Grand Cherokee is legendary. Unlike most of today’s SUVs, it has remained true to its heritage by offering true off-road capability while providing the amenities and creature comforts of modern luxury vehicles.
The best part about a loaded Jeep Grand Cherokee? It doesn’t ooze in opulence found on other brands. Better yet, it’ll go places that SUVs costing twice as much won’t dare to.
The Jeep we received was fitted with the 75th anniversary package, homage to the first Jeep in 1940 that roamed this country.
On the outside, cosmetic changes were made to just about every area. The Granite Crystal Metallic paint blends well with the darkened trim, bronze wheels and black lens head and tail lamps. Bronze tow hooks look butch but stylish too. Badging all around makes it known this is the anniversary edition Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Inside, orange and moroccan sun accents complement the black leather. The front seats are embossed with 1941.
Soft yet supportive and able to twist in a multitude of angles via power adjustments, the front seats are perfection.
The rear is spacious enough for three, but a bit more knee room and soft seat backs would be better suited. The rear seat heaters work quickly.
Infotainment is readily accessible thanks to an 8.4-inch uConnect display that features large fonts and “buttons” which respond instantly to finger taps. The system was intuitive and feature-packed, truly a masterpiece by today’s standards.
Critical audio and HVAC controls retain physical knobs and buttons, another intuitive and logical step by Jeep designers and engineers.
Behind the shifter and nicely sized cupholders in the center console, the Selec-Terrain knob has settings for different terrain scenarios and adjusts throttle and transmission response accordingly. Our Grand Cherokee also came with the Off-Road Adventure II package which adds Quadra-Lift air suspension.
The air suspension features essentially an air balloon or “bag” at each wheel which modulates the Jeep’s ride height. Certain terrain modes allow higher ride heights, like rock, while buttons to the right of the knob allow for manual increase and decrease of the ride height between four set points.
Higher ride heights are automatically brought down once the Grand Cherokee reaches a certain speed, and it can be set to deflate to the lowest height when parked for easier entry and exit.
The 3.6L V6 features engine start-stop and a two-step variable valve lift system for 2016, resulting in a six percent improvement in fuel economy. We averaged 21 mpg across our week of driving.
The engine was plenty powerful and the start-stop system was smooth most of the time, though upon some restarts there was a brief hesitation. Low and high modes of the two-step system were not discernible.
Ride and handling as about what’s expected for a plush off-road capable SUV, comfortable, stable and not overly sporty. Road, engine and wind noise are all nearly nonexistent.
On the safety front, our Jeep did not come with the available radar cruise system with auto emergency braking. All the airbags, including one for the knees, is standard.
A back-up camera projects clearly on the 8.4-inch display, while parking sensors in the rear bumper provide audible and visual alerts. If the system detections a potential collision while backing up, it’ll hit the brakes to avoid it.
Overall, the Grand Cherokee presents everything that is right in the SUV world. It does just about anything, with handsome looks and now fuel economy that we’d consider very good when hauling capabilities are factored in.