The safe choice might be one explanation as to how the Jeep Grand Cherokee is our Best SUV To Buy 2020. In the decade since its last redesign, more SUVs have come to market than ever before, most with three rows, some with blistering track chops like the Grand Cherokee. Even more SUVs are forthcoming. The Grand Cherokee has set the course for SUVs now as much as ever.
The tricky thing about naming the Best SUV To Buy is that SUV means different things to different people, like democracy. Historically, a sport-utility vehicle implied ruggedness because of the body-on-frame construction used on pickup trucks and full-size SUVs, such as the Chevrolet Suburban. Not the Grand Cherokee that since its 1993 launch has used unibody construction, which is the same as most modern crossover SUVs.
So, why not just use the term crossover? Ask the marketers and the analytics departments. Some people consider the smallest of tall hatchbacks such as the Hyundai Kona or even the best-selling non-truck Honda CR-V as SUVs, while others might protest in favor of three-row family haulers, such as the 2020 Kia Telluride, which was The Car Connection's overall Best Car To Buy 2020.
Best SUV, in our world, encompasses all of these traits but adds towing and off-road capability. No SUV offers the total package better than the 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee, which was also our Best SUV To Buy 2018. There is nothing arbitrary about how we rate the hundreds of vehicles we test over thousands of miles each year, and the GC comes out on top yet again with a 6.5 TCC rating out of 10.
Affection for the Grand Cherokee starts on first impression. With Jeep's iconic seven-slot grille, and long nose with a short overhang, squarish wheel arches, and big back end with integrated roof spoiler, the Grand Cherokee is not only a la mode, but it has been pacing the athletic SUV trend for a decade. The interior shows its age a bit more, but this could be a plus for shoppers who prefer simplified controls, easy-to-use infotainment without a giant touchscreen eating up the dash, and enough upscale trim options to feel pampered amid capability.
Capability is the defining trait. The five different powertrains run from a 295-horsepower V-6 up the ladder to the 707-hp supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 from the Hellcat in the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. Even the base V-6 can tow up to 6,200 pounds, while V-8 models can haul up to 7,200 lbs. Add all the available Jeep goodies, from its 4x4 system to red tow hooks and skid plates made for Moab, and the 2020 Grand Cherokee can do just about anything you'd ask from a four-wheel vehicle, while still being swaddled in comfort.
Depending on the nine available trims, from the base Laredo up to the top Summit, the Grand Cherokee appeals to the multitude of tastes suggested by its powertrain list. All Grand Cherokees are well-equipped from the start, with 17-inch wheels, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, two USB ports, Bluetooth connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, power features, blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alerts, and 7.0-inch touchscreen.
The safety scores and fuel economy are less impressive, but, you know, it's old. Jeep would do well to model the redesign on the positives, a genuine off-road world beater loaded with features at a reasonable price, while updating the safety considerations and offering more efficient but no-less capable powertrain options.