Jeep has kicked sand into the faces of luxury SUV rivals with the sumptuously equipped Grand Cherokee Summit hitting the showrooms priced at $75,000. With a glorious leather inside, up-to-the-minute high-tech safety technology and the hallmark spacious interior, the latest addition to the award-winning Grand Cherokee lineup asks serious questions about the value-for-money of some in this segment.
It seems to be the Jeep way in Australia – lots of car for little coin. No wonder Grand Cherokee sales have sky-rocketed.
But there’s no rest in this business and not too far away is the all-new mid-size Jeep Compass which, like the current generation Grand Cherokee, stamps Jeep as one of the ‘hot’ brands in the global scene.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Overview
Jeep Grand Cherokee starts at $43,000 for the Laredo model but the range extends all the way up to the racy SRT ($77,000) with its 344kW/624Nm 6.4-litre V8.
And while the Overland has been the range-topper of the regular Grand Cherokee lineup, Jeep has now added a new, even more luxurious variant called the Summit.
Exclusively powered by the 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel engine, the Summit has plenty of extras – including safety technology - like Forward Collision Warning and Active Cruise Control - plus a 19-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system and the best leather seats in the Jeep arsenal. Priced at $75,000 it’s great value when shopped against direct rivals.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Engine
Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge is now 100 per-cent owned by Fiat of Italy. While Fiat will be using the power of the American corporation to rapidly get a foot-hold in the U.S.A. (including re-launching Alfa Romeo for the 4C sports car), the Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge brands now tap-into (for example) Fiat’s diesel engine technology.
Boom! There’s Fiat’s excellent 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel which is now available in both the Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV and Chrysler 300 sedan.
With 184kW of power and 570Nm of torque the Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit we tested is right at the pointy end of the field for output and fuel consumption if 7.5l/100kms (combined cycle) is also handy.
The Summit model drives all four wheels via a new ZF eight-speed automatic transmission.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit The Interior
With the upscale Overland model as a starting point, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit is off to a flying start. But on top of that, the Summit adds Jeep’s highest-grade leather (‘NaturaPlus’), a suede-like premium headliner and, if you select the ‘Grand Canyon’ interior finish - the other is ‘Morocco’ - you get genuine open-pore wood trim.
Audio features a 19-speaker Harmon Kardon surround sound system and on the options list is a rear seat DVD entertainment system.
Overall, it’s the interior styling where the Jeep Grand Cherokee exudes its American origins with impressive shoulder room and leg-room in comparison to most rivals. The front seats are large and comfortable with plenty of adjustment so even plus-size drivers can be accommodated and we like Jeep’s current instrument layout.
When the Forward Collision Warning system is activated ‘Brake’ in large, bright-red letters (resembling a sign from ‘The Strip’ in Las Vegas) consumes the instrument panel and an alarm is sounded. Other safety items included in the Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit are Adaptive Cruise Control (with easy distance adjustments unlike some), Blind Spot Warning and Rear Cross Traffic Detection for the rear-view camera.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Exterior & Styling
As we’ve seen with this latest facelift for the Grand Cherokee and the all-new Compass which is due on-sale soon, there’s a styling revolution going on at Jeep and it’s all good. Naturally it’s market-driven and while the iconic Jeep Wrangler still waves the flag for the brand’s heritage, the Grand Cherokee reflects the shift up-market demanded by SUV buyers the world over.
So the hallmark Jeep ‘eight-bar’ grille gets a new interpretation, there’s some nice curves around the front-end and wheelarches, shaped headlights and the rear sees, large, high-mounted tail-lights in bright ruby-red. It’s all very modern and sculptured.
But don’t be misled, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is a large SUV with a strong on-road presence…it is, after-all a Jeep designed for America.
As per the interior, the Summit model builds on the already handsome Overland model, adding a few unique extras such as the grille with mesh inserts, a lower front fascia with chrome bars, body-colour wheelarch flares, satin-finish five twin-spoke 20-inch alloy wheels, a lower fascia at the rear with chrome-tipped trapezoid exhaust and some extra chrome.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit On The Road
From a driving dynamics point of view, one of the best things about the latest Jeep Grand Cherokee has been the arrival of the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission. Unlike the previous generation which was bit clunky going up and down the ratios, the ZF is silky smooth, shifts rapidly and the extra ratios are a boon for enhanced fuel consumption.
Likewise the Fiat-sourced 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel which matches just about any similarly-equipped SUV for power, torque and refinement.
While the standard Grand Cherokee runs 18-inch alloy wheels, stepping-up to the Summit (and other models) brings the 20-inch wheels and the extra rubber is certainly worth the spend.
So, as you’d expect from an American SUV, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit is a relaxed and comfortable cruiser. Isolation from road imperfections is excellent, that V6 turbo-diesel purrs quietly even when pressed for overtaking, there’s little wind-noise and the whole package feels very planted.
In the twisty stuff the Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit is generally very accomplished. In rapid changes of direction, the American is not quite as razor sharp as say the BMW X5 or Mercedes-Benz ML but the flipside is the Germans do ride noticeably firmer.
Of course off-road, the German duo are overshadowed by the awesome capability of the Jeep Grand Cherokee (hey it might be super luxo but it’s still a Jeep!) – in the LandCruiser league for prowess in the slippery stuff and also for towing. That would be thanks to standard features such as the ‘Quadra Lift’ air suspension and five-mode Selec-Terrain traction control system.
So if you haven’t driven a Jeep Grand Cherokee for a while…well all those awards were earned so do yourself a favour and arrange a test drive – you’ll be surprised.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Issues
Good as the Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit is, in the high-speed twisty stuff, the Germans still have a slight edge in on-the-limit driving dynamics.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Verdict
Regular CarShowroom.com.au readers will know the Jeep Grand Cherokee is a CarShowroom.com.au favourite in the SUV category. After a steady flow of similar vehicles from Japan and Germany, the Grand Cherokee scores points because of its ‘American-ness’ (that means a roomy, comfortable interior and styling which is…you know…’American’).
So it stands to reason the Summit, with all that extra kit and sharp $75,000 sticker, will get a big tick from us.
In direct comparisons with major rivals, the Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit, with that punchy V6 turbo-diesel, sumptuous leather interior, 19-speaker Harmon Kardon audio plus Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Warning, Forward Collision Warning and Rear Cross Path Detection for the reversing camera really packs a punch.
Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit The Competition
Jeep has the Grand Cherokee Summit choc-a-bloc with features and technology and in that comparison the value in this iconic American SUV stands-out.
For example, BMW’s slick X5 xDrive 30d (which is 10Nm shy of the Grand Cherokee for torque) is listed at $99,900 ($24,900 more than the Jeep). No doubt about the X5’s glamour and excellent driving dynamics.
Over at Mercedes-Benz, you’ll need $101,400 for the V6 turbo-diesel ML350 BlueTec. Like the X5, the ML is also a CarShowroom.com.au favourite and the inescapable ‘Benz interior is a standout. Drives great too.
While there is no V6 turbo-diesel in the Toyota Prado range, Toyota has the 195kW/650Nm V8 twin-turbo diesel in the larger LandCruiser. You’ll need the VX ($100,635) or Sahara ($119,635) specifications to match the Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit however. No doubt about the ‘Cruiser’s off-road ability but it’s not as refined as the Jeep on-road.