CHATHAM, Mass. – Climbing mountains has never been an issue for Jeep vehicles and the Grand Cherokee L, the brand’s three-row sport utility vehicle (SUV) reaches new heights in luxury, features and capabilities with the Summit Reserve trim we recently drove.
Introduced last year, the Grand Cherokee L was the most advanced version of the large mid-size sport utility vehicle (SUV) since the model was unveiled 30 years ago. Jeep, in the introductory press release, said “ . . . the new 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee is crafted to exceed expectations and do what no other SUV can do: deliver legendary Jeep 4×4 off-road capability blended with superior on-road manners. It is built on an all-new architecture and wrapped in a stunning new design that honors its iconic Jeep design heritage, while also extending to accommodate a third row to meet the growing needs of our Jeep customers who have asked for more space and functionality.”
This was our second go-a-round in the new, Grand Jeep and it reinforced our first impression from last autumn when we wrote, “This is a lot of SUV and more than capably carries the Jeep and Grand Cherokee name into new territory.”
Hemi power for the Grand Cherokee
There are virtually no options available for the Summit Reserve, already possessing a full roster of features from luxury amenities to advanced driver-assist systems (ADAS) to off-road capabilities. One major option ($3,295) we were able to enjoy was the 5.7-liter V8 Hemi engine.
The iconic powerplant produces 357 horsepower and 390 pounds-feet of torque, power enough to tow a trailer of up to 7,200 pounds.
This power comes from an engine designed to maximize its efficiency with features like variable-valve timing and Fuel Saver Technology (cylinder deactivation). With Fuel Saver Technology, the engine control computer turns off fuel and spark and closes the valves to four of the engine’s cylinders during light-load operation, such as highway cruising, when full power is not needed. The system immediately re-engages the deactivated cylinders when the driver presses on the accelerator pedal. Depending on the driving scenario, cylinder shutoff can increase fuel economy from five to 20 percent.
This technology plus strict engineering to maximize overall proficiency – including the eight-speed automatic transmission – resulted in a large, powerful V8 vehicle which attained a federal Environmental Protection Agency fuel-economy rating of 17 miles per gallon overall and 14 mpg in urban driving, 22 mpg on the highway.
We used the V8’s power often, enjoying the instant, effortless acceleration and achieved a consistent 17.9 mpg as we drove around Cape Cod during our week behind the wheel.
Standard with this trim was the Quadra-Trac II® 4WD (four-wheel drive) and Selec-Terrain system which allows the driver to select one of five ideal powertrain setups for any type of driving (Auto, Sport, Rock, Snow and Mud/Sand). The system electronically coordinates up to six different powertrains, 4×4 torque split, braking and handling, steering and suspension systems, including throttle control, transmission shift, transfer case and traction control, stability control, anti-lock braking system (ABS) and steering feel.
Night vision bolsters ADAS package
The Grand Cherokee L’s standard advanced driver-assist systems include:
- Full-Speed Collision Warning with Active Braking and Pedestrian/Cyclist Detection
- Rear Cross Path detection
- Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop and Go
- Active Lane Management
- LaneSense Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist
- Advanced Brake Assist
- Blind-spot Monitoring
- ParkView rear back-up camera
- ParkSense rear park assist sensors with stop
- Traffic-sign recognition
- Intersection collision assist
- Surround-view camera
- Parallel and Perpendicular Park Assist
The Summit Reserve trim with the optional ($1,995) Advanced Pro Tech Package brings the new Night Vision Camera which uses thermographic technology to augment the reach of the Grand Cherokee L’s headlamps.
Infrared sensors search for the heat signatures of pedestrians and animals in the road ahead, at distances up to 219 yards (200 meters). When located, an alert with their positions relative to the vehicle are outlined in the instrument cluster directly in front of the driver.
And it works, adding to night safety and enhancing the overall positive aspects of driving the Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve.
Summit Reserve enhances the interior tech, features and amenities
Ultimate luxury for the Jeep Grand Cherokee brand comes with the Summit Reserve trim. Premium hand-wrapped, quilted Palermo leather, heated/ventilated front and second-row seats (captain chairs in the second row), memory and massage front seats as well as well-integrated, genuine open-pore Waxed Walnut wood and premium, wrapped, suede-like fabric on the A-pillars and headliner.
The extremely comfortable setting is one of luxury and convenience for all six passengers in the Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve.
The 10.1-inch color touch screen at the heart of the Uconnect 5 infotainment system which includes wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, a customizable home screen to facilitate easy access to the driver’s preferred apps and features and the control unit for a McIntosh sound system.
This is the first original-equipment application of an automotive McIntosh system which features a 17-channel amplifier with a maximum output of 950 watts and 19 speakers, including a 10-inch subwoofer, to envelope vehicle occupants in high-definition sound.
Part of the Advanced Pro Tech package is an interior rear-facing Fam Cam camera which allows the front-seat occupants to monitor activity in any of the second or third-row seats (a system FCA introduced on the Chrysler Pacifica minivan).
Peak luxury and capability in a SUV
The Summit Reserve sits at the top of the Grand Cherokee L range with its $62,400 base price. As described, the options were limited to the Hemi V8, Advanced Pro Tech Group, Baltic Gray Metallic paint ($345) and with the $1,695 destination charge, brought the as tested total to $69,730.
This buys a large, comfortable thoroughly modern sport utility which earned its Summit Reserve name.