Reviews

2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Driving Impressions


Not only does the Grand Cherokee excel in ride comfort, handling ability, and sterling off-road prowess, it’s simply the best-performing Jeep ever. Smooth road manners suggest a crossover, with quick steering responses and a well-controlled ride.

With four powertrains and a choice of four-wheel-drive systems, you can pick the Grand Cherokee that will serve you best. The V6 engine responds strongly, with sufficient low-rpm torque to deal with touchy, demanding off-road conditions. The V6 is rated to tow up to 6,200 pounds.

The 5.7-liter Hemi V8 almost feels like that of a muscular Dodge Charger sedan, including a rousing engine note. For daily driving, though, that appealing V8 doesn’t deliver enough additional energy to justify its gas-mileage penalty.

Although the diesel V6 lacks the punch of the gasoline V8, it delivers the kind of strong low- and mid-range torque needed for towing and off-road assurance. As for the SRT, its 475-horsepower V8 is in a league comparable to European SUVs like the Porsche Cayenne.

Three all-wheel/four-wheel drive systems are available. Basic Quadra-Trac I has a locking differential and 50/50 front/rear power split, but no low range. Quadra-Trac II can split torque variably. Quadra-Drive II adds an electronic limited-slip rear differential.

Some versions earn the Trail Rated designation. An optional air suspension for Limited, Overland and Summit models can raise the Grand Cherokee from 6.4 inches to 11.3 inches above the ground, or lower it to ease entry/exit.

Forward vision is excellent, past a hood that’s shaped to give a helpful sense of front corner positions. Grand Cherokees are generally quiet, but big square mirrors produce some wind noise. The turbodiesel engine is a little loud while idling and at low speed.

Except for the turbodiesel, gas mileage isn’t great. The V6 is EPA-rated at 19/26 mpg City/Highway, or 21 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive lowers the estimate to 18/25 mpg City/Highway. Equipped with cylinder deactivation, the V8 is EPA-rated at 14/22 mpg City/Highway, or 17 mpg Combined. SRT is the guzzler, at 13/19 mpg City/Highway, or 15 mpg Combined. The turbodiesel has been EPA-rated at 22/30 mpg City/Highway, or 25 mpg Combined for rear-drive.

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