To viewers who’ve never watched American football, all I can say is that it’s a violent sport played by muscular athletes decked out in helmets and enormous protective gear. Under their rules, being tackled means being wrestled to the ground, mostly by defensive linemen standing well over 1.8 metres tall and weighing over 120kg. Compared to that, soccer seems like a gentlemanly pursuit.
In the automotive world, the Jeep Grand Cherokee with its tall stance and hulking dimensions is like an American football player. The Summit variant tested here even comes with more chrome trimmings (aka “bling”) than the Overland model.
The showiness continues once you climb aboard. Unlike the Overland, the Summit’s front seats are ventilated, while the headliner and A-pillars are covered in a suede-like material. There’s also an 825-watt Harman Kardon hi-fi system with not one, but three subwoofers!
More significantly, the Summit is equipped with a new 8-speed automatic gearbox, whereas the Overland still uses the more dated 5-speed auto. Thus, even though the same 3.6-litre V6 engine that delivers 286bhp/347Nm powers both models, the Summit’s performance is a lot smoother, as the extra forward ratios give the motor’s powerband a better spread. Plus, the V6 has a delightful soundtrack that continuously invites the driver to keep stretching it.
Encouraging one to explore unbeaten paths are the Summit’s Quadra-Trac II all-wheel-drive and Selec-Terrain traction control system. The former maximises grip by sending the motor’s torque to the axle with the most traction, while the latter electronically balances the powertrain, braking and suspension systems as the vehicle encounters various surfaces. It also lets the driver choose from one of five different settings (Mud, Sand, Snow, Rock and Auto) to help him travel to the ends of the earth and back.
But since most Jeeps will probably only be driven on asphalt, it’s a good thing that the Summit also comes with adjustable Quadra-Lift air suspension. Apart from the Off-Road 1, Off-Road 2 and Normal Ride Height (NRH) settings, there’s also an Aero mode, which supposedly improves aerodynamics (and high-speed handling) by lowering the suspension by 15mm.
One can accuse the Grand Cherokee Summit of being big, brash and intimidating. But that person will also have to agree that this SUV definitely has the “go” to match its “show”.
2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit 3.6 (A)
ENGINE 3604cc, 24-valves, V6
MAX POWER 286bhp at 6350rpm
MAX TORQUE 347Nm at 4300rpm
GEARBOX 8-speed automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H 9.1 seconds
TOP SPEED 206km/h
CO2 EMISSION 256g/km