- The fifth-generation Grand Cherokee is the best one yet.
- You can find style and value in some Grand Cherokee models.
- Impressive off-road talent comes with an unexpected perk.
- Luxury seekers will find satisfaction, too, but at a stunning cost.
How We'd Spec It: 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Because Jeep goes high, we recommend that you go low
Legendary for its blend of luxury and off-roading capability, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is a midsize SUV with more to offer now than at any other point in its 30-year history.
Now in its fifth generation, the latest Grand Cherokee arrived in 2021 first as a new three-row, seven-passenger configuration called the Grand Cherokee L. The traditional two-row version went on sale the next year, followed quickly by a plug-in hybrid variant called the Grand Cherokee 4xe.
Now, the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee lineup offers two-row and three-row configurations; a choice between V6, V8 and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) powertrains; rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive; and trim levels ranging from basic to luxurious. They include the Laredo, Limited, Trailhawk, Overland, Summit and Summit Reserve.
Jeep didn't make many changes to the 2023 Grand Cherokee either. The Trailhawk now comes only with the PHEV drivetrain, the Limited and Overland get a standard infotainment system upgrade, and access to premium sound and high-end audio systems is slightly different.
With so many versions of the Grand Cherokee to choose from, how would we decide to spec this SUV? Continue reading to see our value recommendation, a worthy alternative to that model, and the one that appeals to the sybarite within.
The recommended spec
Limited shown, but it's almost identical to Altitude model.
One off-putting thing about the Jeep Grand Cherokee is its price. This is an expensive SUV, positioned as a premium vehicle compared to other mass-market brands, so you don't get as much for your money when choosing this Jeep over some rivals.
That's why we recommend the base Laredo trim level equipped with the optional Altitude package. This package adds a trendy blacked-out exterior appearance, black 20-inch alloy wheels, faux leather upholstery with synthetic suede inserts, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. In addition, remote engine start, rain-sensing windshield wipers and a power liftgate are standard with the Altitude package, along with wireless smartphone charging and a 115-volt interior power outlet.
The Grand Cherokee Altitude comes only with a 293-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine offering up to 6,200 pounds of towing capacity. To that, we'd add the optional four-wheel drive because it's the whole point of getting a Jeep in the first place. Every paint color except white costs extra, so you'll likely want one of the metallic hues. Few options are available for the Laredo Altitude, so we'd skip them unless we needed the Trailer Tow Prep Group.
With four-wheel drive, metallic paint and the Altitude package, the grand total comes to $50,430 for a two-row Grand Cherokee and $52,430 for the three-row Grand Cherokee L. Both prices include a $1,795 destination charge to ship it from Jeep's Detroit factory to your dealership.
The worthy alternative
Jeeps appeal to people with plans to tackle serious terrain, and one version of the 2023 Grand Cherokee is made explicitly for this purpose. It is the Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, and this year, Jeep offers it exclusively as a two-row 4xe (pronounced "four-by-e") model equipped with a PHEV powertrain.
A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine forms the foundation for this PHEV, which can travel up to 25 miles on a full battery charge before switching to gas-electric hybrid operation. It makes a healthy 375 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque and gets 23 mpg when you drive it as a hybrid. In addition, Jeep says it can tow 6,000 pounds.
In addition to the plug-in powertrain, Jeep fortifies the Grand Cherokee 4xe Trailhawk with numerous off-roading features. Highlights include the Quadra-Drive II four-wheel-drive system with a limited-slip rear differential, a height-adjustable and adaptive air suspension providing up to 10.9 inches of ground clearance and 24 inches of water fording capability, and an electronically disconnecting stabilizer bar. In addition, to ensure maximum grip on terra firma, all-terrain tires wrap around exclusive 18-inch wheels.
In addition, the Trailhawk features hill ascent and descent control, Selec-Speed off-road cruise control, front recovery hooks, and a forward-facing camera system. Jeep also equips it with upgraded interior materials, ventilated front seats, a premium sound system and a navigation system. We would also spring for our choice of paint and the Advanced ProTech Group II, which equips this SUV with front and rear parking sensors and a surround-view camera system — practical when off-roading.
Even with the upgrades kept to a minimum, our Trailhawk would cost $69,785, including the destination charge. But it is eligible for a $3,750 federal tax credit and any state or local rebates available in your region. So there's that.
The emotional choice
When money is no object, and you're dead set on getting a Jeep Grand Cherokee, check out the three-row L Summit with the Reserve package.
This top-spec Grand Cherokee includes open-pore wood trim, soft and supple Palermo leather upholstery, 16-way power-adjustable front seats with massage, an excellent 19-speaker McIntosh high-end audio system, and a panoramic sunroof punched into a synthetic suede headliner. The front passenger gets a 10.25-inch touchscreen embedded into the right side of the dashboard, and second-row occupants will keep their cool thanks to ventilated captain's chairs.
While the Summit Reserve is the fully loaded Grand Cherokee, its asking price still doesn't include metallic paint or a wireless smartphone charging pad(!). So we would add those, plus the Advanced ProTech Group IV and Rear Seat Entertainment Group with Amazon Fire TV. Then, we'd cap things off with a rumbling 357-horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine.
Stunningly, the price for our version of the Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve is $81,270, including the destination charge. You can get a capable and nicely equipped Land Rover Defender 130 for that kind of money or easily leap to something like a BMW X7.
With the fifth-generation Grand Cherokee, Jeep offers something for everyone. But the Grand Cherokee is priced higher than its rivals, and to maximize the Jeep's off-roading capability (its distinguishing characteristic aside from styling), you have to shell out for an even more expensive PHEV powertrain.
That's why we recommend the Laredo with the Altitude package. Its appearance upgrades give it a luxe look on the outside, and it offers terrific value.