The Jeep Grand Cherokee remains a benchmark, if a somewhat dated one, combining luxury with off-road capability. Last redesigned for 2011, the Grand Cherokee is in its fourth generation.
New to the lineup is the 2017 Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, fitted with front/rear tow hooks, skid plates, 18-inch off-road tires, and a unique air suspension. 2017 Grand Cherokee Summit and 2017 Grand Cherokee SRT editions get exterior revisions and upgraded leather.
Handsome and capable, the Grand Cherokee comes in six distinct flavors, to serve as a premium family wagon, a wilderness trekker, a hauler of trailers. Each version is capable of tough workhorse duties, and the hot-performing SRT savors racetrack duty.
Four engines are available, starting with a 3.6-liter V6. Developing 295 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, the V6 is equipped with a fuel-saving engine stop/start system.
The optional 5.7-liter V8 produces 360 horsepower and 390 pound-feet, capable of towing a class-leading 7,400 pounds.
For efficiency and bountiful torque, the optional turbodiesel 3.0-liter V6 generates 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet. EPA-rated at 30 mpg in highway driving, the diesel promises a range greater than 730 miles.
Each engine drives a responsive 8-speed automatic transmission. An optional air suspension can boost Grand Cherokee highway mileage even further, by lowering at highway speeds.
Ultimate on-road performance is the province of the Grand Cherokee SRT, packing a 6.4-liter V8 that whips up 475 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. Acceleration to 60 mph takes just 4.8 seconds. Equipped with launch control, the SRT is one of the top-handling SUVs available.
Rear-drive is standard on most versions, but three four-wheel-drive systems are available and the transmission incorporates a low crawl ratio. Selec-Terrain automatically alters powertrain settings to suit the terrain: Sand, Mud, Snow, Rock, or Automatic.
Grand Cherokees with rear-wheel drive have declined in crash-test scores. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave it a 4-star rating overall, with 3-star for rollover resistance. Four-wheel drive raised the scoring to 5-star overall and 4-star rollover. Testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety produced Good scores, except for Marginal in the tougher small-overlap frontal collision. Grand Cherokees trail some rivals in standard safety equipment. A rearview camera and trailer-sway control are standard. Blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, and frontal-crash warning are optional.
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