Jeep Grand Cherokee Off-Road Prowess: Here’s What You Need To Know!

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the best vehicles available on the market, It’s no secret! But it can also be an extremely good off-road vehicle!

At its most basic level, any car or truck can certainly make for an excellent off-roader if you are hoping to take them out into the wilderness.

However, there are a host of features that the Jeep Grand Cherokee has that make it a truly remarkable vehicle for off-roading. Which ones can you mention?

No need to strain, we have the answers! Let’s roll 😉

Is the Jeep Grand Cherokee Good Off-Road?

Short answer – yes. Well, they’re actually pretty good off-road vehicles. Maybe not as good as enthusiasts would think, but certainly capable enough to get through most types of terrain!

It’s why hundreds of thousands are still sold every year!

The Jeep Grand Cherokee has a great deal to offer those who enjoy going off-road, from its legendary heritage as an off-roader to its impressive capabilities and features that make it excel in all types of off-road driving. 

The first step, however, is understanding what makes a vehicle a good off-roader and how each of the Grand Cherokee’s many attributes contributes to its overall off-road capability.

Now for some specific features of the Jeep Grand Cherokee that make it better in an off-road situation:

First, there’s the fuel efficiency of this vehicle. It’s not the best on the market when it comes to mileage for city streets, but when they’re on off-road trails is where you’ll see a definite improvement over other vehicles in the same category. 

The reason why?

It’s actually the weight of the Jeep Grand Cherokee that makes it work better off road. It has ball bearings and nylon bushings which make it lighter, and more agile than other similar vehicles. 

The less weight you have to carry through terrain, the smoother and easier things will go for you.

It also has a downhill brake control system along with a brake lock differential and a hill descent software program that makes it easier to negotiate difficult situations. 

2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve in white
2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve

Jeep Grand Cherokee Off-road Features

The following features make the Jeep Grand Cherokee easier for you to work with, and therefore more capable in an off-road situation.

1. Four wheel drive (4WD)

The first thing to cover when talking about what makes a car or truck an “off roader” is four wheel drive (4WD).

4WD is a system that turns the vehicle into four independent wheels rather than two, allowing each of the wheels to provide power and traction. 

2WD is when all four wheels get power and capability from one source (the engine) at once, whereas 4WD allows for individual control of all four drive tubes/axles.

All new Jeep Grand Cherokees come standard with 4WD, which is an impressive feat!

There are two types of 4WD systems, the first being full-time 4WD. Full time means that the system works in all road conditions and at all speeds, whereas part time has a mechanism that allows it to switch between 2WD and 4WD high or low (there is no low-speed full time setting).

Part time 4WD systems are usually more common on lower end vehicles and SUVs.

2. Ground Clearance

Ground clearance allows the vehicle to have larger tires and an increased ability to climb over obstacles. 

Ground clearance is limited by many factors, including how low the car’s body sits on its suspension system (height) as well as the distance between components like the differential and axle tubes and the ground. 

An off-roader needs to be able to get over obstacles and move quickly, so manufacturers try to keep these distances as small as possible for better climbing capabilities.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee has a great deal of ground clearance in general, with 10.8″ in the front and 9.4″ in the rear when empty. This enhances the climbing capabilities of the vehicle, making it easier to overcome obstacles and mountain trails.

Keep in mind that while this ground clearance is better than many other vehicles on the market, it won’t be quite enough in every situation.

I experienced a bad rock strike to the undercarriage while offroading in Death Valley one time and while it didn’t cause any damage, it certainly gave me a scare!

3. Tires

The next major component in an off road vehicle is tires. Tires have a huge impact on how well a car or truck can climb over an obstacle or traverse sand, dirt, rocks, mud, wet roads, etc.

One of the most important aspects of any tire is its tread design. A tire’s tread is basically the rubber that contacts the ground, and it needs to be designed with off-roading in mind.

The Wrangler Rubicon has 33″ tires that are mounted on 17″ alloy wheels, giving it excellent traction on both sand and dirt roads. 

The Jeep Grand Cherokee comes standard with all-season tires that are better suited to dry road conditions. If you plan on doing a lot of off-roading, purchasing all-terrain tires is highly recommended.

4. Seating Systems

Another major factor in what makes for an excellent off road vehicle is the seating system. For example, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has front bucket seats that are well-bolstered. 

However, they can be adjusted to give your back and neck a bit of support as well if you find yourself sitting in it for extended periods of time.

2022 lineup of Jeep Grand Cherokee trim editions
(Left to right) 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk 4xe, and Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve 4xe

Best Jeep Grand Cherokee Trim Level for Off-road

The best Jeep Grand Cherokee trim level for off-road is probably the Laredo E in terms of price and features. 

With leather seating in the front two rows, it has all kinds of safety features like a blind-spot monitor with rear cross traffic alert, active cruise control with stop/start capabilities, electric park brake with auto hold function, hill descent control, hill start assist, rain sensitive windshield wipers and all the other features you would expect.

It also has an 8 inch infotainment screen with Uconnect access so you can use your phone applications without having to take it out of your pocket or purse. 

It’s capable of Apple CarPlay support, Android Auto support and even Bluetooth for hands free calling and wireless audio streaming.

Compared to the other trims, it has a better off-road capability not just because of all these extra features, but also because of its weight and the way it works with the terrain. 

It might not be as good as some other vehicles we will mention below, but for the price and what you get for it, this has to be the best Jeep Grand Cherokee trim level for off-road.

Jeep Grand Cherokee vs. Other Vehicles for Off-Roading

When it comes to off-road vehicles, there are definitely better ones out there than the Jeep Grand Cherokee. However, you have to remember that this car is meant for something else besides just taking it up dusty trails and through forested areas. 

This car is meant to be reliable on the streets, but also works especially well when you’re going from Point A to Point B.

With that said, there are a lot of other vehicles out there better for off-roading than the Jeep Grand Cherokee. 

In fact, some will do things that the Jeep cannot dream of doing while others simply come in at a lower price point while still giving you what you need and want from an off-road vehicle.

If you’re looking for a true off-roading machine, there are some great choices in the Toyota Tacoma and Chevy Colorado lineup with the Nissan Pathfinder not too far behind them.

All of these vehicles will beat the Jeep Grand Cherokee when it comes to pure off-road ability, but considering the price point of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, it is still a pretty good deal.

What Makes For a Good Off Road Vehicle?

When it comes to what makes an off-road vehicle capable in the dirt, rocks and other obstacles that Mother Nature might put in its path, there are certain features you need to consider when purchasing this kind of car. 

Some of these features are standard, while others you might have to pay extra for such as:

1. Ruggedness  

If you are going to be off-roading then you need to have a vehicle that is rugged enough to handle difficult terrain.

While not all vehicles are created equally, the Jeep Grand Cherokee can effortlessly go over just about any irregularity you throw at it.

2. Price 

This will all depend on what you are looking for and what your budget is. If you do not want to spend an arm and a leg then you might want to consider purchasing a used vehicle that is well maintained.

But, if you do not mind paying for the extra bells and whistles then you should definitely go for something newer.

3. Four-wheel Drive Capability 

Good off-road vehicles will come with four-wheel drive capability. They will also come with good ground clearance so that when you go over rocks or steep hills, the body does not scrape against them.

Seats need to be well padded and comfortable because you never know how long you might be out in the wilderness and in some cases, they may need to support you for hours at a time when it comes to off-road vehicles.

4. Suspension

You’ll want to get an idea of how high or low the suspension will go when you’re on all kinds of different terrains.

The higher the suspension, the better it will be able to conquer hills and rocks without making too much of a fuss about it.

5. Tires 

Make sure they are deep enough to get through water if you’re going through areas that have lots of puddles or rivers because that’s one way for your vehicle to break down when it’s in the middle of nowhere.

Also, make sure they are durable enough to handle steep inclines when you’re driving through dirt or sand.

6. Towing or No Towing 

 If you ever plan to tow then you are going to want an SUV that can handle that as well. Many people assume that since they already have a truck for hauling things around the house then they would not need an SUV.

However, this is simply not true and if you ever hope on taking your vehicle off roading at some point in time then it might be a good idea to get one that you can tow with as well.

Tip: Make sure to check out my dedicated article on Jeep Grand Cherokee towing for more detail.

7. Air Suspension System 

Another feature of this vehicle is the air suspension system which will allow you to raise or lower the ride height depending on what your needs are.

If you’re going through deep water, for example, raising the ride height will keep the vehicle from hydroplaning and possibly becoming stuck due to high winds or difficult circumstances.

When you lower it, you actually increase your off-road ability because of better positioning and maneuverability.

8. Power Plant 

The engine and transmission combination that the vehicle has is incredibly important when you are off roading. It’s no fun to be in an SUV that cannot get up to speed when there is a tricky incline in front of you.

However, it can make life even more difficult if your vehicle does not have power steering either (not usually a problem with SUVs).

Now, there are off-road vehicles out there that don’t necessarily have all these features, but if you want one aimed at making your life easier when it comes to taking on rough terrain, make sure you get the one with all the bells and whistles.

Conclusion

Jeep Grand Cherokee Off-roading is not necessarily its forte, but it still has some benefits to owning it in this way. Like most vehicles, there are ways that off roading can be improved like suspension height and tire type (tread depth). 

This article has explored Jeep Grand Cherokee’s off-road prowess, what you should look for in an off-roader and other worthy competitors.

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