If you’re in the market for a used SUV, your search is going to be a lot easier due to the category’s explosive growth over the last ten model years. SUVs are ubiquitous now, and they get more and more popular every year. Because of the sheer volume of choices within each size category, automakers know they’re facing stiff competition. Some automakers are faring better than others, like Jeep. In fact, we think a used Jeep Grand Cherokee is the best all-around choice for pre-owned SUV buyers.
Our bias is mostly due to Jeep’s hearty infusion of off-roading heritage and capability into what would otherwise be just another pretty, upscale midsize SUV. Sure, the Grand Cherokee may be good looking, but lots of other mid-size SUVs are pretty too. What sets the Grand Cherokee apart is its rugged capability, from towing capacity to off-roading to driving in inclement weather.
If you’re looking for a great used Grand Cherokee, there are some vehicle upgrades and changes in the last 10 model years that might be helpful to know. That way, as you’re deciding on the best year and trim for your needs and budget, you’ll know what you’re getting and what you’ll be missing out on. For example, we’ve seen a significant uptick in driver-assist systems becoming available on the Grand Cherokee in recent model years. If having the most technologically-advanced safety features is critically important to you, you’ll want to focus on a more recent model year.
If budget is number one, an older Grand Cherokee might suffice. Jeep stuck with its fourth generation design for nearly a decade, so we’ll focus on those model years here. Let’s take a closer look at the last 10 years of Grand Cherokee innovation.
Fourth Generation (2011-2020): Exterior
Typically we see redesigns every five years, but Jeep has stuck with the current Grand Cherokee design for nearly a decade. This is in large part due to the vehicle’s rampant popularity. Jeeps’ why-fix-it-if-it-ain’t-broke approach is understandable, but with the advent of so many new safety technologies and advancements in manufacturing, stretching it out any longer would have resulted in diminishing returns.
The best part of this fourth generation Grand Cherokee is its consistently gorgeous exterior styling. This is the part of the Grand Cherokee that hasn’t needed a refresh. Jeep got the Grand Cherokee’s exterior looks right, incorporating enough Jeep-esque styling – like the famous seven-slot grille and familiar badging – to make it recognizable as a Jeep, but not so much that it felt too rugged for soccer moms and suburbanites.
At its relaunch in the 2011 model year, the newly redesigned Grand Cherokee won the hearts and minds of automotive journalists and consumers alike. The Grand Cherokee’s exterior lines are evident across all trims, which means even if you purchase an entry-level base Grand Cherokee, you’re still getting the best part of the vehicle, which is a standout design and solid good looks. In addition, there are plenty of add-ons, even at the base model level, that enhance the SUVs distinctive exterior appearance. Be sure to check the vehicle’s list of included equipment before moving forward with your purchase. The sheer volume of available trims and packages can get complicated.
Fourth Generation (2011-2020): Interior
What’s going on outside the vehicle continues on the interior. Jeep recognized that many mid-size SUV buyers had the budget to splurge on a luxurious SUV option. Rather than lose market share to luxury imports, Jeep created several trims and option packages to provide luxurious features like premium leather seats, heated steering wheel, power moonroof, and upgraded premium sound systems.
In the 2011 model year, the top-of-the-line Grand Cherokee Overland was loaded with premium equipment, including standard navigation, 20-inch aluminum wheels, upscale leather and wood accents on the interior, buttery-soft Nappa leather seats, and a very handy power liftgate. New MSRP pricing was in the $42,000-$45,000 range. The Overland set the tone for Jeep’s intention and focus, which was squarely on providing a high-level luxury option within the Grand Cherokee’s model lineup.
Toward the end of the fourth generation, Jeep continued to add more luxury features and trims. For the 2018 model year, the Grand Cherokee Summit topped off a long list of available trims and came at a price of over $50,000. For that price, Jeep included just about every interior comfort, convenience, and luxury option available. The cabin interior resembled that of the highest-end luxury import. Jeep’s attention to detail – such as the prolific use of noise-canceling technology – combined to give drivers an over-the-top luxurious ride.
Fourth Generation (2011-2020): Safety
For 2011, the Jeep Grand Cherokee included safety equipment that was commonly found on most other SUVs in its class, including traction control and a lot of airbags. Driver-assist technology had yet to make its way onto consumer vehicles. Much focus was on third-party crash test ratings, including those from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety (IIHS). In 2011, the Grand Cherokee received an overall four-star rating from the NHTSA, and the IIHS rated it a Top Safety Pick.
As the model years progressed, Jeep started including more advanced safety technologies. We saw a forward collision alert as early as the 2016 model year, and 2017 saw even more of these systems added. Prior to the 2016 model year, anti-lock brakes, stability control, and other features capped off the list of safety features. The Grand Cherokee has remained competitive in safety ratings every model year since its launch in 2011
The safety story gets very interesting in 2018, with packages designed to add the latest driver assist systems to the Grand Cherokee’s already long list of safety attributes. In 2018, Jeep’s optional Active Safety Package included adaptive cruise control, which automatically adjusts speed to keep a safe following distance from the vehicle ahead. Automated emergency braking and forward-collision warning, which work together to mitigate the potential for a collision, were also included. Finally, you could find lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist to help drivers stay alert and stay in their intended lane of travel, and a comprehensive park assist feature in this package. These are all standard features on the top-of-the-line Summit.
While we wish Jeep hadn’t waited until 2021 to launch a fully-redesigned Grand Cherokee, we’re also pretty happy with its fourth-generation design. With sales in the mid-200,000-unit range since 2016, obviously, customers agree. The Grand Cherokee is an excellent option if you’re looking for a used mid-size SUV, if only because there are so many different configurations available. It allows buyers at many price points to consider the Grand Cherokee and – especially in more recent model years – puts a high premium on luxury features and cutting edge safety.
Our Bottom Line
Choosing a Grand Cherokee for your next used vehicle is a smart choice. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for an older, high mileage vehicle or something newer because the Grand Cherokee was a top pick from year one of its fourth-generation run. Whether you look at it from a safety perspective or affordability or reliability, the Grand Cherokee delivers. We highly recommend that you test drive a Jeep Grand Cherokee and see the amazing quality that Jeep has built into all of its vehicles.