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  • Writer's pictureMarc Gonzalez

Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve

The Grand Cherokee is the second-most recognizable Jeep after the legendary Wrangler. It’s presumably the most important model because three-row SUVs are prevalent in today’s market. The numbers don’t lie: over 280,000 were sold in 2021 alone. Even the previous generation, the Grand Cherokee WK, is still on sale, brand new, at the time of writing! But the new Grand Cherokee (WL for the purists) reaches heights the previous generation could only dream of. Our test model has an MSRP of $85,230 and is built at the Detroit, MI, plant.

Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve
Photo by Alain Kuhn Von Kuhnenfeld

Jeep finally refreshed the Grand Cherokee last year at a great time, as the rounded look was getting outdated as the years passed. While the high-performance Trackhawk version with 707 hp helped distinguish the vehicle from the competition, it was becoming old even then. This new generation has a boxy shape with the traditional seven slots on the front grille and a massive opening in the lower part to give it a meaner, muscular stance. The black roof clashes with the white paint, making for a subtle look; even the 21-inch wheels don’t stand out as much, thanks to this clever design. In the back, the look is more restrained with the placement of the brake lights, the deflectors and the exhaust tips. Even though the design isn’t groundbreaking, the Grand Cherokee will look fresh for a few years.

Inside the cabin, you will find the full scope of changes made to the Grand Cherokee. Every surface where you usually place your hands has been upgraded. We all expect a Jeep to be rough, rugged and loud, but here, it’s all brushed wood, leather or a superior-looking plastic than earlier models. The front dashboard has seen a complete overhaul. The steering wheel looks much better with two spokes, rather than only one from the left and the paddle shifters; these upgrades keep the Grand Cherokee fresh in a quickly changing segment. The digital gauge cluster is also an upgrade with a built-in full-screen map and the ability to personalize the screen to show the information you want. Small details such as window switches and the Start/stop button look premium. The amount of work done is astonishing and needed.

When we got to test the vehicle, everyone was pleased with the seats’ quality and impeccable appearance. We had the five-seat version, but you can now get a seven-seat version with the Jeep Grand Cherokee L launch, a great option many families wanted but could not get in the previous generation. The comfort of all the seats is an upgrade in this new version, pushing the bar much higher than you could get before. The presence of heated and ventilated seats with their climate zone is a neat touch. You will find ample room to quickly install car seats in the second row, with the readily accessible ISOFIX ports cleverly hidden under a leather cover and the rear anchor on the backrest. The doors open wide, helping to make the process easier. Cargo space with the seats up is excellent, only increasing by folding them. Once again, the Grand Cherokee is an off-road capable, midsize SUV.

Now back in front, let’s discuss the 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system. It is, in fact, the UConnect 5, which is mainly a refreshed interface and the addition of wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto. Once again, it is one of the best screens in the industry. You can adjust the climate controls on the screen directly or the buttons located right underneath, which we appreciate. The wireless charger hides under a black cover, along with two USB ports, a headphone jack and the HDMI port for the passenger side screen. That said, the gear lever is gone: there is now a knob to shift from Park to Drive and vice-versa. On the left of the knob is the Selec-Terrain, which lets you choose the drive mode you want, which will also adapt the Quadra-lift air suspension. As mentioned earlier, a 10.25-inch screen on the passenger’s side can control the music or even watch something on the screen with the HDMI port in the center console. Finally, a quick word on the McIntosh 19-speakers sound system that sounds great; it’s incredible to see how manufacturers can fit so many speakers inside a vehicle! Technology has taken a considerable step forward in the Grand Cherokee, and we’re all for it.

As for the driving experience, let’s start with the numbers. Our test model was powered by the well-known HEMI 5.7L V8 engine, which delivers 357 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque coupled to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Jeep Grand Cherokee is more focused on comfort and towing than pure performance: with a towing capacity of 7,200 lbs, it’s the main reason a buyer would opt for this particular engine instead of the base engine. When you climb inside the new Grand Cherokee, you sit up high and have a king-of-the-road feeling. The steering is still vague but doesn’t feel over-assisted like the earlier models. The vehicle’s weight is hard to hide, but the Quadra-lift air suspension does an excellent job of mitigating the jiggly feeling, especially at highway speeds where this Jeep feels at its best. The transmission shifts through the gears smoothly to help create this pleasant experience. The quiet and calmness on the road are among its best attributes, especially on road trips, with excellent sound deadening. The biggest downside is the terrible fuel economy of the HEMI. Even though it has cylinder deactivation, the official rating was about 10.6L/100km on the highway. Still, it was barely under 12L/100km, and the fuel economy in the city was downright abysmal, too, so the towing capacity comes at a cost.

In the mud, the Grand Cherokee keeps the legend alive, but you feel more disconnected from the trail than before. You can monitor the pitch, roll, and other helpful information when off-roading this big boy. Although the Summit Reserve version focuses more on luxury, you can still get out of a jam with the excellent Quadra-Drive II all-wheel-drive system.

The Jeep Grand Cherokee celebrates its 30th birthday in 2023, and the Summit Reserve version also has the most amenities and the highest price. At $85,230, this vehicle is far from the cheapest option in the midsize SUV segment. The Limited or the Trailhawk version will offer most features without the hefty price tag. That said, this is a much-needed improvement on the older model, and more importantly, it brings the Grand Cherokee into the contenders for the best vehicle in its class.

Jeep has lent us this vehicle as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with Jeep Canada. The above reflects our personal opinion.

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