By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 9.0
Last year, the Jeep Grand Cherokee got a facelift, new technology and some serious interior updates. This year is all about dotting the last few i's and crossing a couple final t's on Jeep's premiere SUV. It's all part of Jeep's ongoing effort to keep up not just with traditional rivals like the Toyota 4Runner and Volkswagen Touareg, but also more premium offerings like the Mercedes-Benz M-Class. One of the most surprising things about the Jeep Grand Cherokee is that it has improved its on-road manners without compromising its off-road ability. Buyers, on the other hand, have a wide range to choose from, be it a frugal 3.0-liter diesel, a powerful and practical V6, or a pavement-shredding Grand Cherokee SRT with 475 horsepower.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV comes closest to having it all: a high-tech and comfortable 5-passenger interior, genuine off-road capability and an array of engine choices. If you take the road less traveled, this is your ride.
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This year, the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT gets an additional 5 horsepower for a total of 475 horsepower. The SRT and the luxurious Summit model also get Active Noise Cancellation, giving the cabin a much-needed dose of sophistication. There's also a new California Edition package available for Summit models.
Off-road chops aside, the 2015 Grand Cherokee is far more likely to spend its time on pavement, rather than off. Luckily, it's pretty good here. The resilient and composed highway...
... ride belies the rugged demeanor. This SUV's electrically assisted steering also feels good, lightly weighted in parking lots and appropriately heavier at speed. However, there’s no escaping the wind noise rushing around the outside mirrors and boxy shape at highway speeds. Still, it's a reasonable compromise, especially considering how capable the Grand Cherokee is when the pavement ends. With ample ground clearance, good power and multiple off-road modes, the Grand Cherokee excels. The EcoDiesel is smooth and refined, but its $4,500 premium and pricey urea refills every 10,000 miles drive us to recommend the standard V6 or 5.7-liter Hemi V8 instead. If you crave speed and family hauling, the 475-horsepower Grand Cherokee SRT is just the ticket. Speeding ticket, that is.
Jeep's Uconnect combines cutting-edge connected-car technology with a simple interface. Offering as much as any competitor's system you'd care to mention, you use the huge 8.4-inch touch panel or voice recognition to access the navigation, or mobile apps like Bing Local Search and Pandora. It also includes hands-free text messaging.
QUADRA-LIFT AIR SUSPENSION
The 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee's optional Quadra-Lift air suspension lets Jeep owners pick from five different vehicle height settings. At its highest, the 10.6 inches of ground clearance beat even the Wrangler Rubicon. The system can also be lowered, improving aerodynamics as well as facilitating entry and exit.
“Jeep Grand Cherokee” may be a venerable nameplate, but the SUV’s interior is as contemporary as you'll find anywhere. This well-finished space accommodates up to five adult passengers, and soft-touch surfaces are plentiful, accented by tasteful wood trims. The optional Uconnect system is complemented by redundant physical controls for technophobes. Behind the rear seats are 35.1 cubic feet of cargo space, which expand to 68.7 with the rear seats folded, figures right in line with the Ford Edge and VW Touareg, but considerably less than Toyota's 4Runner. Summit and SRT models are quieter, too, thanks to standard active noise cancellation.
The 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee's modern exterior is further enhanced this year with the Summit model's California Edition package. It adds body-color lower body trim, mirror caps and door handles, plus platinum chrome on the grille and lower parts of the vehicle. All Grand Cherokees have Jeep's signature 7-slot grille, and higher-end models feature extra helpings of chrome. Despite its tall SUV profile, the Grand Cherokee is easy to get into, making it convenient for the vertically challenged. Conversely, the liftgate can be a bit difficult to reach when fully extended, so if you're short, opt for the power-operated liftgate.
The 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee comes in four trims, not counting the SRT: Laredo, Limited, Overland and Summit. Entry-level 2-wheel-drive (2WD) Laredo models are well equipped, featuring dual-zone climate control, a digital instrument cluster, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a 6-speaker audio system with a 5-inch touch screen. The Limited adds larger 18-inch wheels and heated leather seats, Overland models get a panoramic moonroof, Uconnect Access infotainment and xenon headlights as standard. The Grand Cherokee Summit is essentially loaded. All Grand Cherokee models get six airbags, a raft of stability-control systems, and Uconnect emergency assistance with a complimentary trial subscription.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee's 4-wheel-drive (4WD) system is optional, and a must if you intend to go Jeeping in your Jeep. Speaking of which, the Quadra-Lift air suspension plus the top-spec Quadra-Drive II 4WD system are essential for any hard-core off-road enthusiast. On your way to the trails, your family will like the Blu-ray entertainment center, which is compatible with most gaming consoles. The standard halogen headlights are so-so at best, so the optional xenon setup is a better bet. In a true sign of the times, a CD player has been relegated to the options list.
The 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee comes with a wide variety of engine choices. There's the standard 3.6-liter V6, which offers good power and fuel economy. The 5.7-liter V8 amps up the power noticeably, but fuel economy suffers. On the flip side, there's the 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V6, which offers the most torque of any engine save the SRT's V8 and gets great fuel economy, but is a pricey proposition at $4,500. The Grand Cherokee SRT is a completely different animal. With a 475-horsepower 6.4-liter V8, its standard all-wheel-drive system is meant for the street, not the trail. All Grand Cherokees come with an excellent 8-speed automatic transmission.
290 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 4.800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25 mpg (2WD), 17/24 mpg (4WD)
360 horsepower @ 5,150 rpm
390 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/22 mpg (2WD), 14/20 mpg (4WD)
3.0-liter diesel V6
240 horsepower @ 3,600 rpm
420 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/30 mpg (2WD), 21/28 mpg (4WD)
475 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
470 lb-ft of torque @ 4,300 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/19 mpg
Base Laredo models start with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $30,500, including destination. Next is the $35,500 Altitude, then the mid-level $37,500 Limited, which we think strikes the best balance between price and luxury. Adding 4WD to any of those costs $2,000. Luxury models Overland and Summit are $44,000 and $49,500, respectively; their 4WD system adds $3,000. SRT models start at a bit over $65,000. That's more than crossover SUVs like the Ford Edge, but on par with the off-road-ready Toyota 4Runner. The Volkswagen Touareg starts far higher, but includes a more extensive set of standard features and luxury-car ride quality. Check KBB.com's Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying for the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, and know that your Jeep will hold its price better than a Nissan Pathfinder or VW Touareg, but less than the Toyota 4Runner.