On the Road Review: Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit EcoDiesel

In January 1992, Jeep and Chrysler executives drove the all-new Grand Cherokee right through the glass doors of the arena for its debut at the North American Auto Show in Detroit. A unibody, midsize SUV built to compete with Ford’s Explorer, the Jeep’s fully independent chassis design was shared with the then new Mercedes ML wagon.

In some corners, pundits could say that the Grand Cherokee helped to save Chrysler — back then, and in 2009 when the economic collapse almost consumed Chrysler. Yet the promise of the next generation Grand Cherokee loomed on the horizon and in late 2010, the fourth generation GC debuted to raves. Sales managers have not looked back as the latest Grand Cherokee has been the brand’s top selling product until the Wrangler and the new compact Cherokee overtook its larger sibling in 2015.

Grand Cherokee sales continue to expand, part of Jeep’s worldwide growth. Last year, Jeep sold over 1.2 million vehicles worldwide, 70 percent of them in the USA. Not too shabby for a “niche” automaker that started in World War II, 75 years ago.

We have been fortunate to sample multiple Grand Cherokees through the years, including several diesel-engined versions. This latest Summit-trimmed (one of nine trim levels currently available) Grand Cherokee with the 3.0-liter turbodiesel V-6 engine remains one of my favorite SUVs. Testament to the inherent virtues in this design, this six-year-old wagon still impresses despite the onslaught of newer, more expensive rivals.

One, the engine.

The Jeep’s Fiat-designed V-6 turbodiesel spins out 410 pound/feet of peak torque, power that is available very low on the tachometer right up to the artificially low speed-limiter. Acceleration is earnest, smooth yet robust at highway speeds. It is all too easy to be traveling at 20 mph over the posted limit and have no sense of your velocity — that kind of smooth. There is no clatter heard, never any obnoxious smells, and fuel stops would average out to barely one-two per month for the average daily driver who travels 12,000 miles a year or less — given the GC’s range of over 650-miles per tank. Of course, that driver may not be too inclined to pay the extra cost of the EcoDiesel ($5,000, with additional hardware and creature features) whereas a high-mileage traveler like myself (40-45,000-miles a year) would be.

The Jeep’s efficiency is inescapably brilliant; tow up to 7,400 pounds, carry tons of gear inside, and achieve higher mpg than the EPA estimates. It’s true; my first road trip from Auburn, Maine, to Springfield, Vt., and back — fast highway travel, long two-lane stints, urban grinding for 585-miles — resulted in 29.1 mpg, one mile per gallon better than the Fed’s highway economy guess. Second tank, 330 miles locally and up and down the Maine coast — 30.7 mpg. I believe this is RAV4 Hybrid territory — with full-time four-wheel drive, 5,000 pounds and that high tow capacity.

Two, the chassis

Since day one, the Grand Cherokee has been a uni-body design (like a car) that uses a fully independent suspension front and rear, again, like a car. Yes, the GC is taller, and heavier, but its handling and ride dynamics are predictable smoothly comfortable, and without the head-toss and rocking motions that several rivals render on less than perfect road surfaces. Add the new Quadra-lift air suspension, with settings for Park, Aero, Normal, Off-road I and Off-road II, and the Jeep handles as well as any other midsize wagon that stretches out to 190 inches. Key, besides the long-travel suspension — the elongated wheelbase of 115 inches.

Three, the interior

Jeep Grand Cherokee pricing starts at under $30,000 for rear drive Laredo models and escalates to over $70,000 with the new SRT Night 4X4 Edition. That is a big consumer range.

Summit trim pulls it off handsomely. Materials are soft-touch and complement the added components that make this a semi-premium environment. Semi-premium because the price (almost $60,000) is steep, however the value is apparent when compared to premium vehicles that offer less for much more money.

Big points makers here; the feel of the cabin and how everything works, well. The heated and cooled seats; very nice. The thick-rimmed leather steering wheel, heated of course, has fingertip audio controls that are simply the easiest, most efficient and safest way to make volume and preset selections. The U-Connect entertainment and information panel — still huge, still simple and intuitive, still among the very best. While others fumble with make-believe mouses and misconstrued hand motion sensors, the Jeep’s controls are elegant in their simplicity and help the driver remain in control — instead of vice-versa.

Add a dual-panel panoramic sunroof. Include heated rear seats. Add parking assist systems and forward braking assist. Keep one of the most driver-friendly dynamic cruise systems, augmented by blind-spot and cross-traffic assist programs. The GC’s dynamic cruise is a marvel; it never rushes to make hasty changes in speed, but never allows you to lose momentum as the gaps in traffic shift, with vehicles moving in and out of the detection zone of the forward radar beam. You can, very literally, follow cars through tollbooths without touching a single pedal, the Jeep slowing and accelerating with other traffic as well as seemingly detecting the actual tollbooth structures. Who doesn’t like a smart car that helps you drive better, without taking over control?

Four, the Jeep Factor

Without a doubt, Jeep has been the savior for Chrysler and is now the cash-cow for FCA as it weathers the storm of bad small car decisions and poor overseas sales results from the other Italian-based operations. The Jeep mojo is in high gear; Wrangler sales are still hot, the compact Cherokee is overtaking previously established rivals, while the sub-compact Renegade is saving FCA’s assets in some low-performing markets. Throw in the growing sales of the Grand Cherokee, with 10 percent take rates on this efficient diesel powertrain, and it is good to be a Jeep brand dealer.

Coming: the Wrangler redesign is slated for 2018 on-sale dates. Jeep also promises a Wrangler pickup, finally, as production moves to a remodeled Toledo factory. AER currently makes a Wrangler Brute pickup, for just $41,000 — plus the cost of your Wrangler Unlimited. That is a very steep Wrangler, no matter how beautiful the sample truck looked at the Jeep dealer in Keene, N.H., during my Grand Cherokee drive-through.

Shortly after you read this, you will (perhaps) be able to order the newest Grand Cherokee model: the Hellcat-engined Trackhawk. A 707-hp supercharged Grand Cherokee 4X4 is just what every lobsterman’s wife in Stonington is going to want to shoot over the Deer Isle causeway when the surf is up. Sure sounds appealing to me.

And finally, Jeep suggests that the three-row Grand Wagoneer will debut in two years as well. This long overdue Dodge Durango derivative should also have an EcoDiesel option, because the newest Wrangler will too.

As I said, it has to be good to be a Jeep dealer today.


Published: May 9, 2016


Since joining the Texas Automotive Writers Association and attending their annual Truck Rodeo I don’t recall a single year when Jeep’s Grand Cherokee didn’t take home a trophy. Every time I drive the Grand Cherokee, in any trim level, this SUV reminds me just how good it really is. I’ve spent quite a bit of time behind the wheel of the SRT powerhouse, I’ve driven both gas and diesel versions, and I’ve Grand Cherokee’d all over Texas on and off the road. This week I’m driving Jeep’s Overland trim Grand Cherokee, and I really like the combination of luxury, capability, and price. Let’s take a closer look and see what’s what.

The Looks: In taking a look at the exterior design of the Grand Cherokee you’ll know it hasn’t changed much in the past five years. It’s a much less controversial design than that found wrapping the smaller Jeep Cherokee. The headlights have received a more modern and upscale look with a Chrysler 300-esque vibe. The profile is much boxier and bolder than most SUVs in its class and that helps convey its Jeepness. Even though it’s getting a little old I still really like and can appreciate the design.





The Inside: Looking inside the Grand Cherokee you see one of the areas where this SUV really stands out from the crowd. The interior quality is absolutely great, especially in the upper trims. My review vehicle was equipped with the two-tone brown and light frost tan interior with wood and aluminum trim. I’m usually not a big fan of light interiors or wood but the materials Jeep chose for this vehicle just made it all work. It’s an extremely comfortable place to be and looks and feels very upscale.

The steering wheel is beefy and fitted with an array of controls for navigating the driver’s info center, nestled in the middle of the speedometer, as well as buttons for cruise control and hands-free voice commands. Behind the wheel, comfortably in reach of your fingers, volume and radio controls make it easy to interface with your music. And if that wasn’t enough, you also get paddle shifters behind that.

Moving along to the infotainment center, we had an 8.4-inch touchscreen display sporting Jeep’s Uconnect system. This is growing to be one of the better systems out there, with very clear and responsive controls. You also get access to apps such as a weather app that I took advantage of during my storm-filled week reviewing the Jeep.

Although the Grand Cherokee isn’t offered with a 3rd row, the interior is very spacious and you have a lot of room in the rear for cargo. As long as you don’t need to carry more than 5-passengers, it will be just fine. My family is bigger (four kids) but we were still able to utilize the Jeep for a bunch of family errands carrying all but one kid.






Under the Hood: The 3.6-liter V6 in our test Jeep gets up to 26-mpg highway mileage and offers up 295-horsepower, so it’s still pretty efficient for the size and has enough get-up-and-go for good highway maneuverability. This engine is matched up to an 8-speed automatic transmission, keeping the engine’s rpm low for optimal economy. The one gripe you usually hear with transmissions containing more than the normal 6-gears is that they tend to jump around, hunting for the perfect gear. The Grand Cherokee never seemed to suffer from this, as it was pretty much always smooth and responsive.

On Road: Using the Grand Cherokee as a daily driver means you’ll be cruising in smooth luxury. Connecting the wheels to the road is Jeep’s Quadra-Lift air suspension, supplying five height adjustments, and also gives you one of the smoothest rides out there. I really think that if you’re looking for a luxurious ride there’s not an option in this segment that competes with the Grand Cherokee.

Off Road: One of the great aspects of our Truck Rodeo event is having the opportunity to really take these vehicles off the beaten path and see just how well (or not so well) they handle it. Throughout the years we’ve had some pretty difficult conditions at the Knibbe Ranch, but there’s never been a point at which I didn’t feel comfortable taking the Grand Cherokee – or any Jeep – along the gnarliest paths.

During my week of testing this Overland the most off-roading this Jeep saw was parking in the field out at our local baseball complex. I drive out here every week taking my son to his games or practices, and with all the crazy weather we’ve been getting lately in Dallas the field is pretty beaten up. The week before driving the Grand Cherokee I was in the Colorado Diesel and before that we took our Grand Caravan out there. Both vehicles, while handling the conditions just fine, gave you a pretty rough ride in the rutted backroad. The Jeep, utilizing its air suspension, handled the road exceptionally well. It did so well I made an extra pass at higher speed; the Grand Cherokee was able to keep its composure the entire time.

Wrapping up: I went into this review week already a big fan of this SUV, and for many good reasons. The biggest negative you can bring up regarding the Grand Cherokee is the ever-increasing price tag. Our Overland package occupies a good middle ground, coming in at just under $50K – but you can easily stretch that into nearly $60K, and swinging for an SRT can hit you for over $70K.

When you think about it, this is the SUV that can deliver you everything from off-road capability to luxury on-road driving for one still-attainable price. In my book the Grand Cherokee remains an all-around win.



Roomy Jeep more efficient

May 7, 2016|http://siouxcityjournal.com/advertorial/wheels_weekend/roomy-jeep-more-efficient/article_e9f10463-ece8-58cf-af75-1d56702aa0e8.html2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee High Altitude


Jeep Grand Cherokee – the most awarded SUV ever and the vehicle that has long defined what a premium SUV should be – gets even better for 2016.

For 2016, all gas V-6 and 5.7-liter V-8 Grand Cherokee models will receive improved fuel efficiency due to electric power steering, decreased tire rolling resistance and weight reductions with aluminum suspension.


Also new for 2016, the Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 engine in the Grand Cherokee adds Engine Stop-Start (ESS) to improve fuel economy and efficiency.

The 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine in Jeep Grand Cherokee receives a bump in horsepower for 2016, increasing output to 295 horsepower.


New Pentastar technology for 2016 also includes cooled Exhaust-Gas Recirculation (EGR), advanced two-step Variable Valve Lift (VVL) system and an upgraded variable-valve timing (VVT) system that reduces pumping losses and improves combustion.

In addition, Grand Cherokee also features a new polystable shifter and Ivory Tri-coat exterior color for Overland, Summit and SRT models.

 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland

The 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee delivers consumers an unprecedented combination of best-in-class fuel economy and driving range, a choice of leading powertrain options, available clean-diesel technology, legendary benchmark capability, world-class craftsmanship, premium on-road driving dynamics, and a host of advanced user-friendly technology and safety features.


Jeep Grand Cherokee delivers a best-in-class 30 miles per gallon (mpg) highway courtesy of an available 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 engine and standard eight-speed transmission, and best-in-class towing of 7,400 pounds. The 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 boasts an unmatched driving range of more than 730 miles.


Legendary Jeep capability comes courtesy of four available 4×4 systems, Jeep’s Quadra-Lift air suspension system and class-leading Selec-Terrain traction management system. Grand Cherokee boasts best-in-class towing of 7,400 pounds, and a crawl ratio of 44.1:1. In addition, Grand Cherokee may also be flat-towed when equipped with Quadra-Trac II or Quadra-Drive II systems.


The 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee includes more than 70 safety and security features as well as an array of advanced user-friendly technology features, such as the award-winning Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen radio with integrated climate and infotainment controls, a 7-inch customer configurable multiview display cluster, Uconnect Access Via Mobile, 3G Wi-Fi access and cloud-based voice texting.


Originally introduced late in the 2015 model year, the Grand Cherokee lineup extends with the High Altitude special edition based on the Overland model. The 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee High Altitude adds upscale dark chrome exterior features, along with premium content and more.


Jeep Adds Two Grand Cherokee Models for 2017

Photo of 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk courtesy of FCA US.
Copyright © 2016 Automotive Fleet. All Rights Reserved.

Photo of 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk courtesy of FCA US.

March 23, 2016

FCA’s Jeep unit will roll out two more Grand Cherokee models, including the Trailhawk and Summit, for 2017. The two models appeared at the New York International Auto Show, and will arrive at dealer lots in late summer.

The 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk adds off-road 4×4 capability features, including Jeep’s Quadra-Drive II 4×4 system with rear Electronic Limited Slip Differential (ELSD) for all powertrains, a unique version of Grand Cherokee’s Quadra-Lift air suspension developed for Trailhawk that offers improved articulation and total suspension travel, as well as Selec-Speed Control with Hill Ascent Control. Skid plates and a Trailhawk-specific anti-glare hood decal are also standard.

Approach angles on the Jeep Grand Cherokee are 29.8 degrees or 36.1 degrees when the lower front fascia is removed for severe off-roading, while the breakover angle is 27.1 degrees and the departure angle is 22.8 degrees. Grand Cherokee Trailhawk models offer up to 10.8 inches of ground clearance.

The 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit arrives with an updated front fascia, grille and LED fog lamps, with new 20-inch polished aluminum wheels. The full leather interior boasts a Nappa leather-wrapped dashboard, center console and door panels, and Laguna leather seats with edge welting.

2017 Grand Cherokee Summit adds more standard equipment such as auto-folding power mirrors, headlamp washers, blind spot detection, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control and, for the first time, lane departure warning and parallel and perpendicular park assist.