The Jeep Grand Cherokee is a swanky off-roader that looks just at home in a farmer’s field as it does in front of a country club. What do you need to know before you buy a Jeep Grand Cherokee? Don’t worry, we’ll tell you everything right here in the Ultimate Buyer’s Guide.
The original “ZJ” Grand Cherokee was the last Jeep designed by American Motors back in the mid ‘80s. Bob Lutz revealed the Grand Cherokee in one of the most epic debuts of all time when he drove the SUV through a plate of glass at Detroit’s Cobo Hall. What an entrance that was, and what a success the Grand Cherokee has been ever since.
That original Grand Cherokee offered more interior volume, a more comfortable suspension, nicer interior options, and more powerful engines than its stable-mate, the Cherokee XJ. The Grand Cherokee was originally intended to replace the Cherokee, but SUV sales remained so strong that Chrysler slotted the ZJ just above the XJ in the lineup, and the two SUVs tag-teamed to dominate the SUV segment for years.
Today’s Grand Cherokee finds itself in the same place as the original: Just above the Cherokee and still selling well. In a lot of ways, the new WK2 is very similar to the original. It offers two V8 engine options, lots of interior space, plenty of gadgets, and makes buyers looking at a Jeep Cherokee think to themselves “Man, that Grand Cherokee is nice. If I just spend a couple more grand, I could be driving that.” Like the original Grand Cherokee, the WK2 gets a lot of respect from people of all social classes, finding itself in the driveways of both millionaires and middle-class Americans.
And while it’s not nearly built to off-road like that original ZJ, it’s still among the best in the segment when pavement turns to dirt.
We’ve driven a variety of this generation of Grand Cherokee, from a nicely loaded V8 Limited to an SRT to the EcoDiesel and we’ve found all of them to be highly enjoyable rides. In particular, the Quadra-Lift air suspension provides a level of refinement and comfort you’d expect from a more expensive vehicle.
When fitted with any one of the HEMI V8s it’s also not slow, with the SRT version basically acting like a muscle car (it’ll keep up with V8 Mustangs and Camaros) despite its heft. In fact, we drove an SRT Jeep Grand Cherokee halfway across the country and it was perfect.
Think of it as a less expensive Range Rover.
The WK platform debuted in 2011, and, to this day, is probably the most important vehicle in FCA’s history. On the heels of bankruptcy, virtually everyone at Chrysler’s Technical Center in Auburn Hills was working on the WK2. It was the car that would mark a new era for Chrysler. Its debut was meant to show the world what Fiat-led Chrysler was capable of. It succeeded.
The 2011 Grand Cherokee was lauded by auto journalists across the world. The 3.6-liter V6 was smooth and decent on gas, while the 5.7-liter V8 gave this SUV the grunt it needed. The Mercedes ML-based platform yielded superb ride and handling, and the new interior was leagues better than the last Grand Cherokee’s Fisher-Price special.
Jeep offers four engines in the Grand Cherokee. On non-SRTs, you can get the ubiquitous 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, the 5.7-liter HEMI V8, or the torquey 3.0-liter V6. While the 3.6 could use a bit more power to push around the 4,500 pound Jeep, the 360 horsepower HEMI feels strong.
The 3.0-liter diesel is no slouch either, despite its lower horsepower number. The 420 lb-ft of torque makes it feel a lot more powerful than those 240 ponies might suggest. And if you need a ridiculously fast, huge SUV, the SRT offers a 6.4-liter V8’s with 475 stallions. Those ponies will rocket that 5,000 pound behemoth to 60 in under 5 seconds.
All engines are mated to a ZF 8-speed automatic, which is an excellent transmission.
2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Engine Options
|Engine||Max Horsepower (hp)||Max Torque (lb-ft)|
|3.0L V6 Diesel|
240 @ 3600 rpm
|420 @ 2000 rpm|
|3.6L V6||290 @ 6400 rpm||260 @ 4800 rpm|
360 @ 5150 rpm
|390 @ 4250 rpm|
|6.4L V8||475 @ 6000 rpm||470 @ 4300 rpm|
The Grand Cherokee is a big vehicle. Though it only seats five, at 4,550 pounds in base Laredo form, the luxury Jeep makes its engines work to keep the car moving. That shows when you look at the fuel economy.
The two V8s barely crack 20 MPG on the highway, while the two V6s actually do okay. The big story is the diesel, which scores 30 MPG highway in two-wheel drive guise, and actual observed fuel economy from buyers is even higher than the sticker indicates.
2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Fuel Economy Ratings (City/Hwy/Combined)
|3.0L V6 Diesel||3.6L V6||5.7L V8||6.4L V8|
|Fuel Economy - Auto||22/30/25 [2wd]|
All Grand Cherokees come with a short and long arm front suspension and multi-link front and rear suspensions. V6s come with electro-hydraulic power steering, while the V8s come with traditional belt-drive power steering systems. Spring are either coils on the lower trim levels or air bags on the fancypants versions. There are nine trim levels available: Laredo. Laredo E, Altitude, Limited, Overland, High Altitude, Summit, SRT, and SRT Red Vapor.
- Laredo: Starts at $29,995. Notable standard features: 3.6-liter V6, 8-speed automatic transmission, cloth seats, coil springs, dual-zone automatic temperature control, power locks, power windows, 5” touch screen display, 6-speaker audio system, UConnect in-car communication system with Bluetooth, 17” alloy wheels, automatic headlamps, fog lamps, hill start assist, front and side airbags, trailer sway damping, paddle shifters. Notable options: 4-wheel drive ($2,000).
- Laredo E: Starts at $31,995. Notable standard features over Laredo: Chrome roof rails, satellite radio, power driver seat and lumbar support. Notable options: 4-wheel drive ($2,000); Trailer Tow Group: heavy duty engine cooling, normal duty suspension, class IV receiver hitch, trailer wiring, load leveling suspension ($795); Power sunroof ($1,095); Security and Convenience Group: heated front seats and steering wheel, power liftgate, remote start, security alarm ($2,000+Power Sunroof); 18-inch wheel and 8.4-inch radio group: 18” alloy wheels, 8.4” touchscreen display ($1,795); Off-Road Adventure I Group for 4x4: Front suspension skid plate, fuel tank skid plate, full size spare, hill descent control, Quadra-Trac II, Selec-Terrain System, transfer case skid plate, tow hooks ($995).
- Altitude: Starts at $36,895. Notable standard features over Laredo E: Heated front seats, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated steering wheel, 8.4” touchscreen display, 20” black alloy wheels, black exterior trim, power liftgate, dual exhaust tips, cargo cover, remote start. Notable options: Trailer Tow Group: heavy duty engine cooling, normal duty suspension, class IV receiver hitch, trailer wiring, load leveling suspension ($795); Four-wheel drive ($2,000); Power sunroof ($1,095).
- Limited: Starts at $37,065. Notable standard features over Laredo E: Leather trimmed seats, power driver and passenger seats with memory, heated second row seats, power liftgate, unique exterior and interior trim, auto dimming heated exterior mirrors with memory, 18” alloy wheels, rear cargo cover, leather wrapped heated steering wheel, rear park assist with backup camera. Notable options:Four-wheel drive ($2,000); 5.7-liter V8 ($3,295); 3.0-liter diesel V6 ($4,500); Off-Road Adventure I Group for 4x4: Front suspension skid plate, fuel tank skid plate, full size spare, hill descent control, Quadra-Trac II, Selec-Terrain System, transfer case skid plate, tow hooks ($595); Off-Road Adventure Group II for 4x4: Trailer Tow Group, front suspension skid plate, fuel tank skid plate, Quadra-Lift Air suspension, tow hooks, electronic rear limited slip differential, transfer case skid plate, selec-speed control; Quadra Drive II or Quadra Trac II ($1,795); Limited Luxury Package: 9-speaker audio system with subwoofer, automatic high beam control, HID auto leveling headlamps, panoramic sunroof, perforated leather seats, 8.4” touchscreen, ventilated front seats ($3,000); Trailer Tow Group: heavy duty engine cooling, normal duty suspension, class IV receiver hitch, trailer wiring, load leveling suspension ($795); Advanced Technology Group: adaptive cruise control, Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection, Forward Collision Warning with Stop ($1,995+luxury group).
- Overland: Starts at $43,090. Notable standard features over Limited: Automatic bi-xenon auto-leveling headlamps, LED daytime running lamps, leather-wrapped instrument panel, unique exterior and interior trim, chrome tow hooks, 20” alloy wheels, 9-speaker audio system, 8.4” touchscreen with Harman Kardon voice recognition navigation, premium leather heated and ventilated front seats, wood/leather-wrapped heated steering wheel with memory. Notable Options: Off-Road Adventure Group II for 4x4: 18” wheels, front suspension skid plate, fuel tank skid plate, tow hooks, electronic rear limited slip differential, transfer case skid plate, selec-speed control; Quadra Trac II ($395); Advanced Technology Group: adaptive cruise control, Blind Spot and Cross Path Detection, Forward Collision Warning with Stop ($1,995).
- High Altitude: Starts at $46,090. Notable standard features over Overland: Unique leather-trimmed seats, SRT brushed aluminum pedals, unique 20” black wheels, unique black exterior trim, headlamp washer, adaptive cruise control with Stop, blind spot and cross path detection, forward collision warning with Stop, no heated steering wheel, no leather-wrapped instrument panel. No notable options.
- Summit: Starts at $48,995. Notable standard features over Overland: Chrome mesh grille, unique interior with wood, unique exterior trim, front headlamp washers, unique 20” wheels, Harman Kardon 19-speaker audio system with subwoofer and 825 Watt amp, active noise cancellation, Summit embroidered seats, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning with crash mitigation, rear cross-path detection. Notable Options: Trailer Tow Group: heavy duty engine cooling, normal duty suspension, class IV receiver hitch, trailer wiring, load leveling suspension ($795); Summit California Edition: 20” unique wheels, unique front and rear fascia, unique grille and exterior trim ($995); Skid plate group ($295).
- SRT: Starts at $64,895. Notable standard features: Quadra-Trac Active four-wheel drive system, 6.4-liter HEMI V8, heavy duty 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters, Brembo high performance brakes, heavy duty engine cooling, performance tuned steering and suspension, sport mode, bilstein suspension with active damping, electronic limited slip rear differential, power heated/ventilated leather and suede driver and passenger seats, heated second row seats, active noise control, dual-zone automatic temperature control, heated steering wheel, leather wrapped instrument panel and door trim, brushed aluminum pedals, power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, 7” instrument cluster LCD, 8.4” Touchscreen display with GPS, 9-speaker audio system with 507-Watt amplifier, unique 20” wheels, wide 295mm Pirelli run-flat tires, auto-leveling HID headlamps, rain sensing wipers, power liftgate with integrated spoiler, unique exhaust tips, adaptive cruise control, blind spot and cross path detection, forward collision warning with Stop, front and rear park assist. Notable options: Panoramic sunroof ($2,095); SRT High Performance Audio Package: 19 Harmon-Kardon speakers with 825-Watt amplifier ($1,995).
- SRT Red Vapor: Starts at $68,890. Notable standard features over SRT: unique grille surround and badging, unique wheels, unique interior trim and seat covers, unique engine cover; Trailer Tow Group: Wiring harness, class IV receiver hitch, full-size spare, heavy duty engine cooling ($995).
None of the engine options are bad, but we really like diesels here at Jalopnik. The towing capability and fuel economy make the 3.0-liter V6 diesel an awesome option for the segment, but at $4,500, it ain’t cheap. We say, if you can swing it, buy the cheapest diesel 4x4 Grand Cherokee you can — the Limited. It will set you back $44,560 with destination fee.
If you want to save a few bucks ($1,200 to be exact), we think the HEMI offers the perfect amount of power to propel the 4,500 pound Grand Cherokee. We like it almost as much as the diesel. [Build Your Own]
MSRP: $29,995-$64,895 Max Advertised Towing Capability: 7,400 pounds [V6 diesel]
MPG: 22 city/ 30 hwy / 25 combined [2wd 3.0L diesel]
Engines: 3.0L V6 diesel, 3.6L V6, 5.7L V8, 6.4L V8
Curb Weight: ~4,550-5,150 pounds IIHS Rating: Not a Top Safety Pick
Transmissions: 8-speed Automatic
Drivetrain Layout: Front engine, RWD/4WD
Photo credit: Jeep