When many people think of “Jeep,” they think of the Wrangler. That does make sense, given the ride’s status and visibility going back generations. But the fact is that the now-venerable Grand Cherokee has been very important to the manufacturer. Since its launch a couple of decades ago, it’s become a part of American vehicle culture.
Many people, once they begin to start a family, or their family begins to grow, consider trading in their two-door, rough-and-tumble Wrangler, say, for something that doesn’t sacrifice adventure but has an about-town sensibility. The Grand Cherokee, for example. But is the Jeep Grand Cherokee a good family car? It is, but let’s take a closer look.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee Early Years
The early 1990s were awesome for sport-utility vehicles, as every family, it seemed, wanted a hauler for road trips, ferrying the kids to school and practice, and everyday doings. The Grand Cherokee handled all that with aplomb, and with a family-friendly grille and fascia.
Far from staid, however, the vehicle had its playful and fun-to-drive side, what with the available and adventurous four-wheel drive and punchy 4.0L V6 engine.
The Second and Third Generations
Around 2000, Jeep updated the GC’s engine, providing more oomph for everyday commuting plus weekend excursions to the family cottage. Vacations were helped by the unveiling of the Quadra-Drive four-wheel drive system, a 10-disc CD changer in the vehicle’s rear, plus sunroofs to complement scenery.
Then circa 2005, the start of the Grand Cherokee’s third generation, DVD players were added to the rear seat. This was a big deal for a family ride that could still go off road. Speaking of which, the ability to handle trails was helped by the addition of a reconfigured four-wheel drive system, better suspension, and two new powerplants that offered more power and torque.
The Fourth Generation
Family fun time was further helped in 2011 by the introduction of the Selec-Terrain traction control system for all four-wheel drive models, with its sand/mud, auto, snow, sport, and rock modes, helping drivers gain control over performance. Two years later, Grand Cherokee got the Trailhawk model, which provided an array of off-road functions for that family trip to the Grand Canyon, say. Then came an array of creature comforts and luxury touches that conveyed more home-away-from-home.
The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Here, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is improved nearly all around but retains the refined ruggedness that Jeep buyers – Jeep families – love, plus plenty of room and places to put stuff.
For this model year, Jeep introduced a two-row body style that sits atop a spanking new architecture. Families may be particularly interested in the Limited trim, which comes standard with leather seats, heated seats up front and in the rear, interior ambient lighting, and more. The Entertainment group package offers the 10.1-inch infotainment display (and primo Alpine sounds) that the kids will love, plus a wireless phone charger and second-row sunshades.
All-important safety features include front and rear parking sensors, a 360-degree exterior camera system, standard automated braking with pedestrian alerts, standard adaptive cruise control, standard lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist, as well as a crash avoidance system that comes in handy when going through intersections.
The plug-in hybrid 4xe model will help with fuel economy on those family road trips, allowing the GC to get up to 25 miles per charge.
So, yes, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is very much a good family car, both in the traditional sense as well as in that it’s also game for adventure. The interior is spacious, and there’s a split-folding seat for storage of groceries, home improvement items, and your children’s things. There’s also more than enough power for transporting gear and toys, and tons of comfort within a nicely appointed cabin. You could certainly do a lot worse for a family hauler than the Jeep Grand Cherokee.