What it is: Grand Cherokee is a legendary name, and the current model lives up that high standard. Jeep has won countless awards for the current Grand Cherokee, and it is still one of the best SUVs that money can buy. While you can get a base model for as little as $30,000, Jeep has sent me a bells and whistles trim called the Summit that will hit the pocket book for right around $50,000. $20,000 in options is a lot, but with the luxury and capability provided, you'll still be hard pressed to find a better value.
First, lets look at what the Summit trim gets you. 20" polished aluminum wheels, adaptive bi-xenon HID headlights, 8.4" LCD Navigation system, heated second-row seats, vented front seats, panoramic sunroof, keyless entry, forward collision warning system, 19 speaker audio system, Quadra-Lift Air Suspension, and so on. Just about anything you could possibly think of.
The only thing you can add to the Summit is the 5.7 liter HEMI V8 engine (for $3,695), special wood dash (for $495), and a rear seat dual screen Blu-Ray setup (for $1,995). Unless you are doing some heavy towing work, the standard 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 is great and will move your Grand Cherokee as fast as you need it to move.
While there are only two rows of seats for a seating capacity of five, there is quite a bit of storage space behind the second row.
This is not a sissy crossover, this is a real SUV, but the wonderful air suspension makes it ride like a luxury crossover. The Quadra-Lift Air Suspension does a particularly good job of balancing between providing feedback to the driver in both on and off-road situations. It rides better than the normal (non-air based) suspension in the lower-end models, but also excels for off-road purposes. It is nifty, but expensive technology.
Price: Base price $29,995. Base Summit trim $48,695. As-tested 4X4 Summit $56,075.
Upsides: Go anywhere and do anything in style. Great price point.
Downsides: A false perception of a lack of luxury. "Karen, you got a Jeep? What happened to the Lexus?"
Wrap-up: The Grand Cherokee is quiet, it has plenty of power, significant off-road capability and there is a model for every buyer. From the low-end Laredo trim, to the plush Limited, Overland, or Summit trims, and the race track ready SRT version (with a 475 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque 6.4 liter V8) you will have lots of options at the dealership. I think the Grand Cherokee is a can't miss choice in the mid-sized SUV segment and one that demands attention from any potential buyers in the class.