There's more cabin space and cargo room in this Grand Cherokee than in Jeeps of the past. That's because the latest generation sports a longer wheelbase than before, and the space it grants is used more effectively. Not only that, it's finished in more appealing materials, to a higher standard--and that adds luster and value to the Jeep's sticker price.
In its 2011 redesign, the Grand Cherokee grew by 5.3 inches between its side wheels. Now riding on a 114.8-inch wheelbase, the Grand Cherokee benefits from a smoother ride as a result, but also has adult-friendly leg room front and back as a result. It also has larger doors that open up 78 degrees, making entry and exit easier than ever.
In the front seats, driver and passenger get wide cushions with a fair amount of bolstering. On base models in prior years, we've felt the standard-issue Laredo cloth seats were pretty flat, with bottom cushions that were a little too short. Even then, with a little adjustment, it wasn't difficult to find a good driving position in the Grand Cherokee. It has very good foot room and a mostly flat floor in front, and with the available sunroof, still leaves a couple of inches of headroom for six-footers.
In this year's update, we drove various Summit and SRT models, and found better comfort, still with some flatness in the bottom cushion on the front seats. The SRT has way more support formed into its bolsters, of course. And the Grand Cherokee's cabin is wide enough to put some distance between those passengers, too--they can make elbow contact on the center console, or rest an arm on the door panel, but it's by choice.
Small items won't get lost inside this Jeep. There's a console bin ahead of the shift lever that contains all the audio ports--which are ringed in soft light--but there's only just enough room for a small smartphone. The two-level console bin and bottle pockets on doors are useful, but the rest of the door pockets aren't very long or deep.
Most of the space the Grand Cherokee gained in its 2011 redesign was devoted to making rear-seat passengers more comfortable. In the old Grand Cherokee, the knee and shoulder room were tight, for such a large, tall vehicle. Now three adults have a good shot at sitting in the back seat comfortably; two will be quite happy, with plenty of room to slouch and fold down the center armrest. The seatbacks recline and tilt forward 12 degrees in each direction for even better comfort, all the better to enjoy those four additional inches of leg room. This Jeep doesn't have a third-row seat option--for that, you'll have to switch to the Dodge Durango, and hopefully not a competitor like the Honda Pilot or Ford Explorer.
You can flip down the rear seats with a single lever, and on some versions the front passenger seat will fold flat, too—just in case that grandfather clock needs a new home. All versions of the Grand Cherokee are rated at the same storage space, at 36.3 cubic feet behind the rear seats, with a somewhat high but long cargo floor. The tailgate no longer has flip-up glass, but you can raise the entire liftback by power on all versions (standard from Limited on up); on the ritzy versions, the cargo area gets fine padding and trim bars. Our favorite storage detail: The removable dual bins hiding under the cargo floor, molded to fit around the spare tire.Trim quality has never been better in the Grand Cherokee. If it's possible, the addition of touchscreens and electronic gauges has made it look more pricey. The new Summit edition patterns its finishes and color choices after nature. It's like the most upscale L.L. Bean or Eddie Bauer edition you've ever seen, with a marked lack of bright finishes and earthy tones like copper and green paired with open-grain, matte-finish wood. In all, the Grand Cherokee is the best vehicle Chrysler builds, in terms of quality feel meeting the class targets.
Wind noise is more noticeable on all but the Ecodiesel model--the Grand Cherokee has big, square mirrors--but the diesel's clatter at idle is a bit loud.