The 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a benchmark SUV; it's a luxury vehicle, a talented off-roader, a scalding-hot track runner, and a family wagon extraordinaire.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is a great family vehicle—just one that's also potentially ready to go off-road, tow a trailer or, on occasion, do things that are more workhorse-like than you'd attempt in most other typical family crossovers.
With the Grand Cherokee, Jeep offers Laredo, Limited, Overland, Summit, Trailhawk and SRT versions.
We rate it at 7.7 out of 10. A handsome, deeply talented performer, the Grand Cherokee is let down by its surprisingly poor crash-test scores. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Jeep Grand Cherokee styling and performance
Today's Jeep Grand Cherokee is quite a handsome 'ute, although not everyone is a fan of the thinner, more understated grille that was introduced a couple of years ago. The SUV shape has been made more distinct with help from LED taillights and some better detailing, so there's less in common with the X5 and Touareg, and more with the 1992 original. The cabin is richly furnished, with marvelous textures and materials on the pricey models, and great layout and design even on the basic Laredo. The Grand Cherokee has one of FCA's best interiors, in design and execution, and it's fully competitive with other models carrying luxury badges.
Three engines are available in the standard Grand Cherokee. Base models use a 3.6-liter V-6, which now makes 295 horsepower and is fitted with a fuel-saving engine stop/start system. Then there's the 5.7-liter V-8, which puts out 360 hp. The most efficient and torque-rich option is the turbodiesel 3.0-liter V-6, with 420 lb-ft of torque. It achieves up to 30 mpg on the highway and stretches range to 730 miles, offering best-in-class towing of 7,400 pounds. All three engines are backed by an 8-speed automatic.
The Grand Cherokee also offers an available air suspension, which can improve highway mileage further by lowering at speed.
The on-road-performance-oriented Grand Cherokee SRT features a 6.4-liter V-8 that now makes 475 hp and a 0-60 mph time of about 4.8 seconds. With launch control and a sporty 70-percent torque split to the rear in Track mode, it's one of the best-handling SUVs we've driven.
The Grand Cherokee hasn't given up any of its off-road talent; instead, it's added to it in recent years. The most advanced versions can still clamber over boulders and logs with ease, and the new automatic enables a lower crawl ratio that suits the diesel especially well. With three four-wheel-drive systems, as well as the Selec-Terrain management system, which automatically caters the powertrain settings for the terrain (Sand, Mud, Auto, Snow, and Rock), you have a lot of options, so make sure you opt for the Grand Cherokee with the capability you need.
The EPA has rated the Grand Cherokee from 22 mpg city, 30 highway, 25 combined for a rear-drive diesel version to 13/19/15 mpg for the thirsty V-8 in the SRT model—and nearly everywhere in between those ratings.
Grand Cherokee utility, features, and safety
The Grand Cherokee is a five-passenger, two-row model. Go to its cousin, the Dodge Durango, if you'd rather have three rows, but interior space is quite good. Multiple color schemes and interesting trim options, like open-pore wood, push the Grand Cherokee ever higher into luxury-vehicle terrain, though it doesn't have the third-row seating or funky-flexible interior of some bigger crossovers.
The Grand Cherokee is really only flagging in its crash-test scores, which are notably poor on rear-drive models. The Grand Cherokee lacks features like GM's center-front airbag or Ford's rear-seat belt airbags, but it does have a useful off-road safety tool set—with items such as hill ascent control, which maintains steady throttle while the Grand Cherokee scrabbles up surfaces a Flex or an Enclave can only dream about.
All Grand Cherokees come well equipped with power features, cruise control, air conditioning, and cloth upholstery. A rearview camera and parking sensors are standard across the lineup, at last. The list of options gets truly decadent at the Summit trim level, where the Jeep lands right in lux-ute territory with nappa leather, open-pore wood trim, and ventilated seats. The Summit edition includes every feature imaginable, including a 19-speaker, 825-watt Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system, including 12-channel amplifier and three subwoofers. At that level, the only option is a Blu-ray entertainment system—and we'd take iPads and wi-fi connectivity in any case.
Finally, on the infotainment front, the Uconnect systems in the Grand Cherokee (5.0- or 8.4-inch) are some of the best, thanks to a clean, simple interface. A piped-in data connection adds cloud-based services like voice-to-text and natural-language navigation via voice commands.