Regardless of what engine you do end up going for, you’ll have access to a pretty good eight-speed automatic transmission.
That said, the less powerful gasoline engines aren’t too thirsty: for example, the base 3.6-liter six-cylinder unit in rear-wheel drive cars can still return 19mpg in the city and 25mpg on the highway, (adding all-wheel drive reduces economy by one mpg). On top of being moderately close to what the diesel can manage, the gasoline unit’s on par with what comparable engines in competitors can manage. Plus, it’s fairly smooth and refined (if not in a class-leading way) – which is good, as you need to work the engine a fair bit in order to access the 290-hp and 260 lb-ft outputs that are accessible at the higher edges of the rev range. If it were our money buying the Jeep Grand Cherokee and were forced to wear our sensible caps on, then it would mainly be a tussle between those two engines for us – with the likelihood being we’d stick with the gasoline engine, as you’ll need to spend at least $37,000 on a Jeep Grand Cherokee just to have the option to specify that unit. Those of you who can stomach higher fuel bills or want more performance, though, will be satisfied to know there’s a huge 5.7-liter eight-cylinder engine with 360-hp and 390 lb-ft of torque on offer further up the pecking order, with appropriately low fuel economy figures of 14mpg in the city and 22mpg on the highway. For sure, it won’t be the cheapest to run, but this massive motor has more than enough grunt for most buyers – that is, unless they have their hearts set on the 6.4-liter, 475-hp and 470 lb-ft eight cylinder engine. Yes, that’s right: a motor befitting of a muscle car can be specified in an off-road-ready mid-sized SUV, and (as wonderfully impractical for most Grand Cherokee buyers it may be) the Jeep range is marvellously more interesting as a result. Putting out sensible caps back on again, it’s reassuring to know that, regardless of what engine you do end up going for, you’ll have access to a pretty good eight-speed automatic transmission. In fact, we reckon it could be the highlight of the entire drivetrain: gear changes are smooth and precise, regardless of whether you change gears manually or leave the transmission to do its thing, and the gearbox itself is very refined. Perhaps most importantly of all, though, the ‘box suits each engine extremely well – with the array of forward ratios on offer meaning the driver should be able to keep the engine in its respective optimum operating range.