2014-2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee: Pros, Cons, Common Problems

By Vlad Samarin January 21, 2024
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee
While most SUVs today are car-based softroaders, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is the real thing. It rides on a solid performance-oriented rear-wheel drive platform and offers a more-than-capable 4WD system.

It's also one of the few trucks that are fun to drive, thanks to its unibody construction and sporty independent suspension.
We have done our research on this great truck; let's start with pros and cons. Read the summary below.

Pros:

  • Off-Road Capability: The Grand Cherokee is known for its excellent off-road performance, especially in the Trailhawk trim.
  • Driving Dynamics: The Grand Cherokee is smooth and quite inside with plenty of power when needed, making it a great choice for long trips. Overall it drives like a luxury European SUV.
  • Luxurious Interior: In higher trims, the Grand Cherokee offers a nicely-done, upscale interior, featuring quality materials and advanced technology.
  • Powerful Engine Options: The Grand Cherokee offers a range of powerful engines, delivering strong performance and towing capabilities.
  • Available Diesel Engine: The fuel-efficient 3.0-liter turbodiesel offers a lot of torque and great fuel economy.
  • Towing Capacity: Thanks to its rear-wheel drive platform and strong engines, the Grand Cherokee offers up to 7,400 pounds towing capacity (3.0L V6 EcoDiesel with Trailer Tow Group IV package).

Cons:

  • Fuel Efficiency: The Grand Cherokee's fuel efficiency is lower compared to some other midsize SUVs.
  • Reliability Concerns: Given that it's a complex truck, it will be more expensive to maintain at higher mileage and some problems could be costly to repair.
  • Outdated Infotainment System: The infotainment system in the earlier models feels outdated compared to some rivals.
  • Price: The Grand Cherokee, especially in higher trims, can be quite expensive compared to some competitors in its class.
Jeep Grand Cherokee problems: The earlier model years had a lot of warranty repairs and software updates; the 2016 and later model years fared better. Common problems include engine oil and coolant leaks, issues with various emission control systems and sensors, electrical and infotainment system glitches, as well as problems with the A/C. The engine and transmission are generally OK, but some problems could be expensive to repair (i.e. bad rocker arms and camshafts). Read examples of common problems below.
Oil Filter Housing. An oil filter housing/cooler in the V6 engine is a common source of oil leaks. Replacing an oil cooler will cost 2-3 hours of labor plus the part.
2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee interior Oil cooler O-rings in the Pentastar V6
Tip: If the oil cooler is not cracked or damaged and the leak is originated from deformed O-rings, they can be replaced separately, which is cheaper.
The oil filter housing also needs a gentle care when changing the oil filter. We found many videos describing the part and repair.

Coolant leaks: One common source of a coolant leak is the radiator. Replacing the radiator will cost about 4-5 hours of labor plus the cost of the part (up up $1000) as well as some extra coolant. If you use your truck for towing, opt for a heavy-duty radiator. Signs of a leaking radiator include a low coolant level, overheating, smell of coolant under the hood and coolant drops or residue under the front of the vehicle.

Another part that commonly causes leaking coolant is the water pump. It's located in front of the engine and is not super difficult to replace (1.5 hours of labor in the 3.6L V6)

Thermostat Housing: Another common source of coolant leaks is the thermostat housing. The Check Engine light with the code P0128 is also commonly caused by a bad thermostat. In both cases, the thermostat (it comes as one part with the housing) will need to be replaced. Replacing the thermostat in the Pentastar V6 will cost 1.0 hour of labor plus the part plus extra coolant. If you want to do this job yourself, it's not super difficult as it's located in the front of the engine. Watch these Youtube videos explaining the repair.

Tip: Since overheating is bad for the engine, we recommend periodically checking the engine coolant level and making sure it's topped up at every oil change. If you notice that the level is low or there is a coolant leak, have it repaired before it causes problems.

Blend Door Actuators: Blend door actuators are small modules that open and close doors in the HVAC system to control the air flow and the temperature. When one of the actuators fails, it could cause the air from the vents to be cold on one side and warm on the other side or other issues. According to many videos, the part that fails is a plastic gear (sold separately on Amazon). We found these Youtube videos explaining the repair.

Engine Mounts: Engine mounts are the parts that hold the engine in place. They are filled with fluid to dampen vibration. It's very common for engine mounts in this truck to leak out fluid. You may notice it as dark or rusty-looking fluid appearing on one or the other side of the engine under the car. Another symptom of a bad engine mount is when the engine vibration at idle becomes more noticeable. Replacing one (left or right) engine mount in JGC will cost roughly 2.6 hours of labor plus the parts.

Check Engine Light, Code P0456: This code could be caused by a bad leak detection unit or a broken purge valve hose. Your mechanic may need to test the EVAP system (smoke test) to find the exact problem. The purge valve hose is easy to check and replace; here are Youtube videos explaining the repair. The leak detection unit known as ESIM is located in the left rear wheel well. It's also not too difficult to change; here is a good video explaining the repair. Either part is not too expensive.

3.6L Pentastar V6 Ticking Noise: This one will need your attention. A ticking noise coming from under the valve covers (top of the engine) might be caused by worn out rocker arms. If the problem caught early and the camshafts are not damaged, replacing a bad rocker arm might be enough. Your mechanic may suggest replacing all rocker arms as a precaution even if only one or two are bad. Over time, a bad rocker arm can damage the camshaft. This will require replacing camshaft(s) and some other parts which is a more expensive repair. We found these videos describing the problem.

Battery: The battery typically fails after 5-6 years of driving. One of the early signs of declining battery capacity is when the Stop/Start system stops working. Eventually the vehicle will fail to start. When changing the battery make sure the replacement is the right type of battery for your vehicle.

The FCA issued several recalls and numerous software updates. Check for recalls at the NHTSA website.

Summary

2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee interior 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee interior
The 2014-2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee is a versatile and capable in all respects SUV; it's rugged and refined at the same time. However, it's not cheap and not very fuel efficient and it will need some repairs down the road.

Overall it's a good choice if you are looking for a real truck with a nice interior and a strong engine. In terms of reliability, as of January 2024, Consumer Reports rated only the 2019 and 2021 JGC 'average'; other model years were rated 'below average'.

When buying the JGC, consider buying an extended warranty with no limit per claim that will cover potential expensive repairs (e.g. engine, transmission, transfer case). Before buying, check if all outstanding recalls and software updates have been completed. Check maintenance records. Have the truck thoroughly inspected by an independent mechanic before signing the contract.

This truck will also need a regular attention such as checking for leaks and topping up fluids and having the mechanical components such as brakes, suspension and the drivetrain inspected periodically.
Related reviews:
Jeep Cherokee 2014-2022
Dodge Journey 2009-2019
Honda Pilot 2009-2015
Toyota RAV4 2013-2018
Mazda CX-5 2013-2016
Chevrolet Equinox 2010-2017
Nissan Murano 2009-2014
Ford Edge 2007-2014

Engines:
3.6L Pentastar V6 is the base most common engine. It's a solid modern engine with a good balance of power and fuel efficiency.
5.7L Hemi V8 delivers increased performance and towing capabilities. It's available in higher trims.
6.4L Hemi V8 (SRT): This powerful V8 engine in the performance-oriented SRT trim. It offers even more horsepower and torque.
6.2L Supercharged V8 (Trackhawk): The Trackhawk trim, introduced in 2018, features a supercharged V8 engine, making it the most powerful Grand Cherokee variant with impressive performance numbers.
3.0L EcoDiesel V6: Jeep introduced a diesel engine option providing better fuel efficiency and torque for those who prioritize it.