Full Review: 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee
What’s New for 2016
The 2016 Grand Cherokee gets a new shift lever that physically remains in the selected position, while the 3.6-liter gasoline V6 receives standard automatic stop-start technology along with variable valve timing and lift to incrementally improve fuel economy and horsepower. All trims except the SRT gets standard electric-assist power steering (with adjustable effort), and weight reductions across the lineup come courtesy of additional aluminum suspension components. Finally, a new High Altitude package debuts for the Overland, and the Grand Cherokee SRT gets a new gauge cluster (with a center-mounted tachometer) and selectable performance modes.
Introduction 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV
Once a staple of the new-car market, the traditional midsize SUV has become something of an endangered species in recent years. But the 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee is quite alive, thank you very much, and in fact forges ahead with one of the best all-around skill sets you’ll find for the money. Starting with rear-wheel drive, just like SUVs in the old days, the Grand Cherokee offers no fewer than three four-wheel-drive systems, and it’s every bit a Jeep on tough trails when properly equipped. At the same time, its luxurious interior and smooth ride also make it quite suitable for everyday driving. It’s a combination that few other SUVs can match.
If we stopped right there, the “JGC” would already be a highly desirable vehicle. But this Jeep also serves up a tantalizing array of engines that sets it apart from its main rivals. The base V6 is actually quite capable in its own right, but you can alternatively specify a powerful 5.7-liter V8 or a fuel-efficient, torque-rich 3.0-liter diesel V6, both of which are standout options in this segment. There’s even an outlandish 475-horsepower V8 in the SRT model, which provides super-SUV performance for many thousands less than German interpretations of this formula.
For a traditional midsize SUV, there are a couple other choices still around. The Toyota 4Runner, for example, promises excellent resale value and shares the Jeep’s off-road aptitude, though downsides include a back-to-basics interior and a single engine choice. If you want to class it up, the Volkswagen Touareg is a close match for the Jeep in terms of luxury features, and its cabin is arguably even nicer. However, its optional diesel engine is on hiatus for 2016, and it’s not the serious off-roader that the Grand Cherokee can be. Shoppers interested in a third seating row should check out the Dodge Durango, which uses a stretched version of the JGC’s platform and shares much of its equipment. But if you like the idea of a five-passenger SUV that can pretty much do it all, the 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a great choice.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV
The 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a five-passenger midsize SUV that comes in five trim levels: Laredo, Limited, Overland, Summit and SRT. Each is available with rear-drive (2WD) or four-wheel drive (4WD) except the high-performance SRT model, which is 4WD only.
Standard equipment for the Laredo includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, cruise control, foglights, keyless ignition and entry, dual-zone automatic climate control, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a 5-inch touchscreen, a USB port and an auxiliary audio jack.
The optional 23E package adds roof rails, an eight-way power driver seat (with four-way power lumbar) and satellite radio. Springing for the available Security and Convenience Group gets you a power liftgate, a cargo cover, remote engine start, a 115-volt household-style power outlet, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. The Laredo with 4WD can also be had with the Off-Road Adventure I Group (skid plates, tow hooks, a two-speed transfer case, “Selec-Terrain” selectable drive modes, hill descent control, a full-size spare tire and all-terrain tires). Other options for the Laredo include a sunroof and an 18-Inch Wheel and 8.4-Inch Radio group that bundles 18-inch wheels, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and the 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen display with HD radio and voice commands.
The Limited trim level comes standard with 18-inch wheels and the auto-dimming rearview mirror, though not the 8.4-inch touchscreen, and it also gets the 23E package and Security and Convenience Group as standard, further adding leather upholstery, an eight-way power passenger seat (with four-way power lumbar), driver memory settings, heated rear seats, additional USB charging connectivity, a rearview camera and rear parking sensors.
Optional packages for the Limited include the Off-Road Adventure II Group (adding an air suspension system and a locking rear differential to the Off-Road Adventure I group), the 75th Anniversary Luxury Group (adding xenon headlights with automatic high beams, automatic wipers, LED running lights and foglights, a power-adjustable steering wheel, perforated leather upholstery, ventilated front seats and a nine-speaker audio system), and the Luxury Group II package (which starts with the 75th Anniversary Luxury Group items and adds a dual-pane panoramic sunroof and the 8.4-inch touchscreen).
The Overland model steps up to 20-inch wheels, dual chrome exhaust tips, a towing package (4WD only), power-folding mirrors, additional body-color exterior trim, a navigation system, an upgraded gauge cluster, a wood-rimmed steering wheel, extended leather upholstery, HD radio and the contents of the Luxury Group II package.
The Advanced Technology Group is available for both the Limited and the Overland. It includes adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking.
The Overland’s exclusive High Altitude package adds 20-inch black wheels, a sport body kit, black exterior accents, aluminum pedals, unique leather upholstery and the Advanced Technology Group.
The top-of-the-line Grand Cherokee Summit adds polished 20-inch wheels, front parking sensors, illuminated door sills, additional noise-reducing acoustic glass for the windows, active noise-cancelling technology, real wood cabin trim, the Advanced Technology Group and a 19-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. You can further deck out the Summit with the Platinum Series Group, which includes a variety of exterior trim enhancements.
The high-performance SRT model is equipped like the Summit model minus a few standard features, such as the panoramic sunroof and 19-speaker audio system (both of which are optional). Additional features include an exclusive V8 engine, 20-inch forged wheels with performance tires, an adaptive suspension, performance-tuned steering, Brembo brakes, a limited-slip rear differential, selectable performance modes, a unique gauge cluster, leather and suede sport seats and carbon-fiber cabin accents.
A dual-screen rear entertainment system with Blu-ray capability is optional for the Limited, Overland, Summit and SRT. The towing package that’s standard on the 4WD Overland and Summit is available as an option on the other models.
Powertrains and Performance 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV
Every 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee except for the SRT version comes standard with a 3.6-liter V6 making 295 hp. This is the only engine you can get on the Laredos, while the Limited, Overland and Summit models offer two additional engines: a 5.7-liter V8 (360 hp and 390 pound-feet of torque) and a turbocharged 3.0-liter diesel V6 (240 hp and 420 lb-ft). The SRT comes exclusively with a 6.4-liter V8 that produces 475 hp and 470 lb-ft. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard across the board.
Rear-wheel drive is standard on non-SRT Grand Cherokees, but these models also offer three available 4WD systems: the single-speed, light-duty Quadra-Trac I system (Laredo only), Quadra-Trac II with a two-speed transfer case (Laredo, Limited, Overland and Summit) and Quadra-Drive II with a rear electronic limited-slip differential (Limited, Overland and Summit). An adaptive air suspension (Quadra-Lift) and a driver-selectable traction control system that adjusts to different terrain are also available (optional on 4WD Limited, standard on 4WD Overland and Summit).
The Grand Cherokee SRT comes standard with a specialized all-wheel-drive system tuned more for high-performance driving than off-road use.
We’ve yet to test the Grand Cherokee with its updated V6, but in prior testing an Overland V6 with 4WD sprinted from zero to 60 mph in an adequate 7.9 seconds. A Grand Cherokee Summit 4WD with the diesel engine hit 60 mph in 7.7 seconds.
Maximum towing capacity for a properly equipped Grand Cherokee with the gasoline V6 is 6,200 pounds. Towing capacity for the 5.7-liter V8, meanwhile, tops out at 7,400 pounds, an excellent rating for a midsize SUV. The towing capacity for the diesel V6 is the same as for the 5.7-liter V8. The Grand Cherokee SRT can tow up to 7,200 pounds.
Safety 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV
The 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee comes with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, hill start assist, hill descent control (4WD only; optional on Laredo and standard on the others), front side airbags, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. A rearview camera is standard from the Limited trim on up, as are rear parking sensors, while front parking sensors come standard on the Summit.
Additional safety technologies are available via the Advanced Technology Group option package that includes blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and a forward collision warning mitigation system with automatic braking.
In Edmunds brake testing, a diesel 4WD Jeep Grand Cherokee stopped from 60 mph in 121 feet, a respectable distance for this class, while a 4WD Grand Cherokee with the gasoline V6 needed 133 feet, which is longer than average.
In prior government crash tests, the 4WD Grand Cherokee earned five stars (out of a possible five) for overall crash protection, and the 2WD version earned an overall rating of four stars. Both rated five stars for total frontal crash protection and five stars for total side crash protection. The reason for the one-star difference in overall rating is the 2WD version’s slightly lower rollover rating.
In testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Jeep Grand Cherokee received the highest possible rating of “Good” in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests. It earned a second-lowest “Marginal” rating in the small-overlap frontal-offset test. The Grand Cherokee’s seat/head restraint design was rated “Good” for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
Interior Design and Special Features 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV
Even in the lower trim levels, the Grand Cherokee’s interior boasts impressive fit and finish. We’re especially fond of the optional 8.4-inch touchscreen and highly recommend it. It features an easy-to-use interface and includes a WiFi hotspot and smartphone app integration, also housing the navigation system if the vehicle is so equipped. Sometimes it takes a few too many touch inputs to make climate control adjustments through the touchscreen, but apart from that minor complaint, the Grand Cherokee has one of the most user-friendly cabins in this class.
While the Grand Cherokee has no third-row seat option, there’s ample room for a family of four or five, and you can order up a wide variety of luxury accoutrements, including ventilated front seats and a dual-screen, Blu-ray-capable rear entertainment system with an HDMI input. Backseat passengers should be pretty comfortable, as the Grand Cherokee provides enough space for two adults to relax (the center position is compromised by the prominent driveline “hump” on the floor). With the rear seats in place, the cargo bay measures 36.3 cubic feet. With the rear seats folded down, the Jeep has 68.3 cubic feet of cargo capacity.
Driving Impressions 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV
When equipped with the base gasoline V6 engine, the 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee delivers satisfactory acceleration. It also provides a quiet, comfortable ride and a commendable sense of stability around turns. The eight-speed automatic transmission is a great ally, as it makes good use of the V6’s power and shifts very smoothly. All in all, most shoppers should be happy with the base-engine Grand Cherokee.
If you’re looking for better fuel economy, though, the diesel-powered V6 is an interesting option to consider. Plus, the diesel’s high torque output makes it ideal for big-league towing jobs and off-road use. Around town, the diesel V6 can sometimes lurch in stop-and-go traffic, and it emits the “clatter” unique to diesel engines. But once it’s up to speed, it’s exceptionally quiet. Perhaps the biggest downside of the diesel is the sheer weight of this heavy-duty engine; diesel Grand Cherokees weigh considerably more than other versions, and that has a negative impact on the way the Jeep steers and handles.
If fuel economy and budget are not of particular concern, you’ll love the 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT. It accelerates and stops at rates that will impress even the most seasoned sports car driver. The SRT is a sleeper performance vehicle if ever there was one, though its ride is relatively stiff.
Off-road, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is at the top of the mountain for its class. Trail obstacles and steep hills are easily dealt with regardless of which engine you choose (although the SRT version is built primarily for paved-road driving), thanks to the advanced four-wheel-drive systems and the Jeep’s generous ground clearance.