2015 Grand Cherokee New Car Test Drive
Jeep Grand Cherokee is the flagship of the brand and for many years was the quintessential SUV. Today, the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee seats a family of five, drives well on road or off and sports classic good looks.
There have been few changes for 2015 following a major refresh for 2014 that included exterior and interior upgrades, an 8-speed automatic transmission, and the addition of a diesel engine.
New for 2015: A new Summit California Edition appearance package is available, along with an optional Argentina Tan leather interior. Active Noise Cancellation is standard on 2015 Grand Cherokee Summit models. Engine output for the 2015 Grand Cherokee SRT has increased to 475 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque; and there's a new special-edition Red Vapor version. The other 2015 Grand Cherokee models carry over unchanged from 2014. The last time Grand Cherokee was completely redesigned was for the 2011 model year.
Rear-wheel drive comes standard on most models. Rear-wheel-drive versions account for a small fraction of sales, and we think they miss the point, but of course they do get better fuel economy than the four-wheel-drive versions.
Four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive are available, depending on whether the driver needs outstanding capability for rugged terrain or wintry weather, respectively. Four-wheel drive, low-range gearing, and a full-size spare tire, all required for genuine off-road activities, are available and there is a choice of suspensions.
Four engines are available. Chrysler's 3.6-liter V6 engine is standard and more than sufficient for anything but heavy towing. EPA estimates for the 3.6-liter V6 with 4WD are 17/24 mpg City/Highway.
A 5.7-liter Hemi V8 is available, useful for towing with 360 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. A Grand Cherokee with the 5.7-liter V8 and four-wheel drive is EPA-rated at 14/20 mpg.
Diesel power is available. With 240 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque, the EcoDiesel engine delivers effortless power for towing or traversing rugged terrian. The EPA estimates for the diesel with four-wheel drive are 21/28 mpg City/Highway. EPA estimates for diesels tend to the pessimistic side, counter to ratings for gasoline and hybrid vehicles, which can be optimistic.
In its current form, Grand Cherokee displays a cleaner, more integrated look than in the past. You can trace some development of the Grand Cherokee back far enough that it paralleled the Mercedes-Benz M-Class, but with the latest electronics it will feel familiar to drivers of other Chrysler products. (The diesel engine hails from VM, part of Chrysler's Fiat link). If there's a safety feature you want that isn't standard, you can often get it as an option.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee competes against a spectrum of vehicles including four-wheel-drives such as the Land Rover LR4, Mercedes-Benz G-Class, Toyota 4Runner and Land Cruiser. Rivals also include compact-to-mid-size crossovers and niche models, and to a lesser extent, the big Chevrolet Tahoe and Ford Expedition. If you want seven-passenger seating, the closest choice is the Dodge Durango.
SRT is a standalone brand within Chrysler, but we include the Grand Cherokee SRT here because it is essentially a faster Jeep Grand Cherokee for on-road use and it can be purchased at any Jeep dealership. This steroidal performance wagon competes against the Porsche Cayenne, BMW X5M and X6M, Mercedes-Benz ML63 AMG, and perhaps the Audi SQ5 or Cadillac CTS-V wagon. It's the fastest, most expensive, thirstiest Grand Cherokee, and the last one you want to use in the same sentence with off-road. It isn't a rational choice, but we don't believe choosing a car must be rational. We have irrational vehicles in our own garages and we love them.
The 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee comes in five versions, all but one with a choice of rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive (AWD) or four-wheel drive (4WD).
Grand Cherokee Laredo ($29,995) and Laredo AWD ($31,995) come with a 3.6-liter gasoline V6, 8-speed automatic with paddle shifts, cloth seating, fold-flat front passenger seat, dual-zone climate control, 6-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo, fog lamps, 17-inch painted aluminum wheels, automatic headlamps, power heated mirrors, rear wash/wipe, laminated front door glass, floor mats, tilt/telescoping leather wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, cruise control, illuminated visor mirrors, body-color trim, trip computer, and 12-volt auxiliary outlets.
Grand Cherokee Laredo E ($31,595) and Laredo E 4WD ($33.595) get an option group that adds five more colors to the palette, along with bright roof rails, SiriusXM radio, power driver's seat with lumbar adjustment, plus a slew of extra available options that includes four packages: Security and Convenience, Trailer Towing, All-Weather and Off-Road Adventure I. (All prices are MSRP and do not include destination charges.)
Grand Cherokee Limited ($36,895) and Limited 4WD ($38,895) upgrade further with leather-trimmed upholstery, more chrome exterior trim, dual exhaust outlets, four heated seats, power passenger seat, heated steering wheel, 18-inch polished aluminum wheels, 115-volt outlet and rear USB ports, remote start, power liftgate, cargo cover, rear camera and park sensors, driver memory system, Selec-Terrain for 4WDs, and a security system. Limited options include the diesel and V8 engines, either of which is required for Quadra-Drive II 4WD or air suspension. Available extras include a front moonroof, a panoramic moonroof, rear-seat DVD entertainment, power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, ventilated front seats, bi-xenon smartbeam headlamps, 20-inch wheels, 506-watt 9-speaker stereo, 8.4-inch Uconnect with XM TrafficLink, navigation, air suspension (with 4WD), adaptive cruise control with collision warning, blind-spot monitors, rear cross-path detection, and towing package.
Grand Cherokee Overland ($43,295) and Overland 4WD ($46,295) come with air suspension (on 4WD only), real wood trim and leather seating with piping, ventilated front seats, wood and leather power tilt/telescope heated steering wheel with memory, power liftgate, cargo cover and net, navigation with voice-recognition and SiriusXM travel-traffic information, 20-inch aluminum wheels, body-colored fascias with chrome trim, LED running lights, dual-pane moonroof, bi-xenon smartbeam headlamps, power-folding mirrors, chrome tow hooks, 20-inch wheels, full-size spare tire, and 506-watt stereo. Options include the V8 and diesel, tow and off-road packages, a Technology Group that contains adaptive cruise control and forward collision warning, and rear-seat entertainment.
Grand Cherokee Summit ($48,695) and Summit 4WD ($51,695) offer one unique paint selection, chrome mesh grille, headlamps washers, premium 20-inch polished aluminum wheels, 19-speaker 825-watt Harman Kardon sound system, and embroidered leather upholstery. Essentially, everything is standard except for rear-seat entertainment, V8 or diesel engine and 4WD. The new California Edition appearance package ($995) includes body-color lower body trim, mirror caps and door handles; platinum chrome accents on grille, lower fascias and side sills; foglamp bezels; and rear step pad. Satin Carbon painted 20-inch aluminum wheels also are included.
Grand Cherokee SRT ($66,690) has active on-demand 4WD and comes with a 475-hp 6.4-liter V8, 8-speed automatic, unique steering and suspension, Brembo brakes, Bilstein adaptive damping, Pirelli 295/45ZR20 run-flat tires on forged aluminum wheels, SRT-specific seats and heated steering wheel, heated front/rear seats, ventilated front seats, unique spoilers and bumpers, vented hood, black chrome exhausts, and a one-day track driving SRT experience (highly recommended). SRT features split the line between Overland and Summit. Options consist of a full-size spare tire, carbon painted or black chrome split five-spoke wheels, a panoramic moonroof, Sepia cabin color, remote CD player, 19-speaker 825-watt Harman Kardon sound system, three-season Pirelli P-Zero tires, tow package, and engine block heater. The new Red Vapor edition of the SRT ($70,685) gets an option group that includes black chrome wheels, gloss black exterior trim, backlit SRT logo on steering wheel, light black chrome and Radar Red accents, and red-trimmed engine beauty covers.
Safety equipment on all Grand Cherokee models includes electronic stability control with roll mitigation, ABS with brake traction control system, trailer sway control, hill start assist, frontal airbags, front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags, driver's knee airbag, active head restraints, and tire pressure monitor. Safety options include hill descent control, hill ascent control, rear camera, parking sensors, adaptive cruise control with collision warning, blind-spot monitors and rear cross path detection. Note: All prices are Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP), which may change without notice at any time. Prices do not include destination charge.