Overall, as the video above shows and tells - the 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit is an incredible achievement for Jeep and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles overall.
It is extremely rigid in the platform, with zero quiver or body flex evident. This is probably the biggest change versus any other Jeep GC that has come before. Many of the piecemeal tech and equipment updates from across the FCA Group really come together exceptionally well for the Jeep Grand Cherokee. These include the new 3.6-liter V6 engine, the new eight-speed automatic transmission, a cabin quality unreachable before, and even some nice handling moves.
Of course, while this is an achievement for FCA and Jeep - it is unusual that the excellence of the Grand Cherokee remains an outlier versus the other new models: cars like the Dodge Dart and the new Cherokee are all much more clearly a hodgepodge of solutions that do not always synergize well.
It is also worrying because, as we all know, this Grand Cherokee shares its entire chassis and running gear like the suspension with the latest Mercedes-Benz ML and GL-Class SUVs.
So, Jeep certainly deserves much credit and good sales performance with the outstanding 2014 Grand Cherokee. But to an outsider, if these ideas and executions were Jeep's true competence, they would be able to be repeated.
Just like scoring a 100-percent on a math test is guaranteed if you cheat, a 60-percent failing grade is also a sure thing on the big final exam.
The best features of the 2014 Grand Cherokee Summit V6 are:
-- Chassis refinement and smooth ride on optional air suspension
-- Ride height adjustments also easy on air springs.
-- Transmission responsiveness and engine pep are very good in the V6 GC - which is unexpected. Most would assume the optional V8 and optional EcoDiesel V6 would e required to have such excellent powertrain performance
...AND THE LOWS
-- The lows can be grouped into two giant buckets: interior roominess is the first bucket, and it is overflowing.
-- The Grand Cherokee feels small and cramped inside. despite its massive size, the GC is plainly very small in front and back versus cars like the Ford Explorer and Nissan Pathfinder.
-- The other giant bucket of shortcomings is the price. The Grand Cherokee is overpriced by at least $10,000 at the top of the long and confusing trim ladder, and by at least $5000 at the bottom end.
-- This leads to pricing that will make you fall out of your chair. This Summit spec is loaded, of course, with every fancy Quadra-Drive II 4x4 and supple suspension that Jeep has ini ts arsenal. But pricing of $55,000 for any V6 Jeep is hopelessly optimistic -- the Cayenne carries a $49,000 base price, to put things in perspective.
So, the Grand Cherokee is great. Unfortunately, Jeep recognizes this fact and added nearly a 30-percent premium versus the old model every single step of the way.
What about a cheaper Laredo GC? It will carry the same benefits discussed above -- excluding the posh cabin and air springs -- and the same engine/transmission as this Summit V6. With pricing in the $35,000 ballpark, the Grand Cherokee Laredo makes much, much more sense.
Tradeoffs abound, however. The cheap trims lack any cool exterior style like the Summit's lower black-chrome intake areas - and even lack the very attractive LED in the headlights. So while the Laredo is far better value than the Summit for 2014, many people will not even know it is a new Jeep.
That is a predicament for FCA and Jeep -- as is the inability to recreate the Grand Cherokees merits inside any car not running a Mercedes-Benz chassis.
It will be a rough road ahead for many FCA brands like Dodge and Chrysler. But with air springs (and hopefully a big discount), you can ride out the bumps in relaxed comfort via the 2014 Grand Cherokee Summit.
Compare trims and build your own 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee here.
All the Grand Cherokee's appear to be available in rear-drive as well -- which is definitely worth considering if you live in a hot and dry climate. Tail-out power-slides a Jeep GC would certainly be a new experience for most 4x4 drivers!
Choosing a 4x4 system for the top-range Jeep models comes down the standard Quadra-TracII system or the uprated Quadra-Drive II system.
The QDII system brings locking diffs, while all Limited-and-above GC's have terrain controls and sport modes.
The key features that make the Summit and Overland so enticing are:
- standard LED accents in bi-xenon HID headlights (optional on lower trims, standard here)
- standard Quadra-Lift air suspension. This is the smoothest and best way to cruise and road, so it must make off-roading even more posh as well. A lifted ride height setting is also in the cards for these air-spring Jeeps.
In terms of amenities and exterior style: the top our models do offer a variety of trims and general aesthetics. The below table shows the comparison.
My preference is for the Overland's lower brightwork slash in the bumper, but with the Summit's painted sills and other detailing.
Luckily, a stylish new model is in the cards for 2014 as well: the GC Altitude that is coming in a few months.
Grand Cherokee Altitude - Coming soon.
MSRP* starting at $35,290
Gloss Black Door Badge and Front Grille
Halogen Black-Finish Headlamps
Gloss Black 20-Inch Wheels
Available in Six Colors: Bright White, Brilliant Black, Billet Silver, Maximum Steel, Deep Cherry Red Crystal Pearl and Granite Crystal
Black Capri Leather-Trimmed Seats with Black Axis II Perforated Suede Inserts and Black Accent Stitching
8.4-Inch Touchscreen Radio
2014 JEEP Grand Cherokee Summit V6 - ATLANTA TEST