Jeep Grand Cherokee Mastery Guide

jeep grand cherokee mastery guide

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is an SUV manufactured by the American automaker Jeep. Known for its rugged capability and luxurious interior, the Grand Cherokee has been one of Jeep’s most popular and iconic models since its introduction in 1993. Now in its fifth generation, the Grand Cherokee continues to be a top choice for an off-road ready yet refined and comfortable daily driver.

This comprehensive guide will provide an in-depth look at the Jeep Grand Cherokee, covering its history, features, capabilities, trim levels, and ownership experience. Whether you’re interested in buying a Grand Cherokee, just bought one, or want to learn more about this Jeep SUV, this guide has all the key details and information you need to master the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

History of the Jeep Grand Cherokee

Jeep introduced the first generation Grand Cherokee, known as the ZJ, in 1993 as a more luxurious and daily driver friendly version of their iconic off-road SUVs. The ZJ Grand Cherokee featured a monocoque chassis for better road manners compared to the body-on-frame construction of older Jeeps. The Quadra-Coil suspension provided a smooth on-road ride while maintaining impressive off-road performance.

The second generation WJ Grand Cherokee went on sale in 1999 for the 2000 model year. This version offered a more powerful V8 engine option and an updated exterior and interior design. 2005 saw the launch of the third generation WK Grand Cherokee, bringing contemporary SUV styling and features like an available rear-seat DVD player.

In 2011 Jeep introduced the current fourth generation WK2 Grand Cherokee which shared a platform with the Mercedes-Benz M-Class. This brought further interior refinements and new technologies like an 8-speed automatic transmission and selectable driving modes. A substantial update for 2014 added a new diesel engine option and refreshed exterior styling.

The latest fifth generation WL Grand Cherokee arrived for the 2022 model year with an even more premium interior and cutting-edge tech features. A plug-in 4xe hybrid model also joined the lineup to increase fuel efficiency and power. Over nearly 30 years and five generations, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has remained one of the most popular and capable SUVs on the market.

Key Capabilities & Performance

A huge part of the Grand Cherokee’s appeal is its dual mastery of on-road comfort and formidable off-road prowess. Here are some of the key capabilities that make it excel in both arenas:

  • 4×4 systems – All Grand Cherokees offer 4-wheel drive. Available systems include Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II with low-range gearing, and Quadra-Drive II with an electronic limited slip rear differential for the most traction.
  • Selec-Terrain – This system lets the driver choose between modes like Auto, Snow, Sand/Mud, and Rock to tailor traction and throttle control for different surfaces.
  • Suspension features – The Grand Cherokee offers features like Quadra-Lift air suspension, electronic sway bar disconnect, and Selec-Speed Control for adjusting ride height. These optimize both wheel articulation off-road and a smoother on-road ride.
  • Tow/haul capacity – With its solid rear axle and V8 power, the Grand Cherokee can tow up to 7,200 pounds when properly equipped. A Grand Cherokee with the 360 hp 5.7L Hemi V8 can also haul up to 1,574 lbs of payload.
  • 4xe hybrid powertrain – The new plug-in hybrid Grand Cherokee 4xe makes 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque from its 2.0L turbo gas engine and dual electric motors. This delivers 0-60 mph in just 6.0 seconds as well as 25 miles of all-electric driving range.

Trims & Packages

Jeep offers the Grand Cherokee in several different trims and packages to cater to diverse budgets and needs. Here is an overview of the trims, ranging from the most affordable to most luxurious:

  • Laredo – The entry-level Laredo comes nicely equipped with the 293 hp V6, 8-speed automatic transmission, heated mirrors, dual-zone climate control, cloth seats, 18” alloy wheels, keyless entry and ignition, and more.
  • Altitude – The Altitude adds 20” gloss black wheels, blacked out exterior accents, and special interior trim. Available 4WD systems and some options are limited.
  • Limited – Moving up to the Limited includes leather seats, power front seats, an Alpine audio system, dual pane sunroof, rain sensing wipers, blind spot monitoring, and additional driver assistance tech.
  • Trailhawk – This is the most off-road ready Grand Cherokee, with the Quadra-Drive II 4WD system, Quadra-Lift air suspension, 18” wheels with all-terrain tires, underbody skid plates, and more capability enhancements.
  • Overland – Atop the standard lineup, the luxurious Overland features ventilated front seats, navigation, a 19-speaker Harman Kardon sound system, rear entertainment system, unique wheel designs, and other premium details.
  • Summit – The pinnacle Grand Cherokee Summit comes loaded with every luxury and tech feature available, including Nappa leather seats, open pore wood interior accents, adaptive cruise control, night vision, parallel/perpendicular park assist, and more.
  • High Altitude – A package available on Limited and Overland grades that adds 20” wheels, a blacked out appearance, open pore wood interior trim, and premium leather seats.

There are also specialty versions like the high performance Trackhawk and the off-road focused Mojave and Trailhawk models. This wide variety of trims and packages makes it easy to get the ideal Grand Cherokee for your needs, whether basic or luxurious.

Fuel Economy & Performance

One area where the Grand Cherokee excels compared to other full-size SUVs is fuel economy. Here’s a look at mileage and performance for the engines offered:

  • 3.6L V6 – This Pentastar V6 produces 293 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. It gets 19 mpg city and 26 highway in rear-wheel drive SUVs, and 18/24 mpg with 4WD. Good balance of power and efficiency.
  • 5.7L V8 – The 360 horsepower Hemi V8 manages 14/22 mpg city/highway, thanks to cylinder deactivation technology. It provides strong acceleration and towing capability.
  • 3.0L V6 diesel – Tops the lineup in mpg with ratings of 22/30 city/highway. The 260 horsepower diesel has robust torque output (464 lb-ft) for effortless acceleration and trailering.
  • 6.4L V8 – In the high performance Trackhawk, this supercharged V8 churns out 707 horsepower and 645 lb-ft of torque, for a thrilling 0-60 mph time of just 3.5 seconds. Fuel economy suffers at just 13/19 mpg.
  • 2.0L Turbo 4xe – The new plug-in hybrid 4xe has 25 miles of electric only range on a full charge before the gas engine kicks in. MPGe ratings come in at 49 city/47 highway/48 combined. Total system output is 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque.

No matter your priorities – fuel efficiency, power, or a balance of both – the Grand Cherokee has an engine to suit your needs. The available diesel and new hybrid models offer the promise of great fuel economy from a full-size SUV.

Technology & Safety Features

Keeping up with the latest technology features is a key part of the Grand Cherokee’s appeal. Here are some of the most notable tech and safety amenities available:

  • Uconnect 5 – The latest generation Uconnect infotainment comes with wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, WiFi hotspot, Amazon Alexa integration, wireless device charging, and excellent touchscreen responsiveness.
  • Digital instrumentation – Higher Grand Cherokee trims have fully digital and configurable gauge clusters for a modern look with easy access to driving data.
  • Rear seat entertainment – The available rear seat Blu-ray entertainment system with dual 10” screens helps keep passengers entertained on long road trips.
  • Active Driving Assist – This level 2 semi-autonomous driving system combines adaptive cruise control with lane centering for hands-free driving on select highways.
  • Night vision – Using thermal imaging technology, the available night vision system on the Summit can detect pedestrians and animals beyond the reach of the headlights.
  • Parallel/perpendicular park assist – This takes the stress out of parking by automatically controlling steering inputs to park in tight spaces.

On the safety side, all Grand Cherokees come with 7 airbags and electronic stability control. Available advanced systems include blind spot monitoring, rear cross path detection, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning with steering assist, rearview camera, surround view parking camera, and park sensors. Buyers can equip their Grand Cherokee with as much tech as they desire for a more seamless driving experience.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Ownership & Driving Experience

The Jeep Grand Cherokee combines attributes that make it enjoyable to own and drive daily, as well as off the beaten path:


Between its cushy suspension, supportive seats, minimal noise and vibration, and nice ride quality, the Grand Cherokee provides comfort for passengers and driver, especially on long rides.


With abundant storage space, available quad-zone climate control, keyless access and start, large cargo room, and Uconnect’s easy infotainment controls, the Grand Cherokee makes daily errands and commuting easy.


Robust 4WD systems, lots of ground clearance, advanced traction management tech, and the availability of all-terrain tires means this Jeep excels when pavement ends.


Strong gas V8 and diesel engines plus the high 4xe hybrid power output deliver great acceleration, strong towing capacity, and all-around responsive performance for an SUV this size.


Top trims like the Summit load up the cabin with upscale materials, power everything, customizable ambient lighting, 19-speaker surround sound, and other premium touches.

Cost of ownership

Gas mileage is good for a full-size SUV and resale values remain strong. Required maintenance is reasonable for a vehicle in this class.

For an optimal ownership experience, carefully consider which Grand Cherokee trim and options best align with your priorities and budget. Performing routine maintenance and repairs as recommended in the owner’s manual is also advised to maximize reliability and avoid any major issues.

Common Questions and Considerations for Shoppers

For those shopping for a new or used Jeep Grand Cherokee, here are answers to some common questions to assist with the buying process:

How reliable is the Grand Cherokee? – The Grand Cherokee has a good reliability track record, especially the V6 engines. The V8s are solid too, if maintained properly. Ensure proper servicing and follow the severe duty schedules if you tow/off-road frequently.

How smooth is the ride? – It depends on trim – the base Laredo is firm but compliant for an SUV, while moving up to Limited and higher gets you a more plush ride thanks to the available air suspension.

How capable is it off-road? – The Grand Cherokee is very capable for a mainstream SUV. The Trailhawk model is the most hard-core setup for off-road use from the factory. Other 4WD trims are solid for light-to-moderate off-roading as well.

How comfortable are the seats? – The front and second row seats get good marks for comfort and support from most owners, especially the higher trims with more adjustability and additional bolstering.

How is the quality? – Interior fit and finish quality is generally excellent, especially on the Summit which featuresValidatorException [Error: Bad value for <trim>, must be one of [Limited, Summit, Altitude, High Altitude]] open pore wood and premium materials. Mechanical quality is also very good overall.

How’s the base audio system? – The standard six-speaker system gets the job done, but audiophiles will want to upgrade to the fantastic 19-speaker Harman Kardon premium system on Overland/Summit trims.

If you still have questions after considering this guide, don’t hesitate to ask a dealership product expert who can offer personalized advice for your needs and budget. Enjoy shopping for your ideal Jeep Grand Cherokee!

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