For several decades, the word “Jeep” has been synonymous with a rugged sports utility vehicle (SUV) that’s renowned for its off-road prowess. And in terms of size, none is bigger than the Jeep Grand Cherokee, which Chrysler started producing in 1993. The 2017 edition comes around a year after the Jeep brand celebrates its 75th birthday; the concept came to be during the Second World War, when four-wheel-drive, all-terrain vehicles were produced for military use.
There are a pair of additions made for the 2017 model year. Chrysler introduces the Trailhawk, which is designated as the trim that optimizes the Grand Cherokee’s off-road capabilities. And the rearview camera, which is bolstered by a sensor-based rear parking system, is now standard on all trims. Plus, a pair of celebratory models—the 75th Anniversary Edition and the Limited 75th Anniversary Edition—return from the previous model year.
So, there are ten trims of the 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee. There’s the Laredo, Laredo E, 75th Anniversary Edition, Altitude, Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, Limited 75th Anniversary Edition, Summit, and SRT. Due to several models—not to mention the numerous configuration possibilities—the SUV’s starting MSRP range is incredibly wide: at $30,295 to $66,795.
The base-level 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee engine is the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, which provides 295 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. The Pentastar engine comes with a stop-start dual battery system, which eliminates engine idling and consequently helps in improving fuel efficiency.
The top-of-the-line SRT trim stands apart with the larger and more powerful 6.4-liter HEMI V8 engine, which produces 475 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque.
On upper-level trims starting from the Limited (sans the SRT), you can switch the Pentastar with a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 that generates 360 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque or with a fuel efficiency-optimized 3.0-liter diesel V6 with an output of 240 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque.
Regardless of the engine you end up with, the 2017 Grand Cherokee comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission. On all trims but the SRT, the transmission is accompanied by paddle shifters for greater control over gear shifting.
With the engine installed in the front, the 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee uses a rear-wheel drivetrain (RWD) or an all-wheel drivetrain (AWD). If you go with AWD on any trim but the base-level Laredo, you can choose between the Quadra-Trac version for a two-speed transfer case or the Quadra-Drive version for an electronic limited slip differential. For absorbing bumps on the road or keeping turbulence at a minimum while off-roading, there’s an independent suspension that connects the vehicle to the wheels.
The Trailhawk lives up to its name by having a specialized Quadra-lift adjustable air suspension. It lifted the Trailhawk further up from the ground to better ensure that there will be no damage sustained by the undercarriage.
As part of the SUV’s fourth production cycle, the 2017 Grand Cherokee features smoother edges and sleeker profile than the iterations of the previous generation. However, it retains the sturdy, unibody construction that Chrysler has been using on the vehicle since the automaker introduced the nameplate for the 1993 model year.
Front illumination is provided by halogen quad headlights, which can automatically turn on if there isn’t enough outdoor light. Below the headlights are a pair of fog lights for deeper and further-reaching illumination. The front doors have side mirrors with power adjustability and heating capability. At the back are an integrated spoiler for aerodynamic performance, as well as a pair of LED tail lights.
Upper-level trims get advanced additions or additional features based on their designations. On the luxury-oriented Summit, the fog halogen bulbs are replaced by longer-lasting LED ones. As the optimized outdoor warrior, the Trailhawk gets skid plates to protect the suspension, red two hooks, and a black hood decal. And the 75th Anniversary Edition trim level stands out with bronze-finished alloy wheels that have anniversary-edition badging on their center caps.
As a mid-size SUV, the 2017 Grand Cherokee has a passenger volume of 105.4 cubic feet: enough to accommodate up to five adult occupants. The trunk yields space that can be expanded to 68.3 cubic feet, thanks to the foldability of the rear seatback.
Upper-level models are more likely to have additions or enhancements like leather seat trim and front-seat heating capability and power adjustability. Standing out in particular are the 75th Anniversary Edition vehicles with their beige and tangerine-accented leather seats and the Summit with its Laguna leather seat trim.
Comfort and Convenience Features
At the base level, the 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee has standard comfort and convenience features like steering wheel-mounted controls, Bluetooth technology for hands-free phone operation and audio streaming, remote keyless entry for access with just pressing the key fob, and remote vehicle start for engine ignition outside the SUV. Going up in trim increases the likelihood of getting additional features like a dual-pane power moonroof, a navigation system, a garage door opener, and auto dimming on the rearview mirror.
Infotainment on the 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee is provided by a six-speaker audio system. Accompanying the system is an SD flash memory card slot, a USB port and an auxiliary jack for playing music via your smartphone, and a 5-inch touchscreen for displaying audio information. Upper-level trims are more likely to have additions or enhancements like a single-disc CD player, a rear DVD entertainment system, and an 8.4-inch touchscreen.
For protection in the event of a crash, the 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee has a driver’s knee airbag, a pair of front impact airbags facing the driver and front passenger, two front seat-mounted side impact airbags, and two front and two rear side curtain airbags.
Also standard on the Jeep are electronic vehicle stability to keep you on your intended driving path, all-wheel traction control for stopping any chances of skidding, hill start assist for preventing the SUV from rolling backwards when driving from a stopped position on a hill, hill descent control for careful driving down a hill, and all-wheel anti-lock disc brakes for effective stopping ability. The 75th Anniversary Edition vehicles have blind spot monitoring.
Competitors Weigh In
The 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee directly competes with a bevy of formidable offerings. The 2017 Nissan Murano in particular is renowned for its all-round approach; interior quality, safety ratings, fuel efficiency, and number of technology features are its most frequently cited attributes. For engine power and a high level of reliability, automobile experts generally point to the 2017 Toyota Highlander. Other vehicles worthy of mention include the Honda Pilot and the Kia Sorrento.
The Bottom Line
The Jeep Grand Cherokee has never been particularly known for reliability. Indeed, for this model year, J.D. Power gives the vehicle 3 out of 5 Power Circles based on an Initial Quality Study that evaluates each new automobile based on reported issues during the first 90 days of ownership.
On the other hand, you’d be hard pressed to find a vehicle as off-road ready as the Jeep Grand Cherokee, especially the 2017 model year, which has the brand-new Trailhawk. Plus, the Grand Cherokee comes with a great range of engines, running the gamut of power and fuel efficiency.