Jeep Grand Cherokee Performance
Reviewers feel that the 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee, like its predecessor before it, offers excellent off-road handling and good performance from its V8 engines. "Grand Cherokee drives and handles well," says the, "with a slightly rubbery feel to the suspension to accommodate its superior off-road abilities."
Test drivers also appreciate the 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee's wide range of engine offerings -- five in all, which Jeep claims is the most offered by a vehicle. New for this year is a mid-level 4.7-liter V8 that replaces last year's less powerful version.
Acceleration and Power
The base Laredo trim comes with a 3.7-liter V6, while the Limited comes with the all-new 4.7-liter V8 or optional with a 5.7-liter Hemi V8. The Overland comes standard with the 5.7-liter Hemi, and the high-performing SRT8 comes with a 6.1-liter Hemi V8. The Limited and Overland are optional with a 3.0-liter common rail diesel V6.
At 210 horsepower, reviewers find the 3.7-liter V6 engine adequate but on the weak side. "Based on our initial drive," says Edmunds, "buyers can expect adequate power from the V6, despite the fact that the Grand Cherokee gained about 500 pounds in the redesign (regardless of configuration)." Consumer Guide adds that the 3.7 liter "is too weak for this vehicle's weight." The Environmental Protection Agency has not yet posted fuel economy ratings for the 2008 model's 3.7-liter V6, but gave the 2007 engine a rating of 15 miles per gallon in the city, 20 mpg on the highway.
The 3.0-liter V6 is Jeep's first diesel engine and has the best EPA fuel rating of any of the Grand Cherokee's engine choices: 18 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. This engine generates 215 horsepower and 376-pound-feet of torque, which MSN calls "impressive." Edmunds says that "those wanting better fuel economy will likely enjoy the new diesel engine." Automotive.com concludes, "It's a worthy first diesel in a U.S.-market full-size SUV, good for off-roaders or those who need to tow up to 7400 pounds."
Reviewers largely prefer the V8 engines over the V6s. The new 4.7-liter V8, standard in the Limited, replaces the previous 4.7-liter engine. It puts out 291 horsepower (a 24 percent increase) and 335 pound-feet of torque (a 9 percent increase). It's also flex-fuel capable, meaning drivers can use E85 fuel. Consumer Guide says, "Buyers of the 2008 Grand Cherokee finally have an alternative to the robust but thirsty Hemi V-8 now that Jeep has given the available 4.7-liter V-8 a serious power boost."
Since the engine is so new, it has yet to receive test drivers' feedback, but praise for its less powerful 235-horsepower predecessor suggests a positive outlook. MSN calls the previous 4.7-liter V8 "the best all-around engine for this Jeep...It provides strong acceleration [and] virtually loafs at 2000 rpm at 65 mph." According to the EPA, the new 4.7-liter V8 nets 14 mpg in the city and 19 on the highway with regular gas. With E85, it nets 9 mpg in the city and 13 on the highway.
Kelley Blue Book calls the 5.7-liter 330-horsepower V8 Hemi engine "powerful...The 5.7-liter HEMI turns the Grand Cherokee into a drag racer." This variable displacement engine can switch from four to eight cylinders as needed, which can improve the fuel economy by as much as 20 percent. The four-wheel-drive model has an EPA rating of 13 mpg in the city and 18 mpg on the highway, while the 2WD gets 13 mpg in the city and 19 on the highway.
Reviewers love the high-performing SRT8 model, which is designed for maximum street performance and boasts a 6.1-liter Hemi V8 engine that puts out 420 horsepower. The Minneapolis Star Tribune says, "With a throaty exhaust note from the big block HEMI V-8, the SUV delivers a powerful, precise and responsive performance" and even goes so far as to add, "This fun-to-drive vehicle will make one wonder if it is a sports car or an SUV." Jeep says the V8 can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than five seconds, prompting Edmunds to note that "raw power is not an issue." The EPA rates the 6.1-liter engine at 11 mpg in the city and 14 on the highway. New Car Test Drive says, "We loved the sound [of the 6.1 liter V8] and found ourselves accelerating harder than necessary just to hear."
The Laredo and SRT8 trims are paired with a five-speed automatic transmission, which is just optional on the Limited and Overland trims when they are equipped with the diesel engine. A multi-speed automatic with adaptive shifting is standard on those trims and optional on the Laredo when it's equipped with the 4.7-liter engine.
Reviewers find the five-speed automatic transmission to be smooth and effective, and Cars.com notes that it "performs well on steep upgrades by downshifting promptly when you push the accelerator." Edmunds, however, has a few complaints: "At times, we felt the five-speed automatic transmission could have been quicker to come up with downshifts, but shift quality was refined. As in the Dodge Durango, there's a tow-haul mode that keeps the transmission from upshifting prematurely when pulling a heavy load." The transmission includes a manual shift mode.
Handling and Braking
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is fairly carlike in its ride, but according to reviewers, it isn't perfect. "The long-travel suspension that makes it so tough on 4x4 trails leads to a moderate amount of float and bob over bumps and freeway expansion joints," says Edmunds. However, the reviewer adds that "the new Jeep Grand Cherokee is a fine handler. It felt especially secure around high-speed curves."
The Grand Cherokee's tight turning radius makes it fairly nimble both off-road and in parking lots. "Turning radius has been improved too," says the, "making tight U-turns and tight parking lots at the mall much less of an ordeal" than in earlier models.
The Jeep Cherokee's front and rear anti-lock disc brakes get mixed reviews. Edmunds says the brakes have improved, though they still aren't quite up to par: "The brake pedal's long stroke can take a little getting used to, but its progressive action is ultimately reassuring in the cutthroat environment of urban freeways. We were, however, disappointed by the Jeep's behavior during a few simulated emergency stops."
Reviewers find the 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee solid enough for on-road driving, but where it really stands out is in its off-road ability. Consumer Guide says it "remains a class leader in off-road capability." New Car Test Drive says, "Jeep Grand Cherokee combines mountain-goat agility in rugged terrain with stable and responsive handling on the paved roads where most buyers will spend most of their time."
For 2008, the Grand Cherokee features two new safety technologies that aid in off-road adventures. Optional Hill Descent Control provides downhill assistance at a controlled rate of speed when in 4WD Low position. Hill Start Assist (HSA), optional on any model, allows the driver time to transition from brake to throttle to achieve a smooth launch on a grade and holds brake pressure for two seconds when the driver releases the brake pedal. Also new for 2008 is a front fascia designed specifically for off-roading. The fascia is made up of two pieces so the lower one can be removed from harm before wilderness adventures, which Autoblog says, "[h]ardcore off-roaders will be pleased to know."
The Grand Cherokee is available with a choice of three four-wheel drive systems that make it "a class leader in off-road capability," according to Consumer Guide. Quadra-Trac I® is a full-time system that features a single-speed transfer case. It comes standard on the Laredo 4x4 model and the four-wheel drive-only SRT8. Quadra-Trac II® provides a two-speed transfer case and utilizes Brake Traction Control System and Throttle Anticipate to maximize traction. Standard on Limited 4x4 models, it is controlled via an electronic shift mechanism.
Quadra-Drive II® offers "the ultimate in off-road capability," according to Jeep. It features a full-time transfer case with Electronic Limited Slip Differentials to detect tire slip and redistribute engine torque. The system comes standard on the Limited 4x4 and optional on the Laredo when it's equipped with the 4.7-liter V8.
The 2008 Jeep Grand Cherokee can tow from 3,500 pounds up to 7,400 pounds when properly equipped. A new-for-2008 option for 4x4 models, Trailer Sway Control, reduces trailer sway and provides improved trailer stability and increased towing safety.