I’m asked on a weekly basis which crossover SUV is the best. There’s no single answer to that question – though the Jeep Grand Cherokee is typically at or near the top of my list of recommendations, because few, if any, of my standard-issue SUV complaints tend to show themselves when I drive it.
Running the available 3.0L turbodiesel V6, there’s a heap of torque, performance at or near V8 levels, and measured-by-hand fuel mileage on par with a mid-sized family sedan. So, none of the usual complaints about mileage. Mind you, the diesel engine is a pricey option, so do your math.
Highway handling feels nicely set up. Steering is tuned finely against the Grand Cherokee’s size and the viscosity of its suspension, so it feels natural and obedient, not lurchy and startled by highway-speed steering inputs like many crossovers which see a quick steering system overwhelming a soft suspension. Grand Cherokee locks nicely onto its line at speed, and handles highway cruising, quite literally, like a big sedan.
Parking is a cinch here too. There’s a camera system, but moreso, test drivers will appreciate the extra-tight turning circle, with a wheel that just keeps going and going while aiming for a tight parking space. The Grand Cherokee turns sharp, so you can park easily without looking like a doofus. That’s not abundantly common in this segment.
And here’s the big thing: the ride quality and feeling of durability on really rough stuff, for numerous reasons, is exemplary. Have you ever driven a sports ute with 20 or 22-inch wheels down a washboardy gravel road? If so, your teeth likely rattled out of your face and landed on your lap.
Even in Grand Cherokee’s top-line Overland guise, reasonably sized 18-inch wheels wrapped in plenty of tire sidewall provide an extra layer of softness to the ride. Thicker tires mean more sidewall, and more cushioning. The air suspension works to the same effect, seeing the Grand Cherokee’s body sit on its wheels with an air pocket in between. In effect, you’ve got two layers of softness between you and the road.