By Joe Tralongo, Contributing Editor
KBB Expert Rating: 8.8
As the flagship model for the iconic Jeep brand, the 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV carries a heavy responsibility. Thankfully, with models ranging from basic to brutal, this 5-passenger SUV has the goods to stay one step ahead of rivals like the Ford Edge and Hyundai Santa Fe Sport. And, with the exception of Toyota’s 4Runner, few other SUVs in this class can go where the Grand Cherokee feels most at home. The Grand Cherokee also has a luxurious side that allows the Summit trim to challenge premium SUVs such as the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE. With two powerful V8 engines and a diesel V6 option, Jeep’s Grand Cherokee for 2017 certainly feels like a premium brand, although its price tag may say otherwise.
For the money, we think the 2017 Grand Cherokee SUV is Jeep’s best all-around vehicle. With models ranging from the most basic 2-wheel-drive (2WD) Laredo to the performance-oriented 475-horsepower SRT, and a tow rating up to 7,400 pounds, the Grand Cherokee offers something for everyone.
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Along with a new grille and the addition of a rearview camera and rear parking sensors, the Jeep’s Grand Cherokee for 2017 gains a new Trailhawk and revised Summit trim. The Trailhawk includes Quadra-Drive II, a unique air suspension, 18-inch off-road wheels and tires and an electronic limited-slip differential.
While Jeep loves to portray its 2017 Grand Cherokee SUV tackling all manner of off-road adventures, the truth is many will rarely see more than a few gravel-strewn or snow-covered...
... roads. For this reason, Jeep wisely equips the Grand Cherokee with a civilized suspension that is remarkably comfortable both on and off-road. Regrettably, the Grand Cherokee’s rugged design can’t cheat the wind, and noise emanating from around the side mirrors and windows is evident, although we doubt many people who covet the big Jeep will care. The Grand Cherokee’s excellent ground clearance and choice of various 4-wheel-drive (4WD) systems give consumers plenty of off-road possibilities, as do the powerful standard V6 and optional V8 engines. The 3.0-liter EcoDiesel offers impressive torque and 30 mpg, but its nearly $5,000 premium and pricey urea refills (required every 10,000 miles) make it a hard choice to justify.
Jeep’s Uconnect infotainment system is one of the best in the industry. An 8.4-inch touch panel displays large, easy-to-see graphics, and the system’s voice-recognition software allows for control of the navigation, audio, hands-free texting and mobile apps such as Pandora.
QUADRA-LIFT AIR SUSPENSION
Jeep’s new Grand Cherokee SUV offers an optional air suspension with five separate height settings. At its highest, the Grand Cherokee delivers 10.6 inches of ground clearance. At its lowest setting, entry and exit are made easier and aerodynamics is improved. Trailhawks get a modified version for improved wheel articulation.
Jeep’s 2017 Grand Cherokee spans from a reasonably comfortable SUV to one capable of giving some luxury brands a run for their money. All models are 2-row/5-passenger configurations -- there is no 3rd-row option. This layout offers good room for passengers and a healthy 36.3 cubic feet of cargo room behind the rear seats. Folded, that space expands to 68.3 cubic feet. Base Laredo models look the part with cloth, manually adjusted front seats, but stepping up just one trim brings power operation to the driver. Higher-end models are awash in leather and feature heated and ventilated front seats.
The 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee has a muscular, handsome design. True to its off-road intent, the GC has 8.6 inches of ground clearance, with the performance-oriented SRT model sitting slightly lower. The Trailhawk gets distinctive red tow hooks, an anti-glare hood decal and 18-inch off-road wheels. Most Grand Cherokees receive a redesigned 7-slot grille, while higher-end models feature extra chrome. Despite its tall 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, but you can opt for the power-operated liftgate.
As mentioned, the least expensive Grand Cherokee for 2017, the Laredo, still requires drivers to manually adjust their seat, but does come with dual-zone climate control, a digital instrument cluster, rearview camera and parking sensors, keyless entry and a 6-speaker audio system with a 5-inch touch screen. For less than $5,000 more, we recommend stepping up to at least the Laredo 75th Anniversary Edition, which includes the 8.4-inch Uconnect system, heated and power-operated front seats, heated steering wheel, auto-dimming rearview mirror, rearview camera with backup sensors and 18-inch wheels.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee's Quadra-Trac I 4WD system is optional, and a must if you intend to go Jeeping in your Jeep. The Quadra-Lift air suspension plus the top-spec Quadra-Drive II 4WD system are essential for any hard-core off-roader. 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. Other options: a Blu-ray entertainment center, dual-pane sunroof and 19-speaker harman/kardon audio system, plus blind-spot monitoring, forward-collision warning with crash mitigation and lane-departure warning.
The 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee is offered with several 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. The Grand Cherokee SRT is a completely different animal. With a 475-horsepower 6.4-liter V8, its standard 4WD system is meant for the street, not the trail, proven by its 4.8-second 0-60-mph time. All Grand Cherokees come with an excellent 8-speed automatic transmission. Two-wheel-drive (2WD) models are now only available with V6 engines, while 4WD is optional on all models and standard on the SRT.
295 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm
260 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 mpg (2WD), 18/25 mpg (4WD)
360 horsepower @ 5,150 rpm
390 lb-ft of torque @ 4,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/22 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
Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.
Jeep’s 2017 Grand Cherokee SUV has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting just under $31,300 for a 2WD Laredo model. Higher trims run from the mid- to high-$40,000 mark, and options can add thousands more. The Trailhawk starts around $44,000 while a Summit 4WD comes in just under $54,500. On top is the Grand Cherokee SRT, a specialized version more tuned for on-road speed and handling, which begins just under $68,000 and can blow past the $70,000 mark with options. At these prices the Grand Cherokee starts less than a Toyota 4Runner and slightly above a Ford Edge and Nissan Murano, though the last two are clearly oranges to this apple. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. The 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee is expected to have good resale value, but can't match the stellar heights of the Toyota 4Runner.