is, or a Cayenne, which it supersedes in many ways.
Even in base versions, the Grand Cherokee interior feels warm, and anything but plain. All versions get a chunky three-spoke steering wheel, a usefully arranged center stack of controls capped with inoffensive metallic-plastic trim, and a 5.0-inch LCD touchscreen for audio.
Materials get stepped up, as you move up to Limited, Overland, and Summit models. Jeep applies real wood trim on the dash, doors, and the steering wheel, and it begs to be touched, just as the last-generation vehicle's trimmings wanted to be kept at a distance. This is an interior that's at its best with some of the warmer, organic trims—not the ones with a lot of brightwork—so it's in its best light in Summit's organic coloring, under the natural light of the panoramic roof.
With the Grand Cherokee, Jeep has a classic SUV shape fitted with a slick, upscale cabin.
With four powertrains, a choice between rear-wheel drive and various four-wheel-drive systems, and the hardware to keep its performance refined and top-notch, on- or off-road, the Jeep Grand Cherokee simply doesn't disappoint in performance—and it offers a wide enough range of combinations to appeal to almost every need.
We rate it at 9 out of 10. Its drivetrain lineup is broad and deeply talented, it rides and handles well, and it's an off-road pro—and a track monster in SRT guise. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Powertrains, ride, and handling
The base Grand Cherokee gets power from a 3.6-liter V-6 with 295 horsepower. The V-6 offers strong responsiveness right in the middle of the rev band, as well as enough low-rpm torque to handle delicate yet demanding off-road situations. In the Grand Cherokee, this engine sounds a bit tamer and more refined than in some of the other models, like the Chrysler 200.
With the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, the Grand Cherokee has the feel of a Dodge Charger muscle sedan, in some respects—with the V-8 offering a great-sounding engine note. As much as we like this engine's character, it's not all that much of an improvement in everyday driving to make it worth the penalty in miles per gallon.
The Grand Cherokee is the only domestic vehicle in its class to offer a diesel. It's a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 with 240 hp and 420 pound-feet of torque. It doesn't feel as overtly punchy as the V-8, or maybe not even as quick for passing as the V-6, but it has the very strong low- and mid-range torque required for easy towing and unbelievable tractability off-road.
For the ultimate in segment-bending performance, there's the ultra-powerful Grand Cherokee SRT. At a much lower price, it competes with models from Porsche, BMW M, and Mercedes-Benz. Its 6.4-liter V-8 rips shunts 475 hp to all four wheels on a variable basis through an 8-speed paddle-shifted automatic. Chrysler claims a thrilling 0-60 mph time of 4.8 seconds, and includes launch control so owners can see those numbers, repeatably, on the SRT's Performance Pages screen. That isn't the only impressive number: the quarter-mile's pegged in the mid-13s, top speed hits 160 mph, and 60-0 mph braking cuts things short in just 116 feet. It's true performance art, and extravagant in ways you might never associate with the Jeep name.
No matter which engine you choose from, you get an excellent 8-speed automatic, paired with paddle-shift controls. The paddles are more like short nubs, sticking up above audio buttons mounted on the back of the steering wheel.
The Grand Cherokee is one of the best handling, best steering SUVs in its class. Road manners are smooth and crossover-like, without the boundy ride and the slow steering responses of the past. With the Limited, Overland, and Summit editions, there’s an available Quadra-Lift air suspension that can raise the Grand Cherokee from 6.4 inches to 11.3 inches off the ground through five modes—great for off-roading, and even more settled on-road. The air suspension can also lower the Jeep all the way for entry and exit, as well as when loading, and it drops the car down on the highway to improve aerodynamics and fuel economy. On the SRT, it's so confident and grippy, it feels more at ease on the track than the rumbly, rough-riding Hellcats.
Towing and off-roading
Most Grand Cherokees come standard with rear-wheel drive, although there are plenty of options for those who want some or all of the legendary Jeep off-road ability.
The Grand Cherokee can be ordered with one of three all- or four-wheel-drive systems. The basic Quadra-Trac I has a locking differential in the middle, with power split 50/50 front to rear, but no low range. Quadra-Trac II can split torque variably from front to rear, as traction disappears at either end, up to 100 percent in theory. Quadra-Drive II adds on an electronic limited-slip differential across the rear axle so that the Grand Cherokee can respond even more intelligently to slipping and sliding. You’d want the most extreme choice for the most extreme duties, but the base setup is lightweight, simple, and more than enough traction control for crossover-SUV drivers.
The Grand Cherokee is one of the few vehicles that can be fitted with hardcore off-road talent. Jeep grafts a Selec-Terrain system to both of the Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II systems. A terrain selection knob lets you choose one of five traction modes according to driving conditions: Auto, Sand, Mud, Snow, and Rock. (The former Sport mode is selected on the shift lever.) It’s useful stuff—if you don’t already know to take it slow and steady when conditions aren’t perfect.
Some versions of the Grand Cherokee earn the Trail Rated designation—those with Selec-Terrain plus and an off-road package—and we've seen how they earn it, scrambling up 200-foot, 55-degree inclines with a Selec-Speed system that puts a steady amount of force into the drivetrain, and controls it in 1-kph increments. It's brainless off-roading, all granted by smart electronic controls.
Maximum towing is rated at 6,200 pounds with the V-6, while the V-8 or the diesel raise that to (potentially) 7,400 pounds.
The Grand Cherokee is the best Jeep performer in history; the SRT gives Cayennes reason to look in the rearview mirror.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee does many things right, but the most underrated of its talents might be how it carries up to five adults and cargo.
We rate it at 10 out of 10 for comfort, utility and quality. It has very good seats front and back that actually can carry five adults; very good storage capacity; and on top trims, it's among the best of its price class. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The Grand Cherokee focuses on five, while its cousin the Dodge Durango totes up to seven passengers. Both ride on a rather long 114.8-inch wheelbase, and the Jeep's better use of that space shows in its adult-friendly leg room front and back, plus easy entry and exit from large doors that open up 78 degrees.
There's a lot to like in the way the Grand Cherokee seats those passengers. The driver and passenger get wide cushions with a fair amount of bolstering, except on standard-issue Laredo versions, where the cloth seats tend to be pretty flat, with bottom cushions that are a little too short. The seats in the SRT model instead gets some very heavily bolstered seats that we like for different reasons. They're a little snug, but offer good back support.
The Grand Cherokee's cabin feels generous in width; that helps leave room to rest an arm on the center console, if you so desire. Even with the available sunroof, 6-footers will still have a couple of extra inches of head room.
In back, three adults have a good shot at sitting comfortably. Two will be quite happy, with plenty of room to slouch and fold down the middle armrest. The seatbacks recline and tilt 12 degrees in each direction for even better comfort, all the better to enjoy those four additional inches of leg room.
Cargo storage and quality
The Grand Cherokee doesn't shirk its cargo duties, either. You can flip down the rear seats with a single lever, and on some versions the front passenger seat folds flat, too—just in case you need to take a grandfather clock for a ride. All versions of the Grand Cherokee are rated at the same storage space, at 36.3 cubic feet behind the rear seats, with a somewhat high but long cargo floor. The flip-up glass for the tailgate went away with the last-generation GC, but you can raise the entire liftback by power on all versions (standard from Limited on up). Additionally, on the ritzier versions, the cargo area gets fine padding and trim bars.
Small items won't get lost inside this Jeep. There's a console bin ahead of the shift lever that contains all the audio ports—which are ringed in soft light—but there's only just enough room for a small smartphone. The two-level console bin and bottle pockets on doors are useful, but the rest of the door pockets aren't very long or deep. And our favorite storage detail probably remains the removable dual bins next to the spare tire.
The Grand Cherokee has entered the era of touchscreens and electronic gauges with much grace, and it seems like trim quality and materials have never been better. The Summit edition patterns its finishes and color choices after nature. It's like the most upscale L.L. Bean or Eddie Bauer edition you've ever seen, with a marked lack of bright finishes and earthy tones like copper and green paired with open-grain, matte-finish wood.
The Grand Cherokee is for the most part a very quiet vehicle. It has big square mirrors, so you'll notice wind noise on the highway. And in the turbodiesel model, the engine's clatter at idle and lower speeds is a bit loud at idle and lower speeds.
Perhaps what's most important when it comes down to evaluating the Grand Cherokee's interior comfort and quality is its relative value. At the base level it out-classes its immediate rivals, while the top-end models come close to Range Rover-quality fixtures for a fraction of the price. Sure, a Range Rover feels a lot better inside—but does it feel $40,000 better?
The Grand Cherokee simply nails the "utility" part of the "sport-utility vehicle" formula--and top versions are downright swanky.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is starting to show its age, at least in crash-test scores. It's slipped from a top-ranked vehicle to a lower-rated one, due to the more difficult tests designed by both the federal government and the insurance industry.
We rate its safety at 4 out of 10. We give it a point for 4WD models' 5-star NHTSA rating, but dock it points for the RWD model's four-star overall rating, and its three-star rollover resistance score. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
More on those scores: The IIHS says the Grand Cherokee is a good performer on all tests, except for its tougher small-overlap front test. On that, it gets a "Marginal" rating, which disqualifies it from Top Safety Pick contention.
The NHTSA splits the Grand Cherokee into two different models, rear- and four-wheel drive. Rear-drive models get four stars overall, with a three-star rating for rollover resistance; four-wheel-drive versions are rated at five stars, and their rollover score rises to four stars.
All Grand Cherokees have a full suite of airbags, as well as trailer-sway control, hill-descent control, and hill-start assistance. Active headrests are standard as well. Bluetooth is standard, and a rearview camera is now standard on all Grand Cherokees.
On other models, safety options include parking sensors and blind-spot monitors. Adaptive cruise control is available, bundled with a frontal-crash warning system. The Grand Cherokee can also be fitted with automatic high beams.
The airy Grand Cherokee provides drivers with great forward vision. The hood’s shaped to give a good sense of the front corners, and the very large side mirrors are almost square.
Four-wheel drive Grand Cherokees feature hill-ascent control, which is like off-road cruise control for uphill work, a sort of automatic climbing mode; speed is selected in 1-kilometer-per-hour increments.
The Grand Cherokee is starting to show its age, with lower crash-test scores and a lack of some standard safety gear.
|Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating:||(5/5)|
|Overall Side Crash Rating:||(5/5)|
|Overall Side Barrier Rating:||Not Rated|
|NHTSA Roll-over Resistance Rating:||(3/5)|
|Side Impact Test||Good|
|Roof Strength Test||Good|
|Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint||Good|
|IIHS Small Overlap Front Test Results||Marginal|
|IIHS Moderate Overlap Front Test Results||Good|
The Jeep Grand Cherokee comes in Laredo, Limited, Overland, Summit, Trailhawk and SRT versions. Within those versions are several noteworthy packages and special editions.
We rate it at 8 out of 10 for features, thanks to its extensive options list and its infotainment system, and it gets a point for its above-and-beyond turbodiesel and SRT models. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
On the Grand Cherokee Laredo, standard equipment includes 17-inch wheels; air conditioning; a tilt/telescope steering wheel; cloth seats; power windows, locks, and mirrors; cruise control; keyless entry; an audio system with an AM/FM/CD player and satellite radio; and rear-wheel drive. All Grand Cherokees as of 2017 get a standard rearview camera and parking sensors.
Options on the Laredo are more limited than in the rest of the lineup. But you can add a number of upgrades, including an off-road package that has skid plates, Selec-Terrain, and all the extras, with a bottom-line price that's still under $36,000.
Beyond the Laredo models, the Grand Cherokee starts to pivot from family crossover into high-end hardware. Ascend to the Limited and you'll get 18-inch wheels; leather seating with a power front passenger seat; a power tailgate; remote start; and heated front seats.
Adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, navigation, and off-reading-assistance systems are among the many options on the Limited, which also has a different appearance, with more body-color trim.
The V-6 and Hemi V-8 engine are both optional on Limited models and above.
While you'll likely be very happy with the Laredo or Limited if you're seeking a comfortable, versatile family vehicle, the Overland and Summit models are the way to go if you want an appearance that's a little more distinct—as well as a feature set that really does align with rival models bearing luxury badges.
The Overland adds 20-inch wheels; LED daytime running lights; navigation; an air suspension on four-wheel drive models; nappa leather seating with ventilated front seats; a panoramic sunroof; and a leather-trimmed dash. The interior features Overland-embroidered seats, as well.
At the nearly-$50,000 Summit, you'll be rewarded with almost all of these features as standard equipment, as well as fancy steering headlights; unique wheel and wood choices, including a matte "open-pore" finish; and a suede headliner. Only a Blu-ray rear-seat entertainment system and a center-console CD changer are options. Summit models add standard parking assist and trailer-hitch camera view for 2017
For 2017, a new Trailhawk model joins the lineup. It gets 18-inch off-road tires; red tow hooks; Quadra-Drive II; an electronic limited-slip differential; an air suspension with more suspension travel; Selec-Speed Control; skid plates; and a black leather interior.
As the most expensive model in the lineup, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT carries the halo—but in a way that's not entirely rough-and-rugged.
It's more rooted in the racetrack than it is on the trail, and it has its own standard features, from luxury touches like leather and suede seats; carbon-fiber interior trim; metallic pedal pads; power tilt/telescope steering; active noise cancellation; and a leather-trimmed and heated steering wheel. The SRT also includes Performance Pages, which displays different timers and performance data such as 0-60 mph times, braking distances, and quarter-mile times, for those places and times that let you exercise the SRT's massive tires and Hemi horsepower.
Options on the SRT include a dual-pane sunroof; a luxury package with leather trim and a power tailgate; and a 19-speaker, 825-watt Harman Kardon audio system.
For the buyer who can't leave any option box unchecked, the SRT Night package adds special black wheels; blacked-out pillars, roof, spoiler and grille; and black hides inside for $4,980 more. That can run the price for a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT up past $70,000 and yeah, we don't get it either.
Jeep Grand Cherokee infotainment
One of those places where the Grand Cherokee is on better footing than some rivals is in infotainment technology. The Grand Cherokee plugs into the data slipstream via the available Uconnect mobile package, and includes an 8.4-inch LCD touchscreen that controls infotainment and climate systems, in tandem with voice and steering-wheel controls. Data connectivity is wired into the car, bringing streaming audio capability, as well as wireless connectivity and in-car hotspot capability, making it even easier to stream video to portable devices and to passengers needing entertainment. A smaller, 5.0-inch center touchscreen is standard on Laredo and Limited models.
The main takeaway from Uconnect is that it's a bit easier and quicker to learn than Cadillac's CUE or Ford's systems. While it has just as many steering-wheel buttons, it also has a persistent row of icons—shortcuts to favorite controls—on the center display. On top of all that, it's laid out with clean, pretty, and well-rendered screens. It isn't perfect, though: voice commands are usually understood, but the underlying functions aren't always as rich as you might hope.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee puts up a smorgasbord of options, with the most tempting being its SRT and turbodiesel editions.
Provided you don't want a hybrid, the Grand Cherokee probably offers the powertrain you need, to get the fuel economy you want.
We give it a green score of 6 out of 10, based on its EPA V-6 gas mileage. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The Grand Cherokee kicks off things with decent V-6 gas mileage. The EPA rates it at 19 mpg city, 26 highway, 21 combined for rear-drive versions. With all-wheel drive, the V-6 is pegged at 18/25/21 mpg.
With the mid-line V-8 and standard all-wheel drive, the Grand Cherokee is rated at 14/22/17 mpg.
The Grand Cherokee SRT is the gas hog of the family. It earns EPA ratings of 13/19/15 mpg, and we've seen lower. Much lower.
All versions come with an 8-speed automatic that helps reduce fuel consumption, while the V-8s also include cylinder deactivation.
Then there's the Grand Cherokee turbodiesel. The EPA hasn't published its ratings for the 2017 model year after a brief stop-sale with the EPA. Chrysler predicts last year's numbers will carry over when it's finally recertified: 22/30/25 mpg for rear-drive models, or at 21/28/24 mpg with four-wheel drive, with a range of 730 miles.
Gas mileage isn't great in the Grand Cherokee; the turbodiesel is the mileage leader for 2017.