Eight years into its current model cycle, versions of the Jeep Grand Cherokee range from an accomplished off-roader and versatile family hauler to a track-ready crossover capable of sub-12 second quarter-mile times. But a sleek design, refined interior, and broad model and engine offerings are offset by pricey top trims, a thirsty 5.7-liter V8, and below average crash test scores.

Best Value

The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee pricing begins at $31,690 for a two-wheel-drive Laredo model and climbs to over $100,000 for a fully-optioned Trackhawk. An eight-speed transmission is standard on all seven trim levels (Laredo, Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, Summit, SRT, and Trackhawk). Most models offer a choice of three engines – a 295-horsepower 3.6-liter V6, a 360-hp 5.7-liter V8, or a 240-hp 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel, while the SRT and Trackhawk feature a 475-hp 6.4-liter V8 and a 707-hp supercharged 6.2-liter V8, respectively.

We'd skip the entry-level Laredo – its pitifully short on available options – and opt for the Limited model that adds an upgraded interior with heated leather seats and steering wheel, a more sophisticated four-wheel-drive system with hill-descent control, remote start, plus access to the widest range of active safety features. We'd take it a step further with the Luxury Group II that upgrades the leather seats and adds better exterior lighting, a larger touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, plus a panoramic sunroof to brighten up the interior. We'd also choose every advanced safety feature available.

We'd also suggest adding the Off-Road Adventure II Package, even if you have no intention of driving on anything but paved roads. For a start, at $2,495, it's not that expensive. But it's the only way to score the impressive four-corner air suspension, which has a transformative effect on the Grand Cherokee's ride. That item alone is worth the price – that this package also adds an upgraded four-wheel-drive system that comes with selectable drive modes, a stouter rear axle, and an electronic limited-slip rear differential. You'll also score a bunch of underbody protection and all-season tires.

Here's how we'd build it:

  • Model:2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4WD
  • Engine:3.6-liter V6
  • Output:295 horsepower / 260 lb-ft
  • Transmission:Eight-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain:Four-wheel drive
  • MPG:18 City / 25 Hwy
  • Options:Luxury Group II ($4,495, leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, panoramic sunroof, HID headlights with LED foglights, running lights, and automatic high beams, rain-sensing wipers, a power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, 8.4-inch touchscreen with navigation, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, SiriusXM Traffic Plus and Travel Link), Off-Road Adventure II Package ($2,495, air suspension, upgraded four-wheel drive, 230-mm rear axle, selectable drive modes, electronic limited-slip rear differential, underbody skid plates, all-terrain tires, tow hooks, and Trail Rated badge), Active Safety Group ($1,495, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, automatic park assist, rain-sensing wipers), blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert ($595).
  • Base Price:$41,290
  • Best Value Price:$50,370

Performance

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Fiat Chrysler seems to be stuffing its 3.6-liter V6 in anything that'll take it, and that's no bad thing. This engine offers plenty of usable low-end torque and a strong mid-range. It works alongside an excellent eight-speed automatic that's quick, responsive, and smooth. Add the air suspension and the Grand Cherokee is among the most comfortable in its class. Of course, we can't not mention Jeep's more potent offerings. The 6.4-liter V8 in the SRT is a gem, and the 6.2-liter, Hellcat V8 turns what's already a quick vehicle into something that will genuinely shock.

There are shortcomings, of course. The optional 5.7-liter V8 isn't terribly efficient, despite its extra grunt – those with an eye towards towing should consider the upcoming diesel engine for a better balance of performance and efficiency. The same is true of the SRT and Trackhawk engines, but those cater to a slightly different sort of consumer. We're also concerned over the aging Grand Cherokee's crash-test scores – it hasn't been built to manage the IIHS' small overlap front crash test, where it scores only a "marginal" rating.

Interior and Exterior

Handsome doesn't begin to describe the Grand Cherokee's exterior. This is an attractive vehicle from every angle, with clean lines, and optional extras that only serve to enhance its appearance. The cabin has an overall premium feel with plenty of room for two adults up front and three in back, while long doors mean easy ingress and egress for all occupants. It's good for cargo, too. There's 36.3 cubic feet of storage behind the rear seat, which can expand to 68.3 cubes with the second row folded.

Our only complaints are the flat front-seat cushions, a tiny storage cubby in front of the shifter (sorry phablet owners), and a high load floor. Bigger drivers may not appreciate the SRT-spec seats in the SRT and Trackhawk, either.

The Best and Worst Things

The Grand Cherokee leads its class in interior comfort and quality. But it struggles in safety owing to its age. This is an eight-year-old vehicle design, and it crashes like one.

Right For...

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Large back seats that are perfect for car seats, a spacious cargo area, and a choice of three go-anywhere four-wheel-drive systems make the Grand Cherokee perfect for growing families.

Wrong For...

Despite the availability of a number of advanced safety systems, the Grand Cherokee's poor crash test ratings mean that safety-focused buyers need not apply.

The Bottom Line

Despite a trio of thirsty V8s and less-than-stellar crash test scores, the Grand Cherokee's sleek design, premium feel, and off-road prowess make it a top pick in its class.