These days, we’ve been thinking a lot about “bug out” vehicles. Maybe it’s too much bingeing on the Walking Dead, but hey when the Zombies come a-munching, what you gonna do?
We say hop in your 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee and head for the hills!
Grand Cherokee exterior – familiar and friendly
While the idea of a Zombie Apocalypse is really not that new, neither is the Grand Cherokee. But that’s not a bad thing. Jeep says it’s the most rewarded SUV ever, and that’s believable. And the Jeep GC continues to be the same tasteful, handsome vehicle it has always been. The current model has been with us since 2010, and Jeep has done an excellent job of updating along the way, so it still looks fresh. (Hot tip: an all new model is coming for the 2021 model year)
There’s a wide range of models, and our Limited X sits mid-pack between the entry-level Laredo and top of the line Summit. And we think that’s a fine choice. Our tester was finished in a handsome Slate Blue Pearl-Coat, and had the benefit of the Customer Preferred Package 2BG (which does sound like a Rapper’s name), which takes the crisp lines and adds 20-inch Granite Crystal Aluminum Wheels, Gloss Black exterior accents and roof rails, Body-color fascia with granite accents and body-color sill extensions.
You also get dual dark chrome exhaust tips, Granite crystal badging and grille, Premium LED fogs, LED daytime running lamps, Sport hood and Pirelli tires. We loved the absence of chrome trim – our tester looked mean, capable and modern.
Grand Cherokee interior – Comfort for Overland or Over to the Mall
Inside, our tester was a perfect blend of rugged and premium, with large comfy leather-covered seats, a thick leather wheel and chunky shift lever. Everything feels intentionally large and heavy duty – easy to operate while wearing gloves, and built for a long life of adventure.
The dash feels surprisingly high, giving more of a tall sedan feel from the driver’s seat. The gauges are modern and crisp, with a 7,000 rpm tach on the left, and coolant and temp on the right. In the center, a 7-inch LCD digital display includes speedo, audio, navigation prompts – the usual stuff.
In the center console is an 8.4-inch info-tainment display, and it’s nicely laid out, an easy read, and large volume and tuning knobs underneath make it easy to navigate your way around. All the tech you want is on board, including Apple CarPlay, Google Android Auto, even a 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hot Spot.
We like that the Grand Cherokee isn’t trying to be a 3-row SUV, it’s a nicely-sized 5-seater, with good rear seat room and plenty of cargo space. Flipping the rear seats is easy, and it does a smart thing where the headrests flop down as the seat folds forward, making for an easy process. When you do, you get a nice flat loading floor, and loads of room. Jeep’s being doing this a long time, and you can tell they’ve figured out the details.
Grand Cherokee Performance – Legendary Capability
There’s no doubt about it – wherever you’re going, you can count on the Grand Cherokee to get you there. Under the hood is Jeep’s familiar 3.6-liter V6, found in its siblings including the Gladiator and Wrangler, it’s a powerhouse. In the GC punching an impressive 293 horsepower, and 260 lb.-ft of torque. This is and engine that loves to rev, pulls strongly to its 6,500 rpm redline, and sounds great doing it. With a 6,200 lb. tow rating, it’s capable to bring the big toys as well. The 8-speed automatic is a smooth and able partner, and this Jeep is deceptively quick for a big vehicle.
Serving the power to all 4-wheels is the Quadra-Drive II system with Electronic limited slip. It’s easy to dial up the kind of grip you need, with Snow, Sand, Mud and Rock settings, plus a 4-wheel Low setting for the severe stuff. It’s hard to imagine a condition our Grand Cherokee couldn’t manhandle, but for those who are super-serious off-roaders, there’s a Trailhawk model, and for those who want to pound on supercars, the Trackhawk model features a 707 hp (yes 707!) V8. Wow.
Despite its rugged capabilities, the GC is a pussycat on paved roads, the ride is supple and smooth, and the V6 is quiet as it goes about its business. This is an excellent family vehicle that can climb mountains if you’re that kind of family. And that means it imparts an incredible feeling of confidence in your daily drive as well. Safety is important with the family onboard, so we would recommend our tester’s ProTech II package, that included Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop, Advanced Brake Assist, Full speed forward collision warning plus, Lane departure warning plus, Park assist plus, and rain sensitive wipers.
Will I need a mountain of cash to climb up to a Grand Cherokee?
One of the best things about Jeep’s luxo SUV is there’s a model for everyone. The Laredo E 4×2 starts at $34,000 and nicely equipped with that powerful V6, it’s anything but entry level.
We could take up an entire article just talking about the trims, but you also have Upland, Altitude, Limited, Limited X, Trailhawk, Overland, High Altitude and Summit models. Whew!
Our Limited X tester is in the middle, and we think a pretty sweet spot in the lineup. Our 4×4 model started at $41,855 which includes leather and the upgraded info-tainment system. We mentioned the 2BG package, which adds a lot of rugged looks for $4,900, the ProTech II safety package for $1,495,
We also had the dual-pane panorama sunroof $1,495, and audio upgrade that includes 9 amplified speakers and 508-watt amplifier for $795. Add in $1,495 for destination, and we totaled in $52,035. Because of how our Jeep was configured, the $995 ProTech 1 package, including back up camera with back up assist, blind spot and cross-path detection were included free of charge. Nice.
Competition is vast, and would include everything from a Jeep Wrangler loaded up at $57,940, to a Toyota 4Runner at $50,245, you could even consider the Acura RDX at $46,795. The Wrangler and 4Runner would be equally capable off-road, but more compromised as a comfortable daily driver. The Acura is extremely sporty, but not nearly as capable off-road. They’re all good, but the Grand Cherokee strikes a perfect balance of what most people would want in an all-weather, all-terrain SUV.
Whether it’s running from Zombies, or just running down to the mall, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is your best bet in a luxury SUV.
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.