By on January 9, 2020

2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited X

2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited X 4x4

3.6-liter V6 (up to 295 horsepower @ 6,400 rpm; 260 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm)

Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive

18 city / 25 highway / 21 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

12.7 city, 9.6 highway, 11.3 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $41,855 (U.S) / $64,035* (Canada)

As Tested: $52,035 (U.S.) / $58,030 (Canada)

Prices include $1,495 destination charge in the United States and $1,995 (up to $2,695) for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared. Asterisk denotes $8,000 CAD discount applied by Jeep Canada

I knew I might need wheels during a week-long trip to Los Angeles. I was hoping for something well-suited for a run over the Angeles Crest Highway.

Instead, a Jeep Grand Cherokee was the vehicle available. I hadn’t driven one in years, but I’ve always been fond of the current generation — a generation that is aging rapidly. Would the ravages of time sour my opinions?

Short answer: No. While aging, the Grand Cherokee remains a pleasant SUV for around-town commuting, with off-road capability in its back pocket.

(Full disclosure: Jeep loaned me this Cherokee while I was in Los Angeles for the LA Auto Show).

My test JGC came equipped with the 3.6-liter V6, which I found during past drives to be an adequate replacement for Hemi V8 power, at least around town. That remains true, although LA’s hillier streets challenged the V6 a bit. That’s because asking “up to” 295 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque to motivate over 4,500 pounds isn’t easy.

I took the Jeep to the famed Angeles Crest Highway northeast of LA, because why not, and the Grand Cherokee was a willing if awkward dance partner. Unsurprisingly, the V6 struggled a bit in them thar hills, but the steering feels rather well dialed-in for an electric unit, with appropriate weight. While the Grand Cherokee is no cornering champ – hello, body roll – its on-road manners are quite good for an SUV that’s more associated with venturing off-road.

At least until it’s time to brake. The Jeep’s binders predictably weren’t up to the task in the mountains, softening quickly as the road got tougher. This was somewhat expected – the fact that the brakes were just as soft around-town, even days after the mountain run, was not.

The Jeep worked just fine as a freeway cruiser, isolating noise well and riding smoothly on LA’s mostly pristine roads. The occasional broken pavement didn’t upset it.

2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited X

I had plenty of head- and legroom and as usual, Jeep’s infotainment system and hard controls work well and are laid out simply and logically. Some of the materials are a let down, given that with options, my test vehicle rang the register at $52,035.

The Limited X is one of the lower available trims, but it still cost 40 large just to start. A $4,900 option package added a whole slew of features, including 20-inch wheels, black roof rails and exterior accents, body-color fascias and a body color sill extension, dual dark chrome exhaust tips, LED fog lamps, special badging, black grille, bi-xenon HID headlights, shift paddles, Pirelli performance all-season tires, and LED DRLs.

That’s on top of standard features such as in-car Wi-Fi, satellite radio, keyless entry, remote start, power liftgate, Uconnect infotainment, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, dual USB, auxiliary port, blind-spot detection, rear cross-path detection, and heated front seats.

2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited X

Another $1,495 gets you adaptive cruise control, brake assist, forward-collision warning, lane-departure warning, parking assist, and rain-sensitive wipers.  A dual panoramic sunroof adds another $1,495. A subwoofer and amplifier and noise-control system pop you for another $795, and the destination charge is yet another $1,495.

Two packages and a D and D fee that all are the same price? Someone find Nic Cage — we have a clue towards the next national treasure.

At this point, the Grand Cherokee feels almost like a national treasure. It’s one of Jeep’s most iconic nameplates, along with Wrangler and Cherokee. When launched, it was one of the better mid-size SUVs on the market, and it remains competitive, if not long in the tooth.

Yes, it was a let down on the backroads, but I expected that from a JGC not wearing Trackhawk or SRT badging. While I never went off-road, I am sure it would’ve been plenty capable. Jeeps usually are.

2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited X

Like so many SUVs, this is an around-town rig, no matter what it can do in the backwoods. For that purpose, it’s just fine. Yes, the brakes need firming, and yes, the vehicle’s weight can be felt even under normal stoplight-to-stoplight acceleration conditions. But it rides well and steers well, offers interior comfort and quiet, and has driver-friendly controls, plus a not-half-bad audio system.

It’s getting old, but it’s aging gracefully. The next generation may be on sale by the end of this year, if rumors prove true, but the current generation has just a bit of life left.

[Images © 2020 Tim Healey/TTAC, Jeep]

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36 Comments on “2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited X 4×4 Review – Aging Stalwart...”

  • avatar

    Give FCA credit – their only worthwhile divisions, Jeep and Ram, are serious contenders in the marketplace. It is sad to see that this company doesn’t build any cars of note unless they are antique muscle cars.

  • avatar

    I know a lot of people on TTAC speak highly of the Pentastar V6, but spending $50K on a MY2019 vehicle that “struggled a bit” on hills wouldn’t fly with me.

    • 0 avatar

      Buy the Durango – for 42K out the door you’re in V8 territory. There’s a few high-zoot V8s that you can only get on the Jeep, but they’re above 70K if I remember correctly.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      I liked the Pentastar a lot when I first drove this Jeep in 2010 or 2011. It’s still a good engine. But it’s being tasked with motivating a lot of weight (probably more than back then, but I haven’t compared numbers), and the price has climbed a lot, unsurprisingly, over the years.

  • avatar

    So what are the odds we end up with a JGC classic for a year or 2 while the new one gets up to speed with the market? Seems to be a typical FCA play at this point.

  • avatar

    Good write up. I had a rental JGC in UT last summer and drove the family through (count ’em) 5 national parks with this car. Really nice all around. Took it on some roads that likely violated the rental agreement (Google Shafer Trail in Canyonlands National Park or the Hole in the Rock road in Escalante). No major rock crawling but a lot of use of the Low range on the transmission and the Jeep’s ground clearance. It’s just such a solid and comfortable vehicle. Whenever I see a Wrangler in my urban/suburban life, I wonder if 90% of Wrangler drivers wouldn’t be happier in a Jeep Grand Cherokee. For about the same price you get so much more comfort and luxury and still much more capability than most will ever use.

    This car is good enough that I’m not going to get on Jeep for letting it age. It’s still very competitive. But it’s absolutely crazy that Jeep hasn’t figured out a way to get a 3rd row in this thing. They have simply given up on the 3-row market while bringing us 3 different small crossovers (Cherokee, Compass, Renegade). It makes even less sense when you know that the Durango is the same as a Grand Cherokee. I’m not a fan of badge engineering but, if they’re not going to develop something, then Jeep should be putting their badges and a 7 slot grill on the Durango.

    • 0 avatar

      My grand daughter in Surprise, AZ is faced with such a replacement decision today. She inherited my wife’s 2012 JGC 4×4 and her dad’s 2012 SRT8 4×4 as her wedding gift in 2015.

      Well, both of those vehicles had a good deal of mileage on them in 2015 when they were hand-me-downs, but today, they both have a great deal more miles on them, as DDs.

      So, it is time to replace the one she inherited from my wife, now with over 185K miles on the clock. Her husband will never let go of the SRT8 because along with the vintage ‘73 Corvette he inherited from his dad, they fill that special niche in his life, vintage Hi-Pos.

      Jeep is a state of mind, a unique fan club, so once you have owned a Jeep, you’d have to think long and hard to buy a mainstream brand vehicle.

      • 0 avatar

        I had a 2011 GC Overland, my first Jeep and almost every other week the air suspension would fail and I’d drop it off at the dealer and get a crappy loaner. They could never fix the root cause and after replacing just about every part of the air suspension over 9 incidents I lemon law’d it later to find out it was a software issue. I’d never buy a Jeep again.

  • avatar

    “…although LA’s hillier streets challenged the V6 a bit. That’s because asking “up to” 295 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque to motivate over 4,500 pounds isn’t easy.”

    That’s a matter of expectations more than ability. The v6 will make a durango go up and down mountains towing a 5k lb trailer at the speed limit all day. It revs a bit but it never seems stressed judging by fluid pressures and temperatures.

  • avatar

    Have two of these things – a ’14 and a ’15. Love them both. They are great all-around vehicles – but not perfect.

    Both radiators were replaced for vapor leaks, and both steering racks were replaced for end bushing leaks. Rear shocks also were replaced on the ’14. All repairs were covered by their extended warranties.

    With near 80,000 miles on both – the vehicles have been very good, however, the next one will be a wrangler.

  • avatar

    $12,645 off this month in Canada. Fill yer boots.

  • avatar

    My usual JGC comment: it’s a porky, poorly packaged SUV, but the great thing about it is that it has managed to achieve a level of social acceptance that crosses every divide in America. There is literally no place in America where anyone will hate a medium-trim JGC.

    I could take it to my BIL/SIL in deepest red small-town Texas and they’d love it. I could drive it into any valet parking in San Francisco and they’d like it fine. I could drive it into North Philly and it would get nothing but compliments.

    There are not a lot of other vehicles (if any) you can say that about.

  • avatar

    Wow I just realized this body style has been around for almost 10 years. Handsome and easy on the eyes – can’t say that about many crossovers. I could never get past the tail lights though, as generic as they come.

  • avatar

    I’ve owned three JGCs and have nothing but good things to say about them except that they handle like a truck and the V8s drink gas like a pig which is why I no longer drive one

  • avatar

    Better check gaps between the panels

  • avatar

    What does it say about the competition that this generation JGC just keeps selling better from one year to the next?

  • avatar

    January 9th, 2020 at 12:45 pm

    Buy the Durango – for 42K out the door you’re in V8 territory. There’s a few high-zoot V8s that you can only get on the Jeep, but they’re above 70K if I remember correctly.

    The Hellcat is the only V8 available for the JGC that you can’t get in the Durango. The 6.4l SRT Durango is $72k plus though.

  • avatar

    I always wanted one, but I will be honest: I’m afraid due to reliability concerns. Jeep does not have a good reputation on that front. I never had one so I don’t even know if the bad reputation is a real representation of the truth.

    What say the colleagues here who own one? 100K miles without major issue typical? Would you share your experience, please?

    • 0 avatar

      The collective wisdom of the internets is meaningless. I’ve owned or leased 5 Jeeps, including the GC. Never had a problem. I’ve had a 1998 Wrangler since new. Built by UAW workers in the ancient Toledo factory. 150K miles on Colorado and Utah roads, on and off, and have only replaced one part, $10 throttle position sensor.

  • avatar

    Advertised curb weights for 4×4 versions range from 4625 to 5363 lbs. depending on trim level, engine, and equipment. The well-equipped trims are at or over 5000 lbs. I’m not even sure how you make a vehicle this size so heavy. Yes, tougher unibody and beefier drive hardware for off-road service… but does that really add ~750 lbs. compared with your typical six-cylinder crossover of equivalent size?

  • avatar

    The one to get is the one with the 5.7L Hemi. The power-to-weight ratio is better than the V6 and the Big Kahuna V8.

  • avatar

    I love the Grand Cherokee.

    One commenter said it bridges all divides, and that is 100% true. Classy enough for a black tie dinner, or you can butch it up and go camping.

    It rides great. It is quiet. The drivetrain and everything inside is fully modern.

    Only real beefs are the weight and for the size outside, it should be a bit bigger inside.

    IMHO this might be the best all around, do anything, go anywhere, vehicle.

    Reliability might not be superb, but I’d have to think by now the major stuff is worked out.

    The 4Runner is the only other one out there similar, but it is so old, and so trucky, and so plasticky etc that it really only makes sense if you lean more on the off-road and the “i want to drive this to 300k” type owner.

    I think rebates are pretty big, so I’m not sure MSRP is all that important.

    I’ll add that its awesome the HEMI is available, though I wish on the Laredo trim.

    I actually think the Laredo 4×4 might be a great “ace of base” vehicle.

    • 0 avatar

      “I think rebates are pretty big, so I’m not sure MSRP is all that important.”

      FCA has been accused by their dealers of stuffing the pipeline with Jeep vehicles they didn’t order, among them the JGC.

      Many dealers slap a lot of money on the hood in addition to the FCA “Employee Pricing” campaign just to get all that metal off the lot.

      So in my area, Perkins Motors of Colo Sprgs, plus the Larry H. Miller dealerships, along with the lesser CDJR dealerships in ABQ, PHX and El Paso, are anxious to move that stock and make new happy campers.

      Someone interested in a 2020 JGC could get a pretty good deal, especially on the top trims, and the 5.7L incarnations. But not so much on the Ace-of-Base Laredo trims, or the Hell-bound Hi-Po Beasts.

  • avatar

    We’ve had two of the current generation, the most recent a ’17 Overland. I’m not a Jeep guy, but I always look forward to driving ours. I have only a few complaints:

    1. Fuel efficiency is not great
    2. There are some very cheap pieces of trim for a $52,000 vehicle
    3. Seats are very flat and lack bolstering/support

    Otherwise, it’s very quiet (acoustic glass), the air suspension is wonderful, and it’s got sufficient grunt. I’m amazed at how well Jeep has kept the WK2 Jeep fresh and appealing over 10 years – especially considering this is a vehicle whose design and engineering development started almost 15 years ago.

  • avatar

    Wtf is up with the reply system?

    January 9th, 2020 at 7:51 pm
    “What say the colleagues here who own one? 100K miles without major issue typical? Would you share your experience, please?”

    Late examples of this WK2 generation are well-sorted. Avoid the air suspension.

  • avatar

    “2. There are some very cheap pieces of trim for a $52,000 vehicle”
    The range of the quality of interior materials on this car is pretty wide. Maybe it’s because you get a similar interior whether you get a low end Durango for about $30,000 or a high end Grand Cherokee for over $90,000. I guess they wanted to have some interior bits that belong in cars at all those price points. The best example is the turn indicator/wiper stalk which feels very flimsy and rubbery, except for the knurled ring toward the end of the stalk that controls the wipers. That ring feels metalic and luxurious. The stalk could be in a budget compact car while that wiper control ring could be in a $100K+ car. There are other examples too. The paddle shifters feel solid and operate with a satisfying click while the overhead console (lights, sunglass holder, etc.) feels like it came out of a 1997 Dodge Caravan.

  • avatar

    I’m not sure I really agree with the underpowered. If your used to a turbo tuned for low end or a V* yeah it needs to wind out more but really I have moved heavy things with a penta star they just need to rev a bit.

  • avatar

    To the reliability comments most of the owners I know haven’t had many issues. a coworker owns 3 of them (his,wife and kids DD) The only one with issues is a 2011 where the dash started peeling and the earlier hemi MDS camshaft problem came about around 110,000 miles, FCA paid for half that repair as good will since he was the original owner and it had always been serviced at FCA dealers.

    Honestly the hemi is more fun but I think in this application the penta star may be more reliable.

    • 0 avatar

      I purchased a low-miles 2012 Overland about 15 months ago with the leather dash. It’s bubbling slightly ahead of the defroster vents. I received a recall notice from FCA recently informing me they’re extending the warranty on the leather dash. I can’t quite understand from the language whether mine is covered or not, and haven’t had a chance to get it into a dealer yet, but… fingers crossed.

  • avatar

    Hard to believe this body style has been around for basically ten years. Felt like a blink of an eye.

  • avatar

    Unless you do a lot of off-roading you get more for your $$$ with the Durango. Durango looks the business. V8 only please.

  • avatar

    I now have 140,000km on my 2014 JGC Ecodiesel. All of your complaints are addressed in mine, as I have terrific mileage, monster torque (420ft/lbs), and the diesel option gives you the trailering package with upsized rotors and way better brakes ( much stronger and less fade). What I don’t understand is why they have discontinued the diesel package for 2020, it really makes this vehicle nearly perfect

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