Jeep has done a great job adding visual Easter Eggs to all its models in recent years.
These visual treats remind owners that the brand not only has a strong lineage, but also that Jeeps are meant for fun, too. A classic Willys silhouette climbing the edge of the windshield can be found throughout the lineup, there’s a pair of flip-flops hidden on the Wrangler, and a little spider saying “Ciao!” on the Renegade – a nod to its Italian heritage. For the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee, the succession of five generations of this venerable midsize SUV can be seen just aft of the passenger-side C-pillar.
It’s been a slow evolution for this handsome and purposeful hauler that’s meant to blend ruggedness and luxury in equal proportion. With the latest generation – and particularly in this tester’s Summit Reserve trim – the refinement and technology have improved, with the balance leaning more to the luxury side than ever before.
Scanning the generations, the Grand Cherokee has kept a consistent profile while ebbing and flowing between softer, rounded edges and harder, more rugged ones. This latest generation is defined by its long hood terminating at a forward-leaning prow. The seven-slot grille is definitively Jeep, and the rest of the design does a better job of looking both posh yet macho than most SUVs. It’s a well-proportioned and contemporary design that should age gracefully, and it’s one that works as well with this fancy-pants range-topping trim as it does the rugged Trailhawk rendition.
Inside, it’s a whole other story. The finishes throughout the interior proclaim not only genuine luxury but excellent taste. The Palermo leather finished in a caramel colour in this tester is magnificent, with a lovely quilted pattern to it. There’s expansive genuine oak trim that’s beautifully accented by satin chrome accents, too, making this interior a visual treat.
Jeep’s familiar 3.6L V6 is the default engine, but our tester was fitted with an optional 5.7L V8 that seems an appropriate choice for a premium machine. Its 357 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque help the sizable rig get up and boogie in a hurry. Passing power is abundant, and after the slightest hesitation from a standstill the big V8 quickly gathers a wave of power to propel the Grand Cherokee forward. Even so, the V8 can’t match the immediacy of turbocharged competitors like BMW’s X5, even with its smaller six-cylinder.
The eight-speed automatic transmission isn’t set up to maximize the sportiness of the Grand Cherokee, and can be caught a bit off-guard when giving a quick boot to the throttle. Occasionally, the shifts aren’t as smooth as they should be in a premium-priced machine, either, but for the most part the transmission does its job without calling attention to itself, just as it should.
Fuel Economy: 6/10
Unsurprisingly, the V8 can be thirsty, officially averaging 16.7 L/100 km in the city, 10.9 on the highway, and 14.1 combined – and that’s with Jeep employing a system that shuts down half the cylinders under light load. During the test week of mixed driving in the city, and on country roads as well as the highway, the indicated average landed in the mid 13s. That’s not bad considering the performance capability on tap. Mercifully, only regular-grade gas is called for.
Driving Feel: 7/10
Most modern crossovers feel very car-like in the way they drive. They’re composed, ride reasonably well, and handle decently despite their elevated stances. This Grand Cherokee is somewhat more truck-like, with heavy duty suspension components designed to take an off-road beating, and the weight of the big wheels crashing over potholes is noticeable, too.
Despite a bit of clunkiness, the Grand Cherokee handles well, staying planted when pressed into corners; but the steering doesn’t offer much road feel, and we expected better ride quality from the air suspension setup.
Fortunately, any deficiencies in the ride were compensated for by the Summit Reserve’s impressive seats. They’re heated and ventilated front and rear, with the forward chairs also benefiting from several massage settings. Plus, the multi-zone climate control system means everyone on board should find a comfortable temperature, too.
More impressive than the seats is the extent to which the cabin has been hushed. The top trim benefits from additional active sound suppression and the result is minimal wind, road, and engine noise when cruising along. The burly V8 becomes notably more vocal under hard acceleration, but that’s part of the joy of opting for this engine in the first place.
The Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve’s serenity makes it even easier to enjoy the monstrous 19-speaker audio system that’s not only seriously powerful but crisp and clear, too. Beyond the premium stereo and decadent leather throughout the cabin, there’s a wireless charge pad, plus a wealth of USB-A and USB-C charge points, a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, and rear-seat window shades. The driver benefits from a head-up display and even night vision with pedestrian and animal detection.
Jeep’s interior designers bucked the trend of all-glass cockpit controls, instead providing honest-to-goodness dials for volume and channel surfing, plus proper buttons for essential controls and features. There’s still a lot of glass, too, with a 10.1-inch primary infotainment touch screen that offers a bright, sharp display and good responsiveness, even when this humble author’s cantankerous old phone was wirelessly connected to Apple CarPlay. The steering wheel buttons provide access to a multitude of functions, and help configure the 10.25-inch digital gauge display as well. There’s even an additional screen for the front seat passenger with a display that’s invisible to the driver to prevent distraction.
Driver visibility is very good, with clear sightlines to the front, periphery and with minimal blind spots toward the rear. Plus, there’s available surround-view monitoring for negotiating parking lots with ease.
At the Summit Reserve trim level, the only optional safety element is night vision; otherwise, the extensive active safety suite including adaptive cruise control and autonomous braking, driver alertness monitoring, traffic sign recognition, active lane-keeping, automatic high-beam control, rain-sensing wipers, and even hill descent control for off-road driving is all standard. In terms of passive safety, the Grand Cherokee Summit has a multitude of airbags, including ones for the knees of both the driver and front passenger. The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the Grand Cherokee a five-star safety rating.
Amongst midsize SUVs, the Grand Cherokee has plenty of competition, some of which offer more cargo capacity, and three-row seating. Jeep offers a Grand Cherokee L to compete with those machines, but for many this five-passenger variation is right-sized for those looking for a spacious, capable SUV.
Space inside isn’t class-leading, but the Grand Cherokee still offers decent room for four adults in comfort, or five on occasion. The cargo space, too, is good, with the rear seats folding flat to open up to offer more than 2,000 L of total volume.
With the V8, the Grand Cherokee’s tow rating climbs to nearly 3,300 kg (7,200 lb) – excellent capability within the class. Beyond hauling passengers and cargo, the Grand Cherokee offers superior off-road capabilities to most other SUVs, even though the Summit Reserve trim doesn’t boast Jeep’s Trail Rated badge like the Trailhawk version.
Jeep has been clever with the Grand Cherokee, always positioning it as a ruggedly capable yet premium choice, lending some cachet even to the entry level Laredo trim at $52,990. With multiple variations to suit varying buyers’ needs, the lineup reaches the summit – both figuratively and financially – with two aptly named trims to choose from at the top of the lineup. This Summit Reserve tester tops them, ringing in nearly $90,000 once a few options and destination charges were added.
While Toyota’s aging 4Runner has long been an obvious competitor in many respects, at the Summit Reserve point, BMW’s X5 xDrive40i is within easy reach and offers more space, performance, and refinement. Despite that, during a week collecting kilometres in the Summit Reserve, it never felt overpriced, offering appropriate features, luxury, and style for the cost.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee has evolved through the generations to become the genuinely impressive machine it is. It has always offered the promise of Jeep’s off-road credibility, but with enough luxury to find itself parked next to premium brand machines at the country club. The Summit Reserve provides fine finishes and a notable feature count to warrant buyers in the midsize luxury SUV segment give it fair consideration.
|Peak Horsepower||357 hp|
|Peak Torque||390 lb-ft|
|Fuel Economy||16.7 / 10.9 / 14.1 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||1,067.5 / 2,004.8 L seats up/down|
|Model Tested||2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve|
|Price as Tested||$86,665|
$10,925 – Baltic Grey Metallic paint, $445; Summit Reserve package, $4,495; Advanced Protech Group IV, $1,895; Luxury Tech Group V, $595; 5.7L V8, $3,495