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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
A performance enthusiast's dream
Kelley Blue Book
increased horsepower and torque
superior off-road capability
The 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee performs well on-road and is almost unstoppable off-road, according to reviews from around the Web.
For Jeep, 2008 is a model year that offers a wide variety of engines. The selections begin with a 210-horsepower 3.7-liter V-6/five-speed automatic transmission rated at 15/20 mpg 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." Skip it, as this combo delivers only 1 mpg more than the much-improved-for-2008, 305-horsepower 4.7-liter V-8. Jalopnik raves about the new 4.7-liter V-8 engine–it has "more power and torque" than before, they note, it’s rated at 14/19 mpg in rear-drive editions, and it's flex-fuel capable.
The smaller V-8 is good enough, so you may want to pass on the larger 330-horsepower 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 unless you regularly tow a trailer; this engine gets a comparatively decent 13/19 mpg in rear-drive editions, though.
The green alternative this year is a V-6 turbodiesel sourced from Mercedes, which offers better fuel economy. 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." 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.
For those who want pure performance, check out the 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8, a rip-roaring on-pavement-only edition with a monster 6.1-liter HEMI rated at 420 horsepower. 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." 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.
"Grand Cherokees have a 5-speed automatic transmission," states ConsumerGuide, "because that's the only way Jeep builds 'em," gripes Car and Driver. 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.
EPA fuel economy ratings for the 2008 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 11/14 mpg.
Comments are mostly positive about the 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee handling ability. From Kelley Blue Book: "Off-road, we were amazed by the grip that the Quadra-Drive II displayed...this 2008 Jeep seemed oblivious to deep mud, extremely steep slopes and wildly uneven terrain." MyRide.com concurs, saying this Jeep offers "superior off-road capability comparable to that of the upscale Land Rover LR3." Car and Driver reports "the Jeep surmounted every awful obstacle along our trails." 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 2008 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 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee 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."
Unlike so many SUVs that merely look like they can head off the road, the 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee really can, especially if you specify a four-wheel-drive model (all include high- and low-range transfers 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.
The 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a study in contrasts: relatively frugal diesel mudder, and blazing HEMI-powered speed demon.