Weekend Wheels / Jeep Grand Cherokee
by Howard Walker
Rich and full-bodied
Summit Reserve. Sounds like a fine pinot noir from some boutique Napa Valley winery. “Yes, I’d love a glass of your Summit Reserve if I may”.
Like a fine wine, Jeep’s newest Grand Cherokee has aged and matured nicely into its richest, most elegant, most full-bodied offering yet – the 2022 Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve 4×4.
And like some fine California vintage, the Jeep’s price tag might make you gasp. The lavishly-equipped version I’ve been tasting stickered at a somewhat hard-to-swallow $69,395.
But Jeep is on a luxury roll right now, moving the brand further upmarket, spackling the interiors with lashings of leather, wood and advanced technology, and upping its quality game. The flagship Grand Wagoneer L I piloted recently topped out at over $110,000.
Of course, like the wine section at Trader Joe’s, there’s no shortage of more budget-friendly $4.50-a-bottle offerings to be had. The re-designed 2022 Grand Cherokee line-up kicks off with the totally-drinkable Laredo 4×2 at $42,515.
See it in the metal, and this is one stylish-looking rig, and a big step-up design-wise from the last generation.
Instantly recognizable is that sleeker, more-upright nose, with that trademark seven-bar grille now narrower and flanked by slender, more complex LED lights. The roof is now a tad lower and tapered for a sleeker look, the waistline also lowered to allow more glass for better visibility.
The Summit Reserve we’re driving ratchets everything up with its “floating” black roof, lovely shiny-stainless body trim, honking 21-inch wheels and flawless, and quite stunning, Tupelo Red paintwork.
But it’s inside where you start to see the justification for that lofty price tag. Gorgeous quilted and textured leather with delicate stitching, rich, rare-looking matte-finished wood and attention to detail that’s never been seen before on a Jeep.
Yes, Jeeps are all about conquering the great outdoors. But it seems crazy to imagine climbing into this cabin with even a speck of mud on your shoes.
Stand-out features here include a cool, passenger-side screen to stream online content from Amazon Fire TV. That, and the ear-bleeding 19-speaker McIntosh surround sound.
Accommodation-wise, two rows of seats mean seating for five – for a third row you have to step-up to Grand Wagoneer models. But there’s no shortage of space for knees and shoulders, and the room for “stuff” behind the seats is huge.
Power-wise, take your pick from Jeep’s trusty 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 that’s good for 293-horses and a so-so 260 lb-ft of torque.
For an extra $3,795 you can, and should, step-up to the muscley 5.7-liter Hemi V8 with 357hp and 390 torques. It transforms the Grand Cherokee’s performance but will sting your wallet with its 14mpg city/22 highway thirst.
The big news for the Grand Cherokee is the introduction, right around now, of the plug-in hybrid 4xe powertrain. As with the Wrangler, it couples a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder with two electric motors.
The magic numbers here are 470 lb-ft of torque, 56mpge, and 25 miles of pure-electric range. And $74,695, which will be the starting price of the Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve 4xe.
Our tester was outfitted with the Pentastar V6 coupled to an 8-speed automatic and four-wheel drive. While perfectly acceptable, it would be my third choice behind the hybrid and Hemi.
Performance is plenty zippy around town, and it cruises smoothly on the Interstate. But accelerate hard and push the revs, and it all sounds a little thrashy and unrefined.
Through the twisties, the new, stiffer chassis with air suspension, semi-active dampers, and wide, 275-section rubber, really makes the Jeep feel nimble and agile. It rides surprisingly smoothly too.
Of course, there’s huge competition in this section of the luxury SUV market. Especially in the $70-grand zone.
But like a fine wine, this new Grand Cherokee will definitely tingle your taste buds.