The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The 2018 Grand Cherokee is a talented family hauler that offers luxury and utility and buyers can choose off-road capability, track talent, or even more luxury.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is family vehicle that can do more than just carry the kids and their hockey gear. It’s ready to go off-road, tow a trailer, or, if you buy the right model, attack a racetrack. It exceeds what is expected of a family crossover, and we rate it highly.

Jeep makes big news for 2018 by introducing the absolutely crazy Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. Powered by the same supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 found in the Dodge Hellcat models, it cranks out 707 horsepower and can reach 180 mph. It also gets a beefed up all-wheel-drive system and transmission to handle all that power, bigger brakes, more cooling, and performance seats.

 

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee

 

The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Other changes for 2018 include the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to the 8.4-inch version of the Uconnect infotainment system, a new 7.0-inch Uconnect screen on base models instead of a 5.0-inch screen, active noise cancellation for the vehicle through the available Alpine audio system, and a new Sterling Edition package to celebrate the model’s 25th anniversary.

The Grand Cherokee is offered in a variety of models: Laredo, Limited, Overland, Summit, Trailhawk, SRT, and the new Trackhawk. Five engines are offered. They start with a 295-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6. Next up is a 360-hp 5.7-liter V-8. The Grand Cherokee is unique in offering a diesel engine; the 3.0-liter turbodiesel puts out 240 hp and 420 pound-feet of torque. The SRT model gets a 475-hp 6.4-liter V-8, and the Trackhawk has the supercharged V-8. All engines are backed by a fantastic 8-speed automatic.

Jeep also offers four four-wheel-drive systems, ranging from basic to advanced. Quadra-Drive II is the top system. It has low-range gearing, a rear limited-slip differential, a Selec-Terrain system that controls the electronics of several vehicle systems to help the vehicle handle any terrain, hill-start assist, hill-descent control, and a low-speed cruise control called Selec-Speed. Jeep also offers a variety of off-road packages and an air suspension that can raise the vehicle to clear off-road obstacles.

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The Grand Cherokee is refined, too. It rides and handles well, and its interior is decidedly upscale, especially on higher line models. In fact, we think it competes well with luxury-brand rivals. Jeep makes plenty of amenities standard on higher line models.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is the quintessential SUV, cloaked in tradition but modern and upscale inside and out.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee balances the modern and the traditional with an expert hand. The front end and grille may not be as bold as in the past, but they fit with the whole package in a cohesive manner. It’s not as blue-collar as it has been in the past. Instead, it’s more pedigreed and affluent. We find it on-point inside and out.

The Grand Cherokee stands among luxury-brand rivals as a pretty sophisticated work of design. The side view is reminiscent of the BMW X5. The view from the front isn’t quite as assertive as it has been in the past, but it still has the seven-slat grille that is the hallmark of all Jeeps. That grille is a bit thinner and smaller than it used to be, and it’s understated in a segment that likes big and chromey.

At the rear, the LED taillights provide a little attitude, as does a standard rear spoiler. All of that is amplified on the SRT and Trackhawk models.

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Inside, the Grand Cherokee’s interior stands out as upscale, rivaling the GLE-Class or Cayenne. Even base versions provide a feeling of warmth and are far from plain. A chunky three-spoke steering wheel is standard. The center stack has logically arranged controls and inoffensive metallic-plastic trim. Base versions upgrade from a 5.0-inch to a 7.0-inch LCD touchscreen for audio this year, while higher-line models get the excellent 8.4-inch screen.

Materials improve as you move up the model ladder, and the Limited, Overland, and Summit models are especially upscale. Real wood adorns the steering wheel, doors, and dash, and asks to be touched. We prefer the warmer, organic trims over those with a lot of brightwork. It looks best in the Summit’s organic colors, under the natural light of the panoramic roof.

The 2018 Grand Cherokee is a great performer on road and off, offering power, refinement, towing prowess, and even track capability.
With five powertrains, multiple four-wheel-drive systems, and refined ride and handling, the Jeep Grand Cherokee offers a model for every need, and no model disappoints for performance, on road or off. Depending on the model you pick, the Grand Cherokee can be an off-road pro, a track monster, or a pleasant street performer.

 

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee

In its base form, the Grand Cherokee’s 3.6-liter V-6 puts out 295 horsepower. It delivers enough low-rpm torque to handle delicate yet demanding off-road situations, along with strong responsiveness right in the middle of the rev band.
Move up to the 360-hp 5.7-liter V-8 and the Grand Cherokee has the feel of a Dodge Charger muscle sedan, with a rich engine note.

Then Jeep offers two high-performance models. The first is the Grand Cherokee SRT. It is motivated by a 6.4-liter V-8 that sends 475 horses to all four wheels on a variable basis. Jeep says the 0-60 mph time is 4.8 seconds, and that’s enabled by a launch control mode and the traction of AWD, both of which make that number repeatable. The quarter-mile time is in the mid-13s, the top speed is 160 mph, and the 60-mph braking mark is just 116 feet. Those are all impressive numbers for any vehicle, let alone a 5,104-pound SUV.

The new Grand Cherokee Trackhawk turns things up to 11. It’s a Hellcat Jeep, with the 707-hp supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 from the Dodge Hellcats. The 0-60 mph time is cut to 3.5 seconds, the top speed rises to 180 mph, and the quarter-mile time falls to 11.6 seconds. Those are insane numbers, and they exert a lot of g forces on the driver.

Both the SRT and Trackhawk offer great grip on a track, and the ride quality is softer than the comparable Dodge SRT and Hellcat Chargers and Challengers. These models also compete quite well with rivals from Porsche, BMW M, and Mercedes-AMG, often at much lower prices.

All of models send their power through a smooth-shifting and very responsive 8-speed automatic transmission. It has shift paddles that are actually more like short nubs, sticking up above audio buttons mounted on the back of the steering wheel.

 

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Any Grand Cherokee delivers an exemplary driving experience. It has some of the best handling, best steering, and most refined road manners in its class. It has the ride of a crossover, not the trucky, bounding ride of a body-on-from SUV. The steering is reasonably quick and precise, rather than slow as it has been in the past.

The Limited, Overland, and Summit models offer the Quadra-Lift air suspension that offers ride heights ranging from 6.4 to 11.3 inches. It can drop the Grand Cherokee for loading or for improved fuel economy during highway driving and raise it for off-roading.

Rear-wheel drive is standard on most Grand Cherokees, but Jeep offers four different four-wheel-drive systems. They range from delivering moderate to legendary off-road ability to just trying to put all the possible traction down for the performance models.

The 4WD systems start with Quadra-Trac I, which has a locking center differential. It delivers a 50/50 power split front to rear, but has no low-range gearing so it’s not really made for off-roading. Quadra-Trac II does have a two-speed transfer case for low-range gearing, and it also comes with hill-start assist and hill-descent control. It can split torque variably from front to rear when slip is detected at either axle, so 100 percent of the power can go to one axle in theory. On top of that, Quadra-Drive II adds a rear electronic limited-slip differential, so the rear axle can get grip when others can’t.

 

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Quadra-Drive II is the choice for the most extreme off-road duties, but the Quadra-Trac I will do the job for most drivers who never go off-road and just need the poor-weather traction.

Jeep also adds its Selec-Terrain system to both the Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II systems. It offers Auto, Sand, Mud, Snow, and Rock modes that optimize the electronics of various vehicle systems to provide the best grip over each terrain.

Any version of the Grand Cherokee with the Selec-Terrain system plus an off-road package gets Jeep’s Trail Rated badge.

We’ve seen why these models earn that badge. We’ve scrambled up 200-foot, 55-degree inclines using the Selec-Speed system that puts a steady amount of force into the drivetrain, and controls it in 1-KPH increments. The smart electronic controls make for brainless throttle control during off-roading, but you still need to point the vehicle in the right direction.

The Grand Cherokee can tow fairly well, too. The V-6 maxes out at 6,200 pounds, the diesel handles 7,400 pounds, and the 5.7-liter, 6.4, and 6.2-liter V-8s top out at 7,200 pounds.

The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee delivers on the utility promise of the sport utility vehicle while also offering interior quality a class above.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee carries five adults and cargo quite well. It has good seats front and rear, can fit three comfortably in the rear, offers a spacious cargo hold, and on top trims, it is appointed as well as any in the class.

The Grand Cherokee seats five, while its Dodge Durango cousin handles up to seven passengers. Both ride the same 114.8-inch wheelbase, but the Jeep makes better use of that space where passengers are concerned in the form of better legroom for all occupants, plus easier ingress and egress, thanks to longer doors that open up to 78 degrees.

 

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The front seats are well bolstered with wide cushions. The SRT and Trackhawk seats are heavily bolstered and they offer good back support, but they are still wide enough that they will only be snug for larger occupants.

The cabin’s generous width leaves room to rest an arm on the center console without rubbing elbows with the other front passenger. Headroom is good, too, as 6-footers will still have a couple of inches to spare even with the sunroof.

Back seat passengers are well served, too. Two adults will be happy, thanks in part to a fold-down center armrest, and three can even be comfortable. The seatbacks recline and tilt 12 degrees in each direction to aid comfort or the cargo space, as well.

All Grand Cherokees have a healthy 36.3 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, with a somewhat high but long cargo floor. Flipping the rear seats down is a matter of hitting a single lever, and that opens the cargo hold to 68.3 cubic feet. Some versions also have a front passenger seat that folds flat—in case you need to take a grandfather clock for a ride. A power tailgate is standard on Limited and up and available for all versions. Jeep even finishes out the cargo area with padding and trim bars on higher line models.

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Small items storage includes a console bin ahead of the shifter that contains the audio ports ringed in soft light. The center console bin has two levels, and there are bottle holders in the doors, as well as shallow door pockets. Jeep also provides trick removable dual bins next to the spare tire.

As for materials, the Grand Cherokee distinguishes itself quite well. The Summit’s finishes and colors are based on nature, replacing bright finishes with earthy tones like copper and green teamed with matte-finish open-pore wood. Think of it as the most upscale L.L. Bean or Eddie Bauer edition you’ll ever see.

To go with the high-quality ambience, the Grand Cherokee is also very quiet, and this year it gets active noise cancellation for the available Alpine audio system. The big square mirrors do create some wind noise, though, and the performance models have barbaric engine notes.

All this comes at a relative value. In terms of comfort and quality, the Grand Cherokee outclasses its class rivals and top-end versions approach Range Rover quality at much less cost.

 

 

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