Say the word Jeep and people will think one of two things, Wrangler or Cherokee. If Jeep pioneered the SUV segment its brainchild is the Jeep Cherokee. It was the first compact 4-Door SUV, the first to have a Uniframe construction, the first to have a full time 4×4 system and shift on the fly capability. Built through the 1980’s and early 1990’s; Jeep introduced the Grand Cherokee in 1993. It was marketed as the bigger, upper class Cherokee. In a way only a Jeep could, in January of 1992 the Grand Cherokee scaled two sets of 8 step stairs to smash through a plate glass window to debut at the New York International Auto Show. This entry epitomizes what the Grand Cherokee has always represented; a fully off road capable people mover pampering its occupants in creature comfort. The Grand Cherokee was Detroit’s answer to the Range Rover, before there were Escalades or Navigators.
The 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Edition is the pinnacle of the evolution of the Grand Cherokee. It represents the best that Jeep has to offer from a technological stand point. The sophistication and interior build quality is in par with luxury brands like Jaguar and BMW. However, the reassured feeling you get while behind the wheel of the Grand Cherokee; the sense that you could go anywhere you want, is not lost.
In or about 2016 Jeep announced that the Summit Edition would be the top premium level the Grand Cherokee is served as. It brims with tech, has a more refined front facia, LED headlights and fog lights and unique 20 inch wheels. The shift to a Summit Edition gives you that true luxury feel. The interior accented with piano gloss wood inserts both in the front and back and the heated wheel are true touches of class. The center stack contains an easy to navigate and customize 8.4-inch touchscreen with Uconnect, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Ski-Grey Indigo interior in my test Jeep with diamond quilted leather on the seats and door panels really sent home that premium feeling. Further, to make sure you and your passengers don’t forget where they are, the seat backs have the word “Summit” stitched onto them. The fun doesn’t stop there. The rear passengers have an optional dual screen blu-ray entertainment option, allowing each occupant to play their own customized content. The whole green house of Summit Edition feels light and airy in no little part due to the front to rear panoramic sunroof and did I mention the glass on the front side and rear windows is acoustically shielded.
Powering all this high-end comfort is a 3.6L Pentastar VVT V6 engine mated to an 8-speed TorqueFlite transmission. The Pentastar is good for 295 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. A 5.7L V8 can be had, but, you lose the $2,650.00 Federal Government Green Levy the Pentastar grants. Having driven the Jeep fully loaded with a rear full of newly purchased goods there was no lack of thrust from the V6 and I never wanted for more power. For those that may be planning on pulling additional weight with their Grand Cherokee, the V8 can pull up to 7,200 lbs vs. 6,200 lbs in the Pentastar. The total system is mated Jeep’s Quadra Drive II 4wd system, capable of sending 100% of the power to the rear wheels when needed. Combined with a Select Train System that allows you to adjust five selectable settings to dial into the type of 4WD traction control your Grand Cherokee needs at any particular moment. Selec-Terrain helps to adapt traction performance with a selectable dial that features Snow, Sand, Auto, Mud and Rock settings. The system gives you ultimate driving confidence by coordinating 12 vehicle systems, including throttle control, transmission shifting, transfer case, traction control and Electronic Stability Control to conquer almost whatever mother nature may throw at you.
The choice of available SUV’s on the market is ever increasing and with more and more manufacturers eliminating cars from their line ups the choices are only going to increase. However, there is something that has to be said for a company that pioneered the concept for the motoring industry. Jeep has essentially always been a SUV company. It has had decades and decades to perfect the recipe, but, always maintained its core value of creating go anywhere vehicles. The Grand Cherokee exemplifies this creed and the Summit Edition does it in style. Now, if luxury isn’t your flavour, the Cherokee offers no less than 11 different variants from Trail Rated go anywhere machines to track ready 700+ hp fire breathing beasts; take your pick.