The Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the entry-level vehicles of the SUV revolution. Along with other bestsellers like the Ford Explorer and Toyota 4Runner, it achieved massive popularity in the early 1990s and beyond, and the current model is still sold in healthy quantities.
Since its introduction in 1993, the Grand Cherokee has had its fair share of options, special editions, and most importantly, engines. Chrysler used the Grand Cherokee as a premium tier vehicle through which it could launch new engines or reposition an older engine with new updates as a “premium option” over the base engines.
But which one was better? The current Grand Cherokee has undergone a few powertrain-related recalls recently, but throughout its history it surely must have had some really robust engines under its hood. This is a true on-road and off-road dual-purpose vehicle, a “real SUV” if you will, and when it launched the engines (and cars, by extension) were much simpler and therefore generally more reliable.
Of all the inline six-cylinder, V6, V8, and turbodiesel engines offered in the Grand Cherokee throughout its history, which was the toughest engine?
It is not one of the diesel
You may have heard of a car recall scandal called “Dieselgate.” These were Volkswagen turbodiesel engines that used a cheat device to falsify their emissions during testing. It’s no big deal, it only cost them a barely understandable $ 33.6 billion, the jobs of a few executives, and it ended all of VW’s diesel sales in North America.
A similar situation also affected the 3.0-liter “EcoDiesel” V6 turbodiesel from Fiat-Chrysler. It cost them an estimated $ 800 million, and FCA still has an active settlement for affected Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokees owners from 2014 to 2016. However, the skewed emissions figures were only part of a series of problems that they affected early versions of the VM Motori Engine.
These engines also had issues with EGR regulators, leading to another recall for fire hazards. So far, only the Ram 1500 models equipped with EcoDiesel have been recalled, but there are even more issues plaguing these engines affecting both Rams and Jeeps. They had problems with cam gear slippage, which could lead to catastrophic engine failure. Fortunately, for 2020 onwards, FCA will be using a revised and greatly improved version of the 3.0l V6, in hopes of reducing reliability issues.
It’s also worth mentioning that these 2014-2015 Grand Cherokees were part of the electronic gear shifter recall, to replace electronic gear selectors that didn’t always engage Park properly, resulting in over 120 accidents, including one. who killed Russian actor Anton Yelchin.
The previous generation Grand Cherokee (2005-2010) also had a diesel engine option, in this case a 3.0l V6 unit from Mercedes. Overall it was more reliable than the newer engine used in 2014 onwards, but has been known to develop oil cooler leaks and carbon build-up in fuel injectors due to seal failure.
Magnum VS HEMI
The Jeep Grand Cherokee has had its fair share of V8 engine options as well, so far including Hellcat’s 6.2L supercharged V8 that puts out 707 horsepower in the Trackhawk. But those are still too new to assess long-term reliability, so instead, I’ll compare the two most popular V8s used in the Grand Cherokee: the Magnum and the HEMI.
The Magnum V8 was the first to be used in a Grand Cherokee. With an output of 5.2 liters, it was the continuation of the old 318 ci Chrysler V8. It produced 220 hp, 30 more than the base engine, but consumed much more fuel. For 1998 alone, Jeep offered a larger 5.9-liter version of the engine in the “5.9 Limited” edition, a continuation of the old 360ci V8, as a farewell to the first generation GC.
From 1999 onwards, the Magnum went in favor of the troublesome 4.7l Powertech V8. It wouldn’t be until 2005 that the Grand Cherokee saw the return of the iconic “HEMI” engine designation. With a power of 5.7 liters, this new-age HEMI found its way into many Chrysler products of the time, including the first generations of Dodge Challenger muscle cars, …