By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 9/1/2012
It's not much of a stretch to declare the 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee the finest version ever to wear the storied nameplate. Designed during the reign of Mercedes-Benz over Chrysler, the 2013 Grand Cherokee enjoys the benefits of this short-lived marriage by borrowing parts of the M-Class platform. The result is a vehicle so rigid and tight that it makes older Grand Cherokees feel like centuries-old rickshaws. A stunning interior bolstered by cutting-edge infotainment and electronics systems awaits the lucky occupants while, underneath, Jeep's legendary 4-wheel-drive (4WD) systems prove the Grand Cherokee hasn't gone weak when it comes to its off-road capabilities. Along with the Laredo, Limited and Overland trims, there is a new Trailhawk model, as well as the performance-oriented, 4WD-only SRT8.
Whether you require the tenacious traction afforded by the Grand Cherokee's three available 4WD systems, or just the controlled balance and handling of the 2WD version, both come wrapped in a solid package with the highest quality materials yet placed in a Jeep.You May Not Like This Car If...
If room for seven or fuel economy better than 23 mpg top your demands, the 2013 Grand Cherokee won't pass muster. Those looking to keep the price south of $30K may be in for sticker shock once more desirable options are added.What's New for 2013
For 2013, the Overland Summit models gain Front Park Assist, power-folding mirrors, headlamp washers and a new black Nappa leather interior option. Also new is the Trailhawk model that includes the Select-Terrain system, Quadra-Lift air suspension, Goodyear Silent Armor off-road tires and rock-rail body protection.Driving It Driving Impressions
The Jeep Grand Cherokee's impressive on- and off-road driving dynamics come courtesy of its all-independent suspension. This setup allows a smooth on-road driving experience, yet possesses enough travel to make quick work of difficult off-road obstacles. Add to the mix Jeep's Quadra-Lift air suspension (4WD models only) and the performance only gets better. Quadra-Lift gives a greater ability to overtake large objects (like rocks) or to ride lower at high speeds, creating more stable handling. As for power, all three of the Grand Cherokee's available engines don't disappoint, from the fuel-efficient yet powerful Pentastar V6, to the stump-pulling 5.7-liter HEMI V8, to the SRT8's audacious 470-horsepower HEMI V8. The Grand Cherokee's power-assisted steering feels better connected to the wheels and, with careful attention to springs and shock absorbers, the wheels feel better connected to the road.Favorite Features
QUADRA-LIFT AIR SUSPENSION
Available on 4WD models only, the Quadra-Lift option allows Jeep enthusiasts an adjustable ride height fully compatible with virtually any on- or off-road condition. If you're venturing off-road, you can adjust the clearance upward by either 1.3 or 2.6 inches while, if parked, you can lower the vehicle 1.5 inches.
OVERLAND SUMMIT SADDLE LEATHER INTERIOR
The leather for the Overland Summit seemingly covers everything in the interior of this grandest Grand Cherokee except the windshield. While wishing the designers hadn't spelled out the model designation on the seat itself, buyers choosing the top trim level will be rewarded on each and every drive.
In designing the Grand Cherokee for 2013, Jeep has executed what can only be called a seismic shift in both design and material selection from previous models. Gone are the cheap fabrics and hard plastics in Grand Cherokees of old, as is the smallish rear seat that provided little in the way of head- or legroom. With a longer wheelbase the rear seat is made much more accessible and passengers will enjoy expanded use of soft materials, real wood trim (in upscale versions) and a much more concentrated effort to make the driver and passenger experience everything they might want in a luxury SUV.Exterior
There's a unity to the 2013 Grand Cherokee's sheet metal that we haven't seen since its initial launch two decades ago. To be sure, the familiar 7-slot grille, hexagonal wheel arches and minimal front and rear overhangs remain, but the whole now comprises various elements much better integrated than before. And visual upgrades in all trim levels, from base Laredo to Overland Summit, result in a 2013 Grand Cherokee family looking decidedly more upscale than previous generations. We especially like the wheel-and-tire fitments, in combination with shortened overhangs; even the Laredo's standard 17-inch alloys fill the wheel wells in a capable, off-road-worthy fashion.Notable Standard Equipment
Despite a modest base price of around $28,000 with 2-wheel drive, the 2013 Grand Cherokee comes with dual-zone air conditioning, rear liftgate "flipper" glass, remote key fobs, Jeep's Media Center 130 AM/FM/CD radio, leather-wrapped steering wheel and 17-inch alloy wheels. Those placing a premium on safety will appreciate standard ESC (electronic stability control), electronic roll mitigation and front, front-side and side-curtain airbags.Notable Optional Equipment
For those wanting to keep the price low and the appearance of their new Grand Cherokee up(scale), the Laredo X provides a number of cosmetic and functional enhancements not available on the base Laredo. And for those wanting to improve the Jeep experience even further, a number of chassis improvements will do just that, beginning with Quadra-Drive II (includes 2-speed transfer case and Hill Descent Control), Quadra-Lift Air Suspension (adjustable ride height for both off-road adventure and on-road composure) and Selec-Terrain, which is Jeep's electronic system for delivering all-season capability by providing for five traction-control settings: Automatic, Sport, Snow, Sand/Mud and Rock.Under the Hood
For 2013, the Jeep Grand Cherokee's standard 3.6 liter approaches V8-like horsepower and torque levels, yet even when connected to the 2WD platform it has a great deal of mass to motivate. The 5.7-liter HEMI benefits from multi-displacement technology; based on need, the HEMI will operate on all eight cylinders or, with reduced demand, only four. And with the increased displacement, horsepower and torque of the HEMI, owners can enjoy an enhanced towing capability (7,400 pounds versus 5,000 pounds in the V6). The SRT8's 6.4 liters and 470 horsepower bring new life, and a nationwide network of dealers, to the hyper-performance SUV segment.
3.6-liter V6 (Laredo, Limited, Overland, Trialhawk)
290 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/23 mpg (2WD), 16/23 mpg (4WD)
5.7-liter V8 (Limited, Overland, Trailhawk)
360 horsepower @ 5,150 rpm
390 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 mpg (2WD), 13/20 mpg (4WD)
6.4-liter V8 (SRT8)
470 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
465 lb-ft of torque @ 4,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 12/18 mpg
The 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 2WD has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just over $28,000, while the better-equipped Laredo X starts closer to $34,000. Four-wheel drive adds another $2,000 to the bottom line. A nicely-equipped 4x4 Overland Summit is fairly close to the $50,000 mark, while the performance-oriented SRT8 tops the group at just over $60,000. In most parts of the country you can lease a base Laredo for around $300 per month. Before heading to the dealership, be sure to check the KBB Fair Purchase Price to see what the Jeep Grand Cherokee is selling for in your area. While Jeep's Grand Cherokee is projected to hold higher resale value than previous generations, it remains an SUV whose resale values remain subject to fuel prices and availability. And Jeeps historically fall short in return on investment when compared to SUVs from Acura (at the high end), GMC or Honda.