It’s no wonder that Enzo Ferrari is credited with saying “Jeep is America’s only real sports car.” For more than 70 years, Jeep evolved with the constant changes of modern eras without forgetting their roots, subsequently developing one of the most capable vehicles both on and off the road. The latest addition to this do-anything family of vehicles is the 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit, the pinnacle in luxury and off-road capability.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee can be almost all things to almost all people. An no-frills $30,000 model is both capable and good looking. On the other side of the coin, there’s the $90,000 Grand Cherokee Trackhawk — an incredible performance SUV with 707 supercharged horsepower on tap. Trailhawk models offer super off-road capability. And the high-flung Summit trim is one luxurious ride.
Jeep has made a number of enhancements to the 2019 Grand Cherokee lineup, including the standardization of blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert across the board. The optional infotainment system now comes standard with navigation and a new 8.4-inch glass touchscreen with a crisper resolution.
The Summit’s finery includes illuminated doorsill plates, chrome mesh grille inserts, a dual-pane panoramic sunroof, acoustic laminated windshield and side glass, active noise cancellation, headlamp washers, power-folding side mirrors with puddle lamps and chrome caps, 20-inch polished-aluminum wheels, an 825-watt Harman/Kardon audio system with 19 speakers, navigation, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning, rear cross-path detection, a backup camera, adaptive cruise control, and the Quadra-Lift air suspension. It’s a pretty comprehensive list.
Jeep takes off-road ability more seriously than any other brand operating in this space, and the Grand Cherokee offers no fewer than three four-wheel-drive systems. While Jeep does offer a two-wheel-drive version (all the way up to the Summit trim level), the vast majority of Grand Cherokees are sold as four-by-fours. In the base Laredo, the four-wheel-drive system is Quadra-Trac I, with a single-speed transfer case and a fixed, 50/50 front-to-rear torque split; Limited-and-higher models come with Quadra-Trac II, with a two-speed transfer case that adds a low range, hill-descent control, and Jeep’s Selec-Terrain dial. Similar to a system first seen on Land Rovers, Selec-Terrain can optimize the mechanicals for different surfaces, such as pavement, sand, snow, rocks, and mud. The third four-wheel-drive system, Quadra-Drive, comes only with the Hemi V-8 and adds an electronic limited-slip rear differential along with Selec-Speed, which functions as an ultra-low-speed off-road cruise control.
The Grand Cherokee remains exclusively a two-row offering. Rear-seat space and access are notably better than in previous models, however, and the Summit and Overland come standard with an extra-large sunroof over both the front and rear seats. It’s a pretty swell interior, and we might feel bad mucking it up with sand or mud.
That’s right, we never took this Summit off the pavement—just like most owners. (We’ve spent enough time with Grand Cherokees slogging through mud and climbing over rocks to know its abilities.) In a sea of car-based crossovers, the Jeep’s off-road acumen sets the Grand Cherokee apart, and yet the compromises it demands are few. It’s a pretty nice vehicle to spend time with—that’s true even if you don’t really need one, which has always been a key to this Jeep’s success. This V-6 engine has enough power to do the job, but buyers tempted by such a capable vehicle could be easily tempted to opt for more engine, too.
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