Jeep’s Grand Cherokee is sold in many forms, the least expensive of which is the $41,455 (including $5,000 in total discounts).
You have the Laredo, the cheapest version, and then the Upland, the Altitude, and more, all the way to the $106,045 Trackhawk with its 6.2-litre supercharged V-8. This is nothing short of business genius, creating such a span of different versions of an SUV (sport-utility vehicle) riding on essentially the same mechanical bits and pieces.
And so, while Fiat Chrysler’s Jeep brand ground in 2019, sales down globally, I cannot help but admire the brand. Once, Jeep gets its electrification house in order, I believe Jeep will return to growth. After all, Jeep sales globally have more than doubled in the last half decade.
In any case, Jeep clearly understands the essence of what makes German automakers so profitable and so dominant, especially in the upscale automotive market. That is, they make many versions of the same model, price them up and down the segment range, and keep the product fresh on an ongoing basis. There are 11 versions of the Grand Cherokee in all. Eleven.
My latest Grand Cherokee tester, a Summit model, finished up at $78,780 and could have been costlier, still, if equipped with the 5.7-litre Hemi V-8 ($2,650), versus the standard 3.6-litre V-6 (both equipped with the eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic gearbox).
Comfort is aided by Jeep’s Quadra-Lift air suspension system and if you do feel inclined to take an $80,000 rig into the bush, you have the Selec-Terrain traction management system to ease the burden of managing all manner of conditions.
Now, keep in mind, Jeep Canada currently has about $8,000 in discounts on offer for this particular model. Sales sweeteners come and go, of course. But it’s fair to say, if you stretch your payments out over eight years and take Jeep’s current 1.99 per cent rate on borrowed money, you are looking at a weekly payment of about $200. Weekly. From now to 2028.
For that you get a deliciously appointed luxury SUV with a muscular ride, superb fit and finish, rich feeling leather upholstery and perhaps the most easily managed infotainment system – Uconnect – in the business. Alas, the touchscreen is about half the size you’ll find of the screen in a comparable Volvo XC90. Not good, Jeep.
Square as it is, however, the Grand Cherokee has that signature seven-slot grilled, here flanked by bi-xenon headlamps. As a branding exercise, the Grand Cherokee sells itself. If you drive one, the world knows that you embrace an expressive luxury vehicle with a fantastic heritage. In a sense, call it an anti-German luxury SUV.
While Jeep does not offer any sort of electrified Grand Cherokee – nothing with a plug or a hybrid dual powertrain layout – the safety and tech gear includes such gizmos as Forward Collision Warning-Plus, LaneSense Lane Departure Warning-Plus, auto high-beam headlamps and Advanced Brake Assist. Hill Descent Control, Hands-free with Bluetooth, Parallel and Perpendicular Park Assist, a very clear backup camera, and even something as seemingly basic as remote keyless entry.
The weakness here is the engine. The V-6 is strong enough (295 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, tow-rated up to 6,200 pounds) and adequate, but it’s not a special engine; FCA offers it in all sorts of models.
Note that if you want to spend tens of thousands more, you could move up to the mind-blowing Trackhawk (6.2-litre supercharged V-8 engine rated at 707 horsepower and 645 lb.-ft. of torque. Performance includes 0-100 km/hour in about 3.7 seconds). Or opt for the Summit’s available $2,650 5.7-litre V-8 (360 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft. of torque with towing capacity of 7,200 pounds).
All told, this a fine SUV, if not a fuel efficient one (12.7 city/9.6 highway litres/100 km), despite the requisite stop/start feature. The next step for Jeep is to electrify its lineup to cut emissions and stretch fuel economy.
Meantime, I’d take this rig over, say, a Mercedes-Benz M-Class.
2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4×4
Price as tested: $78,780
Engine: 3.6-litre V-6 (295 horsepower/260 lb-ft of torque).
Transmission: eight-speed automatic.
Fuel economy (litres/100 km): 11.3 combined.