REVIEW: 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4×4 – An Off-Road, Luxury SUV

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The 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4×4 sits near the top of the entire Jeep lineup. The Grand Cherokee is Jeep’s largest vehicle, and the Summit trim is only surpassed by the SRT and SRT Night. If you’re looking for a capable, full-size SUV with all the amenities of a luxury car, then this is your Jeep.

What is it?

Full-size SUVs aren’t the darlings that crossovers are these days, but there are still many buyers¬†who want what large SUVs offer. The Grand Cherokee has ample room for 5 passengers along with all their stuff, the power to tow, and the capability to go further off-road than lesser SUVs.

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Pricing and trims

There are no fewer than ten different trim levels available with a choice of 4×2 or 4×4 in nearly every trim, save the performance focused SRT and SRT Night. You can get behind the wheel of the base Laredo for $29,995. Higher trim levels offer luxury amenities and unique interior and exterior appearance packages. The Grand Cherokee tops out at $70,675.

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Our test car was the 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4×4, which starts at $52,795. Options brought the final price to $60,080.

Looking for a Jeep Grand Cherokee? Check out BestRide’s listing search here.

Safety

There are more than 70 available safety features on the Grand Cherokee, many of them standard in every trim. Multiple airbags, cruise control, electronic stability control, enhanced accident response system, hill start assist, ready alert braking, traction control, and trailer sway damping are standard. Optional safety features include security alarm, ParkView rear backup camera, ParkSense rear park assist system, hill descent control, full speed forward collision warning plus, and blind spot with cross path detection.

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee its highest rating of Good in all crash tests except for Small Front Overlap, which received a Marginal rating. It was also awarded Basic for Front Crash Prevention and Marginal for its LATCH system, which they found set too deeply in the seats.

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Performance

Our Grand Cherokee came equipped with the optional 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel engine with 240 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. It was paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Quadra-Trac II four-wheel drive and the Selec-Terrain system make it a worthy off-road vehicle.

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This fuel-efficient engine averages 30 mpg on the highway with a range of up to 730 miles. The Grand Cherokee is not a small car, but the EcoDiesel easily moved it onto the highway, providing plenty of power for passing and good acceleration. It also did so quietly, even with that diesel under the hood. This is a responsive engine, whether you’re accelerating, looking for a burst of speed for highway passing, or simply managing traffic around town.

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That engine is paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission that is smooth and quiet. Pressed to accelerate hard at highway speeds, it remains composed with no rough shifting to attract the attention of passengers. Even in stop-and-go city traffic, the transmission is timed to take good advantage of the engine’s power.

Ride and handling

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You might expect a truck-like ride from a large SUV, but that’s not what you’ll find in the Grand Cherokee. It is smooth and comfortable without any of the harshness and bounce found in many trucks. Think more large luxury sedan or crossover rather than big SUV. The suspension easily handles rough road surfaces and that responsive EcoDiesel engine makes it a fun drive.

Seating

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Seating in the Grand Cherokee is very comfortable. Driver and front passenger seats are eight-way power adjustable with four-way lumbar, so longer trips are less tiring. This lets even shorter drivers adjust their seats so they can see fully over that big hood. Take the Grand Cherokee off-road, and those plush seats make that rock-strewn hill a much less jarring experience.

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Rear seat passengers benefit from 39.2 inches of headroom and 38.6 inches of legroom. Even with the front seats moved back, there’s plenty of room for knees. There is room for three to sit comfortably without feeling squished and all three of those passengers have supportive seating, even the unlucky guy in the middle. Opt for the Ford Explorer and you’ll have 40.6 inches of headroom with 39.5 inches of legroom if you need a little more room. The comparable Chevrolet Traverse offers 39.4 inches of headroom with 36.8 inches of legroom.

Cargo

There are 36.3 cubic inches behind the second row or 68.3 cubic inches behind the first row providing plenty of room for cargo. A wide rear opening makes it easy to load larger objects, although the load floor is a bit high for heavier objects. The Ford Explorer has considerably more capacity with 43.9 cubic feet behind the second row and 81.7 cubic feet behind the first row. The Chevrolet Traverse goes even further with 116.3 cubic feet behind the first row and 70.3 cubic feet behind the second. These larger vehicles offer more passenger and cargo capacity, but are outdone by the Grand Cherokee’s superior off-road capability.

Looking for a Jeep Grand Cherokee? Check out BestRide’s listing search here.

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Infotainment and controls

The Jeep Grand Cherokee features Fiat Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system, which is one of the cleanest, most intuitive infotainment systems available. It’s easy to find what you want thanks to clear icons that are logically organized. There’s an 8.4-inch touchscreen display, navigation, AM/FM/HD Radio/Sirius XM with a complimentary trial, and a 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system with subwoofer. There are also dual USB ports for charging, voice command with Bluetooth, and media hub with SD, USB, and Aux inputs.

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Overall

The Jeep Grand Cherokee combines an efficient diesel engine, room for five, good cargo capacity, a luxurious interior, and impressive off-road capability that is hard to find elsewhere.

Those who want a large SUV with genuine off-road chops will find the Grand Cherokee tough to beat. The optional EcoDiesel engine also makes it an attractive buy for those wanting a green option with good fuel economy.

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The challenge for some will be the price tag once you add on the options. There also is no third row, so those needing room for more than five passengers will have to look elsewhere.

Looking for a Jeep Grand Cherokee? Check out BestRide’s listing search here.

2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 4×4

Base price: $52,795

Price as tested: $60,080 including $995 destination charge:

Options:

Skid Plate Group: $295
Front suspension skid plate
Fuel tank skid plate shield
Transfer case skid plate
Underbody skid plate

Summit California Edition: $995
20-inch x 8-inch Satin Carbon wheels
Body-color door handles
Exterior Mirrors
Body-color sills with Platinum
Body-color/Platinum front fascia
Body-color/Platinum rear fascia
Gloss Black grille/Platinum chrome
Platinum badge
Platinum strip tail lamp

3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel Engine: $5,000
220-amp alternator
800-amp maintenance free battery
Anti-lock 4-wheel disc heavy duty brakes
EcoDiesel badge
Electronic rear limited-slip differential
Quadra-Drive II 4WD system
Selective catalytic reduction (UREA-DEF)

Likes:

  • Off-Road Capability
  • Luxurious Interior
  • Optional EcoDiesel Engine

Dislikes:

  • No Third Row
  • Pricey Options
  • High Load Floor
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Nicole Wakelin

Nicole Wakelin