The Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit is the top-of-the-range Grand Cherokee — assuming you don’t want the performance SRT version. Life is good at the top, and when Jeep originally talked about the new Summit trim, they referenced it in the same vein as a Range Rover. Those are high expectations. Can the 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit deliver the Range Rover experience?
The Grand Cherokee is a handsome brute of a car. Nothing about it is flashy or in your face, but it does have style and class. With the Granite Crystal Metallic of our test vehicle, it blends in even more. Platinum accents from the optional Summit California Edition package also keeps the Grand Cherokee low-key. Range Rovers, for the most part, are low-key.
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The Grand Cherokee has aged well, and I expect it to continue to age well until the vehicle is ultimately replaced with an all-new version. The Grand Cherokee doesn’t feel old — it has thoroughly modern features inside and out.
Powering our review unit is the company’s tried-and-true 3.6L Pentastar V6. In the Grand Cherokee that means 295 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. It also includes engine start-stop standard. Our review unit, of course, was all-wheel drive.
The Pentastar is a fine engine in many applications, but it’s a bit anemic in the Grand Cherokee. On highway driving, as soon as I’d hit even the slightest grade the car would need to downshift a few gears to maintain the speed I had set in the cruise control. The 8-speed ZF transmission shifts smoothly, so that’s not a complaint. But the 5.7L HEMI V8 or the 3.0L EcoDiesel would be better choices in a vehicle of this size and weight.
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While pricey, the $5,000 EcoDiesel engine is the engine I’d opt for, even knowing that FCA is currently under investigation by the EPA about that engine. It returns great fuel economy with increased towing.
Inside, the Grand Cherokee is a nice place to be. All the trim pieces fit well. Everything you touch is a soft touch material. Our Indigo / Sky Gray interior is gorgeous, and really brightens up the interior. If it were a sunny day — it’s the middle of winter and a week of no sun — the standard dual-pane panoramic sunroof would really make the interior bright and airy.
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The beauty of the Summit package is nearly everything is standard. That means you get adaptive cruise control with full stop and start. You get autonomous emergency braking. You get blind spot monitoring. Front and rear parking sensors are standard, as is the parallel and perpendicular park assist.
Also standard is the 8.4-inch Uconnect screen with apps and navigation. Of course that also means satellite and HD radio support, plus Bluetooth. Even the 19 Harman Kardon speakers are standard.
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Being a Jeep, the Grand Cherokee Summit also has a selectable terrain dial to let the car know what’s going on, so it can adapt the all-wheel drive, the traction control, and other settings to handle the really rough stuff. In addition, the Grand Cherokee has a low range. The technology is very similar to that in the Range Rover.
When it comes to options on the Summit, there are few. Our test vehicle was equipped with the $295 Skid Plate Group, which you want. We also had the $995 Summit California Edition package, which includes some good looking 20-inch Satin Carbon aluminum wheels. Many pieces that would be chrome or bright have been replaced with platinum material. The Grand Cherokee badges on the doors are even dark. I’d dare say this is the Grand Cherokee trim level for millennials — many don’t like chrome.
Finally we had the $4,995 Signature Leather-Wrapped Interior Package, which is how you get the Indigo color. It’s a lot of money for leather, I know, but it’s really the party piece when it comes to making the Grand Cherokee feel expensive.
Fuel economy is what you’d expect from a massive SUV with all-wheel drive, which means 18 miles-per-gallon in the city, 25 on the highway, or 21 mpg combined. If you go with the optional EcoDiesel engine, the ratings bump up to 21 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway (these numbers are from AutoGuide. The EPA has removed EcoDiesel economy numbers from their website even though the vehicles are still on sale. The EcoDiesel in the 2017 will go on sale as soon as the EPA approves the engine).
The Grand Cherokee drives really well, though it’s not a track monster. If you have the urge to take your Grand Cherokee to the race track, you should opt for the SRT model or the upcoming Trackhawk version. It also handles the snow and ice that we received during the week of the review admirably.
The air suspension improves the ride quality, plus provides adjustable ride height for easier ingress and egress all the way to rock crawling.
The major drawback comes to space. If you’re looking for a full-size SUV, you might be looking for a vehicle with a third row. The Jeep Grand Cherokee isn’t the vehicle for you. It utilizes space well, but there’s just no rear seats.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit feels like a premium vehicle. Our review rings up at $60,675, so it should feel pretty nice. But compared to a modern-day Range Rover, it’s a deal. While I’m not entirely sure if it’s a Range Rover with a Jeep badge, it does a really good job at trying to be. Plus, it should have significantly better reliability outside of the warranty period than the British counterpart.
Overall it’s a solid car with tons of great options that feels more expensive than it is. I’d personally buy the Grand Cherokee in this Summit trim, especially if I never planned to do any serious off-roading. Though, I’d probably wait for Google Android Auto and Apple Car Play support, but I’m sure that’s coming soon.