Review: 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve Challenges German Luxury SUVs
Jeep's gradual push into luxury has been led for the past decade by the Grand Cherokee, which until the recent unveiling of the super-sized truck-based Grand Wagoneer represented the brand's flagship SUV. Despite the presence of a larger sibling in the lineup, the Grand Cherokee's 2022 redesign has seen it push even more of its chips into the premium pot by presenting its most opulent lineup of features and options to date.
Don't be mistaken: Jeep's two-row hauler still covers a surprising swath of territory, stretching from its sub-$40k Laredo model all the way up to its $65k-plus Summit Reserve (with an upcoming plug-in hybrid edition adding more bucks to the top-tier). Each of these models also delivers a degree of off-road capability that's frequently lacking from other mid-size family fare, giving the Grand Cherokee a level of versatility that has long been its calling card among those looking for a do-it-all commuter with trail-friendly leanings.
If you choose to buy in to Jeep's premium posture, does the all-new Grand Cherokee deliver an experience comparable to the German sport-utility vehicles that typically dominate the upper reaches of its price spectrum? Whether you're surprised by the answer or not will depend on just how familiar you've been with the vehicle's inexorable march towards country club respectability.
Refining a Familiar Face
The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve might be the most expensive model in the showroom — my heavily-optioned tester stickered for over $75,000 — but it does share a lot of its basic trappings with other members of the Grand Cherokee family.
Like the three-row L model that arrived nearly a year beforehand, the two-row Grand Cherokee benefits from its first fresh platform in over 10 years. The unibody design has been stretched by 3.4 inches, with most of that benefiting the cabin in the form of extra wheelbase. Cargo space is also marginally more capacious than before, topping out at 70.8 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. Despite the vehicle's larger proportions, the Jeep weighs in lighter than the model it replaces, which is a welcome trend reversal for mid-size SUVs.
From a visual perspective, the Grand Cherokee's greenhouse has been massaged to offer better sightlines, while the front end features more of the same LED lighting detail that Jeep (and Stellantis in general) has become known for. Aside from more muscular creases running down the length of the vehicle, the Grand Cherokee presents a clear styling link to the model that preceded it.
One Eye on the Trail
The Jeep's chassis also retains a number of familiar features. A trio of four-wheel drive systems are available, with the Summit Reserve snagging the Quadra-Drive II unit and its electronically-controlled limited-slip differential and multiple drive modes for dealing with various types of terrain (Selec-Terrain). Trailhawk models slather on further crawl-friendly gear.
The vehicle I drove also came with adjustable air suspension as standard equipment, a feature that offers up to 11.3 inches of ground clearance. Unfortunately, the extended computer chip shortage has seemingly sliced the inflatable coils from the order sheet, as it's not currently possible to specify anything other than steel springs when building a Grand Cherokee online. Trust me, it's worth the wait for the additional ride comfort and water fording (up to 2 feet) that this feature makes possible, so you might want to be patient before plunking down a deposit.
Carry-Over Engines, Smooth Handling
The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee carries over both of its engine options, with a 293hp version of its 3.6L V6 joined by an optional 357hp, 5.7L Hemi V8. As yet, there are no turbodiesel, SRT or Trackhawk drivetrains making the leap from the last-gen Jeep.
My test unit featured the latter, matched with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and it proved to be well-paired with the Summit Reserve's bulk, and livelier than the same engine felt when driving the heavier, extended-length Grand Cherokee L.
Acceleration was brisk but it came at the cost of fuel efficiency, as the vehicle returned a mere 15 mpg on a driving stint that included long sections of highway and a two-lane road trip through up-and-down country roads (official EPA estimates are 14 mpg city and 22 mpg highway). As with the L, I couldn't help but notice the same low-speed vibrations through the drivetrain that marred the experience behind the wheel when they occasionally crept into the conversation.
As expected, the standard wheelbase Grand Cherokee felt much more planted when pushed through a curve. Albeit still an SUV, in "Sport" mode the vehicle's nannies allowed for a bit of sliding fun on slush-covered spring roads; in "Snow" mode, the limits were more firmly established, and prevented some of the understeer noticeable on slick surfaces when the vehicle was left in "Auto." Confidence was high regardless of road conditions, and the overall ride quality from the air cushion was excellent.
The Best Grand Cherokee Interior to Date
Where the Grand Cherokee Summit Reserve truly excels is in the details of its decked out passenger compartment. A full load brings you diamond stitched leather seats (with heating, cooling and massage features), as well as light-colored wood accents and the latest 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment display (with an additional 10.1-inch screen positioned in front of the passenger). The Uconnect system also incorporates a very handy digital gauge cluster that continues to show why Stellantis is leading the pack when it comes to in-vehicle interfaces.
It's here that the vehicle displays gadgets such as night vision and of course its various adaptive cruise control and limited self-steering modes (aspects of which are also displayed on its 10-inch head-up readout).
There's no question that the interior of the Grand Cherokee is on par with anything you'll find from BMW or Mercedes-Benz, which is especially surprising given the price gap that stretches between the Jeep and SUVs like the X5 and the GLE-Class. The Summit Reserve is also a worthy step-up from mid-tier Jeeps like the Overland, which is not always a given when comparing and contrasting cabins within the ranks.
Welcome To The Big Leagues
While the previous-generation made a good case as a luxury contender, the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee (in either Summit or Summit Reserve trim) air walks its way over older editions of the sport-utility. While some might balk at spending so much money on the Jeep badge, one only has to look across the lot at the Grand Wagoneer and realize that there's still headroom for those with even deeper pockets to splurge.
To be sure, the Grand Cherokee is still appealing for more budget-conscious buyers, and its willingness to get down and dirty thanks to its solid ground clearance and goat-like four-wheel drive distances it from most other mid-size SUVs. In Summit Reserve trim, however, it places a class-above, cementing the brand's desire to poach from the preserves of customers not accustomed to shopping this side of the Atlantic.