What it is: I think there is no way to skirt around; this is a $67,000 Jeep Grand Cherokee. I felt the same pang of incredulity when I first looked at the window sticker on my test model, however, after driving it for a week, the Grand Cherokee Summit and I have come to an understanding.
While sales are down slightly from last year, Jeep is selling the Grand Cherokee in almost shocking numbers. In 2017, they sold just under 250,000 units, which I think is a ton considering they sell six other SUVs. Jeep has positioned the Grand Cherokee to be the Swiss Army Knife of SUVs by offering a multitude of configurations, and the Summit is at the top (ahem) of those trims. Well, the top of the “normal” trims as Jeep offers the SRT trim with a 475 horsepower 6.4-liter V8 and the Trackhawk trim with a supercharged 707-horsepower engine (from only $86,000!). The Summit shows of the best of what Jeep has to offer, and it does have a place in the market.
The Overland commands a $20,000 premium over the (very) basic Laredo trim ($30,895) but gives you almost every creature comfort you could wish for. 19-speaker Harman Kardon stereo system, 8.4-inch infotainment system feature navigation and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto support, enormous dual-pane sunroof, HID headlights, keyless entry and ignition, power adjustable leather seats with both heating and ventilation, adaptive cruise control, heated steering wheel and the new 7.0-inch LCD instrument cluster. It’s very nice. The infotainment system had been my favorite on any model for years, but it’s starting to feel a little antiquated even after receiving a recent update. 360-degree live video for parking is becoming standard in the luxury segment, and I missed it in the Summit.
But wait, a $20,000 premium over the $31,000 Laredo equals $51,000, which is well below the $67,000 I mentioned in the first sentence. In a word, it’s all about the options. The first is $3,000 to add four-wheel drive, although it’s really more than you think. Added is the Quadra-Lift air suspension system which allows you to raise your vehicle suspension by up to 10.8 inches for maximum ground clearance or lower the suspension by 1.6 inches for better highway gas mileage (it does this automatically) or for easier entry or exit. Jeep’s off-road abilities are legendary for a reason, and this is a serious off-road package. The other options are a little more pedestrian: $2,000 for a rear-seat, dual-screen, Blu-Ray setup, $3,795 for the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine, and $995 for the Platinum Series Group ,which adds platinum-colored moldings, accents and fascias around the car.
And that brings us to the final option: $4,995 for the signature leather-wrapped interior. To be fair, you are not just upgrading the standard leather seats to the Ski Gray Laguna leather; it converts most of the touch points in the car to be wrapped in leather. Headliner? Absolutely. Door panels? You know it. Glove box? Sure. Instrument panel? But of course. Jeep is certainly pushing the Grand Cherokee towards a true high-end luxury SUV at this point and the interior feels more Land Rover than Jeep. Metal accents and polished wood inlays really take the interior over the top. I don’t think that Jeep is selling too many, but it’s certainly eye-opening as to what is available.
MPG: 17 combined/14 city/22 highway
Price: $53,995 Summit 4x4 base price. $67,220 as-tested.
Upsides: A tour de force of what is possible in a Jeep.
Downsides: Needs more tech.
Wrap-up: While I may not have fully justified a $5,000 optional extended-leather interior package to you, I think it’s important to show the context in the world of luxury SUVs. The Range Rover Sport starts at $67,000. Porsche Cayenne starts at $66,000. The X3, RX 350, Q5 and GLC can all easily be optioned up to nearly $60,000 and none of them provide the off-road capability the Grand Cherokee provides. We’re likely still a few years away from an all-new Grand Cherokee, but it’s wonderful to see Jeep push it to the top of the mountain.