The 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee might build on a rough-and-rugged reputation, but it's a plush family vehicle through and through—with the ruggedness only when you need it.
It benefits from a smooth and good passenger space—both in part from its rather long 114.8-inch wheelbase—and well-designed seating. While the Grand Cherokee's Dodge cousin, the Durango, has three rows of seating, the Jeep simply focuses on making seating for five extraordinarily comfortable—with adult-friendly leg room front and back, plus easy entry and exit from large doors that open up 78 degrees.
The Grand Cherokee has entered the era of touchscreens and electronic gauges with much grace, and it seems like trim quality and materials have never been better. The 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.
The Grand Cherokee is for the most part a very quiet vehicle. It has big square mirrors, so you'll notice wind noise on the highway. And in the turbodiesel model, the engine's clatter at idle and lower speeds is a bit loud at idle and lower speeds.
In terms of seating, there's much to love whether you're in front or in back. The driver and passenger get wide cushions with a fair amount of bolstering. We've found the standard-issue Laredo cloth seats to be pretty flat, with bottom cushions that were a little too short; but even then, with a little adjustment, it wasn't difficult to find a good driving position. Even with the available sunroof, 6-footers will still have a couple of extra inches of head room. The Grand Cherokee's cabin feels generous in width; that helps leave room to rest an arm on the center console, if you so desire. The seats in the SRT model instead gets some very heavily bolstered seats that we like for different reasons. They're a little snug, but offer good back support.
In back that width definitely helps. 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 middle armrest. The seatbacks recline and tilt 12 degrees in each direction for even better comfort, all the better to enjoy those four additional inches of leg room.
You can flip down the rear seats with a single lever, and on some versions the front passenger seat folds flat, too—just in case you need to take a grandfather clock for a ride. 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 flip-up glass for the tailgate went away with the last-generation GC, but you can raise the entire liftback by power on all versions (standard from Limited on up). Additionally, on the ritzier versions, the cargo area gets fine padding and trim bars.
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. And our favorite storage detail probably remains the removable dual bins next to the spare tire.