Parked at the crossroads of off-road and race day, the Jeep Grand Cherokee covers ground like few crossovers or SUVs can.
There’s not a bad pick among its long list of available engines, and we land at a 7 for its comfortable ride and supreme off-roadability.
The base engine, and more popular among buyers, is a 3.6-liter V-6 rated at 295 hp mated to an 8-speed automatic and rear- or all-wheel drive. The V-6 is standard on all Grand Cherokees except SRT and Trackhawk versions, which get hot V-8s and plenty more kick.
Optional on Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, and Summit versions is a 5.7-liter V-8 that makes 360 hp and standard four-wheel drive. Same as the V-6, it’s paired to a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic, but its best trick is better towing capacity versus the V-6: 7,200 pounds vs. 6,200 pounds, when properly equipped.
The last two V-8s, a 6.4-liter or 6.2-liter supercharged version on SRT and Trackhawk models respectively, take the Grand Cherokee out of the woods and toward the horizon—quickly.
The 6.4-liter V-8 is pulled from the Dodge Charger and Challenger and it makes 475 hp. It slingshots the big Jeep up to 60 mph in less than five seconds thanks to four-wheel-drive traction, and it would be hilariously overpowered if it weren’t for what’s next.
The Grand Cherokee’s 6.2-liter supercharged Hellcat V-8 is 707 hp of fury and blasts the 2.5-ton SUV to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. It gets worse gas mileage than you can imagine, something we’re sure buyers willing to shell out nearly $100,000 for a Grand Cherokee couldn’t care less about.
Off-road, ride, and handling
Back here in the real world, every Jeep without an SRT badge offers superior off-road capability.
There are four different four-wheel-drive systems available, each suited for budget or needs.
The base four-wheel-drive system available on Laredo models only, Quadra-Trac I, splits power 50/50 front to rear, but doesn’t offer low-range gears.
Quadra-Trac II does. It’s optional on Laredo and standard on every other version, except SRT models. It includes a low-range gearbox and hill-descent control for trickier grades.
The step-up Quadra-Drive II system is standard on Trailhawk, and Summit models equipped with a V-8, and adds an electronically controlled limited slip differential at the rear for better traction. Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II include driver-selectable traction modes that include Sand, Mud, Snow, Rock, and Auto modes, depending on the terrain.
An air suspension is included on models equipped with Quadra-Drive II that can raise or lower the Jeep for up to 11.3 inches of ground clearance, or down low for better fuel economy.
The last four-wheel-drive system is included on SRT Grand Cherokees and is geared for best performance, not off-road traction. It’s paired to adaptive dampers to put their prolific power to the ground.