Jeep Grand Cherokee WK2 (2010-present): Review, Problems, Specs

Launched in 2010 as a 2011 model, the fourth-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee has received a significant refresh for the 2016 model year with styling, equipment and technology upgrades. The midsize SUV remains the brand's range-topping model, at least, until the arrival of the new Wagoneer rumored to launch sometime in 2018. Highly capable off-road and decent on-road (particularly the SRT version), the Grand Cherokee offers a comprehensive range of versions, including one with a diesel engine. It's the sort of car that does a little of everything.


Pros & Cons
Strong Points

Pros


Strong Points
  • Unique off-road capability for the segment
  • Good standard equipment
  • Fuel-efficient V6 diesel engine
  • Many luxury and technology features

Recommended Versions
Strong Points

Cons


Weak Points
  • Noisy diesel at idle and low speeds
  • Interior quality below some rivals
  • Thirsty V6 and V8 gasoline engines

Stay Away From
  • Optional 20-inch wheels
Strong Points

Attention


Known Problems & Recalls
  • Jeep recalled some 2015 Grand Cherokees in July 2015 to inspect and replace rear lower control arms.
  • Certain 2014-2015 Grand Cherokee models were recalled in July 2015 for a software update to eliminate vulnerabilities of the radio systems.
  • Some 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee vehicles were recalled in October 2014 to replace the Occupant Restraint Control (ORC) module.
  • Jeep recalled certain 2014 Grand Cherokees in October 2014 to update the Steering Column Control Module (SCCM) software.
  • Some 2012-2014 Grand Cherokees were recalled in October 2014 to replace the alternator.
  • The automaker recalled certain 2011-2014 Grand Cherokee models in July 2014 to repair damaged wiring for the vanity lamp in the sun visor.
  • Certain 2014 Grand Cherokees and 2014 Grand Cherokee SRTs were recalled in June 2014 to re-flash the Driver Assistance System Module (DASM) to prevent unintended acceleration.
  • Jeep recalled some 2011-2014 Grand Cherokee vehicles in April 2014 to repair or replace a brake booster.
  • Certain 2014 Grand Cherokees were recalled in October 2013 to update the ABS and instrument cluster module software and tighten the alternator ground wire.
  • Some 2014 Grand Cherokees were recalled in July 2013 to update the Central Body Controller software.
  • Jeep recalled some 2012-2013 models in February 2013 to replace the fuel pump relay.
  • Certain 2012-2013 Grand Cherokees were recalled in March 2014 to update the ABS module software.
  • Jeep recalled certain 2012 Grand Cherokee models in September 2011 to replace the 3.6-liter engines because they may experience connecting rod bearing failure.
Car Details
Powertrain

The Grand Cherokee's engine lineup is diverse and includes a diesel engine even in the United States. The standard engine is a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 gasoline engine rated at 290 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. There's also an optional 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel that delivers 240 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. European markets also get this engine in a lower state of tune with 187 hp. Jeep offers two V8 engines as well: a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 rated at 360 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque, and a 6.4-liter HEMI V8 that delivers 475 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque (exclusively for the high-performance SRT model). An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard across the board.


Handling

The Grand Cherokee is rather cumbersome to drive on the asphalt, especially for European standards. Lower grades get steel springs which do well on poor-quality roads but can't prevent body roll and can be unpleasant over bigger bumps. Higher-spec models get air springs, which offer better body control and better ride comfort. Still, the Grand Cherokee can't compare with European rivals for handling. The light steering and the heavy body make it tiring to drive on twisty roads. There's pronounced understeer on tighter corners and the suspension's response to mid-corner bumps is unfiltered. Off-road, however, the Grand Cherokee is one of the very best.


Safety

Both North American and European organizations agree that the Grand Cherokee is a safe SUV. The NHTSA gave the 2015 model an overall five-star rating, with five stars for frontal crash, five stars for side crash and four stars for rollover. The IIHS assessed the 2016 Grand Cherokee and gave it the maximum "Good" rating for moderate overlap front and side impacts, as well as for roof strength and head restraints & seats. However, the SUV's performance in the small overlap front impact was only rated as "Marginal," while the front crash prevention was deemed "Basic." Finally, Euro NCAP gave the Grand Cherokee a four-star overall rating in 2011.

Comfort

The Grand Cherokee's suspension delivers a comfortable ride, whether you opt for the standard steel springs or the optional air springs. The ride is quiet and soft, especially with the air suspension. However, with the standard steel-sprung suspension, small bumps still get transmitted into the cabin. The big, wide front seats make it easy to find a comfortable position, but the controls aren't located as ergonomically as in rival models. The cabin remains quiet most of the time, except at high speeds when wind and tire noise starts to make its presence felt.


Quality

High-quality interiors traditionally haven't been a Jeep hallmark, but the Grand Cherokee is massively improved compared with the previous-generation model. The fit and finish seem decent, and the dashboard's layout is contemporary. There are many soft-touch surfaces with wood trims. However, while some of the shiny accents look good from afar, a closer inspection reveals they're just cheap painted plastic. The truth is the Grand Cherokee still lags behind most of its rivals when it comes to cabin quality.


Practicality

Five passengers and their luggage can travel comfortably in the Grand Cherokee, with the SUV boasting plenty of legroom and headroom both in the front and rear. Still, legroom for the center rear seat passenger is compromised by the big driveline "hump" on the floor. Behind the second row there's generous cargo space (36.3 cubic feet), which can extend to a cavernous 68.3 cu ft with the seats folded down. The boot floor is flat and features plastic storage bins underneath. Unlike many rivals, Jeep doesn't offer the option of third-row seating, though.


Infotainment

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' optional UConnect infotainment system with an 8.4-inch touch screen is easy to use and includes a WiFi hotspot and smartphone app integration. UConnect also houses the navigation system and the vehicle is equipped with one. For those who don't want to browse through the infotainment system's menu to access basic functions, physical controls are a welcome addition. Some will find that making climate control adjustments via the touchscreen takes too many steps, but apart from that UConnect is an user-friendly system.

Efficiency

The diesel version is the most fuel-efficient, with an EPA combined fuel economy of 25 mpg (22 mpg city/30 mpg highway) for the front-wheel drive version. With AWD, the diesel returns 24 mpg combined (21 mpg city/28 mpg highway). The 3.6-liter V6 returns 22 mpg combined (19 mpg city/26 highway), also in FWD configuration. V8 models only come with four-wheel drive: the 5.7-liter returns 17 mpg combined (14 mpg city/22 mpg highway) while the 6.4-liter in the SRT returns 15 mpg combined (13 mpg city/19 mpg highway).


Equipment

The 2016 Grand Cherokee comes in five trim levels: Laredo, Limited, Overland, Summit, and SRT. Each is available with rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, except the high-performance SRT, which comes exclusively with 4WD. Standard equipment for the base Laredo version includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, fog lights, keyless ignition and entry, cruise control, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, as well as a six-speaker sound system with a 5-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity, USB port and an auxiliary audio jack.


Acquisition

The 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4x2 has a $29,995 starting price in the U.S. (excluding destination), making it slightly cheaper than the 2016 Ford Explorer ($31,050 including destination) and the 2016 GMC Acadia ($30,975 excluding destination). Higher trims can get pricey, though, with the range-topping 2016 Grand Cherokee SRT retailing for a whopping $65,495. 4x4 versions with the diesel engine are the ideal combination, offering both fuel economy and excellent off-road capabilities.

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