The Jeep Grand Cherokee is a mid-size crossover utility vehicle sold under Fiat Chrysler’s rugged Jeep brand, and produced over four distinct generations. Where many crossovers currently on the market started life as truck-based body-on-frame SUVs, the Grand Cherokee has used a car-like unibody structure since its initial introduction for 1993, making it a bit of a trend-setter among similarly sized vehicles.
This has given Fiat Chrysler ample time to get the formula just right.
And so they have, apparently, as the Jeep Grand Cherokee continues to sell at an impressive clip, despite not having had a complete redesign since the 2011 model year. An all-new, fifth-generation model is reportedly on its way at last, but extracting maximum value (and time) from existing vehicle designs is something of a Fiat Chrysler specialty. Think of the Dodge Challenger, Charger, and Durango, all of which got their last redesign around the same time as the Grand Cherokee. Think also of the previous-generation Jeep Wrangler JK, which stuck around for over a decade without a redesign.
Alas, a seasoned, purpose-built Wrangler-like off-roader the Jeep Grand Cherokee is not. Like most Jeeps, the mid-size utility vehicle can in theory trudge through some moderately tricky stuff, but its true strengths are primarily expressed on the road: a softly sprung, quiet ride; an abundance of cabin space; and near-luxury-car levels of equipment content. There is an available Trailhawk model of the Grand Cherokee, ostensibly aimed at customers looking for more off-road acumen, but whether such examples are ever actually used in their intended manner with any frequency is questionable.
For the U.S. market, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is built at FCA’s Jefferson North Assembly Plant in Detroit, which has produced every generation of the mid-size crossover since the vehicle’s launch in 1992.
Pros/ Excellent space and comfort / Available Trailhawk, Trackhawk models
Cons/Design starting to show its age / Unfortunate cost-cutting evident inside / Unimpressive efficiency
Bottom Line/This iteration of the Grand Cherokee is nearly nine years old now, yet it still manages to be compelling and competitive.
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Jeep Grand Cherokee Fuel Economy
Fuel economy is not the Jeep Grand Cherokee’s strong suit. At best, the rear-wheel-drive 2020 Grand Cherokee with 3.6L gasoline V6 manages 21 miles per gallon on the combined cycle, with city and highway figures of 19 and 26 mpg, respectively. With the same engine, the 4WD version is rated at the same 21 mpg combined, from city and highway ratings of 18 and 25 mpg, respectively.
A trio of V8 engines are also available, all with standard four-wheel drive and predictably, those fare worse. The 5.7L V8 returns 17 mpg combined, according to EPA testing, while the 6.4L in the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT posts 15 mpg. At the top of the food chain is the monstrous, gas-guzzling supercharged 6.2L V8 of the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk – the very same V8 that powers the Dodge Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcat models – which manages just 13 mpg combined.
All 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokees are propelled with an eight-speed automatic transmission, but despite the abundance of forward gears, this mid-size utility vehicle is just too thirsty to post decent fuel economy numbers.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Safety Rating
Safety is one area in which the Jeep Grand Cherokee, last redesigned for 2011, shows its age. Despite its impressive size, the 2019 model only managed a Marginal rating in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s small overlap frontal crash testing. The IIHS has only been conducting that test for a few years now, but where many automakers have updated their older designs in order to perform better in that test category, Jeep did not take that tack with the Grand Cherokee. We expect the forthcoming fifth-generation model to improve on its predecessor’s small overlap crashworthiness.
In every other testing category, however, the 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee achieved top marks, and the IIHS rated its available frontal crash prevention system Superior. Also, worth keeping in mind is that larger vehicles generally do provide more crash protection to occupants overall, so the Grand Cherokee with its Marginal small overlap frontal crash test rating might still be safer than a more favorably rated small vehicle.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Features
The mid-size crossover segment is rife with spacious, comfortable, feature-rich vehicles, and the 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee fits right in in that respect. The base Laredo trim level features plenty of standard up-market features, like an acoustic glass windshield, blind spot monitoring, rear park assist, and a 7-inch Uconnect infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. An available All-Weather Trail Rated package turns the Laredo into a cozy and capable off-roader with skid plates, hill descent control, a more advanced Quadra Trac II four-wheel-drive system, heated steering, heated front seats, and a remote start system.
Moving further up the trim ladder opens up a world of additional available features, like a giant panoramic moonroof, automatic high beams, ventilated leather front seats, satellite navigation, rain-sensing windshield wipers, parallel and perpindicular park assist – the works. Depending on the trim, premium audio systems from Alpine and Harman Kardon are available.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Pricing
Given its rich mix of standard and available features, it should come as no surprise that the Jeep Grand Cherokee commands a rather rich price for such a high-volume vehicle. For 2020, the Jeep Grand Cherokee starts at $32,045 before destination. That’s for a Grand Cherokee Laredo 4×2 with no optional extras specified. The off-road-ready Trailhawk starts nearly $13,000 higher, at $44,955 before destination, while the Trackhawk with the supercharged 6.2L Hemi V8 will set you back an eye-watering $86,900.
Load up on extras, and the 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk can near $105,000. For reference, that’s thousands more than the median home price in West Virginia at the time of writing.
Granted, that makes some sense. The supercharged Hemi V8 that powers the Trackhawk is the same brutally potent 707-horsepower unit that propels the Dodge SRT Charger and Challenger Hellcat models. To pack that much muscle into a large vehicle like the Grand Cherokee (relatively) safely required uprated brakes and suspension components capable of keeping up. In fact, the Brembo brakes at the front of the Trackhawk are the biggest ever fitted to a production Jeep vehicle.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Competitors
The Jeep Grand Cherokee contends with the likes of the Ford Edge, Honda Passport, Hyundai Santa Fe, Kia Sorento, Nissan Murano, and Subaru Outback – other two-row mid-size SUVs from volume automotive brands. The starting MSRP is within spitting distance of the Edge, Passport, and Murano, but the Santa Fe, Sorento, and Outback all manage to undercut the rest of the bunch by thousands.
Of course, the name Jeep has a lot of pull, and the comparatively high price isn’t likely to deter those sold on the rugged FCA brand. Unfortunately, the Grand Cherokee is also the least fuel-efficient of any of the aforementioned vehicles; only the Honda Passport is within the same neighborhood with regard to EPA-estimated miles per gallon. What’s more, the Grand Cherokee isn’t necessarily the best equipped vehicle of the bunch, especially if it’s advanced active safety systems that you’re after.
That said, it is arguably the most premium, special-feeling vehicle in the segment, and that’s worth something.
2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Review
By Sebastien Bell | Jun 14, 2018
It’s been 25 years since Jeep released the first Grand Cherokee and in that time, a lot has changed. The SUV went from niche to mainstream, from rugged off-roader to wagon on steroids, but the Jeep, as is its wont, hasn’t changed quite as much. And that’s worth celebrating.
Obviously, Jeep agrees, because the new for 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Sterling Edition celebrates the Grand Cherokee’s 25th anniversary, and it’s a nice reminder of the SUV’s off-road roots, and why those roots are still relevant on the road today.
Jeep, as you might expect, is happy to remind you of this history by festooning the Sterling Edition with badges and frills to remind you just how special your new Grand Cherokee is. Taken together, the standard badging, the 9-speaker Alpine audio system, the heritage seats, the 20-inch wheels and everything else combine to make this new trim level cost about four grand more than the Limited trim. It’s a simple trim package that amps the comfort up slightly while also playing up the brand’s off-road heritage.
To be honest, though, this model is about as likely to really go off-roading as a Trackhawk is likely to hit the track. Sure, they’ve both been designed to theoretically go to those places, but in practice, no one’s risking their very-expensive paint, brakes, or tires by actually taking them there. The closest a Trackhawk is getting to a track is a good on-ramp and the closest a Sterling Edition is getting to off-road is climbing a curb to avoid mall traffic.
But that doesn’t make designing them to accomplish those tasks ridiculous. Making vehicles too good for the road means that they’re good enough for owners. And while I don’t necessarily object to benchmarking SUVs on a racetrack, there are distinct advantages to benchmarking them on rutted, muddy paths.
The Grand Cherokee’s heritage—as its Heritage seats and 20-inch Heritage wheels term it—is in the impassable quagmire of dense forest. It might not be the original SUV, but the Grand Cherokee is likely the vehicle that brought the segment to prominence. And that heritage means not just a vehicle that can handle itself off-road, but one that’s comfortable on road, too.
So many cars want to fool you into thinking they’re sporty that hard, uncomfortable suspensions have become the norm. But who cares about taking an on-ramp at a million miles an hour when you have kids or friends in the back seat and precious cargo. All a rough ride is going to achieve is the creation of a mess. The Grand Cherokee is softly sprung because its paths are uncomfortable. Combined with the big, couch-like seats mentioned above, it makes for a soothing ride that lends itself to long drives or congestion-induced waits in traffic.
Along with that, FCA’s UConnect is among the simplest, easiest-to-use infotainment systems on the road. The Sterling Edition comes standard with Jeep’s now larger 8.4-inch touchscreen, but it also has big chunky buttons that can be used with gloves on. The advantage of that is easy-to-find buttons which are useful off-road. It’s also wildly useful on-road where menus and anything that takes your attention away from the road for more than a split second is dangerous, too.
Short overhangs—the same short overhangs that give you 24-degree departure angles—mean that fitting heavy cargo into the back easy. It does mean, though, that the Grand Cherokee’s 36/68 cubic feet (1,028 liters/1,934 liters) of cargo capacity is less than impressive as compared to the competition. A Ford Explorer offers considerably more (43/80 cu-ft, or 1243/2314 liters though it is a three-row) and that’s quite the disadvantage, but something like the Dodge Journey which offers 33.1/67.6 cu ft (1,122 l/1,914 l) cargo capacity, leaving the Grand Cherokee within the “acceptable” range.
Up front, meanwhile, the short overhangs caress a standard Pentastar V6. The requirement that it be able to pull the Grand Cherokee’s heft out of deep ruts means that it feels torquey and quick producing a reasonably 295 hp and a healthy 260 lb-ft of torque. The 8-speed automatic transmission, meanwhile, could accurately be described as a dog. It doesn’t so much feel like an automatic as it feels like a manual being operated by someone who’s never used a clutch before. Off the line, the car shudders, shattering the illusion of luxury that the ride and the seats, and the decent leather had been working to cultivate. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh to the transmission, but it was harsh to me.
Fuel economy isn’t great, either. Rated at 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway (12.7 liters per 100 kms city and 9.6 liters per 100 kms highway ), we observed as little as 16 mpg (about 14.7 l/100 kms) in the real world (admittedly traffic-filled) driving. The fuel needle seems to spin counterclockwise faster than an Australian toilet.
The illusion of luxury is also hampered by an interior that, while nice, is only that. Hard plastics and other cut corners compete with the nice sound system and the rear-seat entertainment to make for an interior that’s as luxurious as Anna Delvey is rich (that is to say only superficially convincing). Outside, meanwhile, the Sterling Edition’s badging, tow hooks, fog light bezels, grille, and roof rails are all finished in something that Jeep generously calls “platinum chrome.” Not shiny enough to be either chrome or platinum, it looks like these were all painted a dull silver. It’s fine, I guess, but hardly feels worth mentioning as a feature.
This isn’t supposed to be the top of the line model, though. Our model cost $47,820 ($52,845 in Canada) letting the Sterling Edition sit right in the middle of the range. It certainly has enough standard features to be worth the premium over the Limited trim ($38,495 in the US, $48,195 in Canada), but it becomes a little harder to justify when compared to higher trims. The Trailhawk, for instance looks a little cooler and features the Quadra-Lift air suspension, but only costs $1,000 more, making it a more attractive offering.
The Verdict: 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Review
Overall, though, it’s a nice package and it’s a nice reminder of why the true SUV is an idea worth holding onto. Walking the line between comfort and capability, the Sterling Edition is a fine tribute to the original Grand Cherokee. It just might not be the finest.
|Engine /||3.6L V6 / 5.7L V8 / 6.4L V8 / 6.2L supercharged V8|
|Horsepower /||295 / 360 / 475 / 707|
|Torque /||260 lb-ft / 390 lb-ft / 470 lb-ft / 645 lb-ft|
|Transmission /||8-speed automatic|
|Drivetrain /||Rear-wheel-drive / Four-wheel-drive|
Our Final Verdict
That the Jeep Grand Cherokee continues to sell in such large numbers despite its age is a testament to both the allure of the Jeep brand, and the merits of the model itself. We can’t say that the market is wrong; the Grand Cherokee is a spacious, comfortable, and versatile cruiser, marrying some amount of off-road performance (dependent on trim) with a soft, quiet on-road demeanor. Inside the cabin are some signs of cost-cutting, and the vehicle’s so-so fuel economy and hefty price tag might be enough to turn away many buyers, but just as many mid-size SUV customers seem to feel the Grand Cherokee’s strengths outweigh its weaknesses.3.8