Only poor crash test scores keep the Grand Cherokee down, as this talented family hauler offers luxury and utility and buyers can choose off-road capability, track talent, or even more luxury.
Choose your own adventure in the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV: haul gear; haul up a mountain; haul your family; or in the high-powered Trackhawk version, haul...nevermind.
It exceeds what is expected of a family crossover, and we rate it highly, though we recognize that safety is becoming a problem for this aging vehicle. It gets a 7.7 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The biggest change this year is a loss of rational control. The Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk takes inspiration—and engines—from Dodge's Hellcat models and hot swaps them into the SUV. It cranks out 707 horsepower and can approach 180 mph. Beefed up brakes, cooling systems, seats, all-wheel-drive system, and transmission help the Trackhawk put its power to the road.
Other changes for 2018 include the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to the 8.4-inch version of the Uconnect infotainment system, a new 7.0-inch Uconnect screen on base models instead of a 5.0-inch screen, active noise cancellation for the vehicle through the available Alpine audio system, and a new Sterling Edition package to celebrate the model’s 25th anniversary.
The Grand Cherokee is offered in a variety of models: Laredo, Limited, Overland, Summit, Trailhawk, SRT, and the new Trackhawk. Five engines are offered. They start with a 295-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6. Next up is a 360-hp 5.7-liter V-8. The Grand Cherokee is unique in offering a diesel engine; the 3.0-liter turbodiesel puts out 240 hp and 420 pound-feet of torque. The SRT model gets a 475-hp 6.4-liter V-8, and the Trackhawk has the supercharged V-8. All engines are backed by a fantastic 8-speed automatic.
Fuel economy starts out at a decent 19 mpg city, 26 highway, 21 combined with rear-wheel drive V-6, but the V-8s suffer. The diesel manages 25 mpg combined.
Towing capacity ranges from 6,200 pounds for the V-6 to 7,400 pounds for the diesel.
Jeep also offers four four-wheel-drive systems, ranging from basic to advanced. Quadra-Drive II is the top system. It has low-range gearing, a rear limited-slip differential, a Selec-Terrain system that controls the electronics of several vehicle systems to help the vehicle handle any terrain, hill-start assist, hill-descent control, and a low-speed cruise control called Selec-Speed. Jeep also offers a variety of off-road packages and an air suspension that can raise the vehicle to clear off-road obstacles.
The Grand Cherokee is refined, too. It rides and handles well, and its interior is decidedly upscale, especially on higher line models. In fact, we think it competes well with luxury-brand rivals. Jeep makes plenty of amenities standard on higher line models.
Safety is the Grand Cherokee’s biggest issue. It offers some of today’s active safety features, but the aging platform just doesn’t perform well in some of the newer crash tests.