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Jeep Grand Cherokee Off-Road Capability: Full Review

The Grand Cherokee is among the oldest models of Jeep that are available in several trims and can be tailored to the user’s needs. It is popular because of how long it can last when well-maintained and cared for, as well as due to its outdoorsy style without compromising interior aesthetics and comfort. It is also one of the units with few upgrades or overhauls over the years to ensure it retains its good Jeep Grand Cherokee off-road capability reputation and ranking.

Where do we owe the good Jeep Grand Cherokee off-road capability? The unit is one of the best off-roading cars since it has several performance options. It also has good traction management and safety features, plus mechanical parts that improve its grip, which is essential for off-road driving.

If you’re considering purchasing a Grand Cherokee, either a few months from now or in the coming year, it’s vital to learn more about the essential Jeep Grand Cherokee off road parts. That’s exactly what we’ll discuss: the off-road capability features of the 2020 model, which also will likely be present in the 2021 unit. You’ll also find out which Jeep Grand Cherokee trim would be best for your off-road adventures.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Beside Plants

Is the Jeep Grand Cherokee Good Off Road?

Although you can purchase second-hand, older model Grand Cherokees, we will focus on the efficient off-road capabilities of the newest model. Earlier models were mostly designed for off-road, while newer models have included more on-road features. As such, it makes more sense to look at the 2020 Grand Cherokee off road parts to determine if it’s still as capable as it was before to join you on your rough-road adventures.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Off Road Parts

Here are the most notable features of the Jeep Grand Cherokee that makes it one of the most capable off-road vehicles:

1. Quadra-Lift Air Suspension System

Jeep Grand Cherokee trims that have the Quadra-Lift Air Suspension system are Overland, Summit, Limited, and Trailhawk. This system replaces the traditional wheel coil springs with air springs, which automatically lower and raise the suspension, depending on your currently selected driving mode.

That means better ground clearance when driving on off-road terrains and improved aerodynamic profile and fuel efficiency for driving on highways. Unloading and loading cargo and entering and exiting your Grand Cherokee won’t also be a hassle since you can set the system to lower the suspension when you’re in park mode.

2. Four-Wheel-Drive (4WD) Systems

If you have been into off-roading for quite some time or are just starting to research what the best off-roading vehicles are, you would know that 4×4 or 4WDs top the list. You have three options when it comes to off road Jeep Grand Cherokee trims: SRT, Trailhawk, and Trackhawk. You can also have the RWD models, Overland, Limited, Summit, and Laredo, upgraded for them to have 4WD capabilities.

Generally, there are four 4WD systems built-in or that you can have added, namely, Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Drive II, Quadra-Trac II, and Quadra-Trac Active On-Demand. They provide the Grand Cherokee great traction when driven on unpredictable terrains by transferring a maximum torque level from the engine to one of the unit’s rear wheels.

3. Selec-Terrain® Traction Management System

One of the most exceptional features of the Jeep Grand Cherokee that make it a competent off-road vehicle is the Selec-Terrain® Traction Management System. It helps the vehicle adjust the distribution of 4×4 power to the rear and front wheels. This ensures better traction maintenance and handling when you’re driving on- and off-road.

For you to select the right setting, there is a manual knob right below the gear stick. You can easily turn this to select “Auto“, “Sport“, “Snow“, “Rock“, or “Sand/Mud“.

Grand Cherokee Off Road Safety

Safety is one of the most significant considerations whether you’re driving on- or off-road. For the Grand Cherokee, here are the things that ensure its safety:

1. Multiple Advanced Features

When you purchase the Grand Cherokee, you’ll expect it to have rear parking sensors, a blind-spot monitor, rear-cross traffic alert system, and a rear-view camera. Other advanced safety feature upgrades include collision warning, lane departure warning system, automatic emergency brake, adaptive cruise control, and active perpendicular and parallel parking systems.

2. Great Crash Test Results

Aptly named, a crash test is necessary to ensure the car, driver, and passengers are safe in case of a crash. Fortunately, based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data, the Grand Cherokee RWDs received an overall rating of four stars, while the 4WDs received a five-star rating.

Specifically, both have four-star and five-star ratings for frontal and side crash tests, respectively. For the rollover test, the RWDs have three stars, while the 4WDs have four stars.

3. Trail Rated Badge

In 2004, Jeep started plastering a Trail Rated badge into most of their units, including the Grand Cherokee. This badge indicates that the vehicle passed challenging off-road articulation, traction, ground clearance, maneuverability, and water fording tests to ensure its multiple-trail-ready, no matter what the weather is. They conduct these tests in Jeep’s Michigan headquarter, California’s Rubicon Trail, and Moab’s rocky terrain.

To understand the significance of this badge better, let’s have an overview of each test:

  • Ground Clearance: Having a high ground clearance is essential to ensure your Jeep’s undercarriage won’t get damaged when it traverses uneven, inclined (hills), and rocky terrains. To make it more off-road capable, Jeep also tests for departure and break-over angles, which are important to ensure the unit can safely pass through areas with fallen tree stumps and branches or any other obstacles.
  • Articulation: To put it simply, articulation is the Jeep Grand Cherokee off road tires’ ability to stay planted even on the rockiest or roughest terrain. With good articulation, you’re assured the Grand Cherokee has a flexible suspension and high vertical wheel travel. That means when one of your car’s tires hits a pothole or gets stuck in the mud, the three other tires remain engaged.
  • Maneuverability: Working hand-in-hand with articulation, good maneuverability signifies that you can steer around trees or turn around sharp curves easily and quickly. The Grand Cherokees great maneuverability is owed to its optimized wheelbases and precise steering.
  • Water Fording: Whether it’s sunny or rainy, off-roading or trail-driving will always involve bodies of water, such as streams and creeks, as well as large puddles that you need to traverse successfully and safely. Jeep units with a Trail Rated badge, like the Grand Cherokee, can cross any body of water between 19 to 30 inches deep. That is because they have high air intake to minimize or prevent water from sucking into the car’s filter.
  • Traction: With the features mentioned earlier, it’s clear that the Grand Cherokee has superior traction, which means it won’t slip when driven on wet, muddy, icy, sandy, and dry terrains. Additionally, the Jeep Grand Cherokee off road tires have great all-terrain and all-weather grip.

4. Exterior Lights

Mother Nature is unpredictable; you’ll never know what you’ll encounter during your outdoor adventure, whether it may be road obstacles or weather changes. To be safe, not only do you have good quality and rigid Jeep Grand Cherokee off road bumpers to protect you and your vehicle from possible collisions, but it also has premium lighting systems.

Your Jeep’s exterior lights will not only help you drive conveniently and safely day and night, rainy and foggy, but they will also ensure other drivers or animals can see you approaching. On that note, Jeep Grand Cherokee has automatic high-beam, and bi-xenon HID headlamps, as well as LED daytime running and fog lamps.

Which Jeep Grand Cherokee Is Best Off Road?

As mentioned, the Grand Cherokee 4WDs are the best for off-road adventures, and you have four choices. If we will rank them, though, the Trailhawk tops the list for the best off road Jeep Grand Cherokee. That is according to most expert and user reviews and in terms of off-road capability features unique for each of the trims.


For its 4WD system, the Trailhawk has the Quadra-Trac II, which utilizes the BTCS or Brake Traction Control System. As such, when there is a difference between the left and right wheel hub speed levels, each of the car’s brakes is applied independently.

It also comes with an Active Drive Lock system that helps monitor rear and front axle speed, and then sends and transfers enough power to one of the axles for them to have equal speed. It also has a low-gear range, which raises the ride height of the Trailhawk to at most one inch. Likewise, with this system, a rock mode has been added to its rear differential lock and Selec-Terrain system for better traction.

Other Trailhawk Features

Other Trailhawk features that you can take advantage of when off-roading are its class-IV receiver hitch, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, a two-speed transfer case, and low mode locks needed for extreme situations like towing and rock crawling. The steering wheel and second-row seats are also heated, which is excellent for cold-season and winter off-roading adventures. The ventilated front seats, on the other hand, will be convenient during humid days or the summer season.

The Trailhawk also features slush mats that help protect and maintain the cleanliness of your car carpet by holding and trapping mud and water in its deep ribs. To make cleaning your Trailhawk easier and quicker, you can opt to buy additional all-weather floor mats (View on Amazon) to catch all debris and dirt, which you can remove quickly once you park.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Off-Road Capability

Undoubtedly, the Jeep Grand Cherokee units, especially the Trailhawk and other 4WDs, allow you to drive easily and safely on different terrains and during several weather conditions. Comfort while driving both on- and off-road won’t be a problem, as well, since the units have good infotainment systems, comfortable leather seats, and more.

If you plan on adding kayaking, biking, and other activities that require bulky and heavy pieces of equipment, you can have it placed securely on your 4WD’s rooftop since the car has a high weight capacity. Similarly, you can purchase a utility trailer where you can put your equipment. You can then attach it to the Grand Cherokee’s hitch receiver.

Trailer Cabin

If that isn’t enough, you can also have a trailer cabin attached since the vehicle has a towing capacity of up to 7,200 pounds. That way, you no longer have to sleep in a tent when you plan to camp out for days or off-roading long distances and/or camping out is one of your regular hobbies.

As a last piece of advice, remember that even though the Jeep Grand Cherokee is as tough as it is, make sure you maintain it well. Have it checked regularly, keep it clean in and out, and provide it with a weatherproof cover (view on Amazon) to protect its exterior from the harmful effects of changing weather.