2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4X4 test drive review. Luxurious SUV muscle car
The Fourth of July was last week, so what better vehicle to drive during that all-American holiday than a new Jeep? I had the opportunity to celebrate Independence Day behind the wheel of an all-new 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4X4, and it really was a great experience. I’ve been in some pretty rough vehicles with the Jeep badge affixed to them over the years, but this ain’t one of ‘em. The new Grand Cherokee is about as refined and luxurious as you could ever want. There’s not much here to remind you of the old Army Jeep of yore.
Well, there is one thing. If you look closely, the left headlight and steering wheel have little badges that proclaim “Since 1941,” and the right headlight has a small, chrome silhouette of that original General Purpose vehicle. I love automotive history, and I love little details like that, so I already had a good impression of this Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl Coat (say that ten times fast) SUV before I ever pushed the starter button.
But I liked it even better after I pushed that button. The reason for my enthusiasm can be summed up in four letters: H-E-M-I. I’ve liked Chrysler’s modern V8 ever since I drove my first Dodge Magnum in 2004, and it just seems to get better as time goes on. In the new Grand Cherokee, this optional mill is good for 360-hp and 390-lb/ft of torque. Even at more than 5,200-lbs, this bus ran like a Camaro. I mean, it really did remind me of driving a modern muscle car. Drop that gear selector down into “Sport” mode, and you really have a stop light screamer.
This lovely power plant is mated to a new eight-speed transmission. This, plus cylinder deactivation technology, is meant to increase fuel mileage. And it is better than last year. Jeep claims 14/city, 20/highway, and 16/combined. The computer in my test vehicle was just over 15-mpg at the end of my week, but it hadn’t been reset since the driver cruised up here from Texas. The point is, for what it is, it does pretty well. But if your primary concern is fuel mileage, a V8 SUV may not be for you. Personally, I’d be willing to buy a little extra gasoline to experience the sound and performance of a healthy V8 like this.
Even the air suspension was trick. It could be raised or lowered manually depending on what you were trying to accomplish, or it would hunker down in the lowest position on the highway or in Sport mode. The four-wheel-drive system had settings for rock, sand, mud, and snow, and it has a hill-descent feature for serious off-roading. I must admit, I never took this on any rough terrain to test these features out. But even as an on-roader it did what it was supposed to. The ride wasn’t punishing at all, and it was perfectly comfortable both on the open road and down side streets.
SRT excluded, the Summit model like this one is top-of-the-line for 2014. And it shows. The rich interior was finished in dark Grand Canyon Jeep Brown leather, and it had a nice array of leather, French stitching, and modern wood grain throughout. Even the visors and headliner were covered with soft, expensive looking material.
Many of the vital functions were controlled through the 8.5-inch touch screen. Of course it had Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, voice activated/syncable phone capabilities, and navigation (although this one had a message that said the radio needed service at the dealership, and the navigation seemed to think we were always in Blue Springs even though the Jeep had never been there). There was also a huge panoramic sunroof through which we could view the fireworks, adaptive cruise control, and dazzling 20-inch wheels.
This particular Jeep had a sticker price of $54,685. Now while that would break my budget, most people guessed that it would be higher. Considering everything you get here, and compared to similar vehicles by other manufacturers, that number didn’t seem all that unreasonable. Everything’s relative, you know.
I was at the North American International Auto Show earlier this year when this latest Jeep was revealed to the world (I even took this picture to prove it). And now that I’ve had the chance to spend some time with it, I see what all the hubbub was about. These are nice rigs, and I really hated to give up the keys. Now all that’s left are the pictures. You can see them in the slideshow below, or click this link for a nicer version.