2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee review: An SUV with something for everyone

The Jeep Grand Cherokee can be a lot of things to a lot of people. An option-free $30,000 model is nicely equipped, decently capable and pretty darn handsome. On the other side of the coin, there’s the $90,000 Grand Cherokee Trackhawk — an incredible performance SUV with 707 supercharged horsepower on tap. Trailhawk models offer super off-road capability. And the high-zoot Summit trim is one luxurious sport-ute.

But right in the middle of the Grand Cherokee lineup, you’ll find the Limited X. At around $50,000, it’s an SUV that’s capable, fashionable and luxurious, without breaking the bank. Furthermore, it proves that, even years into this generation, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is still a mighty compelling option for SUV shoppers.

Planted power

The Grand Cherokee’s standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 makes 295 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, which feels like plenty from behind the wheel of my Limited X 4×4 tester. While V8-powered Grand Cherokees are certainly more fun and offer additional towing capability, the V6 is really all most buyers will need.

For a sturdy off-roader, the Grand Cherokee offers an impressive ride that feels more car-like than like an SUV. The soft suspension also expertly manages the Grand Cherokee’s 4,700 pounds, allowing the vehicle to feel planted even when driving a bit quickly. The Jeep’s accurate steering has a relatively quick ratio and a nice heft, which also contributes to the confident, planted on-road manners.

That said, the throttle could stand to be tuned a little less aggressively. I really have to be careful with initial tip-in to avoid jerky starts. Once underway, though, the eight-speed automatic transmission helps translate the V6’s smooth power with silky shifts. When it comes time to stop, the brakes are easy to modulate, halting the Jeep smoothly and securely.

The V6 also returns respectable fuel economy: The EPA rates rear-wheel-drive models at 19 miles per gallon in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. Quadra-Trac II full-time four-wheel drive decreases fuel economy to 18/25 city/highway mpg. That’s still a lot better than the 14/22 city/highway mpg you’d get from the 5.7-liter V8 Grand Cherokee that comes exclusively with four-wheel drive.

The cabin is just as handsome as the exterior.

Manuel Carrillo III/Roadshow

Age is but a state of mind

The current, fourth-gen Grand Cherokee has been on sale since 2010. Even its 2013 refresh was a long time ago. In spite of Father Time, however, the Grand Cherokee still looks modern. That’s a good thing, as Jeep will probably eke out a couple more model years before the Grand Cherokee gets a complete redesign.

While the base Grand Cherokee is handsome, my Limited X’s dark 20-inch wheels and stylized hood make the SUV a little more fetching. Inside, it’s is a similar story. The attractive, quiet cabin generally features good materials, comfortable seats and room for five occupants.

However, with 36.3 cubic feet of space behind the second row and 68.3 cubic feet on offer when the back seats are folded, cargo capacity isn’t as strong as the competition. The Toyota 4Runner offers 47.2 cubic feet behind its second row and up to 89.7 cubic feet with the back seats folded. The new Honda Passport offers even more room than the 4Runner.

The current Jeep Grand Cherokee is old, but not when it comes to tech.

Manuel Carrillo III/Roadshow

A robust suite of tech also helps the Grand Cherokee conceal its age. The base, $31,945 (plus $1,495 for destination) Grand Cherokee Laredo features standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on a 7-inch touchscreen. At $49,880 as tested, my Limited X 4×4 model ups its touchscreen size to 8.4 inches and adds embedded navigation, as well as satellite radio, in-vehicle Wi-Fi and a 506-watt, nine-speaker stereo. Working with all those tech features is super intuitive, too, thanks to Jeep’s easy-to-use Uconnect interface. It’s one of the better infotainment systems on the market today.

Standard driver-assistance features include blind spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and rear parking sensors. My tester is equipped with full-speed adaptive cruise control with lane departure warning and automated parallel parking.

The 3.6-liter V6 brings just enough power and efficiency to the table.

Manuel Carrillo III/Roadshow

How I’d spec it

With a power liftgate, leather upholstery, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and a driver’s seat with memory presets, the mid-spec Limited X 4×4 trim offers a lot of Jeep for not a lot of money, so it’s a good starting point at $47,590. The $1,495 Advanced Active Safety Group package adds the advanced driver-assistance systems as well as rain-sensing wipers, so I’d opt for that.

The safety group package also requires you add the $795 upgraded, 506-watt stereo, which is fine by me because it’s a good-sounding system that sounds almost as nice as the Harman Kardon premium audio offered in more expensive Grand Cherokee trims.

The one option I wish my tester had is the $2,095 dual-pane panoramic sunroof. Adding that feature pushes the total price of my ideal, reasonably spec’d Grand Cherokee to $51,975. If you want luxury SUV features like air suspension, ventilated front seats and heated rear seats, you’ll have to step up to the Grand Cherokee’s luxury-oriented Summit trim at $56,785.

Cargo space lags behind the competition, but there’s still lots of room back there.

Manuel Carrillo III/Roadshow

A safe bet

The Jeep Grand Cherokee range offers something for everyone. At its base end, it’s a practical and well-appointed hauler. Move up the ladder, and luxury and performance options appeal to a wide array of buyers.

The 2019 Grand Cherokee might not be the new kid on the block, but it still has what it takes to be competitive in the ever-popular SUV space.

Manuel’s Comparable Picks

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