WASHINGTON — Jeep is only in the business of making SUVs and crossovers, so making a capable midsize SUV has been paramount for the Jeep brand for several decades now. The Grand Cherokee is a popular model for Jeep, so how does it stack up in 2017?
Going off road isn’t usually the biggest reason to buy a SUV, but for those who do want some off-road adventures, the Grand Cherokee seems ready to take on most anything. Ample ground clearance provides the ability to drive over obstacles without becoming grounded or stuck.
For that off-road capability, the Grand Cherokee does seem to lean more a bit more in turns than some lower crossovers. I noticed a bit of a nosedive in an emergency max effort braking, but you don’t get that in normal braking. The ride was very good, with most bumps being dealt with without upsetting the ride. I think the smaller 18-inch wheels help out on the drive.
The eight-speed automatic seems very smooth, but it was a little slow acting a few times when in a parking lot. The Grand Cherokee seems like a solid machine on the road — maybe that’s why I managed 19.7 miles per gallon in 310 miles of mixed driving — a bit under the 21 miles per gallon advertised on the sticker. The tester came with the standard V6, which provides enough power for most drivers. Jeep also offers a large V8 for more power or a turbo diesel option for better fuel economy.
Styling for the Jeep Grand Cherokee gives this SUV that tough and ready look without giving up that classic, more upscale way of doing it. The Limited model, with a starting price just under $40,000, is one of the lower-trim levels, but it doesn’t look like that from the outside. Up front, the 2017 Grand Cherokee has the trademark grill with those seven openings, but the headlight cluster looks more sleek and smaller than it did in the past.
This tester was fitted with optional Bi-Xenon headlights and even LED daytime headlights so the light housing can be a bit more compact. There are a lot of bright trim pieces, from the front grill inserts to the door handles. Even the side mirrors are chrome — a bit much for my taste. One thing I like is the body’s front and rear fascia color, instead of some other color, such as gray. It makes a more balanced look.
On the inside, even the Limited trim level comes nicely equipped with heated front and rear seats. The steering wheel is also heated. The tester came with the Luxury Group II package, which adds soft-feeling perforated leather and ventilated front seats. This $4,200 package also features a large panoramic sunroof, a larger 8.4-inch touchscreen display and a 506-watt sound system.
The only other option is Uconnect NAV with HD radio, a nice addition for $750. That NAV and interface work rather well, and the Uconnect system is one of the better audio/NAV interfaces to use. It’s easy to navigate, and usually understands voice commands the first time.
Space is good for five, but some people who took a seat in the car wished for more space in the foot well up front. Cargo space in the rear is good because there’s no third row.
The 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee is the SUV that’s happy on and off road. To find both is increasingly rare these days. While the Grand Cherokee might not have drastically changed its looks over the years, big improvements inside and out help make this a popular SUV for those who don’t stop when the pavement ends.
Editor’s Note: Mike Parris is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association. The vehicles are provided by STI, FMI or Event Solutions for the purpose of this review.
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