While the rest of the Jeep lineup has undergone radical changes over the past few years, the 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee moves into yet another model year with only small changes to packaging and trim colors. This would typically indicate an aging product unable to compete with newer competitors, but the Grand Cherokee is unique enough to stay relevant with minor tweaks.
That said, we’re looking forward to seeing an all-new Grand Cherokee in the next year or so. The current Grand Cherokee is 10 years into its model run, and it’s really starting to show its age. It isn’t up to modern efficiency standards, its crash-test performance isn’t as good as it could be and its interior is quite plasticky. Still, the current-model Grand Cherokee still manages to offer unique off-road capability in a reasonably priced, reasonably upscale package, and it offers great value relative to many of the other upscale-but-rugged SUVs on sale today.
What’s New for 2020?
As the Grand Cherokee has aged, Jeep has offered more features as standard on lower trim levels. This year’s no different. Limited and Trailhawk trims get a standard sunroof. Laredo, Limited and Trailhawk trims get a new Premium Lighting Group package. The Active Safety Group package available on Laredos has been expanded. Overland and Summit trims get new interior colors, while the High Altitude trim gets a new wheel design.
There’s also a new set of wheels and a new interior package available on the Trackhawk. See the 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee models for sale near you
What We Like
- Superior off-road capability
- Luxurious interior
- Refined driving experience
- Diverse engine options
- The sheer nerve behind the 707-hp Grand Cherokee Trackhawk
What We Don’t
- Ancient design
- Subpar fuel economy (except on the diesel engine)
- Less cargo space compared to rivals
- Spotty reliability
The Grand Cherokee’s base engine is a 3.6-liter V6 engine that generates 295 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Its estimated fuel economy is 19 miles per gallon in the city, 26 mpg on the highway and 21 mpg in combined driving on rear-wheel-drive models. Going all-wheel drive cuts a mile per gallon in the city and on the highway, but the combined-driving economy stays the same.
There are two engine upgrades available on the Limited, Overland, Trailhawk and Summit trims. There’s a 5.7-liter V8 that produces 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. It’s exclusively AWD and returns 14 mpg city/22 mpg hwy/17 mpg combined. Also available is a 3.0-liter turbocharged diesel V6 good for 240 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. The EPA rates the diesel at a respectable 22 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined with RWD or 21 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/and 24 mpg combined with AWD.
The SRT’s 6.4-liter V8 puts out 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. Fuel consumption is 13 mpg city/19 mpg hwy/15 mpg combined.
The Trackhawk has a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that generating a whopping 707 hp and 645 lb-ft of torque. But it’s not exactly a fuel sipper at 11 mpg city/17 mpg hwy/13 mpg combined.
Every Grand Cherokee uses an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Standard Features & Options
The 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee is available in seven trim levels.
The Laredo ($33,540) comes standard with 17-in alloy wheels, proximity entry and keyless start, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights, fog lights, heated mirrors, blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, automatic dual-zone climate control, cloth upholstery, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, 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 subtrim adds an 8-way power driver’s seat and roof rails. The Security and Convenience Group adds a power liftgate, remote start, 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. As of 2020, the Active Safety Group is also available on the Laredo, and brings with it a bevy of active safety tech.
The Limited ($41,350) adds to the Laredo’s options an auto-dimming driver’s side mirror, driver memory settings, leather upholstery, an 8-way power passenger seat and satellite radio. Its Luxury Group package 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 main additions on the Limited X trim are some special gray exterior touches and styling elements from the Summit and SRT trim levels.
The Trailhawk ($46,450) starts with the same equipment as the Limited and adds off-road elements (such as 18-in wheels and all-terrain tires), an air suspension, a full-size spare, special styling elements (such as red recovery hooks), power folding mirrors, leather and simulated suede upholstery and the 9-speaker Alpine sound system. The Trailhawk comes standard with the Grand Cherokee’s Quadra-Drive II AWD system, which includes an electronic limited-slip rear differential. Much of the Trailhawk’s off-road-specific equipment is available on the Laredo, Limited and Overland trim levels through optional packages.
The Overland ($47,790) essentially includes all of the Limited’s Luxury Group equipment plus an air suspension, 20-in wheels, special styling and upgraded leather upholstery.
The Summit ($54,085) builds on the Overland, adding active noise cancellation, more luxurious styling elements, upgraded leather in unique colors, a 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system (available as an upgrade on the Overland) and the Active Safety Group package. The Tow Package comes standard on AWD Summits and Overlands.
The performance-oriented SRT ($67,845) is similarly equipped, but it emphasizes on-road performance. It gets a 6.4-liter V8, a lower suspension with adaptive dampers, performance all-season tires, special styling and leather and simulated suede upholstery.
To the SRT, the Trackhawk ($86,350) adds the famous 707-hp supercharged Hellcat V8 engine and launch control. A full leather interior is available as an option on both high-performance models.
RWD is standard on all Grand Cherokee trims except the Trailhawk, the SRT and the Trackhawk. The AWD systems on offer require some explanation. Laredo trims feature the Quadra-Trac I single-speed AWD setup. You can upgrade to the Quadra-Trac II, which boasts a 2-speed transfer case for greater off-road ability, in the Laredo, and it’s the default system in the Limited and Overland trims. The Quadra-Drive II system adds an electronic limited-slip rear differential — it’s optional on AWD Limited, Overland and Summit trims, and it’s standard on the Trailhawk. Included with every AWD system is Jeep’s Selec-Terrain system, which alters engine response and gearshift points for different terrains and comes with a hill-descent control system.
The Grand Cherokee features anti-lock brakes, a rearview 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 alert systems, lane-departure warning, adaptive cruise control and automatic wipers. For 2020, the Active Safety Group is optional on the lower four trims and standard on the upper three.
In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash tests, the RWD Grand Cherokee scored four stars out of five overall, with five stars for front and side protection. The AWD Grand Cherokee picked up a 5-star rating thanks 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 more recently introduced small-overlap front crash test, where it was deemed Marginal, the institute’s second-worst rating. Relative to the competition, these scores could be better, and they’re indicative of the Grand Cherokee’s aging platform.
Behind the Wheel
On pavement, the Grand Cherokee delivers a solid, reassuring drive that’s more like a luxury SUV than Jeep’s other models. The suspension is firm but not harsh, and it absorbs 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 nonperformance choices, towing a trailer would certainly be easier with either the 5.7-liter V8 or the diesel.
Then again, if you really want invigorating performance, the SRT and the truly absurd Trackhawk will overdeliver. Using the 707-hp Trackhawk’s launch control is literally shocking, thwacking you in the chest with G-forces that even the RWD 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 offer economical on-road comfort and good off-road capability. If the latter is especially important to you, give some thought to the go-anywhere Trailhawk trim or think about upgrading to the height-adjustable air spring suspension.
Inside any Grand Cherokee, you’ll find a handsome design and high-quality materials. Neither is quite up to luxury standards, but each is darn close — and miles ahead of what you’ll get in the more rugged Toyota 4Runner. Unfortunately, you’ll be sacrificing 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 cu ft. in total — figures that fall short of many SUVs competing a class down in the compact segment.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Toyota 4Runner — The 4Runner is Grand Cherokee’s closest competitor. While each offers great off-road capability, the 4Runner skews toward youthfulness where the Grand Cherokee places a greater emphasis on luxury. That said, the 4Runner is the more reliable vehicle and will offer better resale value.
2020 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 viable option for a Mopar fan who wants three rows of seats.
2020 Land Rover Discovery — Comparable to the Grand Cherokee’s most luxurious trims, the Discovery boasts go-anywhere capabilities, but it has much more interior space and is much more modern and sophisticated.
Used Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class — Born in the old DaimlerChrysler era, the Grand Cherokee is mechanically related to an earlier-generation GLE. Mercedes-Benz‘s midsize SUV offers good powertrain options, superb build quality and a high-class demeanor. A used GLE-Class should be well within the price range of a new Grand Cherokee.
Even the base Laredo is well equipped, so we don’t think that you can go wrong at any trim level. It all comes down to how much you want to spend. We’d urge you to be honest with your needs and keep in mind some of the Grand Cherokee’s drawbacks — the weak fuel economy, the space inefficiency, the spotty reliability history. While it’s still an attractive SUV, most of the market has surpassed the aging Grand Cherokee with regard to safety, efficiency and technology. So if you do end up buying a new Grand Cherokee, make sure that you’re getting a great deal. Find a Jeep Grand Cherokee for sale