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2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by AutoTrader September 2018

While the rest of the Jeep lineup has undergone radical changes in the last few years, the 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee stays the course with yet another mild year-to-year update. For some vehicles, that could mean an aging model struggling to compete with newer competitors. This is not the case with the Grand Cherokee, which is so fundamentally good and unwaveringly appealing that year-to-year updates are more than enough to keep it relevant.

Now, after two disparate new models were introduced last year (the off-road-oriented Trailhawk and the insane 707-horsepower Trackhawk), 2019 sees just a few extra standard features and a new Limited X appearance package. Again, that only increases its appeal. Although it comes with some significant inherent drawbacks, the capable and characterful Grand Cherokee is still easy to recommend.

What's New for 2019?

Every Grand Cherokee now comes standard with blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic assist systems, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. A new Limited X package debuts, combining styling details from the Summit and SRT trim levels, along with special graphite trim.

What We Like

Superior off-road capability; luxurious interior; refined driving experience; diverse engine options; the sheer nerve of making a 707-hp Jeep

What We Don't

Subpar fuel economy for all engines except the diesel; rival midsize SUVs have more cargo space; spotty reliability history

How Much?

$31,395-$86,350

Fuel Economy

The base engine is a 3.6-liter V6 engine making 295 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. Estimated fuel economy is 19 miles per gallon in the city, 26 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg in combined driving for rear-wheel drive. With all-wheel drive, those numbers are 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined. Every Grand Cherokee has an 8-speed automatic.

The Limited, Overland, Trailhawk and Summit are available with a pair of upgrades. The 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V6 is good for 240 hp and 420 lb-ft. There are no 2019-specific EPA figures yet, but last year's rating was 22 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined with RWD or 21 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined with AWD. We don't expect anything drastically different this year.

The optional 5.7-liter V8 produces 360 hp and 390 lb-ft. It's AWD only and returns 14 mpg city/22 mpg hwy/17 mpg combined.

The SRT's 6.4-liter V8 rumbles with 475 hp and 470 lb-ft. Fuel consumption is 13 mgp city/19 mpg hwy/15 mpg combined.

The Trackhawk has a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 generating a massive 707 hp and 645 lb-ft of torque. It's not exactly a fuel sipper: 11 mpg city/17 mpg hwy/13 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

The 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee is available in Laredo, Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, Summit, SRT and Trackhawk trim levels.

The Laredo ($31,395) comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, proximity entry and keyless start, a backup camera, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights, fog lights, heated mirrors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic assist systems, dual-zone automatic climate control, cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth, a 7-in touchscreen interface, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a 6-speaker audio system with an auxiliary audio jack. The Laredo E sub-trim really just adds an 8-way power driver seat and roof rails. The Security and Convenience Group adds a power lift gate, remote ignition, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a 115-volt power outlet and a cargo cover. There's also a package that bundles 18-in wheels and an 8.4-in Uconnect touchscreen with integrated navigation.

The Limited ($38,645) adds the Laredo's options plus an auto-dimming driver-side mirror, driver memory settings, leather upholstery, an 8-way power passenger seat and satellite radio. Its Luxury Group adds a panoramic sunroof, automatic wipers, bi-xenon headlights, LED fog lamps, automatic high beams, ventilated front seats, a power-adjustable steering wheel and a 9-speaker Alpine sound system. The Limited X pretty much adds some special grey exterior trim and styling flourishes from the Summit and SRT to the Limited.

The Overland ($45,445) essentially includes all the Luxury Group equipment plus an air spring suspension, 20-in wheels, special styling and upgrade leather upholstery.

The Trailhawk ($43,745) starts with the same equipment as the Limited but bolsters it with 18-in wheels, all-terrain tires, the air spring suspension, a full-size spare, special styling elements, power-folding mirrors, leather/simulated suede upholstery and the 9-speaker Alpine system. Much of the Trailhawk's off-road-specific equipment is available on the Laredo, Limited and Overland through optional packages.

The Summit ($51,145) builds on the Overland with active noise cancellation, more luxurious styling flourishes, upgraded leather in unique colors, a 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system (optional Overland) and the Active Safety Group. AWD versions of the Overland and Summit also include an otherwise optional tow package.

The performance-oriented SRT ($67,845) is equipped similarly to the Summit, but it emphasizes on-road performance. It gets a 6.4-liter V8, a lower suspension with adaptive dampers and no air springs, performance all-season tires, special styling and leather/simulated suede upholstery.

To the SRT, the Trackhawk ($86,350) essentially adds the famous "Hellcat" supercharged V8 and launch control. A full leather interior is available as an option on both high-performance models.

Trailhawk, SRT and Trackhawk aside, the Grand Cherokee comes with RWD as standard. The AWD systems on offer require some explanation. Laredo trims feature the Quadra-Trac I single-speed AWD setup. Quadra-Trac II, with a two-speed transfer case for greater off-road ability, can be installed in the Laredo but is the default system in the Limited and Overland. The Quadra-Drive II system adds an electronic limited-slip rear differential -- it's optional on AWD Limited, Overland and Summit variants, and standard on the Trailhawk. Included with every AWD system is Selec-Terrain, which alters engine response, gearshift points, suspension and hill-descent control for optimum traction in five different scenarios.

Safety

The Grand Cherokee features anti-lock brakes, a backup camera and six airbags (front, front-side and full-length side curtain). The Active Safety Group adds forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic assist systems, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control and automatic wipers. It is optional on the Limited, Overland and Trailhawk, and standard on the upper three trims.

In government crash tests, the rear-drive Grand Cherokee scored four stars out of five overall, with five stars for both front and side protection. The AWD model's overall rating is five stars thanks to its greater rollover resistance. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Grand Cherokee its top rating of Good in all crash tests except the more recently introduced small-overlap front crash test, where it was deemed Marginal (the institute's second-worst rating).

Behind the Wheel

On pavement, the Grand Cherokee delivers a solid, reassuring drive that's more indicative of a luxury SUV than Jeep's other models. The suspension is firm but not harsh, absorbing bumps quickly and confidently. The available air suspension makes things even better.

In terms of engine choice, the base V6 is perfectly adequate. Although towing capacity is actually equal with all non-performance choices, things will certainly be easier with the diesel V6 or 5.7-liter V8. You'll just have to decide if you want thriftier fuel economy or invigorating acceleration when not towing.

Then again, if you really want invigorating performance, the SRT and truly absurd Trackhawk will over-deliver. Using the 707-hp Trackhawk's launch control is literally shocking, thwacking you in the chest with g-forces that even the rear-drive Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger Hellcat can't provide.

Of course, those are niche models, and most Grand Cherokee shoppers will be more interested in regular versions that boast off-road capability better than just about everything in its price range. If that's really important to you, make sure to consider the go-anywhere Trailhawk or at least the available height-adjustable air spring suspension.

Inside, you'll find a handsome design and high-quality materials. They're not quite up to luxury standards, but they're darn close and miles ahead of what you'll get in the more rugged Toyota 4Runner. Unfortunately, you'll be giving up some passenger space and a considerable amount of cargo room. There's only 36.3 cu ft. of space behind the back seat and 68.3 in total -- figures that fall short of many compact SUV models.

Other Cars to Consider

2019 Toyota 4Runner -- The 4Runner is the only midsize SUV that can touch the Grand Cherokee's off-road capability, and although not as luxurious, it has a larger interior.

2019 Dodge Durango -- This 7-seater is based on the same platform as the Grand Cherokee, but it's far more suited to on-road driving than getting muddy with its Jeep cousin. A smart alternative.

2019 Land Rover Discovery -- This can be compared to the Grand Cherokee's most luxurious trims. It too boasts go-anywhere capabilities, but has considerably more interior space.

Used Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class -- The Grand Cherokee is actually mechanically related to one of the GLE's preceding generations. The current generation has great engines, superb build quality and high-class ambience. A used one should be well within the price range of a new Grand Cherokee.

Autotrader's Advice

Even the base Laredo is well-equipped, so we don't think you can go wrong with any trim level. We'd just urge you to be honest with your needs and keep in mind some of the Grand Cherokee's drawbacks: fuel economy, space inefficiency and spotty reliability history.

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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.
2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee: New Car Review - Autotrader