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Every year, Car and Driver publishes two lists. The most popular one is its “10 Best Cars” list, highlighting what its reviewers think are the 10 best cars and trucks in the U.S. The lesser known is the Editors’ Choice Awards, listing the best cars, trucks, and SUVs in every category. 

It’s a good starting point for shopping for a new vehicle. However, if you’re looking for a Jeep, you might be surprised to learn that only two Jeep models made the Car and Driver Editors’ Choice Awards for 2023. Both vehicles are the newest models in the Jeep stable and provide an impressive balance of off-road capability with on-road luxury and comfort.      

Jeep Grand Cherokee 

In reviewing the 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee, Car and Driver called it “a multifaceted SUV situated at the intersection of machismo and elegance.” It offers something for everyone, from a well-equipped base model to midrange and high-end trim levels that are downright luxurious. 

Buyers can choose a 293-hp V6 engine or a 2.0-liter four-cylinder hybrid setup producing 375 horsepower. Rear-wheel drive is standard on the V6 model, but the PHEV comes equipped with all-wheel drive. Performance ranges from a 7.4 second 0 to 60 mph time for the V6 model to 5.3 seconds for the 4xe plug-in hybrid model. Fuel economy ranges from 19 mpg in the city to 26 mpg on the highway for both models, though the Grand Cherokee 4xe offers 26 miles of electric-only range.

Regardless of how you spec the Grand Cherokee, it’s supremely off-road capable. The optional Trailhawk, with its adjustable air suspension, will tackle even the most challenging terrain. Still, no matter what trim level you pick, the Jeep Grand Cherokee will do just about anything you need it to, with the exception of hauling more than five people. However, if you need a third row in your Grand Cherokee, Jeep has just the thing for you.  

Jeep Grand Cherokee L 

A 2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve midsize SUV model driving down a highway
2023 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve | FCA

Think of the Jeep Grand Cherokee L as an extended version of the Grand Cherokee. It does everything the regular Jeep Grand Cherokee does but will carry more people doing it. Car and Driver thought it was a top choice among midsize SUVs, calling it “a delightful place to spend time, with a comfortable ride, a spacious cabin, and plenty of convenience and luxury features.  

Like the regular Grand Cherokee, the base engine is a V6, this time producing 290 horsepower. Buyers can also opt for a 357-hp V8, which will tow up to 7,200 pounds compared to the V6’s 6,200-pound tow rating. Performance is a bit sluggish compared to the smaller Jeep. It takes 8.0 seconds to reach 60 mph with the V6 and 6.2 seconds with the V8. However, fuel economy numbers are similar, with an estimated 19 mph city and 26 mpg highway.  

On the road, the Grand Cherokee L offers a smooth ride with competent handling. People who never take their Jeeps any further off-road than the shopping mall parking lot will be impressed with its comfort and wealth of features. As for those who dare, the L is just as capable as anything with a Jeep badge. With a choice of three all-wheel drive systems and an optional air suspension, it’s the ideal way to take the family sightseeing in the wild.  

Other Editors’ Choice midsize SUVs

Ford Bronco

If you’re looking for a traditional Jeep like the Wrangler or Wrangler Unlimited, check out the Ford Bronco. It offers the same rock-crawling, go-anywhere capability, and iconic styling as the original Bronco. Like the Wrangler, it’s available as a two or four-door model with either a hardtop or soft-top configuration. 

The downside to the Bronco comes down to size. It’s tall, making entry more challenging than most SUVs. It’s also wide, taking up almost a full lane of traffic. While that width helps with off-road stability, it can make in-town maneuvering a bit of a chore.

Honda Passport

The Honda Passport is an excellent alternative to the regular Jeep Grand Cherokee. While not as capable off-road, it offers a lot of space and standard features, making it one of the most well-rounded vehicles in the midsize SUV class. 

The only drawback to the Passport is the driving experience. It’s smooth, comfortable, and makes a great family hauler. However, it’s not as rewarding to drive. If it were an ice cream flavor, it would be vanilla to the Jeep’s rock road.

Hyundai Santa Fe

The Hyundai Santa Fe offers more standard features and style than the Passport and is a great value in the midsize SUV segment. It also provides a variety of powertrain options, starting with a 191-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, on up to a 1.6-liter turbo-charged four-cylinder hybrid. 

The trick is to avoid the base engine. It makes the Hyundai Santa Fe pokey and lifeless. Splurging for a more powerful engine makes a world of difference.  

Kia Telluride

For people seeing a three-row SUV, the Kia Telluride is a good alternative to the Jeep Grand Cherokee L. Like the Jeep, it’s stylish and comfortable as a family hauler and comes with a long list of standard features. 

What it lacks is the Grand Cherokee L’s off-road capability, and it’s a bit numb to drive on the road compared to the Jeep. However, with its lower-than-average base price and a long list of standard safety features, it’s hard to beat if you routinely carry more than five people.

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