With a new powertrain and a new body in the 2011 model year, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has made progress in its quest for better fuel economy. It's missing a big piece of the equation, though, and that puzzle-filler doesn't look like it will be ready until the 2014 model year.
Meanwhile, the Grand Cherokee soldiers on, offering some of the lower fuel-economy ratings among mid-size SUVs and crossovers, particularly when you blend in the results from the SRT8--it's thirsty enough to match the three-row Mercedes GL550, for example.
The EPA says the base rear-drive Grand Cherokee, with a V-6 and a five-speed automatic, is rated at 17 miles per gallon city, 23 miles per gallon highway. Adding four-wheel drive lowers the numbers to 16/23 mpg. Those numbers are competitive, but not with the likes of the Ford Edge or Subaru Outback--but with vehicles like the seven-passenger Ford Flex and Chrysler's own seven-seat Dodge Durango.
Stepping up to the V-8 edition lowers gas mileage to 14/20 mpg when rear-wheel drive is specified; with four-wheel drive, fuel economy falls to 13/20 mpg. Neither engine is yet offered with Chrysler's latest eight-speed automatics, coming for the 2013 model year to the Ram pickups and already available with six-cylinder Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger sedans. It makes those vehicles much more efficient--and it'll be a worthwhile upgrade in the Grand Cherokee, for sure.
It's almost a footnote by sales volume, but though we heartily approve of its slamming performance, the SRT8 gets dismal fuel economy of 12/18 mpg.