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2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2015

The 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee traces its roots back to when the merger between Mercedes and Chrysler was still alive and well. As a result, the current Grand Cherokee benefits from sharing its platform and some suspension parts with the rock-solid Mercedes-Benz ML-Class. This union has created a Jeep unlike any before it, with an exceptionally rigid chassis and an interior that can finally compete with overseas rivals. Jeep also gives the Grand Cherokee shopper a choice of potent engines, including an excellent turbodiesel V6, and three different 4-wheel-drive (4WD) systems, among other off-road-ready features.

If you're wondering if the so-called JGC really needs multiple 4WD setups in this day and age, we hear you. Statistics show that SUV owners tend not to take their rigs off road, so a simple all-wheel-drive (AWD) system would suffice in most cases. Why, then, did Jeep endow the 2015 Grand Cherokee with such hardcore capabilities? Because the Grand Cherokee wouldn't be a Jeep otherwise. That ability to tackle the toughest terrain remains a major factor in this legendary model's appeal. Throw in its remarkable civility, and it's easily one of the top SUVs for the price.

What's New for 2015?

The 2015 Grand Cherokee SRT gets a 5-horsepower boost, while the Summit trim adds active noise cancellation for a quieter ride.

What We Like

Superior off-road capability; first-rate build and interior quality; good driving dynamics; torquey and fuel-efficient turbodiesel V6

What We Don't

Indifferent fuel economy (except the diesel); pricey upper-level models

How Much?

$30,990-$65,590

Fuel Economy

Sporting an 8-speed automatic transmission across the board, the Grand Cherokee starts with a 3.6-liter V6 engine that's good for 290 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, this V6 yields 17 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway with rear-wheel drive (RWD), dropping to 17 mpg city/24 mpg hwy with 4WD.

Optional is a 3.0-liter turbocharged EcoDiesel V6 rated at 240 hp and a formidable 420 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is an astounding 22 mpg city/30 mpg hwy with RWD or 21 mpg city/28 mpg hwy with 4WD.

The available 5.7-liter V8 pumps out 360 hp and 390 lb-ft; predictably, fuel economy plummets, registering 14 mpg city/22 mpg hwy (RWD) or 14 mpg city/20 mpg hwy (4WD).

Finally, the AWD SRT's extreme 6.4-liter V8 churns out 475 hp and 470 lb-ft, yet it's almost as fuel efficient as the 5.7-liter V8 with 4WD, returning 13 mpg city/19 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee is available in five primary trim levels: Laredo, Limited, Overland, Summit and SRT.

The Laredo ($30,990) might be the entry-level model, but its interior is ready for prime time. The dashboard and door panels are mostly covered in premium materials, and the standard equipment roster is generous, highlighted by alloy wheels, keyless entry/start, Bluetooth, a 5-inch touchscreen interface and a 6-speaker audio system.

Move to the Limited ($37,890) or Overland ($44,290), and cabin quality starts to evoke the best from BMW or Land Rover. Notable standard features include a power rear lift gate, power front seats with driver memory functions, heated front and rear seats, a rearview camera and a 9-speaker audio system. The Overland boasts 20-in wheels, xenon headlights, a panoramic sunroof, a power adjustable steering wheel with wood trim, an 8.4-in touchscreen with navigation, premium leather upholstery and cooled front seats.

The Summit ($49,960) comes standard with practically every upgrade available, including adaptive cruise control, a collision warning system, a blind spot monitoring system, active noise cancellation, extended wood trim and a 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.

The performance-oriented SRT ($65,590) boasts a ridiculous 6.4-liter V8 and an array of go-fast goodies, including a lowered suspension that ironically makes this Jeep practically useless when driving off road.

Many of the standard features on pricier trims are optional on lesser Grand Cherokees. Additional options include a rear-seat entertainment system with Blu-ray capability and a towing package.

Safety

The 2015 Grand Cherokee features anti-lock brakes and six airbags (front, front-side and full-length side-curtain), along with traction and stability control. Available technologies include a blind spot monitoring system and radar-based collision alert.

In government crash tests, the RWD Grand Cherokee scored four stars out of five overall, although it received five stars for both frontal and side protection. The 4WD model's overall rating moved to five stars due to its greater rollover resistance. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Grand Cherokee its top rating of Good in all crash tests except the small-overlap frontal test, where the Jeep was deemed Marginal (second-worst rating).

Behind the Wheel

On paved roads, the Grand Cherokee delivers a reassuring driving experience. This midsize SUV feels nimble and responsive from the helm, partly due to its convenient midsize dimensions. The suspension is firm but not harsh, absorbing bumps quickly and confidently. Acceleration is only adequate with the base V6, but the EcoDiesel V6 packs a big turbodiesel punch off the line, and the HEMI V8 is just awesome.

The Grand Cherokee can be ordered as rear-wheel-drive only or can be equipped with one of three 4-wheel-drive systems. Laredo trims feature Quadra-Trac I, which is essentially a permanent AWD system. Optional on the Laredo and standard on the Limited and Overland is the Quadra-Trac II system, which features a dual-range transfer case for true 4WD. Optional on Limited/Overland and standard on Summit is Quadra-Drive II, which adds an electronic limited-slip rear differential. The SRT gets a pavement-biased AWD system with unique calibrations for performance driving. No matter how you slice it, the Grand Cherokee is a thoroughly capable vehicle that's also a pleasure to pilot. We've yet to encounter a better blend of toughness, maneuverability and luxury for the price.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 BMW X5 -- How badly do you need the Jeep's off-road talents? If you can go without, the X5's top-shelf luxury and engaging handling might win you over.

2015 Toyota 4Runner -- The 4Runner lacks the JGC's premium trim and features, but it's a similarly sized foe with comparable off-road chops.

2015 Volkswagen Touareg -- Although the Touareg can't match the Grand Cherokee's sophisticated 4WD offerings, it's skilled at medium-duty off-roading, and its on-road demeanor is surprisingly sporty.

Used Porsche Cayenne -- The midsize Cayenne is another pavement-biased machine, serving up something close to sports-car-grade athleticism in a midsize package. Depreciation is your friend here, but you'll definitely want a certified pre-owned warranty.

Autotrader's Advice

We think the Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel is the one to beat thanks to its extraordinary fuel economy and effortless low-end torque.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee: New Car Review - Autotrader