2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Altitude 4X4
Class: Midsize Crossover
Color: Velvet Red Pearl
Miles driven: 146
|CG Report Card
|Room and Comfort
|Power and Performance
|Fit and Finish
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.
|Big & Tall Comfort
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.
Observed fuel economy: 16.3 mpg
Driving mix: 65% city, 35% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 18/25/21 (mpg city/highway/combined)
Snow Performance: N/A
Base price: $45,035 (not including $1795 destination charge)
Options on test vehicle: Special paint ($495), Customer Preferred Package ($5105), Trailer Tow Prep Group ($695), power sunroof ($1440)
Price as tested: $54,565
The great: Classy cabin, refined demeanor, affordable for a Grand Cherokee
The good: Ample power, highway quietness
The not so good: So-so fuel economy
The Jeep lineup is really divided into two lineups. If we ignore the Gladiator pickup truck, we find the Jeep portfolio comprised of mainstream crossovers, and near-luxury and luxury SUVs. At the affordable end of the price scale there’s the subcompact Renegade, compact Compass, and soon-to-be-discontinued midsize Cherokee. All three of these crossovers compete in the marketplace with popularly priced vehicles from other mainstream brands. These crossovers don’t seem to benefit much from the Jeep brand halo, and are often found discounted and rebated.
On the other side of the Jeep showroom, we find the legendary Wrangler off-road utility vehicle, and the Grand Cherokee midsize SUV. Both of these vehicles command premium prices, and are rarely offered with incentives. Also, fun fact: The Wrangler and Grand Cherokee alone accounted for more than half of all Jeep sales.
Also available are the full-size Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer SUVs. The jury is still out as to whether these new additions to the Jeep lineup are truly perceived as luxury vehicles, though the Grand Wagoneer is boldly priced against the likes of the Cadillac Escalade and Lincoln Navigator.
Of all the vehicles in the Jeep showroom, the most interesting from a marketing and positioning perspective is the Grand Cherokee. The midsize SUV, now available in standard and long-wheelbase L variants, has developed a loyal following of owners who seem quite happy to pay premium prices for the GC’s deftly marketed blend of genuine off-road capability and luxury trappings.
Our problem with the Grand Cherokee, if we are forced to present one, is that the vehicle gets very pricey in a hurry, and we we’re not sure the popular Jeep SUV quite plays against the likes of the Ford Explorer, or the Land Rover Discovery, as top trim levels close in on $80,000—but cabin appointments and general refinement come up a little short of truly luxury level. It is for this reason that we were delighted to spend a week behind the wheel of one of the more-modestly outfitted Grand Cherokees we’ve driven in a long while: The Grand Cherokee L Altitude.
The Altitude is the third most affordable trim level in the Grand Cherokee lineup, which ascends through a dizzying eight trim levels including Laredo (starting around $42,000), Laredo X ($43,000), Altitude ($46,000), Altitude X ($47,000), Limited ($51,000), Overland ($62,000), Summit ($66,000), and Summit Reserve ($72,000).
Log-wheelbase L models, which bring an additional 11 inches of overall length and 3rd-row seating, are available at each trim level for an additional $2000. Note, too, that plug-in hybrid “4Xe” models are offered in an additional six trim levels, including the off-road ready Trailhawk.
For the remainder of 2023, the sole non-4Xe Grand Cherokee powertrain is comprised of the Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Good for 293 horsepower, the V6 became the only non-hybrid engine when Jeep unceremoniously dropped the available 5.7-liter V8 engine mid-model year. Note that all V6 Grand Cherokees are available with rear- or AWD. All 4Xe models come standard with AWD.
Consumer Guide’s test L Altitude arrived in extra-cost Velvet Red Pearl, and equipped with an optional trailer hitch receiver, power sunroof, and the comprehensive Customer Preferred Package. The $5105 package includes special suede and leatherette seats, the Altitude Appearance Package, rain-sensing windshield wipers, remote start, heated steering wheel, heated front seats, black headliner, 115-volt power outlet, power liftgate, 3rd-row USB ports, and gloss-black exterior accents.
All told, our AWD test truck came to $54,565, packing a decent amount of comfort and convenience features. Given that, as we noted earlier, Grand Cherokees can get to nearly $80,000, our test vehicle seemed liked something of a bargain. But, equipped as it is, does our test vehicle still feel “premium?” Read on…
First off, and this entirely subjective, but this author found the SUV very attractive. The deep red paint with black trim accents and dark wheels came off as both classy and sporty. The general premium feel of the Grand Cherokee caries into the cabin, where the leatherette seats—which look pretty much like real leather—appear classy and feel comfortable. Interior materials present as high-end, and everything looks and feels well put together. We were especially taken by the hand-stitched looking dash-top and door trim.
The Stellantis Uconnect 5-branded infotainment systems once again proved easy to understand and use in this application. Icons are large and easy to recognize at a glance, and the system’s operation is largely intuitive. We did note, however, that the touchscreen itself is a little small by contemporary standards, not that that seemed to make any difference in its operation. At this price point in the Grand Cherokee lineup the audio system isn’t branded, but we found the sound quality impressive for the price class.
There’s plenty of passenger space in the front-two seating rows, and a reasonable amount in the way-back seats. Being careful to place the smallest and nimblest folks in the 3rd-row, a carload of folks should be comfortable for even lengthy journeys.
On the road the Grand Cherokee Altitude acquits itself well. The GC strikes a sophisticated blend of handling prowess and ride quality, and cabin quietness rivals that of more-expensive vehicles.
The V6 engine provides ample power for cutting through traffic as well as passing and merging, it’s also very refined. We did find early low-speed throttle response to be a little aggressive, which made it difficult to pull away from a stop with complete fluidity. That said, the engine stop/start system is very smooth.
Sadly, our observed fuel economy came in below the EPA estimates. We averaged just 16.3 mpg over our 146-mile evaluation. We suspect that number would improve considerably with more highway mileage in our test mix.
Color us impressed by how premium our value-priced Grand Cherokee presents. In terms of refinement—think ride quality, quietness, and cabin materials—our $55,000 Jeep is not much less luxurious than examples costing even $20,000. Relative to the likes of the Toyota Highlander and Ford Explorer, the Jeep comes off as worthy cross-shopping competition, boasting a much-smoother drivetrain than those crossovers, though less-impressive fuel economy.
If you really wanted a family-oriented Jeep but were afraid the Grand Cherokee was out of your price range, consider shopping at the low-end of the CG lineup. Odds are you’ll be pretty impressed.
2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Altitude Gallery
Click below for enlarged images
2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Altitude
2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Altitude