For a long time, the Jeep Grand Cherokee had the reputation of being one of the most comfortable SUVs in America while not compromising its off-roading capabilities.
Its stylish design with the seven-slot grille at the front and the large wheels makes it the most recognizable SUVs on the roads.
Its rich history that spans more than 27 years has been occasioned by excellent vehicles.
Additionally, its been marred by incidences of unreliability that is normal for any car in production for an extended period.
Due to such incidences experienced earlier on, people often question how reliable these cars are, so I sought to find answers on this issue.
Is The Jeep Grand Cherokee Reliable?
The Grand Cherokee rates above average in terms of reliability, with newer models becoming better and better every year. In particular, the 2021 model ranks above all other models in terms of reliability based on consumer surveys and seems to have solved all the previously experienced issues.
According to RepairPal, a reputable car information site, the Grand Cherokee had a reliability rating of 3.5 out of 5, which is impressive considering the treacherous conditions these cars are exposed to when off-road.
Its overall ranking was 15th out of over 25 midsized SUVs based on different models’ findings over the years.
Approximately 54% of Grand Cherokee owners named reliability and quality their main reason for buying the vehicle, which is a good sign.
With the future even looking brighter for this model, we can’t overlook the dark days that plagued earlier years.
One of the major issues experienced by owners was an electrical issue that didn’t want to go away.
There were four common issues with Jeep Grand Cherokees: engine stalling when driving, malfunction of the ignition switch, failure of the alternator, and erratic electronic shifting.
Below I will be taking a closer look at how they affected the car and owners.
Starting with the erratic electronic shifting 2016, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), a company that owns Jeep, forced over 32,000 cars in the United States to be recalled due to transmission problems.
The issue caused the vehicles to stay in ‘neutral’ or ‘park’ no matter how long you tried shifting the gears.
The problem was later on found to be a manufacturing fault that causes a loose electrical connection on the brake transmission interlock solenoid.
Grand Cherokee models in 2014 and 2015 also had similar problems with the transmission.
However, for these models, the problem was identified as a design flaw of the gear shifter.
This flaw made it hard for drivers to know whether they had indeed selected the park position.
These problems resulted in weird incidences of the car rolling away when nobody was in the driver’s seat.
Sometimes it resulted in serious injuries when owners tried to run after their vehicles fell off when the car started rolling away.
The second most common issue experienced by owners was Engine stalling.
This problem was so severe that first-time car owners were advised to steer away from the fourth generation manufactured between 2011 and 2013.
In this period, Grand Cherokees had engine problems that were primarily caused by a malfunctioning fuel pump relay inside the TIPM (Totally integrated power module).
TIPM, in simple terms, is an electrical command center that controls the operation of the door locks, Radio, Headlights, Power windows, Fuel pump, and other electrically operated components.
A failure in this module would allow the engine to crank up but will not start.
Occasionally it would even stall abruptly when you are driving.
Many owners filed complaints with the relevant regulatory body about their vehicles.
Some owners were sometimes forced to leave their cars on the side of the road in unsafe locations, while the lucky ones who had just left home or were driving in towns were able to call for help immediately.
Later on, FCA was forced to recall Grand Cherokees made between this period to fix the issue.
The malfunctioning fuel pump and the wiring harness were replaced to avoid future incidences that would injure people or damage the vehicle.
The third issue had to do with the failure of the alternator.
The problems can range from a shorted unit that can easily be fixed to catching fire when driving, especially for those built between 2012 and 2014.
Grand Cherokee owners first started reporting smoke, whining noises, and burnt odors originating from the hood in this period.
A blown alternator could be life-threatening if not detected early as it can cause a fire inside the cabin.
In addition to this, the car might stall on a busy highway causing a severe crash.
A failure of the alternator often causes vital systems of the car to grind to a halt.
Systems such as the anti-lock brake system, central body controller, and electronic control module that rely on electrical power will stop functioning.
FCA was later on forced to recall these models and did an alternator replacement.
Lastly, some Grand Cherokees suffered from the malfunction of the ignition switch. Grand Cherokees made between 2005 and 2007 are mainly the ones that experienced this problem.
FCA recalled around 800,000 cars to address this issue.
The ignition switch problem was that it switched to the accessory or off position when touched slightly with the driver’s knee when the vehicle is moving.
Of the total models that were recalled, about 650,000 cars were found with the problem.
A faulty ignition switch may cause the power braking, the electronic steering, and the airbag to function correctly, which is quite dangerous. FCA advises drivers to take extreme caution with the switch by avoiding unnecessary contact until it is replaced.
Which is the most reliable Grand Cherokee apart from the newer models?
The 2010 model is arguably the most reliable used model that you can but out there.
By 2010, the Jeep Cherokee production had already gone through generations when manufacturing started in 1993.
This model was the last third-generation WK Cherokee to be made.
The base trim came in an ultra-reliable 3.7-liter V6 engine that replaced the 4.0-liter straight-six from the earlier generations.
The straight-six was a good engine, and the new Powertech V6 improved its shortcomings.
Not only did Jeep build a smaller motor because of strict carbon emission rules, but the new engine was also very fuel-efficient.
On top of this, it produced 20 extra horsepower with a lower displacement engine.
The 4WD system was also improved, which made this vehicle one of the best in its class.
How reliable is the Jeep Grand Cherokee off-road?
Grand Cherokees are exceptionally capable off-road, and their performance will blow your mind away.
If you are thinking about some serious off-roading, you are advised to pick the Trailhawk models.
They come in standard skid plates to protect critical components found on the vehicle’s underside.
This is the only model with a two-speed transfer case and a limited-slip differential that is electronically controlled.
Additionally, it also comes with a Hill descent control function that acts as a cruise control when you are off-road.
Drivers often use this feature when coming down a steep hill.
It helps regulate the speed without any input on the gas or the break.
The standard Quadra-Lift Suspension can lift the car further for higher ground clearance when you need it.
Finally, the Selec Terrain system allows the driver to switch between different surface modes: snow, sand, snow, and sport, which increases engine responsiveness depending on the driving situation.
Should I buy the 2020 or 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee?
There are tons of reasons that make the 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee excellent.
To start, it is a great multi-purpose family vehicle.
The roomy interior will not only provide a wonderful experience for all the occupants.
You can also go off-road with the touch of a button offering incredible versatility.
Secondly, the standard V6 is exceptionally good and reliable.
It can produce 295 horsepower while also offering an excellent fuel economy of about 26 miles to the highway’s gallon.
The 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee also offers a wide range of engines, appealing to any petrol head.
The SRT, Hemi Trackhawk trims provide unrivaled performance if you need it.
The 2020 Trailhawk is a beast off-road.
The other trims may also have significant capabilities, but the Trailhawk is simply on top of its class.
Finally, customers will enjoy the new design with a range of wheel designs available to keep heads turning.
The earlier models of the Jeep Grand Cherokee might have had slight issues.
However, the future is indeed brighter as Jeep keeps on churning out stylish and reliable models that will take this already excellent machine’s reputation to a whole other level.