16 Best and Worst Jeep Grand Cherokee Model Years to Get! [Backed by Stats]

16 Best and Worst Jeep Grand Cherokee Model Years to Get! [Backed by Stats]

The Grand Cherokee can seem more unassuming as an off-roader than a Bronco, but it’s every bit as “Jeep” as a Wrangler would be (plus the comfortable luxury SUV factor).

But regardless of the kind of road or non-road surface you plan to take it on, you’d be taking a big gamble if you’re just going to assume every Grand Cherokee model year will treat you the same.

On that front, let’s take you on a guide to the best years of this popular Jeep model while also avoiding the worst ones that can give you more than just a bumpy ride!

What are the best and worst Jeep Grand Cherokee years?

The best Jeep Grand Cherokee years are 1998, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2016, 2019, 2020, and 2023, while the worst years are 1999, 2000, 2005, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

The best and worst Jeep Grand Cherokee years are based on expert/consumer ratings, reliability reviews, and complaints.

For many fans of the Jeep brand throughout the years, the Jeep Grand Cherokee (JGC) is the go-to SUV of choice with it winning dozens of awards, having a generous offer of trims and options, and being great value for money.

Currently, with 5 generations and over 30 years of history, it remains a strong contender even in the secondhand market. However, not every model year is as well-polished as the other.

The good news is that the Grand Cherokee has had plenty of good years under its belt, whether you prefer the classic 1st-gen “ZJ” model or the more “grand” and sophisticated 5th-gen “WL” model.

Now it’s just a matter of separating the best ones from the worst based on each model year’s reviews, ratings, and complaints, which is what we’ll exactly be doing right now!

What are the best Jeep Grand Cherokee model years?

The best Jeep Grand Cherokee model years include 2009, 2010, 2016, 2019, 2020, and 2023 due to a balance of tech and features, good reliability reviews, and having the fewest posted complaints.

Jeep Grand Cherokee models from 1998 and 2003 are also quite notable thanks to their proven reliability.

2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee is the only 5th-gen model that made it to this list since it’s still quite a new generation. Also, ratings and complaints from consumers and experts are more in favor of this specific year compared to the rest. 

Being a 5th-generation “WL” model, the 2023 Grand Cherokee features a sharper and more aggressive design, making it a notch above in style points compared to the aging 4th-gen WK2.

While engine options were all initially carried over from the previous gen, the 2023 model year has bid adieu to the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 option, which can be a dealbreaker for a lot of people.

However, this generation and model year can also be part-electric with the optional turbocharged 2-liter I4 plug-in hybrid (PHEV) for the “4xe” model, a first for the Grand Cherokee.

This hybrid powertrain makes a combined output of 375 hp and 470 lb-ft torque, making it more powerful and fuel-efficient than the V8 and, thereby, also making it a worthy well-balanced option to consider.

The 2023 model year’s interior features a standard Uconnect 5 infotainment system, a large and intuitive 11.1-inch display, and lots of premium bits for upper trims.

In terms of consumer and expert ratings, the 5th-gen 2023 Grand Cherokee has a mix of good and bad but can still be considered above average. KBB consumers rate it a 3.3/5, Edmunds a 3.9/5, Car and Driver a 9/10, and JD Power a 79/100. 

Excluding the newest 2024 model year that doesn’t have enough data yet, the 2023 model currently has the fewest complaints posted on CarProblemZoo and CarComplaints combined, though this is subject to change over time. 

2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Spanning 11 model years, the 4th-generation “WK2” Grand Cherokee undoubtedly went through some rough patches during its run. Nevertheless, owners can find the best that it has to offer by going for the 2020 model year.

Being one of the latter model years, the 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee has proven to be a refined example by having the fewest reported issues out of any 4th-gen model.

It also received consistently high expert and consumer ratings of 4.3/5 on KBB and Edmunds, 8/10 on Car and Driver, and 80/100 on J.D. Power.

When picturing any modern Jeep, this is the one to get if you value having a capable off-roader and a premium-feeling SUV with copious amounts of personalization options.

Despite being part of a decade-old platform, the 2020 model doesn’t fail to remain relevant with packages like the Premium Lighting Group and Active Safety Group for more trims than before.

The Premium Lighting Group adds bi-xenon auto high-beam HID headlamps, LED fog lamps, and signature DRLs (daytime running lights). 

The Active Safety Group, however, features automatic emergency braking, active lane-keeping, forward-collision warning, and auto-adjusting high-beam lights.

2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee

In the list of 4th-gen Grand Cherokee models worthy of being called one of the “best years” is the 2019 model, and it owes it to having good reviews, fewer complaints, and no lack of options to build a Jeep you can call your own.

Having a solid reputation for reliability in its own right, the 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee is only second to the more updated 2020 model in terms of number of problems reported.

Consumers and experts also sing their praises for the 2019 model, giving it high scores of 4.3/5 on KBB, 4.2/5 on Edmunds, 9/10 on Car and Driver, and 80/100 on J.D. Power.

Features such as blind-spot monitoring, an 8.4-inch screen with navigation, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto all come as standard for the entire range from the base Laredo trim to the top-tier Trackhawk trim, even including the new “Limited X” trim.

While the outdated V6 motor can be underwhelming, opting for the HEMI V8 power plant really wakes up the American midsize SUV, especially when on the trail or doing any form of towing. This doesn’t even include the bonkers 707-hp “Trackhawk” trim yet.

However, if you want the best mix of off-roading prowess and utilitarian capability without burning through your gas reserves (or your pocket), then consider getting the middle-of-the-road “Trailhawk” trim.

2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee is also a good choice for a 4th-gen model in that it allows you to take advantage of a good number of features and respectable reliability at more affordable prices.

After a series of problematic model years and recalls since 2011, the 2016 model put faith back in the 4th-gen Grand Cherokee by having significantly fewer complaints about common issues that plagued earlier models.

Consumer ratings are also looking pretty good for the 2016 model to this day, such as 4.3/5 on KBB, 4.1/5 on Edmunds, and 83/100 on J.D. Power, which is quite impressive considering it only received minor updates from the previous year.

Such updates include engine tweaks for the 3.6-liter V6 option, which led to slightly better performance and fuel economy, an updated shift lever, electric power steering, and weight-saving aluminum suspension parts.

Aside from its gas-powered V6 and V8 power plants, this model year also comes with a 3-liter V6 turbo diesel option for the US market, which can get fuel mileages of up to 30 mpg on the highway.

2009/2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee

20092010 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The 3rd-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee WK can appeal to buyers looking to experience the bravado of a classic Jeep while still being fairly recent on equipment, and the 2009 and 2010 models are the best examples of this.

These two stellar model years are the last two chapters of the 3rd-gen model, which led them to have the fewest reported problems in the generation. In turn, this makes them the most polished and your safest picks reliability-wise.

The 2009 model received consumer ratings of 4.2/5 (KBB), 4.3/5 (Edmunds), and 80/100 (J.D. Power), whereas the same sites rate the 2010 model 4.2/5, 4.4/5, and 77/100, respectively.

Compared to the 2008 and older model years, the 2009 and 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee models were offered with an updated version of the 5.7-liter HEMI V8, which boosted its power output from 330 to 360 hp and torque from 334 to 375 lb-ft.

These model years are favored for their off-road capability while also providing luxurious interior comfort, though the cargo space and backseats aren’t particularly class-leading.

It’s also worth noting that the main difference between these model years can be found in how the trims and features are paired with each other. In addition, the “Overland” trim was also discontinued for the 2010 model year. 

Honorable Mentions: 1998 and 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Honorable Mentions 1998 and 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee

A few other model years from the 1st and 2nd generations are also worth considering because of their tried-and-tested reliability and durability at bargain prices.

The 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee, happens to be one of the best examples of a 1st-gen model you can get, assuming that the one you’re looking at gets its maintenance done religiously. It’s not the most reliable Jeep model out there, but it gets the job done.

As the final model year, the 1998 model has all the gizmos and gadgets from a Grand Cherokee this old, even something as simple as driver and passenger airbags, which earlier years lacked.

Going by this, it also came with the revered Quadra-Trac system, an auto-adjust drivetrain feature that switched from rear-wheel-drive to four-wheel-drive when necessary, making the model a very capable off-roader even by today’s standards.

The 2nd-gen 2003 Jeep Grand Cherokee is also nothing to scoff at, as it’s also a pretty reliable model year when compared to its same-gen counterparts.

While it does have slightly lower consumer ratings on Edmunds than the 2004 model (4/5 vs the latter’s 4.6/5), the 2003 model still reigns as the least problematic 2nd-gen year by having the fewest reported issues on CarProblemZoo and CarComplaints.

When it comes to handling updates, the 2003 model underwent tweaks and refreshes for both its suspension and braking system, resulting in a more refined ride quality on and off the road.

However, this model’s (or any 2nd-gen model for that matter) DNA is still better suited for tackling rough terrain. For even smoother and more refined drives on asphalt, you’ll have to look elsewhere (or one of the newer generations).

What are the worst Jeep Grand Cherokee model years?

The worst Jeep Grand Cherokee model years are 1999, 2005, 2011, 2012, and 2014 due to having received the most reliability complaints and mixed reviews on average.

Jeep Grand Cherokee models from 2000, 2013, and 2015 are also considered to be bad years due to their share of reliability issues.

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Almost half of the 4th-gen Jeep Grand Cherokee model years can be considered cursed with seemingly never-ending reliability issues, but if we were to weed out the absolute black sheep among them all, it would be the 2014 model.

From a statistical standpoint, the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee is the most unreliable sample of the SUV due to having the most reported complaints out of any model year, totaling a whopping 3,087 complaints on CarProblemZoo and 581 on CarComplaints.

Expert and consumer ratings are also average at best for the 2014 model, such as a 3.8/5 from KBB experts, 3.6/5 from Edmunds consumers, and 77/100 from J.D. Power consumers.

The most common problems for this model year are interior accessory problems, electrical problems, and an abundance of powertrain (engine + transmission) issues.

More specifically, it’s most notorious for issues like bubbling on the leather dashboard trims, a faulty infotainment system, interior bits falling off, gear shifter problems, starting issues, the alternator overheating, and many others.

Owners also report that the engine can hesitate during acceleration, suddenly lunge forward, stall randomly, make whining noises, and even shut off completely. Some of these can happen with or without a check engine light (CEL).

Not only do these problems make the model mechanically and electrically unsound, but also make it unsafe to drive under any condition.

2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee

As with the 2014 model, the 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee is also part of a list of consecutive 4th-gen “WK2” model years known to be a batch of bad apples, and it’s easy to explain why.

Nearing almost 2,500 complaints on CarProblemZoo and CarComplaints, the 2012 model is definitely up there with one of the most unreliable Grand Cherokee years you shouldn’t take on any kind of terrain, period.

As expected, we get the same multitude of electrical issues for this model year, such as different interior accessories not working and a bunch of warning lights. But to note, the known alternator overheating issue is even more prevalent this year.

Sudden engine stalling, acceleration issues, difficulties with starting, and high-pitched engine noises are also common complaints for this year’s powertrain.

Other owners also notice that during a sudden engine shutdown, they also lose power to the steering and braking system, making it a very dangerous and distressing situation to be in, especially when it occurs at higher speeds. 

2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee

Garnering just a hair over 3,000 complaints on CarProblemZoo and CarComplaints combined, the 2011 model is on the cusp of being the 2014 model’s twin if it wasn’t for its slightly higher consumer ratings, different features, and slightly cheaper price range.

However, those three things together are still not enough to consider this model year worth going through all the electronic mishaps, engine faults, and brake malfunctions it can throw at you.

While electrical gremlins that wreak havoc on interior features are to be expected in the 2011 model, one of its most notable concerns is a faulty TIPM (Totally Integrated Power Module), a common diagnosis for when the engine inherently decides to stall.

With it being the first model year of the 4th-gen model, you also don’t get a lot of the features and improvements fitted on the 2016 and newer models, which are like night and day in reliability compared to the 2011 model.

2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee

There have been many cases wherein the first model year ends up having a ton of flaws that are only ever resolved in later years, and the 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a good example of such a case.

With over 2,700 complaints to its name, a third of which relate to the electrical system, the 2005 Grand Cherokee is one of the worst years that you can pick out of the 3rd-generation “WK” model.

Even with its good consumer ratings on KBB (4.2/5) and Edmunds (4.2/5) being considered, reliability remains questionable on the 2005 model, and we wouldn’t recommend getting anything “questionable” when searching for the best.

It still manages to get a 5/5 NHTSA score for both front/side driver and passenger crash ratings. But then again, newer model years have more updated safety equipment while costing you less on the frequency of repairs.

1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee

1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The 1999 model of the 2nd-gen Jeep Grand Cherokee “WJ” is another year we advise buyers to avoid when looking for a reliable used example of the popular American SUV.

1999 wasn’t a good year for the Grand Cherokee due to a concerning amount of complaints regarding brake problems, which totaled about 713 on CarProblemZoo alone.

The most commonly reported issue with the brakes is the rotors warping, resulting in symptoms such as a pulsating brake pedal, excessive steering wheel vibrations, and unstable braking performance.

These brake-related issues form only a fraction of the 2,314 total reported problems for the model year, which include other issues with the powertrain, windows, and electrical system.

Not-So-Honorable Mentions: 2000, 2013, 2015

Not-So-Honorable Mentions 2000, 2013, 2015

Other bad and unreliable Jeep Grand Cherokee model years worth steering clear of include the 1st-gen 2000 model and the 2nd-gen 2013 and 2015 models.

Like the unreliable 1999 model, the 2000 Jeep Grand Cherokee inherited the infamous warped brake rotor issue as well as other brake disc problems, an indication that the manufacturer was unable to completely resolve them moving forward.

In addition, the 2000 model is also prone to cooling system problems, with the most common one being the radiator fan breaking apart. This eventually led to coolant leaks, engine overheating, and engine stalling.

4th-generation “WK2” models from 2013 and 2015 are also part of the 5-year “curse” of unreliable model years from 2011 to 2015. You’ll see what we mean when you check out the whole list of years together on CarProblemZoo.

While not as bad as the other years within this period, the 2013 model still managed to get 1,010 complaints, 347 of which related to alternator problems and tons of other electrical faults.

The 2015 model is even worse with 1,467 complaints, with the top 5 problem categories being powertrain problems, seat problems, equipment problems, engine/cooling problems, and electrical problems. 

Jeep Grand Cherokee Best and Worst Years Per Generation

Generation/Model YearsBest YearsWorst Years
1st Generation (ZJ) (1993 to 1998)1998N/A
2nd Generation (WJ/WG) (1999 to 2004)20031999 2000
3rd Generation (WK) (2005 to 2010)2009 20102005

4th Generation (WK2) (2011 to 2021)

2016 2019 2020
20112012 2013 20142015
5th Generation (WL)2023N/A

Consumer/Expert Ratings for Best Jeep Grand Cherokee Model Years

Jeep Grand Cherokee Model YearKBB Consumer RatingEdmunds Consumer RatingCar and Driver RatingJ.D. Power Consumer Rating
20194.3/5 4.2/59/1080/100
20104.2/5 4.4/5N/A77/100
20034.2/54/5 N/AN/A

What are the common problems of a Jeep Grand Cherokee?

What are the common problems of a Jeep Grand Cherokee

The Jeep Grand Cherokee has common problems like acceleration issues, difficulty starting, engine failure, shifting issues, gear slippage, and transmission failure.

The Grand Cherokee can have electrical and interior problems like power loss, faulty gauges, dashboard bubbling, and broken trim pieces.

Engine Problems

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is no stranger to engine problems, which can start with or without a check engine light (CEL) present.

Across different generations of the SUV, some of the most commonly reported engine issues include oil leaks, knocking noises, hesitations during acceleration, difficulties with starting, and complete engine failure.

Even though a lot of these problems involve mechanical parts, the culprit is typically an electrical fault. 

For instance, certain 4th-gen models from 2011 and 2014 were known to have faulty TIPMs (Totally Integrated Power Modules) that caused the engine as well as many other electrical system components to suddenly stop working.

Transmission Problems

The transmission is a major component of the powertrain, which is unfortunately one of the major weak points for certain models of the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

If you know someone who specifically owns a 4th-gen Grand Cherokee, then chances are they have experienced some form of shifting issue with their transmission, as is the case for many owners of the 2014 and 2015 models.

In other cases, the transmission can exhibit gear slippage, trigger “service shifter” warnings, or completely fail, which can be a pretty expensive ordeal if you’re not covered under any warranty or recall.

Electrical Problems

Your electrical system essentially covers the entirety of your vehicle from different engine components to interior knobs and switches, which is why it can be quite a domino effect if a fault were to develop somewhere.

Jeep Grand Cherokee model years from 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2014, and several others all list “electrical system” as their #1 problem category on CarProblemZoo, thus being very widespread for the SUV.

Many owners of such model years complain of several electronics not working, such as the gauges, radio, speedometer, windows, and air conditioning.

In more extreme cases, the entire vehicle can experience a power loss, which means the engine also shuts off along with the electronics as well. This has been commonly traced to a faulty TIPM in certain model years.

Interior Problems

It can be disappointing to have your cake and not eat it, just as how you can have a beautiful interior on your Jeep Grand Cherokee but have it fall apart over the lightest touch.

Such is the case for some model years of the American SUV, wherein the interior build materials don’t really hold well for that long, resulting in different trim pieces coming off easily.

The leather used for the dashboard in some models also tends to develop bubbles or wrinkles, while others report that the door handles can also break off. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What year of Jeep Grand Cherokee is the best?

The Jeep Grand Cherokee has several “best” model years to consider, such as 1998, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2016, 2019, 2020, and 2023, covering just about every generation of the Grand Cherokee to date.

Going by generation, the best Jeep Grand Cherokee years are 1998 (1st gen), 2003 (2nd gen), 2009/2010 (3rd gen), 2020 (4th gen), and 2023 (5th gen).

These model years are considered the best because of their good reputations on reliability, a good serving of features, positive expert and consumer reviews on average, and having fewer reported complaints than other model years.

Are Jeep Grand Cherokees reliable?

Reliability for the Jeep Grand Cherokee can highly vary depending on the specific generation and model year that you go for, though RepairPal rates it a 3.5/5 (Above Average) for the 2023 model year.

A good gauge for reliability is the number and severity of reported issues for each model year, and based on this statistic, the 2009, 2010, 2016, 2019, and 2020 Grand Cherokee are the top 5 years with the fewest problems (excluding 2024).

How long do Jeep Grand Cherokees last?

The Jeep Grand Cherokee is known to last for an average of 150,000 to 200,000 miles (241,000 to 322,000 km) or about 15 to 20 years with proper maintenance.

Some owners have even managed to reach the 300,000-mile mark, which is achievable not just with regular maintenance, but also opting for the more reliable years of the Grand Cherokee.

Are Jeep Grand Cherokees expensive to maintain?

According to RepairPal, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has an average annual maintenance cost of $666, which is $93 more expensive than the $573 average for midsize SUVs.

However, it’s only $14 more than the average for all vehicle models at $652, making the Jeep Grand Cherokee considered “average” in terms of maintenance costs.