- Premium look and feel
- Responsive 8-speed automatics
- Ecodiesel's 30-mpg rating, 730-mile range
- Easy-to-use infotainment
- SRT is fit for track time
- Quite pricey, to be without a luxury badge
- Grille design still not in alignment
- Hemi is too thirsty for what it provides
- No rearview camera on base Laredo
The 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a lot more than first appearances might suggest: a true luxury vehicle, a capable off-roader, and a fuel-efficient diesel highway hauler—potentially all in the same build.
The 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a great family vehicle—just one that's also potentially ready to go off-road, tow a trailer or, on occasion, do things that are more workhorse-like than you'd attempt in most other typical family crossovers.
The Grand Cherokee has evolved nicely over the years, keeping that sturdiness but growing more lavish inside. Although just like just about any off-road-ready vehicle of its kind, most owners will find comfort in knowing what it can do—even though they're not likely to actually leave pavement for long.
That said, you pay few penalties for the Grand Cherokee's superior abilities. It rides comfortably, handles reasonably well, and has a stunning, luxury-caliber interior. And with the powertrain lineup ranging from a fuel-efficient turbodiesel V-6 to gasoline V-6 and V-8 engines and a ridiculously quick Grand Cherokee SRT, there's something for everyone—well, everyone who doesn't want a hybrid, that is.
Today's Jeep Grand Cherokee is quite handsome 'ute, although not everyone is a fan of the thinner, more understated grille that was introduced a couple of years ago. The SUV shape has been made more distinct with help from LED taillights and some better detailing, so there's less in common with the X5 and Touareg, and more with the 1992 original. The cabin is richly furnished, with marvelous textures and materials on the pricey models, and great layout and design even on the basic Laredo. The Grand Cherokee has FCA's best interior, in design and execution, and it's fully competitive with other models carrying luxury badges.
The Grand Cherokee is a five-passenger, two-row model (go to its cousin, the Dodge Durango, if you'd rather have three rows), but interior space is quite good. Multiple color schemes and interesting trim options, like open-pore wood, push the Grand Cherokee ever higher into luxury-vehicle terrain, though it doesn't have the third-row seating or funky-flexible interior of some bigger crossovers.
Three engines are available in the standard Grand Cherokee. Base models use a 3.6-liter V-6, which now makes 295 horsepower and is for 2016 fitted with fuel-saving engine stop-start systems. Then there's the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8, which puts out 360 hp. The most efficient and torque-rich option is the turbodiesel 3.0-liter V-6, with 420 lb-ft of torque. It achieves up to 30 mpg on the highway and stretches range to 730 miles, offering best-in-class towing of 7,400 pounds. All three engines are backed by an 8-speed automatic.
The Grand Cherokee also offers an available air suspension, which can improve highway mileage further by lowering at speed.
The on-road-performance-oriented Grand Cherokee SRT features a 6.4-liter HEMI V-8 that now makes 475 hp and a 0-60 mph time of about 4.8 seconds. With launch control and a sporty 70-percent torque split to the rear in Track mode, it's one of the best-handling SUVs we've driven.
The Grand Cherokee hasn't given up any of its off-road talent; instead, it's added to it in recent years. The most advanced versions can still clamber over boulders and logs with ease, and the new automatic enables a lower crawl ratio that suits the Ecodiesel especially well. With three four-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), you have a lot of options, so make sure you opt for the Grand Cherokee with the capability you need.
The 2016 Grand Cherokee carries through with some impressive safety ratings, although it lacks features like GM's center-front airbag or Ford's rear-seat belt airbags. But it does have a useful off-road safety tool set—with items such as hill ascent control, which maintains steady throttle while the Grand Cherokee scrabbles up surfaces a Flex or an Enclave can only dream about.
The Grand Cherokee SRT takes all of the intelligence and all-wheel-drive wizardry, and aims it at the pavement instead—the racetrack, actually, given those performance times. With its own tuning, adaptive air suspension, and a "Selec-Track" powertrain-control system, it welds all that capability into a performance package that rivals the best from Germany. Its 6.4-liter V-8 rips 470 hp to all four wheels on a variable basis through an 8-speed paddle-shifted automatic. Chrysler claims a thrilling 0-60 mph time of 4.8 seconds, and includes launch control so owners can see those numbers, repeatably, on the SRT's Performance Pages screen. That isn't the only impressive number: the quarter-mile's pegged in the mid-13s, top speed hits 160 mph, and 60-0 mph braking cuts things short in just 116 feet.
There's much to love about the Uconnect infotainment systems in the Grand Cherokee (5.0- or 8.4-inch), and the system's cleaner, simpler interface. A piped-in data connection adds cloud-based services like voice-to-text and natural-language navigation via voice commands. And the Summit edition includes every feature imaginable, including a 19-speaker, 825-watt Harman Kardon surround-sound audio system, including 12-channel amplifier and three subwoofers. At that level, the only option is a Blu-ray entertainment system—and we'd take iPads and wi-fi connectivity in any case.
For 2016, the Grand Cherokee also adds a new High Altitude special edition that's based on the Overland trim but adds dark chrome exterior trim, a sport suspension, and other tech upgrades.
The EPA has rated the Grand Cherokee from 22 mpg city, 30 highway, 25 combined for a rear-drive diesel version to 13/19/15 mpg for the thirsty V-8 in the SRT8 model—and nearly everywhere in between those ratings.
2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee
The grille has been softened a bit the past couple of years, but the 2016 Grand Cherokee maintains its strong high-shouldered stance and beautiful cabin.
The 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee, in its current generation, is doing a better job straddling the line between contemporary and traditional, perhaps better than any family-oriented Jeep to date. While some might not be fans of the latest grille and front-end styling, it still fits together in a way that's entirely cohesive, in this day of seemingly incongruous identikit details.
Perhaps in a move to fit in a bit better with the more radical look of the smaller Cherokee, the look of the front end and the grille were toned down a couple of years ago. As it stands, the grille is a bit thinner and smaller than it was, and it's an understatement in a segment that seems to prefer flesh and big chrome. We like it for that—and how Jeep doesn't feel a new to double-underline its iconic design cue.
The 2016 Grand Cherokee stands as a pretty sophisticated piece, even if you take it into perspective alongside luxury-brand rivals. The side view does remind us a bit—or a lot—of the BMW X5, while the all versions now get a spoiler. The LED taillights give the rear-end appearance a little more attitude—all amplified, of course, for the high-performance SRT model.
With its last full redesign, for 2011, the Jeep Grand Cherokee changed its ways, shedding its somewhat blue-collar look for something more affluent and pedigreed in demeanor. Then a couple of years ago, the addition of a stitched-leather dash and ambient lighting brought the perfect amount of glamping influences to this high-line SUV.
What it adds up to, today, is Chrysler's best interior. Even considering the now beautiful interiors for the Charger and Durango, and the excellent, stylish look afforded to the Jeep Cherokee and Renegade models, the Grand Cherokee stands on its own. And it's fairly amazing in how it feels like an GLE-Class, which it sort of is, or a Cayenne, which it supersedes in many ways.
Even in base versions, the Grand Cherokee interior feels warm, and anything but plain. All versions get a chunky three-spoke steering wheel, a usefully arranged center stack of controls capped with inoffensive metallic-plastic trim, and a 5.0-inch LCD touchscreen for audio.
Materials get stepped up, as you move up to Limited, Overland, and Summit models. Jeep applies real wood trim on the dash, doors, and the steering wheel, and it begs to be touched, just as the last-generation vehicle's trimmings wanted to be kept at a distance. This is an interior that's at its best with some of the warmer, organic trims—not the ones with a lot of brightwork—so it's in its best light in Summit's organic coloring, under the natural light of the panoramic roof.
Last year, the top Summit trim gained an available Summit California Edition, which traded in the brightwork or body-color pieces for a more monochrome look. This year there's a High Altitude Special Edition that does dark chrome with the look and includes some other feature upgrades.
The SRT model adds a Red Vapor package, with unique interior trim, a backlit steering-wheel emblem, Radar Red interior accents, and black chrome 20-inch wheels.
For 2016 SRT models can come equipped in a Night trim with blacked-out wheels, pillars, spoiler and roof for nearly $5,000. We hear there's one born every 15 minutes.
2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee
The 2016 Grand Cherokee maintains an outstanding lineup of powertrains and great off-road ability.
With four powertrains, a choice between rear-wheel drive and various four-wheel-drive systems, and the hardware to keep its performance refined and top-notch, on- or off-road, the 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee simply doesn't disappoint in performance—and it offers a wide enough range of combinations to appeal to almost every need.
It's somewhat of a Swiss army knife, going against competitors like the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class, even the prosaic Subaru Outback, by being many different things at once, whether that's a frugal diesel cruiser, an inexpensive family SUV, or a luxurious performance sport wagon.
At the base level, the Grand Cherokee is powered by a 3.6-liter V-6. It already had flex-fuel capability and variable valve timing, and while it doesn't have direct injection, for 2016 it gets a new two-step valve lift system, an upgraded variable valve timing system, and a new exhaust gas recirculation system. We're not yet sure how, if at all, that will affect its useful power and drivability, but it does make 5 more horsepower than before, to 295 horsepower. As it has been, the so-called Pentastar V-6 offers strong responsiveness right in the middle of the rev band, as well as enough low-rpm torque to handle delicate yet demanding off-road situations. In the Grand Cherokee, this engine sounds a bit tamer and more refined than in some of the other models, like the Chrysler 200.
With the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, the Grand Cherokee has the feel of a Dodge Charger muscle sedan, in some respects—with the V-8 offering a great-sounding engine note. As much as we like this engine's character, it's not all that much of an improvement in everyday driving to make it worth the penalty in miles per gallon. It's worth noting that for 2016, all Hemi-powered Grand Cherokees are all-wheel drive only—even the SRT8.
The other (and costliest) engine for the regular Grand Cherokee lineup is the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 supplied by VM Motori. With 240 hp and 420 pound-feet of torque, it doesn't feel as overtly punchy as the V-8, or maybe not even as quick for passing as the V-6, but it has the very strong low- and mid-range torque required for easy towing and unbelievable tractability off-road.
It's also the only one in its class—without a luxury badge—to offer a diesel, and it's a cost-effective alternative to the diesels from Germany.
Maximum towing is rated at 6,200 pounds with the V-6, while the Hemi V-8 or the diesel raise that to (potentially) 7,400 pounds.
No matter which engine you choose from, you get an excellent 8-speed automatic, paired with paddle-shift controls. The paddles are more like short nubs, sticking up above audio buttons mounted on the back of the steering wheel.
Most Grand Cherokees come standard with rear-wheel drive, although there are plenty of options for those who want some or all of the off-road ability that Jeep is famous for. It can be ordered with one of three all- or four-wheel-drive systems. The basic Quadra-Trac I has a locking differential in the middle, with power split 50/50 front to rear, but no low range. Quadra-Trac II can split torque variably from front to rear, as traction disappears at either end, up to 100 percent in theory. Quadra-Drive II adds on an electronic limited-slip differential across the rear axle so that the Grand Cherokee can respond even more intelligently to slipping and sliding. You’d want the most extreme choice for the most extreme duties, but the base setup is lightweight, simple, and more than enough traction control for crossover-SUV drivers.
The Grand Cherokee is one of the few vehicles that can be fitted with hardcore off-road talent. Jeep grafts a Selec-Terrain system to both of the Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II systems. A terrain selection knob lets you choose one of five traction modes according to driving conditions: Auto, Sand, Mud, Snow, and Rock. (The former Sport mode is selected on the shift lever.) It’s useful stuff—if you don’t already know to take it slow and steady when conditions aren’t perfect.
Some versions of the Grand Cherokee earn the Trail Rated designation—those with Selec-Terrain plus and an off-road package—and we've seen how they earn it, scrambling up 200-foot, 55-degree inclines with a Selec-Speed system that puts a steady amount of force into the drivetrain, and controls it in 1-kph increments. It's brainless off-roading, all granted by smart electronic controls.
The Grand Cherokee is one of the best handling, best steering SUVs in its class. Road manners are smooth and crossover-like, without the boundy ride and the slow steering responses of the past. With the Limited, Overland, and Summit editions, there’s an available Quadra-Lift air suspension that can raise the Grand Cherokee from 6.4 inches to 11.3 inches off the ground through five modes—great for off-roading, and even more settled on-road. The air suspension can also lower the Jeep all the way for entry and exit, as well as when loading, and it drops the car down on the highway to improve aerodynamics and fuel economy.
If you need the Grand Cherokee for its space, but you'd rather be out on the racetrack, you should take a look at the Grand Cherokee SRT. At a much lower price, it competes with models from Porsche, BMW M, and Mercedes-Benz. Its 6.4-liter V-8 rips shunts 470 hp to all four wheels on a variable basis through an 8-speed paddle-shifted automatic. Chrysler claims a thrilling 0-60 mph time of 4.8 seconds, and includes launch control so owners can see those numbers, repeatably, on the SRT's Performance Pages screen. That isn't the only impressive number: the quarter-mile's pegged in the mid-13s, top speed hits 160 mph, and 60-0 mph braking cuts things short in just 116 feet. It's true performance art, and extravagant in ways you might never associate with the Jeep name.
2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Comfort & Quality
The 2016 Grand Cherokee has one of the best-appointed, most comfortable cabins in its class.
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.
2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Crash-test scores aren't quite top-notch, but the feature set is reassuring.
The 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee offers a wide range of standard and available safety equipment—including some active-safety items that are typically reserved for models with luxury badges. Its occupant safety ratings, from both the the insurance industry-funded IIHS and the federal NHTSA, are very good, but not quite perfect.
The Grand Cherokee includes a full suite of airbags, as well as trailer-sway control, hill-descent control, and hill-start assistance. Active headrests are standard as well. Bluetooth is standard, but a rearview camera is not offered on the base Grand Cherokee Laredo.
On other models, safety options include parking sensors and blind-spot monitors. Adaptive cruise control is available, bundled with a frontal-crash warning system. The Grand Cherokee can also be fitted with automatic high beams.
Four-wheel-drive Grand Cherokees feature hill-ascent control, which is like off-road cruise control for uphill work, a sort of automatic climbing mode; speed is selected in 1-kilometer-per-hour increments. We crawled up the 55-degree face of a rock outcropping 200 feet, with just a little bit of tire scrub, as the Grand Cherokee Summit diesel simply tugged its way unassisted to the top, set at its lowest 1-kph level.
According to crash-test ratings, the Grand Cherokee is a safe pick. The IIHS awards the Grand Cherokee its top "Good" rating in all but the new, tougher small-overlap front test, on which it's just "Marginal." The IIHS rated in 2016 the Grand Cherokee "Basic" in front crash prevention, when equipped with its optional forward collision warning—but not it's automatic emergency braking—part of the Technology Group.
The NHTSA has given the Grand Cherokee either a four-star or five-star overall rating, with five stars for front protection and a five-star rating for side impact protection. The rear-drive Grand Cherokee gets just three stars in rollover testing (based mostly on calculations). It's a typical rating for SUVs, though the four-wheel-drive Grand Cherokee is rated at four stars.
The airy Grand Cherokee provides drivers with great forward visibility. The hood’s shaped to give a good sense of the front corners, and the very large side mirrors are almost square.
2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee
With wi-fi, glorious audio systems, and plush leather leather, there's really nothing missing here in the Grand Cherokee.
The 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee comes in Laredo, Limited, Overland, Summit, and SRT versions. Within those versions are several noteworthy packages and special editions.
While you'll likely be very happy with the Laredo or Limited if you're seeking a comfortable, versatile family vehicle, the Overland and Summit models are the way to go if you want an appearance that's a little more distinct—as well as a feature set that really does align with rival models bearing luxury badges.
One of those places where the Grand Cherokee is on better footing than some rivals is in infotainment technology. The Grand Cherokee plugs into the data slipstream via the available Uconnect mobile package, and includes an 8.4-inch LCD touchscreen that controls infotainment and climate systems, in tandem with voice and steering-wheel controls. Data connectivity is wired into the car, bringing streaming audio capability, as well as wireless connectivity and in-car hotspot capability, making it even easier to stream video to portable devices and to passengers needing entertainment. A smaller, 5.0-inch center touchscreen is standard on Laredo and Limited models.
The main takeaway from Uconnect is that it's a bit easier and quicker to learn than Cadillac's CUE or Ford's systems. While it has just as many steering-wheel buttons, it also has a persistent row of virtual buttons—shortcuts to favorite controls—on the center display. On top of all that, it's laid out with clean, pretty, and well-rendered screens. It isn't perfect, though: voice commands are usually understood, but the underlying functions aren't always as rich as you might hope.
On the 2016 Grand Cherokee Laredo, standard equipment includes 17-inch wheels; air conditioning; a tilt/telescope steering wheel; cloth seats; power windows, locks, and mirrors; cruise control; keyless entry; an audio system with an AM/FM/CD player and SiriusXM satellite radio; and rear-wheel drive.
Options on the Laredo are more limited than in the rest of the lineup. But you can add a number of upgrades, including an off-road package that has skid plates, Selec-Terrain, and all the extras, with a bottom-line price that's still under $36,000.
Beyond the Laredo models, the Grand Cherokee starts to pivot from family crossover into high-end hardware. Ascend to the Limited and you'll get 18-inch wheels; leather seating with a power front passenger seat; a power tailgate; remote start; heated front seats; and a rearview camera.
Adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, navigation, and off-reading-assistance systems are among the many options on the Limited, which also has a different appearance, with more body-color trim.
The Ecodiesel V-6 and Hemi V-8 engine are both optional on Limited models and above.
The Overland adds 20-inch wheels; LED daytime running lights; navigation; an air suspension on four-wheel drive models; Nappa leather seating with ventilated front seats; a panoramic sunroof; and a leather-trimmed dash. The interior features Overland-embroidered seats, as well.
At the nearly-$50,000 Summit, you'll be rewarded with almost all of these features as standard equipment, as well as fancy steering headlights; unique wheel and wood choices, including a matte "open-pore" finish; and a suede headliner. Only a Blu-ray rear-seat entertainment system and a center-console CD changer are options. New for 2015, the Summit included an active noise-canceling function routed through its Harman Kardon audio system. There's also a new Summit California Edition monochrome/satin-trim exterior package, as well as a newly available Argentina Tan leather interior. Summits also get a Berber carpet cargo mat, illuminated "Summit" door sills, and acoustic glass for 2015.
As the most expensive model in the lineup, the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT carries the halo—but in a way that's not entirely rough-and-rugged.
It's more rooted in the racetrack than it is on the trail, and it has its own standard features, from luxury touches like leather and suede seats; carbon-fiber interior trim; metallic pedal pads; power tilt/telescope steering; active noise cancellation; and a leather-trimmed and heated steering wheel. The SRT also includes Performance Pages, which displays different timers and performance data such as 0-60 mph times, braking distances, and quarter-mile times, for those places and times that let you exercise the SRT's massive tires and Hemi horsepower.
Options on the SRT include a dual-pane sunroof; a luxury package with leather trim and a power tailgate; and a 19-speaker, 825-watt Harman Kardon audio system.
For the buyer who can't leave any option box unchecked, the SRT Night package adds special black wheels; blacked-out pillars, roof, spoiler and grille; and black hides inside for $4,980 more. That can run the price for a Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT up past $70,000 and yeah, we don't get it either.
2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Go with the EcoDiesel if you want manage your gallons; the Hemi, on the other hand, is very thirsty.
The 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee lineup has a powertrain to suit almost every buyer—that is provided you don't want a hybrid.
From the power-dense SRT model to the Ecodiesel and its 30-mpg highway rating, the Grand Cherokee covers a lot of ground for SUV buyers.
Gasoline V-6 versions of the Grand Cherokee start at 19 mpg city, 26 highway, 22 combined for V-6 equipped, rear-drive models. Adding all-wheel drive reduces those numbers to 18/25/21 mpg. Those numbers are slight improvements over earlier models, which weren't equipped with engine stop/start systems. Previously, the V-6 models were rated at 17 mpg in the city.
The Grand Cherokee turbodiesel is the most fuel-efficient model in the lineup, as well as the pick if towing is a priority. It gets 22/30/25 mpg for rear-drive models, or at 21/28/24 mpg with four-wheel drive, and offers a driving range of 730 miles. We've found it to get better real-world mileage than most five-seat crossovers, and its highway rating (we've easily seen 30 mpg in highway cruising) is closing in on that of gas-fueled compact vehicles like the Ford Escape and Chevy Equinox—models without the towing prowess or off-road capability.
Hemi V-8 models are rated 14/20/17 mpg and only come in all-wheel drive. That's a little low for a model that doesn't offer third-row seating.
But it's the Grand Cherokee SRT that's the gas-guzzler of the lineup. It earns EPA ratings of 13/19/15 mpg, and in one drive on mostly flat Texas roads we observed an average of just 12.4 mpg.
All versions come with an 8-speed automatic that helps reduce fuel consumption, while the V-8s also include cylinder deactivation.
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