Review: 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo North Edition 4X4

Jeep Grand Cherokee has set a benchmark for midsize sports since its debut as a 1993 model. Blending varying degrees of legendary off-road prowess with a graded list of on-road refinement, this five-passenger top of the Jeep range offers almost limitless customization options.

There are seven official trims that span a roughly $45K – $120K price range, starting with the entry-level Laredo and upgrading to Limited and Overland models before culminating in the Summit’s leather-clad luxury. Then there’s the Trailhawk, an off-road-oriented bush-basher while the other end of the performance spectrum features motor-muscled SRT and Trackhawk models, torque monsters more suited to the race track, drag strip or promenade.

Actually, Jeep Canada’s website offers eleven model categories once you factor in equipment and styling packages that, along with accessories and stand-alone options, combine for a dizzying array of choices.

With that in mind, even though we had booked a Laredo, I looked up the rear badge to see exactly what we were getting.

“Ah ha!” I thought. “It’s a North Edition.”

What better omen for a planned trip north to join other “leaf peepers” looking at fall colors? And a favorable added trailer allowed us to mount our bike rack and bring e-bikes for trail riding.

Review the 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo North Edition 4X4

The Laredo ($46,745) starts with a healthy equipment list, but instead of working your way up the trim level ladder, opting for the North Edition ($3,495) adds a Customer Preferred Package that ticks most of the boxes on the regular list of extras. The Grand Cherokee’s standard 3.6-liter Pentastar VVT V6 engine offers practical power, making 295 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque, enough muscle to earn a respectable 2,812 kg (6,200 lb) of towing power, not far from 3,265 kg (7,200 lb) ) rating for the optional V8 engines. The V6 includes automatic stop/start (ESS) and fuel economy is rated at 12.7L/9.6L/100km (city/hwy). Our mixed driving averaged 10.9L/100km (comb).

Power is translated through an 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic that shifts early and often, with a low 2,000 rpm at a near-legal 120 km/h thanks to the standard Eco setting. Pressing the Eco Off button or the Sport button for a more aggressive algorithm will raise the shift points and raise the revs by 1,000 rpm or so (with a corresponding gas pump penalty).

Power flows on to standard four-wheel drive in Canada and here’s our first North Edition upgrade – Laredo’s Quadra-Trac I 4X4 system replaced by Quadra-Trac II, a 4X4 system that allows up to 100 percent power transfer to either axle and complements the versatile Selec-Terrain Traction Management system with selectable drive/weather modes.

Other North Edition additions for off-road performance include larger 18-inch wheels wearing off-road tires, a full-size spare wheel, underbody skid plate protection, transfer case, fuel tank and front suspension, Hill Descent Control, towbars, terrain display pages on the instrument cluster, to and with a Jeep Trail Rated restoration kit with D-rings, work gloves and a tow strap, all factors contributing to the earned Trail Rated badges on the front fenders.

Sure, with that kind of off-road potential, the suspension feels firmer than on some competitors, but this is still a nimble highway cruiser. A Protech II Group ($995), new to the Laredo this year, adds Forward Collision Warning-Plus, Lane Departure Warning-Plus, automatic high beams and Advanced Brake Assist that round out the Laredo’s standard driver assistance.

Inside, North Edition upgrades include leather-trimmed heated front seats with perforated suede inserts, a heated steering wheel with audio/cruise control buttons, auto-dimming mirror, Mopar slush mats, active noise control, remote start and a bump up to the 8.4-inch Uconnect 4C Nav infotainment system with 506 -watt amplifier HD radio and 9-speaker and subwoofer Alpine sound system, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Sirius XM radio and apps, 4G Wifi hotspot and more.

Review the 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo North Edition 4X4

Review the 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo North Edition 4X4

FCA’s Uconnect is a favorite user-friendly system, and redundant audio/HVAC buttons and dials save some scrolling, though I’d still prefer seat heater buttons over searching and picking through menus. But overall, the North Edition adds a nice balance of equipment and amenities to a cabin that’s roomy for four, ready for five in a jiffy. The rear seat offers tilt but not slide, ventilation controls on the rear of the console and the 60/40 bench folds flat to bump up cargo capacity from 1,028 liters to 1,934 litres.

The North Edition also adds a power liftgate to access that space and a Mopar rubber cargo liner. There is a place for the cargo cover which I’d like to add along with a cargo net, but the boot comes with tie-down points, hooks for grocery bags, a 12V power outlet, the subwoofer and underfloor storage that surrounds the spare.

The 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo 4X4 is an excellent starting point in the midsize sport utility market, and the North Edition’s added amenities increase both capability and comfort.

And even though it’s been nearly a decade since the debut of its current fourth-generation form, the 2020 Grand Cherokee still catches your eye with modern style, even in the decent shade of Walnut Brown.

Upcoming 2021 models will offer some equipment upgrades, but Jeep Canada’s website also showed significant discounts on a wide range of 2020 trim choices at the time of writing. A bigger and improved fifth-generation Grand Cherokee has been delayed by the pandemic, but FCA is investing $1.6 billion to convert factory space for the all-new version, as well as production of the new three-row full-size Jeep Grand Wagoneer and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models, all slated to debut in the near future.

Tthe vehicle was provided to the author by the car manufacturer. Content and vehicle evaluations were not subject to e.go approval.

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