If you had to choose between a utility vehicle that can conquer even the roughest terrain or a ride that makes you look good during a night on the town, which would you pick?
Well, why not have both in one package?
And the 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit seems to fit both jobs perfectly well.
Other than the SRT and Trackhawk editions, the Summit trim is the top of the line for the Grand Cherokee, and it has a lot to offer – although that does come with a price that hits $79,730 as tested here.
The all-wheel drive Summit comes with standard 20-inch fully polished aluminum wheels, a high-performance audio system with 19 speakers with active noise cancellation and a full complement of safety features such adaptive cruise control with stop, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning with active braking, parallel and perpendicular park assist, and lane departure warning with lane-keeping assistance.
As you would expect from a Jeep, the Grand Cherokee Summit is not afraid to get off the road and get dirty.
To that end, it has five drive modes that make sure it is ready for the task at hand: Snow, Sand, Mud, Rock, and Auto.
It also features lockable front and rear differentials, a two-speed transfer case and hill decent control.
The ride height can be adjusted thanks to an air suspension system.
And taking you where you want to go is what lies under the hood, and the Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit we tested does not lack in that department.
Consumers have three engine choices for the Summit trim, with two smaller V6s (a 295-hp 3.6-litre V6 and a 240-hp 3.0-litre turbodiesel V6) and the potent 5.7-litre HEMI V8.
That engine delivers 360 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque, and its operation is pretty smooth throughout the rev range.
It is paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission, which comes with steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters on the Summit trim. Overall, this transmission does a good job putting all that torque to good use, but it does sometimes feel a little hesitant under certain conditions, notably waiting on downshifts when you try to accelerate quickly.
The V8’s fuel economy is rated at a combined estimated average of 14.1 L/100 km. Our week with it produced a slightly higher average of 15.1 L/100 km.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is a little long in the tooth in so much that it’s in the eights year of its fourth generation. In other words, it’s time for a redesign.
That said, however, there’s nothing egregiously wrong with the present look of the Grand Cherokee.
The distinctive grille means you instantly know this is a Jeep and the front fascia features modern touches like LED daytime running lights and LED fog lamps.
While many competitors have been redesigned since 2011 when this Grand Cherokee debuted, there’s still a certain something about the Jeep that ensures the design is still attractive.
It’s a little boxy, but it means business.
Inside, occupants are greeted by a premium suede-like headliner, leather seats and a dual-pane panoramic sunroof.
The seats are nice and comfortable, and there’s a good amount of legroom in the back, even if the back bench is better suited for two rather than three adults. The trim work on the door panels gives an extra sense of luxury to the cabin as well.
There’s a nice amount of cargo capacity as well, so don’t be shy about loading it up.
The Jeep infotainment system is a nice setup and for 2018 gets better with the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto for smartphone connectivity.
The 8.4-inch screen and Uconnect interface is easy to use, with menus that are clear and simple to understand. There’s no noticeable lag when using the touch screen, but if you do prefer the more traditional buttons and knobs to control the system, those are also available.
And those 19 speakers? They sound great!
There’s also something for the kiddos thanks to the optional rear DVD entertainment system, or if you want to camp out in the woods and watch a movie.
On the road, the Grand Cherokee Summit delivers a nice smooth ride, thanks in large part to the air suspension system. However, if you hit rough patches – and who doesn’t in Canada – you could experience some unpleasant vibrations.
However, when behind the wheel of the Grand Cherokee Summit on the highway, you get to enjoy a comfortable drive in a fairly quiet cabin – especially without the kids asking “Are we there yet?” when you head off to the cottage.
2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit
Price as tested: $79,730.00
Configuration: Front engine/All-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 5.7-litre Hemi V8/ 8-speed automatic
Power/torque: 360 horsepower/ 390 ft-lb of torque
Fuel (capacity): 89 Octane (93.1 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 14.1 L/100 km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km): 15.1 L/100 km
Warranties: 3-years/6,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Volvo XC90, BMW X5, Land Rover Discovery, Acura MDX
The Chronicle Herald