Driven: 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee
  • Car Review

Driven: 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee

By Chris Teague | February 13, 2020

Autolist rating: 3/5
But would we buy it? Yep!
Price range: $33,540 - $88,395, including destination but before options

Key takeaways

  • The Grand Cherokee wraps Jeep capability with a quiet, luxurious SUV package.
  • A variety of powertrains are offered, from a V6 all the way up to a 707-horsepower supercharged V-8.
  • Jeep offers FCA’s Uconnect app to remotely start, lock/unlock, and locate a vehicle from a smartphone.
  • The Grand Cherokee can tow up to 7,200 pounds.

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What is it?

The Grand Cherokee is a five-passenger, midsize SUV that competes against a variety of premium and near-premium crossovers and SUVs, including the Ford Edge, Honda Passport, Toyota 4Runner and Highlander, Nissan Murano, and Chevy Blazer.

The Grand Cherokee sits atop Jeep’s lineup of crossovers and SUVs (though a new Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are expected in the near future, which will top the Grand Cherokee in terms of size, price, and amenities).

Below the Grand Cherokee in Jeep’s lineup sit the Cherokee, the Compass, and the Renegade, plus the Wrangler and its Gladiator pickup version.

The Grand Cherokee is aimed at new car buyers that want the space and usability of a larger SUV but don’t need a third row.

This Jeephasn’t been thoroughly updated in quite a while, but the SUV is still relevant and competitive in its segment, thanks to seriously updated technologies and the latest in advanced safety equipment. Jeep has given the Grand Cherokee better engines as well, and the SUV has gone from a mostly off-road-focused vehicle to one that will scorch all four of its tires on the dragstrip or comfortably shuffle a family to the nearest strip mall, depending on the model.

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The Grand Cherokee is offered in seven trims: the base Laredo trim, Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, Summit, SRT, and Trackhawk (seen above). Several special editions are available at any given time, which tend to combine popular elements from various trims into one package. Current special editions include the Upland, High Altitude, and Limited X.

The Grand Cherokee’s standard powertrain includes a 3.6-liter V-6 engine that produces 295 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.

The Grand Cherokee SRT has a 6.4-liter V-8 that has 475 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque, and the Trackhawk model comes with a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 that produces 707 horsepower and 645 pound-feet of torque.

A 5.7-liter V-8 is optional for certain trims and has 360 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque out of the box. That’s all in a package with excellent towing capacity and enough cargo space for the entire family to bring their gear.

A diesel engine was offered in the Grand Cherokee earlier in this generation’s lifespan but has since been discontinued.

What’s good?

TLDR: The 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a handsome, comfortable SUV with legitimate off-road ability.

Styling: Jeep hasn’t given the Grand Cherokee a complete overhaul in many years, but it still looks contemporary, thanks to smooth lines and handsome sculpting. The tidy styling continues inside, where buttons and controls are neatly organized and placed well within reach of the driver.

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Comfortable: When sitting in the driver’s seat of a Grand Cherokee, it’s hard to believe that the SUV occupies the same brand’s lineup as vehicles like the Wrangler and the Gladiator. The Grand Cherokee’s interior is spacious, well-organized, and friendly for a wide variety of driver body shapes and sizes.

Capable: Yes, it has a towing rating of over 7,000 pounds, and yes, higher trim levels do come filled with soft leathers and tech. Even so, the Grand Cherokee is still a Jeep and can still hold its own when the pavement ends. Special off-road editions are offered, and there’s a Trailhawk trim with special tires and other rugged touches. Even lower trims with street tires have solid off-road capability.

What’s bad?

TLDR: The Grand Cherokee gets pricey in higher trims, the platform is getting old, and several safety features are locked away in options packages.

Expensive: Most of the “cool stuff” that can be had with the Grand Cherokee comes with a fairly significant price tag. Higher trims like the Summit model start at a higher price than some SUVs’ fully-loaded price tag, and it’s not hard to get a V6 model’s price tag past the $50,000 mark

Aging: It’s comfortable and still good looking, but there’s no denying that the Grand Cherokee is starting to show its age. Rough roads make themselves known with a bumpy ride and plenty of noise. The interior materials, design, and features are subpar when compared to more modern rivals. It also makes a lot of noise under full throttle without doing much actual acceleration.

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5 stars of execution

Safety Features? YES

  • Jeep includes several advanced safety features as standard equipment, including pre-collision emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alerts, blind-spot monitoring, rear parking sensors, and more.

  • Other features like forward-collision warnings and adaptive cruise control are included in an optional Jeep Active Safety Group. The Grand Cherokee scored a “Marginal” rating for driver-side front crashworthiness, a “Poor” rating for passenger-side, and “Good” in other crashworthiness areas by the IIHS. The Jeep’s headlights were given “Acceptable” or “Poor” ratings, depending on the model and configuration.

  • In spite of those ratings from the IIHS, the Grand Cherokee still scored five stars in NHTSA crash tests.

Value? NO

  • There’s really no sweet spot for Grand Cherokee prices, as many of the features that make it worth buying are only available in higher trims, which cost quite a bit more than the Laredo model’s starting price.

  • The Grand Cherokee has a tough time matching the value and modernity of most of its rivals.
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Efficiency? NO

  • With two-wheel drive and the V-6 engine on board, the Grand Cherokee lands at 19/26/21 mpg city/highway/combined. Four-wheel drive cuts fuel economy slightly to 18/25/21 mpg.

  • Those numbers are competitive, but rivals like the Ford Explorer are able to do better. Grand Cherokee models equipped with a V-8 engine are downright thirsty, scoring 15 mpg combined for the SRT trim and 13 mpg combined for the Trackhawk.

  • We miss the diesel option, which offered significantly better gas mileage and plenty of torque for towing.

Driving experience? YES

  • The Grand Cherokee does well at most things, and while it’s not particularly nimble, it feels cohesive and planted over most road surfaces. This is one area where the model has really aged well.

  • The Trackhawk model we tested is a fire-breathing dragon of an SUV and can sprint from 0-60 mph faster than many supercars.

Execution? YES

  • Jeep struck a high note with the Grand Cherokee when the current generation rolled out years ago, and the brand has only improved on the formula since then.

  • The newest Grand Cherokee is luxurious, extremely capable, and great looking. Higher trims with the larger touchscreen and Uconnect can run Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which adds several entertainment and app functions.

Total Rating: 3 stars

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What’s it gonna cost me?

The base Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo has a starting MSRP of $33,540 including a $1,495 destination charge, and comes standard with a V-6 engine, an eight-speed automatic gearbox, automatic headlights, daytime running lights, fog lights, heated mirrors, 17-inch wheels, dual-zone climate controls, a folding rear seat, cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, two USB ports, two 12-volt power outlets, Bluetooth, a six-speaker sound system, a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment unit, blind-spot monitors, electronic stability control, hill-start assist, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, rain braking support, automatic emergency braking, rear cross-traffic alerts, and trailer sway control.

Four-wheel drive is a $2,300 option.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited starts at $41,350 after destination and comes with a power liftgate, power-folding mirrors, a remote start system, a power sunroof, 18-inch wheels, a memory driver’s seat, memory radio stations and presets, leather upholstery, power front seats, a heated steering wheel, an 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system, navigation, and SiriusXM satellite radio.

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The Grand Cherokee Trailhawk has a starting price of $46,450 after destination and comes with a dual exhaust system, increased-travel suspension, a rear load-leveling package, 18-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, leather/suede upholstery, and heated second-row seats. Four-wheel drive is standard.

The Grand Cherokee Overland starts at $47,790, including destination charges, and comes with auto high-beam headlights, LED running lights, LED fog lights, a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, 20-inch wheels, rain-sensing wipers, and Nappa leather upholstery.

The Grand Cherokee Summit has a starting price of $53,490 after destination and comes with a Harmon Kardon 19-speaker audio system, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warnings with active braking, and parallel/perpendicular parking assist.

The Grand Cherokee SRT starts at $69,890 and comes with a 6.4-liter V-8, a traction management system, active dampers, leather/perforated suede upholstery, and a leather-wrapped performance steering wheel. Four-wheel drive is standard.

The Grand Cherokee Trackhawk starts at $88,395 and comes standard with a high-performance supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 from the Dodge Hellcat cars, a quad exhaust system, black satin 20-inch SRT wheels, and suede/Nappa leather upholstery with performance seats. Four-wheel drive is standard.

Our money would buy the Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland, which gets the full suite of luxury equipment without the added price of the Summit model. The SRT and Trackhaw models are tremendously fun, but inefficient and overkill for daily driving.

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Also consider:

The Ford Explorer is all-new for 2020 with a revised rear-wheel-drive platform, new tech, and a muscular new look. The Explorer ST is edging on performance SUV territory, but prices climb quickly. Despite being all-new, the Explorer trails some of its rivals in terms of interior refinement and materials.

The Toyota 4Runner is aging, just like the Grand Cherokee, but it’s also doing so gracefully. The Toyota lags slightly in tech and comfort features, but the 4Runner is every bit as legendary as the Grand Cherokee, both on and off-road.

The Honda Passport was new for 2019 and uses electronic gadgetry to increase its off-road credibility. It won’t do heavy-duty off-roading, but to be fair, the Grand Cherokee doesn’t either. The Honda is capable enough to earn its place in the midsize SUV segment.