Crossovers have all but replaced the sport-utility vehicles of a generation ago. Most drivers don't know or care about the distinctions. Why should they? Crossovers get the family job done. They're spun from car platforms, have car-like handling, and don't worry themselves so much about off-road trail-blazing as they do about all-weather driving.
There's still a place for the traditional SUV, and among those truck-like, low-ratio, mud-plugging and rock-crawling wagons, one still reigns supreme. In part, that's because it does its SUV job with the on-road grace of a really good crossover.
This year, our editors say the Best SUV To Buy 2017 is the Jeep Grand Cherokee.
MORE: Read all about our Best Car To Buy 2017 awards
The Grand Cherokee excels in many dimensions. It's a handsome SUV, one that's more urbane and slickly detailed than the flat-sided, chrome-grilled Jeeps of the decade before. The cockpit? It's as ritzy as any of its megabuck rivals. The Grand Cherokee's cabin has a clear design, great control layout, and rich-looking materials and textures. It's one of Chrysler's best.
For power, the Grand Cherokee offers a quartet of engines. The base 295-hp V-6 works well with the standard 8-speed automatic, but we'd opt for one of the other choices. For performance, there's Chrysler's big 360-hp, 5.7-liter V-8, with its magnificent musclecar burble and low-end torque--or a stupendously quick 475-hp V-8 in the SRT edition. If you're willing to trade the soundtrack for high fuel efficiency, the Grand Cherokee's optional turbodiesel V-6 gets up to 30 mpg on the highway, can go 730 miles on a tank of fuel, and can tow up to 7,400 pounds.
On-road handling and ride are very good, especially with the available air suspension. Off-road, the Grand Cherokee continues to cut its own exceptional path with a choice between three 4-wheel drive systems, as well as the Selec-Terrain management system, which automatically caters the powertrain settings for the terrain (Sand, Mud, Auto, Snow, and Rock). Even compared with its distant mechanical cousin, the Benz GLE-Class, and new arrivals such as the Jaguar F-Pace, it's the most fluent all-around SUV in its reasonably priced class.
MORE: Read our 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee review
The five-seat, two-row Grand Cherokee comforts and coddles its passengers. Interior space is good, and it's easy to trim out the Jeep from its plebeian base trim to plutocrat levels, with sueded headliners, stitched leather trim, and open-pore wood. Functionally, its fold-down rear seats give it very good cargo space, too.
Our only hesitation in recommending the Grand Cherokee comes in safety. Its handling and traction are pluses, but it's scored poorly on some federal tests, while performing admirably in others.
All Grand Cherokees come with power features and a rearview camera. From there, the big sky's the limit. The Summit edition includes every feature imaginable, including a 19-speaker, 825-watt Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system, and Chrysler's excellent Uconnect infotainment system. It's tough to get a more talented, more luxurious vehicle unless you're paying twice as much--and even then, a Range Rover or Bentayga might only feel more indulgent.