Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Platinum road test review
GRAND Cherokee sales have certainly boosted Jeep's bottom line this year, with a successful marketing campaign creating impetus by selling a dream of versatility, confidence and off-road adventure.
But customer disappointment with a sometimes untoward rear suspension and niggles with electronic equipment has wiped off some of the gloss.
Enter the Grand Cherokee Summit Platinum (GCSP), an impressive limited edition addition that Jeep is hoping will help retain interest in the line but also serve to reassure buyers that the company is committed to ensuring an improved experience for Australian consumers.
The GCSP has the grunt and nerve to complement an impressive equipment list and presents as a good-looking, practical, value-for-money proposition.
The GCSP is brimming with standard features - even more than you would expect at this price-point - and including a beautifully clear and crisp 19-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system that will help you reconnect with your favourite play list sans the distortion evident in so many in-car systems.
Heated and cooled electrically adjustable leather seats offer both support and comfort in a cabin that is well suited to the whims of the driver.
Wood grain accents liven the darker palette providing a nice foil for the 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment display, the latter incidentally one of the easiest to use and most innovative offerings around.
Our test car was equipped with a couple of DVD screens for the kids, a $2500 option with Bluetooth head phones, that had our littlies entranced with the adventures of Geronimo Stilton all week.
On the road
Interestingly, the Platinum sports Jeep's 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo-diesel engine rather than its grander premium V8 but the 184kW of power generated, and more especially the 570Nm of torque, ensures it moves along at a brisk pace - not an easy task in a vehicle of this size.
The drive is smooth, capable and solid, with the GCSP barrelling along with ease, its heavy body more often than not a trusty accomplice than a lumbering hindrance.
There is some lag initially but it quickly finds its stride and it is confident and powerful on the open road and gnarly city traffic.
Cornering gets better once you get used to a steering that feels nicely weighted but offers negligible feedback and while there is some body roll it doesn't deter from the enjoyment of the experience.
The ride can feel a bit firm - you certainly feel the bumps - but that's probably got more to do with the 20-inch wheels than it does with an overzealous suspension.
Off the road, the GCSP is not afraid to roll up the sleeves and get its hands dirty, it is a Jeep after all, embracing the allure of the road not travelled (although it helps if it is not too far from civilization).
The Quadra auto-levelling air suspension and Selec-Terrain Drive II 4WD system are a compelling duo helping the Summit Platinum find and keep its feet on rugged slippery terrain. Grip is good and intent is on the money.
It is on the angle of departure 29.6 degrees with the lower bumper in place that perhaps stops it from being a true off-road beast.
What do you get?
Well, limited edition models of this ilk are not short on the fancies and the GCSP has a bucket load of goodies.
Leather seat trim spills over to the doors, centre console, instrument panel, gear shifter and armrest with the GCSP also boasting premium sat-nav with 3D mapping, rear-view camera with park lines, 8.5-inch colour touchscreen infotainment system with Bluetooth connectivity, 20-inch alloys, auto lights and wipers, self-dimming mirrors and electric tailgate.
The Platinum accents can be found on the grille, fog lamp bezels, rear step pad, lower fascias and door sills.
Safety has been improved to feature 13 airbags, blind-spot monitoring, forward collision warning and crash mitigation.
Jeep's official figures stand at 7.5l/100km. Of course we were a bit off that mark registering 9.5l/100km but didn't feel hard done by.
Jeep offers a 3 year/100,000km warranty but no fixed-price servicing yet.
This special edition Summit straddles the line between rugged off-road capability and luxury with potential buyers also likely to look at the Toyota LandCruiser Prado Kakadu (from $84,490), Volkswagen Touareg V6 TDI (from $81,990), Land Rover Discovery 4 SDV6 SE (from $84,430) as well as the entry level BMW X5 (from $84,200) and Mercedes-Benz M250 CDI (from $83,900)
Look, this GCSP offers a great alternative for those who want the versatility of off-road prowess and on-road comfort.
A braked towing capacity of 3500kg is not to be sniffed at and it certainly has the muscle to live up to that claim.
The Summit Platinum has excellent features and very sensible storage options, with the 782-litres of cargo space perfect for those family adventures.
Talking about families, there is no seven-seat option, a disadvantage if you have more than two kids or if you need to carry someone else's on a regular basis.
We are big fans of the active noise cancellation system and acoustic glass to helps keep cabin noise to a minimum - you can still hear the diesel clatter but mostly just at idle.
The GCSP is certainly a hulk of a thing, not quite as formidable as the SRT8, but nonetheless a confident, no-nonsense entity that can be relied upon to get the job done. It has presence, this Jeep, thanks to the Platinum exterior additions and there is joy to be had in lingering before jumping in and starting her up.
As special editions go, the Grand Cherokee Summit Platinum is certainly one of the memorable ones packed with value-added extras and technology and delivering a spirited performance on and off the bitumen. We would have loved to see it with a V8 though.
Jeep knows how to capture the attention - the sales resulting from their "I bought a Jeep" campaign is proof of that. The challenge will be to keep it and to build customer confidence so that offerings like the Summit Platinum gets the attention it deserves.
Model: Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit Platinum.
Details: Five-door 4x4 large SUV.
Engines: 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo-diesel generating maximum power of 184kW @ 4000rpm and peak torque of 570Nm @ 2000rpm.
Transmission: Eight-speed auto with dual-range 4WD.
Consumption: 7.5 litres/100km combined.
Bottom line: From $78,000.
What matters most
What we liked: High equipment levels, excellent towing capacity, capable performance.
What we'd like to see: Better approach and departure angles, more luxurious interior.
Warranty and servicing: 3 year 100,000km warranty. Services at 10,000km or six months.
Driving experience 16/20
Features and equipment 17/20
Functionality and comfort 17/20
Value for money 18/20
Style and design 17/20