2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee Review

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Trevor Wild Trevor Wild Author
March 20, 2009

The 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee works well on road and trail, but a cramped interior and low fuel economy indicate that there are better choices for suburban families.

To bring you this review of the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee, the experts at TheCarConnection.com combined their own driving experiences regarding the Grand Cherokee with review opinions and road-test highlights from around the Web. This means that you have access to the most complete information available so that you can make a smart car-buying decision.

The 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee is the updated version of what was once the hottest family vehicle in suburban USA; overall, it’s a much better vehicle than the Grand Cherokee that rose to popularity in the ’90s, yet it manages to keep its classic styling. The Grand Cherokee last saw a redesign in 2005, when its ride and handling were quite dramatically improved; overall, the 2009 Jeep Cherokee's lightweight unibody and trail-rated suspension deliver performance and refinement that compare favorably within the class of five-passenger SUVs.

There’s quite the range of powertrains available on the Grand Cherokee. The selections begin with a 210-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 and five-speed automatic transmission. As this combo delivers only 1 mpg more than the much-improved-for-2009 305-hp 4.7-liter V-8 and doesn’t feel nearly as peppy, skip the V-6. For 2009, the HEMI V-8 engine puts out 357 hp and 389 pound-feet of torque. The new V-8 also includes a Multi-Displacement System (MDS) to boost fuel economy. For those who want pure performance, check out the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, a rip-roaring on-pavement-only edition with a monster 6.1-liter HEMI rated at 420 hp.

Another interesting option is to go with the 3.0-liter clean diesel V-6 produced by Mercedes-Benz. The diesel packs a huge punch while sipping fuel; it’s relatively quiet and comes with impressive towing ability. Mileage from the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel (18 mpg city, 23 highway) is roughly 30 percent better than the gasoline V-6. This theoretically delivers a cruising range of more than 450 miles from its 22-gallon tank.

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The 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee does include real off-road ability, especially if you specify a four-wheel-drive model (all include high- and low-range transfer cases). Jeep offers several packages and individual options beyond the four-wheel-drive system to increase the Grand Cherokee's already formidable off-road capabilities, including locking differentials and skid plates.

Previous editions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee tended to ride harshly on paved roads, a side effect of being able to crawl over boulders and scamper across sand dunes, but engineers have finally solved the ride/handling compromise to the satisfaction of most.

The interior of the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee is where you’ll see the benefits of opting for one of the more modern crossover vehicle designs instead of this venerable off-roader. The cabin of the Grand Cherokee is surprisingly tight—possibly due to the floor being higher than expected—and even normal-height front-seat occupants might find their heads brushing the sunroof enclosure. In back, there’s enough space for three, but it’s not luxurious. And because of the Grand Cherokee's sloping roofline, there is no third row of seats available, and cargo room is limited to only 35 cubic feet behind the seats. However, with the addition of Sirius Backseat TV to the options list, kids probably won't mind riding there.

The quality of the materials and switchgear inside the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee—including lots of easily scratched plastics—is another issue. Some of it isn't great, but the real wood used in the Overland trim level is an exception and quite tasteful.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee performs respectably in crash tests, with top five-star results from the federal government and "good" scores from the IIHS in all except side impact. Electronic stability control and side airbags are included.

7

2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Styling

The 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee is all Jeep, outside and in.

Reviewers don't mind the interior and exterior styling of the 2009 Jeep Cherokee—but it's not very exciting overall.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee received its last full remodel in 2005. Since then, it has aged relatively well, and it still looks fit and trim, though its angular shape isn't to everyone's taste. The traditional Jeep seven-bar grille tells onlookers that this SUV is equipped for the trail. The Auto Channel says there's "no mistaking the look of a Jeep with its signature seven-slot grille and dual headlamps." Jalopnik awards kudos to the Grand Cherokee Jeep's "athletic and contemporary appearance." Kelley Blue Book reports that "flared wheel arches and aggressively styled wheels" lend the Grand Cherokee Jeep the "rugged, off-road look Jeep loyalists demand."

According to Cars.com, the interior of the Grand Cherokee saw some changes last year that "are modest and center on the dashboard, door panels and center console." They report that the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland version "gets a wood steering-wheel rim and perforated leather seats with special piping." Jalopnik reviewers note the 2009 Jeep has an "updated line of instrument clusters that feature new brighter LED illumination."

8

2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Performance

The 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee performs relatively well both on- and off-road.

Experts at TheCarConnection.com point out that the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee is an absolute powerhouse off-road—but it also manages to keep its act together on the pavement.

For Jeep, 2009 offers a wide variety of engines. The selections begin with a 210-horsepower 3.7-liter V-6 and five-speed automatic transmission, rated at 15 mpg city, 20 highway in rear-drive models. Kelley Blue Book notes that the V-6 has "a tough time moving all that weight...particularly loaded and passing at highway speeds." For 2009, the step-up engine, a HEMI V-8, has been made more powerful. It puts out 357 hp and 389 pound-feet of torque (an increase over previous versions). Jalopnik notes that it has "more power and torque" than before. Additionally, the new V-8 includes a Multi-displacement System (MDS) to boost fuel economy.

For those who want pure performance, check out the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, a rip-roaring on-pavement-only edition with a monster 6.1-liter HEMI rated at 420 hp. Kelley Blue Book rates the SRT8 at "zero to sixty in FIVE seconds on wet or dry pavement" and at 0-100 and back to zero in 19 seconds—impressive for a 4,700-pound sport-utility vehicle. Car and Driver notes "thrill-seekers will go for the SRT8, which makes up in performance what it lacks in practicality," adding that this performance-oriented model "can tow only 3500 pounds."

The greener alternative is a V-6 turbodiesel sourced from Mercedes, which offers better fuel economy. With the diesel, this Jeep packs a huge punch while sipping fuel like a tree-hugging hybrid. Mileage from the diesel (18 mpg city, 23 mpg highway) is roughly 30 percent better than the gasoline V-6. This theoretically delivers a cruising range of more than 450 miles from its 22-gallon tank. Car and Driver says "the best Grand Cherokee [Jeep] is one equipped with the 215-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesel, which endows the vehicle with up to 7400 pounds of towing capacity."

Cars.com reports that "rear- and four-wheel-drive versions are offered, and the latter driveline comes standard with Hill Descent Control that's designed to keep the SUV's speed to a crawl when traversing difficult terrain." The SRT8 edition only comes with four-wheel drive. "Grand Cherokees have a five-speed automatic transmission," states ConsumerGuide, "because that's the only way Jeep builds 'em," gripes Car and Driver.

EPA fuel economy ratings for the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee are listed 11 to 18 mpg in city driving and 14 to 23 mpg on the open road. All that V-8 power comes at a price; as Kelley Blue Book puts it, "don't expect frugal fuel efficiency." Car and Driver says the Grand Cherokee Jeep SRT8 has the "worst observed fuel economy" of all at 11 mpg city, 14 highway, and TheCarConnection.com’s editors observe figures in the low teens from several Grand Cherokee V-8 models.

Unlike so many SUVs that merely look like they can head off the road, the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee really can, especially if you specify a four-wheel-drive model (all include high- and low-range transfer cases). Jeep offers several packages and individual options beyond the four-wheel-drive system to increase the Grand Cherokee's already formidable off-road capabilities, such as locking differentials and skid plates. Car and Driver is one of several reviewers to express satisfaction with the Jeep’s off-road prowess: "the Jeep surmounted every awful obstacle along our trails."

The 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee scores well with reviewers for handling and general drivability. MyRide.com says this Jeep offers "superior off-road capability comparable to that of the upscale Land Rover LR3." From Kelley Blue Book: "Off-road, we were amazed by the grip that the Quadra-Drive II displayed...this 2009 Jeep seemed oblivious to deep mud, extremely steep slopes and wildly uneven terrain." ConsumerGuide has concerns about on-road handling, warning that "body lean prompts slowing down for tight, fast turns, even in the handling-oriented SRT8" and that steering "isn't quick or precise." They like the braking, however, and assert that the 2009 Jeep "absorbs most bumps with little harshness." However, Kelley Blue Book quips that if you're "a true-blue driving enthusiast craving speed, speed and more speed," the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee (SRT8) is "one of the fastest, best-handling SUVs on the planet" and offers performance "at a price that will send the BMW X5 and Porsche Cayenne Turbo scampering home with their tails between their axles."

6

2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Comfort & Quality

The 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee is quiet and refined, but hampered by a cramped interior and subpar materials.

Experts at TheCarConnection.com are starkly underwhelmed by the amount of interior space in the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Additionally, materials quality could be better overall.

Kelley Blue Book reports that the "Jeep Grand Cherokee can accommodate four adults in comfort—five in a pinch." About the front, ConsumerGuide warns that "headroom is not generous for six-footers, but there's ample legroom and shoulder space on supportive seats." In back, Kelley Blue Book explains that there is also "noticeable improvement in rear-seat legroom as well as ease of entry and exit, thanks to the longer rear doors"—a plus for passengers who do not like their knees meeting their ears. They complain, however, that the Grand Cherokee Jeep "does not offer a third row seat, and interior space is nowhere near the levels of larger SUVs." ConsumerGuide notes of the rear seating: it's "quite firm and not contoured for best comfort," adding that "three adults fit, but none have much foot space."

Edmunds confirms that "cargo capacity is low for this class, with just 35 cubic feet behind the rear seat and 69 with the seats folded.” ConsumerGuide says cargo space is "ample by absolute standards but subpar for the class."

Quality of the materials and switchgear inside the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee is an issue, too. Car and Driver terms the 2009 Jeep changes to the interior only "a start," calling the interior hard plastic "a merciless prison." The real wood used in the Overland trim level, however, does raise the bar. Jalopnik notes that "door panels have new armrests for improved ergonomics and comfort," and Kelley Blue Book praises the interior: "quality materials abound and the layout, execution and attention to detail are all first-rate."

Noise is well controlled in the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee. ConsumerGuide says that "one test 5.7 V8 AWD Limited suffered modest gear whine at highway speeds," while the 2009 Jeep diesel "makes a slight clattering noise at idle and during full-throttle acceleration," and "the SRT8 V8 provides a NASCAR-style soundtrack." The Grand Cherokee Jeep is rated by Car and Driver as "the quietest" compared to a HUMMER H3, Toyota FJ Cruiser, and Nissan Xterra when cruising on the highway, but in off-road tests, "its steel unibody sometimes emitted painful gronks when twisted."

7

2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Safety

The 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee offers decent safety and security, but it’s not top in its class.

Editors at TheCarConnection.com are impressed by some safety ratings awarded to the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee—but side-impact ratings are disappointing.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) awards the 2009 Jeep its highest rating of "good" for front and rear collisions; the Grand Cherokee Jeep receives only a "marginal" rating for side impacts. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in frontal impact crash tests, gives Grand Cherokee Jeep five stars out of five, but only three or four stars for rollover resistance.

Reviewers note the rear backup camera and park-assist system are great options to help avoid fender benders in the 2009 Jeep. ConsumerGuide lists standard safety equipment on the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee as including "anti-lock brakes, skid control system with rollover mitigation, and side curtain airbag."

The Grand Cherokee Jeep's "visibility is a bit cluttered to the right rear, and thick windshield pillars hinder seeing around some corners," adds ConsumerGuide.

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2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Features

The 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee offers plenty of features to satisfy both comfort-oriented buyers and off-roaders.

Reviewers generally like how the 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee can be set up as a family wagon or a serious off-roader, according to the options selected.

Fittings and options are largely unchanged for 2009. The Grand Cherokee Jeep comes in four trims, starting with the base-level Laredo. The Laredo is well equipped, with "standard anti-lock brakes, stability control, and head-curtain airbags," plus "an eight-way power driver's seat...power windows, locks, and mirrors," says Kelley Blue Book. Car and Driver calls the model "simple and clean." The Limited and Overland editions add extra touches of class. The 2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited has dual-zone climate control—"a distinct improvement for passengers," proclaims Edmunds. Car and Driver adds that these models have "more ornate treatments, including body-colored cladding, fancier wheels and more bright-work." A leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather seats with touch control, and memory for the power driver's seat and mirrors are welcome additions to luxury amenities.

Jalopnik enjoys the premium amenities—the "heated seats...[and] auto-leveling headlamps"—and says this 2009 Jeep offers "a host of innovative premium amenities" with many trim options, plus Sirius Backseat TV and satellite radio, Bluetooth connectivity, and a navigation system.

The performance-oriented Grand Cherokee Jeep SRT8 can be loaded with items, such as heated second-row seats, to rival the level of equipment in luxury-brand SUVs.

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May 31, 2015
2009 Jeep Grand Cherokee RWD 4-Door Limited

Overall, love my Jeep. Had some issues at the beginng.......

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Overall, love my Jeep. Had some issues at the beginng....... Glad I bought the extended warranty. Had to take it it several times. Rear window regulators are terrible, with a loud clunk made during closing... + More »
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