How to Tell if Jeep Grand Cherokee Is 4wd

Distinguishing whether your Jeep Grand Cherokee is equipped with four-wheel drive (4WD) is paramount for those seeking optimal traction and performance in diverse driving conditions. With various trim levels and options available, deciphering the drivetrain configuration may seem complex, but it’s a crucial step in unlocking the full potential of your vehicle. In this guide, we embark on how to tell if jeep grand cherokee is 4wd.

How to Tell if Jeep Grand Cherokee Is 4wd

From scrutinizing exterior badges to exploring the vehicle’s interior controls, we aim to demystify the process, empowering Jeep enthusiasts to confidently identify the 4WD prowess of their Grand Cherokee. So, buckle up as we navigate the terrain of automotive knowledge, ensuring you can make the most informed decisions for your off-road adventures and everyday driving alike.

Differentiating Between 4WD and Other Drivetrain Configurations

Before we dive into the tips for identifying 4WD in your Grand Cherokee, let’s first understand how it differs from other drivetrains. In a nutshell, four-wheel drive is a system where all four wheels receive power from the engine simultaneously, providing better traction and control on challenging terrains. On the other hand, two-wheel drive (2WD) vehicles only send power to either the front or rear wheels, and in most cases, it’s the front ones.

So, if you’re wondering if your Grand Cherokee is a 4WD vehicle, the first step is to determine its base drivetrain configuration. Here are three common options available for this model:

  • Rear-wheel drive (RWD): Power is sent only to the rear wheels.
  • Front-wheel drive (FWD): Power is sent only to the front wheels.
  • Four-wheel drive (4WD): All four wheels receive power simultaneously, and in most cases, it can be switched between 2WD and 4WD modes.

Identifying the Model and Trim

Having a clear understanding of your Jeep Grand Cherokee’s model and trim will go a long way in determining if it’s a 4WD vehicle. Jeep offers a variety of trims for the Grand Cherokee, and not all trims come with the 4WD option.

Having a Clear Understanding of Your Jeep Grand

To identify your model and trim, you can look at your vehicle’s paperwork such as the owner’s manual or the vehicle identification number (VIN). The VIN, typically found on the driver’s side dashboard or inside the driver’s side door, is a unique code that provides information about the vehicle, including its model and trim.

If you have a recent model of the Grand Cherokee, such as the Laredo, Limited, or Summit trims, these typically come with a 4WD option. However, always validate this against your vehicle’s specific documentation to ensure accuracy.

Knowing your Jeep Grand Cherokee’s model and trim is key to understanding your vehicle’s performance capabilities and whether or not it’s a 4WD. So ensure to dive deep into your vehicle’s specific details to get a comprehensive understanding of its drivetrain configuration.

10 Methods How to Tell if Jeep Grand Cherokee Is 4wd

1. Check the Badge

The easiest way to tell if a Jeep Grand Cherokee is 4WD is by checking for the “4×4” or “4WD” badge on the back of the vehicle. This badge indicates that the vehicle has four-wheel drive capabilities.

2. Look for A Transfer Case

Another way to determine if a Jeep Grand Cherokee is 4WD is by looking for a transfer case under the vehicle. The transfer case is responsible for sending power to all four wheels and is only present in 4WD vehicles.

3. Test the Drive Modes

If you are test driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee, you can also test out the different drive modes to see if it has 4WD capabilities. These modes typically include options such as “Auto,” “Snow,” and “Sand/Mud,” which will engage the four-wheel drive system when needed.

4. Check for A Front Axle Disconnect

Some models of the Jeep Grand Cherokee have a front axle disconnect feature, which allows the vehicle to switch between two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive as needed. If your model has this feature, it will have an additional button or lever on the dashboard.

5. Inspect Underbody Components

You can also physically inspect underbody components such as driveshafts and axles to see if they are present in your Jeep Grand Cherokee, indicating that it has 4WD capabilities.

6. Look at The Shifter

For older models of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, you can look at the shifter to see if there is an option for engaging four-wheel drive. This may be labeled as “4H” (four high) or “4L” (four low).

7. Check Owner’s Manual

If you are unsure about whether your specific model of Jeep Grand Cherokee has 4WD capabilities, you can always consult the owner’s manual for more information.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Has 4wd Capabilities

8. Ask Previous Owner or Dealership

If you are purchasing a used Jeep Grand Cherokee, you can ask the previous owner or dealership about the vehicle’s 4WD capabilities. They should be able to provide you with the necessary information.

9. Look for Skid Plates

Many 4WD vehicles, including the Jeep Grand Cherokee, have skid plates installed to protect important underbody components. If your vehicle has these, it is likely that it has 4WD capabilities.

10. Take It Off-Road

The best way to truly test if a Jeep Grand Cherokee is 4WD is by taking it off-road and seeing how it handles different terrain and obstacles. If it performs well in challenging conditions, then it likely has four-wheel drive capabilities.

Inspecting the Gear Shifter

Another handy method for determining if your Jeep Grand Cherokee is 4WD is by examining the gear shifter. Generally, 4WD vehicles possess a separate shifter for controlling the four-wheel drive system. This is usually adjacent to your primary gear shifter.

On it, you’ll find labels such as “2H,” “4H,” and “4L.” The “2H” stands for two-wheel drive high gear, “4H” stands for four-wheel drive high gear, and “4L” represents the four-wheel drive low gear used for off-road conditions and extreme terrains.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Has This Secondary Shifter

If your Jeep Grand Cherokee has this secondary shifter, it’s a clear indication that you have a 4WD model. However, keep in mind, some newer models of Grand Cherokee control the four-wheel drive system electronically, and these controls might be located elsewhere in the console rather than a traditional shifter. Always refer to your owner’s manual for accurate information.

Checking for a Transfer Case

Another definitive evidence of a 4WD system in your Jeep Grand Cherokee is the presence of a transfer case. This mechanical component is responsible for distributing power from the transmission to both the front and rear axles when you employ 4WD mode. Depending on the model of your Grand Cherokee, it may either be manually controlled via a lever or button, or electronically manipulated.

To locate the transfer case, you would need to look underneath your vehicle. The transfer case is typically a large, box-like component situated behind the transmission and attached to the rear of the driveshaft. If you spot this, it’s a sure sign that your Jeep Grand Cherokee is equipped with 4WD.

However, if you’re unsure or uncomfortable checking this yourself, it’s always advisable to consult with a certified mechanic or professional. They can easily identify the presence of a transfer case and confirm whether your Jeep Grand Cherokee is indeed a 4WD model.

Testing the Drivetrain

Another effective method to ascertain if your Jeep Grand Cherokee is 4WD lies in a straightforward drivetrain test. Engage the 4WD system (if available) and drive the vehicle at a slow speed on a loose surface, such as a gravel or dirt road. This will allow the 4WD system to activate without damaging the drivetrain components.

You should feel a noticeable difference in the handling and traction of the vehicle when the 4WD system is engaged. When driving in 4WD mode, the vehicle should feel more stable and responsive, especially when turning or navigating through rough terrain.

You can also listen for a change in the engine’s sound or a slight decrease in fuel efficiency, as these can also be signs that the 4WD system is engaged.

Listen for a Change in the Engine's Sound

However, be aware that this test might not be definitive, especially on certain surfaces or in certain weather conditions. When in doubt, you should always seek professional assistance or refer to the vehicle’s owner manual.


In conclusion, learning how to tell if jeep grand cherokee is 4wd can save you from any confusion or disappointment when purchasing a new vehicle. Understanding the different features and characteristics of a 4WD system is crucial for anyone looking to buy a Jeep Grand Cherokee.

From checking the exterior badges to examining the interior buttons and functions, we have covered all the key indicators that will help you determine if a Jeep Grand Cherokee has 4WD capabilities. Remember, it is always better to be sure rather than assume when it comes to such an important decision. So next time you’re in the market for a new car, keep these tips in mind to ensure you drive off with the perfect 4WD Jeep Grand Cherokee for your needs and desires.

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