2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4×4
By Ken Glassman
The Jeep came into existence during World War II, when the US Government needed a small agile 4-wheel drive vehicle that could get through mud, snow, and sand, and carry 4 soldiers, crawl up and down hills, ford small streams, tow a light artillery piece, and be reliable and easy to service. Millions of them were built, and they saw action in the forests of Europe, and the sands and jungles of Asia in World War II, as well as Korea, and even Viet Nam. And millions of soldiers drove them, or drove in them. If there is one thing you can say definitively about Jeep is that they know off-road.
But if we flash forward to today, the vast majority of Jeep vehicles never see any service off-road, especially if you’re talking about the luxury models like the Grand Cherokee. Modern Grand Cherokees are mostly thought of as luxury SUV’s that folks in the Snow Belt especially covet for their ability to get through the rough winters, and not the rock climbing, stream fording, and incline/decline terrain gobbling vehicle it can be.
The Grand Cherokee offers four engines to choose from, starting with a 240-hp, 3.0-liter V-6 diesel. Next is a 290-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 (regular gas), a 360-hp, 5.7-liter V-8 (regular gas) and the incredible 470-hp, 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 (premium gas).
Our test car was equipped with the 3.6 liter Pentastar V-6. With 290 hp, and 260 ft. lbs. of torque, this powerplant was more than enough to make the Grand Cherokee feel strong and powerful, and made passing on two lane highways, and merging onto highways a snap. That’s quite a feat considering that the Grand Cherokee weighs nearly 5,000lbs. It is mated to an 8-speed paddle-shifting manumatic transmission, with overdrive that shifts smoothly, and quickly. And the vehicle can tow up to 6,200 lbs. This engine is rated at 17 City / 24 Highway. Unfortunately, in the real world, plan on 15 and 22 respectively.
The test car also came equipped with the Off Road Adventure Package ( a $1,795 option) which features Quadra-Lift air suspension. When the driver pushes the Sport mode setting, the Grand Cherokee is transformed into a sporty SUV. It not only changes the shift points, it also changes the ride height and suspension settings significantly, which minimizes body roll to make spirited driving through challenging roads feel more stable and agile. The standard Selec-Terrain system has five push button terrain modes that correspond to potential conditions, like Mud, Sand, Snow, Rock, and Auto, if you just want to let the intelligent system choose the proper mode for you. The system activates 12 different combinations of brake, suspension, and powertrain setting to optimize ground clearance and traction.
On cars not equipped with the Quadra-list package, only the transmission and throttle response changes in the Sport setting. The total effect of the suspension results in a remarkably smooth ride, which is very quiet on the highway, despite aggressive tire treads, and is almost as smooth as a luxury sedan. The Grand Cherokee is available in 2-wheel drive versions as well.
The quiet cabin is outfitted in high quality leather and soft touch appointments. The power operated heated and cooled seats are wide, and comfortable, with moderate bolstering, a nod to the comfort side of the equation rather than the seldom used off road needs. And the 4-way power adjustable, heated steering wheel is another great feature.
The Dash layout is attractive, and straight forward, just the way we like it, with 2 main gauges for the tach and temp and fuel gauge. The digital speedometer is read from the LED info screen between them. And that info screen toggles through a menu of other info for trip computer, trip meters, etc.
There is a strip of dark faux wood trim just beneath the black dash top, which gets washed out. It should be a lighter color to offset the black, especially with the light biscuit seats and trim. Some brightwork and brushed aluminum surrounding the air vents, and on the console do serve break up the dark look a bit. The cubby at the base of the center stack has all the necessary outlets for power and connectivity, but it’s too small to properly hold a large phone or other items. That’s a bad feature to botch.
The Chrysler family Uconnect system featuring an 8.4-inch touch-screen, which we’ve enjoyed on the Dodge Dart and other Chrysler products, is one of the best connectivity systems out there. The icons are large, and easy to see, and very intuitive to use. A redundant set of HVAC controls beneath the screen is there if you choose to use them instead.
The steering wheel also has controls for scrolling through the small info screen between the gauges, radio, phone, and radar cruise control. The excellent Blind Spot Monitor is there, but no lane departure warning system. The back-up camera also features cross traffic warning and park assist which are easy to get used to, and missed when driving vehicles not equipped with them. The Center console is 2 stage affair, with one shallow lift up for flat items like a phone, or music device, and a deeper box for large items. Also, the Panoramic moon roof brings light and cheer into the cabin, and the rear lift gate is electrically controlled.
The Grand Cherokee with the Off-Road Adventure Package makes this a tall vehicle, so getting in and out is a bit of work for shorter drivers, even when you press the “Park” mode to lower the ride height.
Back seat passengers will enjoy very good head and leg room, and the split fold down seats are comfortable, with the seat backs able to recline for relaxing on long trips. They are also heated, and have their own set of controls for climate, as well as outlets for USB and 115v power plug. The cargo area is nicely appointed, but no release for seatbacks. There is some handy under-floor storage cubbies with full size spare. And there’s an AC outlet back there too. With the passenger seats folded down the cargo area boasts 68.7 cubic feet of cargo room and 35 cubic feet with the seats up.
Exterior styling is bold and squarish looking, but finessed with rounded corners to soften the traditional Jeep boxy look, especially the LED taillight treatment. But I like the fact that you can tell this is a Jeep from a mile away, and the iconic seven slot grill remains, although freshened up a bit to fit into the current look.
The Grand Cherokee is an excellent luxurious Sport Utility Vehicle, which will compare to anything out there, whether used for long interstate trips, short commuting duty, or for serious off-road use. It’s a shame that most drivers will only get to enjoy it for the first two uses. I have driven all manner of 4×4 pick-up trucks, Hummers, Rovers, and most other manufacturer’s off-road machines on difficult terrain. And this Jeep is as capable as any, and at any price.
The base price for our Grand Cherokee Limited 4×4 is $38,795, and is well equipped. The $1,995 Advanced Technology Group, adds Adaptive Cruise Control and Forward Collision Warning, and the Blind Spot and rear Cross Path Detection system, as well as auto dimming rear view mirror.
The$4,200 Luxury Group II package includes a 506 watt amplifier sound system, with 9 speakers and sub-woofer. Also Xenon auto leveling and high-beam head lights, and rain sensing wipers. The perforated heated and cooled leather seats are included along with the touch screen display, the panoramic sun roof, and more.
The Off-Road Adventure II package includes the Quadra Lift air suspension, and rear load leveling suspension, along with all the towing necessities, skid plates, and full size spare for $1,795. The final number for this vehicle is $47,780.
The difficulty for a buyer will be choosing the right one for their needs, since there are so many models, and configurations, options packages and price points to choose from. My advice to would be buyers is do a lot of homework to decide on their desired features, and work with an experienced sales person to find the exact vehicle that suits the needs.