I like my Jeep Grand Cherokee, but why isn’t it on the recommended car lists?

I’ve been listening to Car Talk for almost 25 years and my big thing was to maybe have something to call and ask Tom and Ray someday from here in International Falls Minnesota; the icebox of the nation - alas, I’ve never had to call, and now it’s too late. My heart is Broken. I don’t have a car issue but I do have a general question- my husband died and I was looking for a tough 4 wheel drive vehicle capable of driving in arctic conditions. I ended up with a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited. I did have step tubes installed because I’m only 5 feet tall and have to climb in and out- I love the vehicle but this car is never on the great car to buy list. My question is why? Driving in blizzard conditions is great, summer driving is great, driving through the woods is great, the car feels super solid; why doesn’t it make the good lists? Is there something horrible just not talked about?

I’d say the reason why the Jeeps are not on a “great buy” list is because Jeep products are not the most reliable vehicles.

Since you are now a member of CarTalk’s site, you can search for problems with your type of vehicle - Jeep - and the parent company - Chrysler - and its divisions like Dodge and Ram. I don’t want to scare you but there are a LOT of people posting with problems about their Jeeps, Chryslers, Dodges and Rams.

Glad yours is running fine and you are happy with it.

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Yeah, it’s the average reliability that’s the problem. Yours could be great, though. We liked our Cherokee for our 12 years in Anchorage.

I had a Jeep Grand Cherokee once. It went in for repairs and service 52 times in the eight years that I had it. That was my last Chrysler product.

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I search my old files and came up with the following:

  1. Dodge Dart 1965, 13 years 40 repairs in 154,000 miles
  2. Ford Granada 1976; 100,000 miles 56 repairs
  3. Chevy Caprice 1988; 33 repairs in 100,000 miles
  4. Chevy Impala 1984; 21 repairs in 100,000 miles & 18 years
    5 Nissan Sentra 1994; 18 repairs in 100,000 miles, 18 years
  5. Toyota Corolla 2007; 2 repairs in 60,000 miles & 11 years.
  6. Mazda 3, 2012; 0 repairs in 30,000 miles.

I agree with you that your Grand Cherokee has 70s and 80s level of reliability. my Corolla incurred $475 in repairs over 11 years and one of those was front brakes, a normal wear item. My Granada was real dog, however. I know how you feel. This type of thing has some people permanently turned off US made automotive products. The Ford F150 would be about the only American designed vehicle I would consider.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee it desighned to do well a lot of things that more ordinary and reliable cars wont’t do at all. Because of this it is a more complex vehicle and has less reliability. Most truly capable off road vehicles do. It sounds to me like it suites your needs perfectly, don’t worry about what Consumer Reports think, they don’t have to get home on a frigid snowy night in International Falls.

That same mag rated 2 of my cars completely unacceptable. The first was a 1971 VW Bus because if you took the seats out and didn’t put the bolts back in, exhaust fumes could enter the cab. Well, wouldn’t that apply to any car? And with the VW, the engine and all the exaust were all at the rear so you would have to leave the bolts out and be backing down the road.

The second “unacceptable” car was my 81 Horizon because they found out that if you were going 55 mph and yanked the steering wheel hard at least 1/2 a turn and let go of it while maintaining 55 mph and never touching the wheel again, it would oscillate back and forth, eventually overturning. To which, Car and driver said, “what idiot would do that.” I gyess the answer is the dweebs that test cars for Consumer Reports.

Overall reliability is Much Below Average, say Consumer Reports research survey results.

Still, average car reliability is a lot better than it used to be. We like our Chrysler Corp. minivans despite their overall reliability that starts average but declines to much worse than average as they age.

My son bought a new Grand Cherokee last year, the vehicle that he chose surprised me but I am not going to criticize his selection, I worked on Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep vehicles for 20 years and I am not afraid to own or drive them.

Who made the statement that you are agreeing with and what year was the vehicle manufactured?

Well, you already liked the car and bought it, so why do you care about the list :slight_smile:

You might be in for more repairs than some other car, but you can maintain it well, join the Jeep forum to learn common problems with your generation Jeep and stay on top of it. Otherwise enjoy it and if there is any time that you don’t feel it is providing safe transportation, then move on.

The 70s and 80s were times when reliability was still low. I make that comparison. The Grand Cherokee is far behind the times.
There is general and documented agreement that this vehicle has inferior reliability. A colleague of mine owned one and can testify to that extent.

I owned a 2006 Chevrolet Uplander which my son now owns. It has had no major repairs in 200,000 miles. Consumer Reports did not rank it highly and the repair record was poor according to CR surveys.
The Uplander fit our needs. It had a narrower width than other minivans, which was great for me. I had to back into an alley off a busy 4 lane street and manuever the van between s building and utility pole to get to a stage door so I could load a set of timpani into the van.
I find CR’s ratings of trucks interesting. CR wants trucks to be carlike–ride and handle like cars. I want a truck to be trucklike. I would but a truck for its utility. The most useful minivan I owned was a Ford Aerostar. It was on a truck chassis, rear wheel drive, which were the things CR didn’t like about the Aerostar. I could pull a trailer with the Aerostar. I wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that with the Sienna I now own.
I say that if a vehicle fits your needs, and in your case, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, don’t give a second thought to what the experts say. You are the one who drives it–not them.

As far as I’m concerned the Jeep is a good vehicle. Most of the rural mail route carriers around here have used them for decades and for a good reason. The road conditions are pretty tough and they hold up well.

I don’t put much credence into surveys, complaint forums, and so on nor do I buy into Consumer Reports.

To illustrate how off-base CR is consider their reports on the 2013 Toyota Camry. According the CR the model with the 4 cylinder engine is bulletproof as far as noises, leaks, hardware, body fit, and so on. They then say the 6 cylinder model is poor as far as noises, leaks, hardware, and body fitment.
One excellent, one poor when it’s the same chassis and not one iota of difference other than engine option.


I am also one of those that does not think much of Consumer Reports . OK4450 makes a good point , how can a different engine make that much difference.

ok4450, Volvo_V70 and all:

The most recent CR reliability ratings are in the April 2018 issue. It rates the 2013 Camry “Better than Average” for noises/leaks; “Much Better than Average” for body hardware. It does not distinguish between the 4 and the 6. What is the source of your information?

It’s OK to speculate about the survey results, but it’s a mistake to call them off-base without a deeper look and an open mind. The differences between a 4-cylinder 2013 Camry and the 6 are probably more extensive than “not one iota of difference” but the engine.

Generally carmakers make the 4 a low price point somewhat bare-bones version, and the 6 more fully featured with more power, more gadgets, alloy wheels, sunroof, etc. “More to go wrong” as we used to hear from oldtimers back before we became oldtimers. The engine option carries with it much more than a different engine.

Where and when was the CR report you cite published?

The CR reliability info is from surveys, not CR’s opinion. I don’t take one year or problem to be indicative, but when I compare a sea of ‘bad’ dots (Jeeps) to a sea of ‘good’ dots (Toyota, Honda), I have to conclude there is a difference.

That said, say 30% of Jeeps have problems, and only 10% of Toyotas (my #s, just for conversation). That’s a meaningful difference, but 70% of Jeeps are still OK, so the OP may just be in the ‘ok’ column.

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Let’s understand one thing about CR reliability ratings:. these ratings are based on questionnaires sent to subscribers of Consumer Reports of which I am one. I fill out the questionnaire every year. However, CR subscribers are not necessarily representative of the population as a whole. CR subscribers may drive or maintain their vehicles differently than the people who are not CR subscribers. This could make a difference. For example, some magazine did an election survey back in 1936 and from the results, Alf Landon was predicted to beat FDR. Well, I. don’t remember studying history and reading about a President Landon. The problem was that the survey was made by telephone and back in 1936, the more affluent people had telephones, and these people tended to vote Republican. Now think about subscribers to CR. These people tend to be higher income people (I am an outlier here) and have different purchasing patterns than poor slobs like me. I only subscribe to CR so that I can read about what rich folk buy.
One thing that is important to me in buying a product is the availability of parts and service. For example, when I found myself a single parent and had to buy a vacuum cleaner, I noticed when I went through the grocery store that bags were available for Hoover and Eureka machines. Since time was valuable, I bought a Eureka so I could buy the bags along with my grocery purchases. I didn’t have to run all over town for vacuum cleaner bags. Last year, the drive belt broke on the 40 year old machine. I made a trip down the street to Walmart and was able to buy a new belt and another supply of bags. When I bought the machine, there were higher rated vacuum cleaners, but this one fit my needs very well. I’ll leave the Kirby for the rich folks.


Firsts off - I’ve never considered any unibody vehicle an off-road vehicle. Ever see a unibody vehicle that’s been twisted a little too much while off-roading? I have. 3 of the 4 doors didn’t close right.

Second - there are a lot of vehicles with far better off-road capability then the Grand Cherokee and much higher reliability ratings. My 05 4-runner was one. The 4runner is far more reliable and far superior off-road capability then the Grand Cherokee.

Triedaq makes some very important points about surveys and the sociology and psychology behind them.

Years ago CR rated the Grand Caravans/Grand Voyagers as having worse reliability than the nearly identical Caravans/Voyagers. At first glance it made me question CR’s methodology.

But an explanation could include:

The Grands were longer, had more features (to create more problems along with their conveniences), and were likely carrying more people, who were weighing it down, and were using the seats and doors more often, etc., etc.

Also the buyer of the Grand could be wealthier and perhaps pickier than the proletarians like my wife and I, who went with the simpler short wheelbase version!

We have a 2003 4Runner that has been very reliable after the first month when the dealer finally got to the root of the problem after a threat to make him buy it back under the lemon law. Whether a Jeep Grand Cherokee for us would have been more reliable or less reliable is probably a question that cannot be answered.
We didn’t buy the 4Runner for its reliability. My wife liked the selectable 4 wheel drive. She held an administrative position at the university where we were both employed. Even on days where classes were cancelled because of the weather, the staff were expected to be there. Mrs…Triedaq thought it would have been unfair to expect the staff to be at work while she could, according to the rules, stay home. In fact, she would go pick up a member of her staff who’s conventional car couldn’t get through so that the staff member wouldn’t lose a day’s pay. Also, Mrs. Triedaq made recruiting trips and in bad weather would take the 4Runner so she would have a better chance of getting to her destination and back rather than drive a university owned vehicle. We didn’t look at reliability records when we purchased the 4Runner.
Since we are both retired, I thought we could use some extra money, so I bought Mrs. Triedaq a snow blade for her 4Runner as s Christmas present. I figured she could plow driveways and parking lots. However, she made me return the snow blade. Maybe I will be out of the doghouse by next Christmas.


The Jeep Cherokee developed a great reputation in the 90s with the 4.0L 6 cylinder engine and Toyota automatic transmission. Those models were somewhat bullet proof except for some instances of throttle position sensor glitches and oil pressure senders developing a leak. From 1991 until 2010 I owned 5 of them and all exceeded 200,000 miles before needing a costly repair. The first I owned passed the 300,000 mile mark before I scrapped it. FWIW I didn’t have ABS brakes on any of them.