As the largest member of its SUV family, the 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a hugely capable off-roader. Depending on powertrain choice, it can be an excellent family hauler, an off-road ace, or an extreme-performance SUV.
Jeep has pared down the trim-level selection for the 2019 model year. Blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alerts are now standard on all Grand Cherokees. Limited and higher trim levels get the latest version of Jeep’s 8.4-inch touchscreen radio with navigation.
A new Limited X version features unique front/rear fascias, a performance hood, and 20-inch low-gloss wheels. The black interior features “Heritage” perforated leather seats. Overland models get new 20-inch “Heritage” wheels.
Seven trim levels are offered: Laredo, Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, Summit, SRT, and Trackhawk. Laredo E and Limited X are actually option packages.
Laredo, Limited, and Summit may be considered street versions. Trailhawk and Overland are ready for off-roading. SRT and Trackhawk promise track-ready performance.
Five engines and four 4×4 systems are available. The base engine, standard in all except SRT and Trackhawk, is a 3.6-liter V-6 that whips up 295 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque.
Limited, Overland, Summit, and Trailhawk trims can substitute a rumbly 360-horsepower, 5.7-liter V-8. There’s a more frugal edition too: Developing 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet, the optional turbodiesel promises better fuel economy and 7,400-pound towing capacity.
SRT trim gets a 425-horsepower, 6.4-liter V-8, dropping 0-60 mph acceleration time below 5 seconds. Topping the performance range, a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 in the Trackhawk generates a startling 707 horsepower.
All engines mate with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but most trims can substitute four-wheel drive. Grand Cherokees may be fitted with a Quadra-Lift air suspension.
Crash-testers for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2018 model a four-star overall score, plus four stars for frontal crash protection and for rollover prevention. (Rear-drive versions earned three stars for the calculated rollover rating.)
In its small-overlap crash-test for the driver, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety rated the 2018 model â€œMarginal.â€ The passenger side rated â€œPoor.â€ Other IIHS tests declared the Grand Cherokee â€œGoodâ€ in crash protection. Active-safety features that include automatic emergency braking helped Grand Cherokee achieve a â€œSuperiorâ€ rating for frontal-crash prevention.
Prices do not include $1,495 destination charge. All models except SRT and Trackhawk have a standard 3.6-liter V-6. A 5.7-liter V-8 or 3.0-liter turbodiesel are optional on all except Laredo.
Laredo ($31,945 with rear-wheel drive, $34,245 with four-wheel drive) includes 3.6-liter V-6, 17-inch alloy wheels, cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth, keyless entry, rear parking sensors, and blind-spot monitors.
Laredo E ($33,795 with RWD, $35,795 with 4WD) gets a power driver’s seat with lumbar adjustment, plus bright roof rails.
Altitude ($37,890 with RWD, $40,190 with 4WD) includes black 20-inch wheels, an 8.4-inch touchscreen, heated front seats, and heated steering wheel.
Upland ($35,895 with RWD, $38,390 with 4WD) has black exterior finish, 20-inch black wheels, and black tow hooks.
Limited ($39,195 with RWD, $41,195 with 4WD) includes heated power leather-trimmed front seats, headed second-row seating, a power liftgate, memory system, and 18-inch wheels.
Limited X ($44,095 with RWD, $46,095 with 4WD) comes with a modified SRT hood, navigation, and 20-inch Granite Crystal wheels.
Trailhawk 4WD V-6 ($44,295) includes Quadra-Drive II with rear electronic limited-slip differential, an air suspension, skid plates, leather-trimmed seats with suede inserts, Alpine 506-watt audio, and 18-inch wheels.
High Altitude ($48,490 with RWD, $51,490 with 4WD) has black Nappa perforated leather-trimmed seats, a panoramic sunroof, and active-safety group.
Overland ($45,995 with RWD, $48,995 with 4WD) comes with an air suspension, panoramic sunroof, 20-inch wheels, bi-xenon HID headlights, LED fog lights, wood/leather-wrapped heated steering wheel, and perforated Nappa leather upholstery.
Summit ($52,290 with RWD, $55,290 with 4WD) comes with Harman Kardon 19-speaker 825-watt audio, perforated leather-trimmed front seats, and parking assistance. Safety features include adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, and lane-departure warnings.
SRT 4WD V8 ($68,395) features the 6.4-liter V-8, Brembo brakes, launch control, Quadra-Trac 4WD, 20-inch wheels, Bilstein active-damping suspension, leather/perforated-suede seat upholstery, and Performance Pages readout.
Trackhawk 4WD V-8 ($86,900) gets the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8, along with active damping suspension, 20-inch forged wheels, leather/suede upholstery, five drive modes, active-safety features, 8.4-inch touchscreen with Track Pages, and launch control.
More mature than previous generations, the current Jeep Grand Cherokee projects an attitude of affluence. While the body shape is less aggressive than some rivals favor, styling cues evolved from iconic Jeeps of the past. Body proportions are still just-right, including trapezoidal wheel arches and, up front, the familiar seven-slot grille.
Chrome adornments decorate upper trim levels. Trailhawks, in contrast, show off their less lavish, more rough-hewn accents, including red tow hooks.
Warm and ornate inside, the immensely capable Grand Cherokee has edged into the near-luxury class. Few SUVs at its level perform their tasks so comfortably.
Cabin appointments make use of high-quality materials that are pleasing both visually and by touch. Limited, Overland, and Summit trim levels add wood and leather accents to the steering wheel, doors, and dashboard. SRT and Trackhawk models get racier furnishings, such as sueded accents and trim components.
Five adults fit comfortably within the Grand Cherokee, which rides the same 114.8-inch wheelbase that Dodge uses for its seven-seat Durango. As a result, rear occupants enjoy ample stretch-out space. Entry/exit is easy, because wide-swinging doors open as far as 78 degrees.
Front and rear seats excel. Wide and comfortable, they contain abundant cushioning to please heftier riders â€“ though seat bottoms on the base Laredo are a bit thin. SRT and Trackhawk versions get especially supportive, snug cushions.
Reclining rear seats give riders more than 38 inches of legroom. Headroom also is good.
The upgraded infotainment system, with high-resolution 8.4-inch touchscreen, ranks among the best. Icons are clear and bright, matched by common-sense menus.
Behind the second row, cargo room totals 36.3 cubic feet. Fold the rear seatbacks down, and it grows beyond 63 cubic feet.
No Grand Cherokee lacks impressive hardware or capabilities. Few new cars of any sort offer such a broad performance range.
Off-road or on-pavement, the 3.6-liter V-6 delivers adequate power for strong performance. At low engine speeds, the V-6 feels like no additional muscle is really needed. But if more is desired, the 5.7-liter V-8 provides a welcome solution. For greatest fuel economy, the turbodiesel awaits.
With 475 horsepower on tap, the SRT’s 6.4-liter V-8 sends this SUV to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds. For all-out enthusiasts with fat wallets, the Trackhawk’s near-legendary supercharged V-8 slashes that time to 3.5 seconds. Who’d have thought a seemingly sensible SUV could behave like a serious muscle car?
Every Grand Cherokee uses an 8-speed automatic that’s seamless and responsive. Some trim levels include small paddle shifters.
Despite heft beyond two tons, any Grand Cherokee drives and steers effectively. Unibody construction helps keep this sizable Jeep calm on-road, without the bounding ride of a trucklike, body-on-frame SUV.
On Limited, Overland, and Summit versions, a Quadra-Lift air suspension can raise ride height from 6.4 to 11.3 inches.
Four-wheel-drive systems have different ways to handle off-road duties. Quadra-Trac I, standard on Laredo 4WD models, has a locking center differential but no low-range gearing. Quadra-Trac II, standard on 4WD Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, and Summit, includes a low-speed transfer case and hill-descent control. Quadra-Drive II, with limited-slip rear differential, is available on top models.
Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II include five drive modes for optimum grip on tough terrain.
Fuel economy earns no awards. With V-6 and four-wheel drive, Grand Cherokee is EPA-rated at 18/25 mpg City/Highway, or 21 mpg Combined. Rear-drive is slightly thriftier, at 19/26/21 mpg.
With a 5.7-liter V-8 and 4WD, it’s EPA-rated at 14/22 mpg City/Highway, or 17 mpg Combined, using mid-grade gasoline. The 475-horsepower SRT is EPA-rated at 13/19 mpg City/Highway, or 15 mpg Combined. That’s better than the 707-horsepower Trackhawk, EPA-rated at only 11/17/13 mpg. Only SRT and Trackhawk V-8s require premium gasoline.
Most frugal is the turbodiesel, EPA-rated at 21/28 mpg City/Highway, or 24 mpg Combined, with four-wheel drive. Rear-drive raises that estimate to 22/30/25 mpg.
The 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee demonstrates that rigorous capability can coexist with comfort. Undeniably upscale in both look and feel, the largest Jeep wagon scores for style as well as performance. Well-equipped in any form, with any of the potent powertrains, this SUV does fall short in fuel economy and in crash-test scores, though.
Driving impressions by Aaron Cole, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.