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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Summit and Wrangler Unlimited 75th Anniversary

      These two models are only $5,555 apart in as-tested price. Is either one worth their expensive price tags?

    Very few things can cause utter surprise for me when it comes to reviewing vehicles. But there are those moments where it does happen. Recently, I spent some time in a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited 75th Anniversary. I had driven a Wrangler last year and knew what I getting myself into. It was when I looked at my paperwork that my jaw dropped to the floor. The Wrangler Unlimited I was driving carried a price tag of $48,530. I had to do a double-take to make sure I wasn’t misreading it. Once the shock passed me, I found myself whether I would be willing be pay this much for Wrangler or if it would be better to put the money towards a vehicle I drove the week before, a Grand Cherokee Summit.

     

    Both of these Jeeps stand at opposite ends of the exterior design spectrum. The Grand Cherokee has an understated look with a shape that can trace its roots back to the original model from 1993. There is a fair amount of chrome used on the grille slots, rear bumpers, and side window trim. The Wrangler is the bolder of the two with a squared-off body, flared wheel arches, and spare tire carrier on the back. The 75th Anniversary edition brings 17-inch bronze wheels, new bumpers, dark green paint, and 75th Anniversary badging. While these two models have differing approaches, the end result is the same; both are quite handsome.

     

    In terms of the interiors, it is clear these vehicles are aimed at different audiences. The Grand Cherokee Summit stands as the Grand Cherokee’s flagship (aside from the SRT) and it shows with high-quality materials such as real wood, soft touch plastics, and brown leather. This helps bring a sense of luxury that hasn’t appeared in a Grand Cherokee till this generation. Seats provide excellent support, and there is enough space for passengers sitting in the back. The only downside to Grand Cherokee’s interior is the center stack. Compared to the rest of the interior, it seems completely out of place. At least UConnect is still one of the easiest infotainment systems to use.

     

    The Wrangler’s interior, on the other hand, isn’t as luxurious with loads of hard plastics and a more utilitarian look. There is a benefit to this as you’ll know the interior will stand up to the harshness of mother nature. Plus, you can use a hose to wash out the interior - drain plugs are underneath the floor mats. The Unlimited does bring forth a longer wheelbase which allows for more leg and cargo room, plus two rear doors. The added space is appreciated for anyone sitting in the back. Getting into the back is another story with a narrow opening will cause some folks to contort their body to get in.

     

    Both models feature the same 3.6L Pentastar V6, albeit with different outputs. The Grand Cherokee features 295 horsepower and the Wrangler gets 285. Not much difference on paper, but the road tells a different story. The Grand Cherokee’s V6 feels slightly more flexible with power coming at a linear rate. The Wrangler’s V6 feels somewhat anemic and one where you have to work it to get up to speed at a decent clip. The difference most likely comes down to the transmission. The Grand Cherokee gets an eight-speed automatic, while the Wrangler makes due with a five-speed. This also explains the difference in the average fuel economy for both vehicles: 19 MPG for the Grand Cherokee and 16.4 MPG for the Wrangler.

     

    When it comes to the ride, the Wrangler Unlimited almost matches the Grand Cherokee. The longer wheelbase on the Unlimited helps provide a smoother ride than the standard model. However, bigger bumps will make their way inside. Contrast this with the Grand Cherokee where most bumps are nonexistent to those sitting inside. It should be noted that compared to the previous Grand Cherokees I drove back in 2014, this one had a lot more tire noise coming into the cabin. Blame the low-rolling resistance tires fitted onto our tester.

     

    But the Wrangler Unlimited begins to gain some ground back when it comes to off-road driving. With meaty off-road tires, flexible suspension, and a simple to engage four-wheel drive system, the Wrangler Unlimited can go anywhere with no issues. Going through a dirt trail with mud pits, I was amazed as to how the Wrangler shrugged it off like it was nothing. That isn’t to say the Grand Cherokee isn’t a slouch off-road. It features the Quadra-Trac II full-time four-wheel drive system with Terrain Select - a system that can alter various settings for the various terrains you find yourself on. The Grand Cherokee Summit also features an air suspension that can be raised to improve overall ground clearance when tackling an off-road trail. Sadly, I didn’t get the chance to drive the Grand Cherokee off-road during my week with it.

     

    If you were to ask me which of the two Jeeps I would buy, I would have to say it would be the Grand Cherokee. That isn’t to say the Wrangler Unlimited 75th Anniversary is bad. I just feel for the price that is being asked is too much for what you get. You would be better off getting a hold of either a Sport, Willys Wheeler, or Rubicon as the value argument works for them. The Grand Cherokee Summit, on the other hand, can more than justify its price tag as most of the equipment such as navigation, panoramic sunroof, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, and more are standard. The only option on our tester was the brown leather.

     

    Both of these vehicles are aimed at different audiences and do a very good job of satisfying them. But when it comes down to prices being asked for either vehicle, the Wrangler Unlimited comes up short.

     

    Disclaimer: Jeep Provided the vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

     


     

    Year: 2016
    Make: Jeep
    Model: Grand Cherokee
    Trim: Summit
    Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6
    Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Full-Time 4WD
    Horsepower @ RPM:
    Torque @ RPM:
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 18/25/21
    Curb Weight: lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Detroit, MI
    Base Price: $52,595
    As Tested Price: $54,085 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

     

    Options:
    DarkSienna Brown/Black Interior - $495.00

     

    Year: 2016
    Make: Jeep
    Model: Wrangler Unlimited
    Trim: 75th Anniversary
    Engine: 3.6L 24-Valve VVT V6
    Driveline: Five-Speed Automatic, Part-Time 4WD
    Horsepower @ RPM:
    Torque @ RPM:
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/20/18
    Curb Weight: lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Toledo, OH
    Base Price: $33,695
    As Tested Price: $48,530 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)

     

    Options:
    Jeep 75th Anniversary Package 24H - $4,680.00
    Dual Top Group - $1,785.00
    Tru-Lok Differential - $1,500.00
    Five-Speed Automatic - $1,350.00
    Freedom Top Body Color Three-Piece Hardtop - $1,100.00
    Alpine Premium Nine-Speaker Audio System w/All-Weather Subwoofer - $945.00
    Radio 430N - $600.00
    Hard Top Headliner - $495.00
    Supplemental Front-Seat Mounted Side Airbags - $495.00
    Remote Start System - $495.00

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    Love the write up and the comparisons, ending wise, the Grand Jeep Cherokee is a great auto, but is too refined for those of us that like to play in the outdoors.

     

    Wrangler it is! :P

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    Love the write up and the comparisons, ending wise, the Grand Jeep Cherokee is a great auto, but is too refined for those of us that like to play in the outdoors.

     

    Wrangler it is! :P

     

    This was cut during editing as I couldn't find a spot to for this to fit in, but I think it describes my feelings on both vehicles.

     

    "To put it you this way: If I was going to do the Moab trail, I would pick the Wrangler because I know it will get me there and back. As for getting to Moab, that would be handled by the Grand Cherokee."

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    Love the write up and the comparisons, ending wise, the Grand Jeep Cherokee is a great auto, but is too refined for those of us that like to play in the outdoors.

     

    Wrangler it is! :P

     

    This was cut during editing as I couldn't find a spot to for this to fit in, but I think it describes my feelings on both vehicles.

     

    "To put it you this way: If I was going to do the Moab trail, I would pick the Wrangler because I know it will get me there and back. As for getting to Moab, that would be handled by the Grand Cherokee."

     

     

    That is a perfect ending IMHO! :D I would totally agree with you. Have the Grand Cherokee pulling a trailer with the Rubicon Wrangler on the back. Leave the Grand Cherokee at the trailhead with Trailer and go play for the weekend in the wrangler.

     

    Nice job Bill! :metal:

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    50k for a Wrangler?!?! When did this happen??

    The price for a conservatively equipped Wrangler Sport (2-door) is around $35k.  Loaded the Wrangler Unlimited can top $50k.  I personally can't see the appeal, but they sold 202,702 Wranglers (they don't separate the Unlimited from the regular) in 2015...an increase from 175,328 in 2014!  So there are obviously a lot of people who think it's worth the price. 

     

    I'm pretty confident that the profit margin on the Wrangler is much higher than the Grand Cherokee, so these things are a real money-maker for FCA.  They also depreciate at a much slower rate than the average vehicle, so they have great resale value.  Again, it's not for me but there's obviously a lot of buyers out there willing to pay the price for one.

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      Torque @ RPM: 295 @ 2,200
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/32/25
      Curb Weight: 4,291 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Gothenburg, Sweden
      Base Price: $57,780
      As Tested Price: $67,740 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound - $3,200.00
      Advanced Package - $1,500.00
      4-Corner Air Suspension - $1,200.00
      21" 8-Multi Spoke Wheels - $800.00
      Metallic Paint - $645.00
      Massage in Front Seat - $500.00
      Air Quality with Advanced Air Cleaner - $250.00
    • By William Maley
      The NX 300h does stand out in the crowd from other compact crossovers with a chiseled look: Deep creases along the side, angular headlights, and the distinct spindle grille. My tester came finished in an orange color which helps amplify various design traits. The NX is also spacious for a compact luxury crossover. There is plenty of legroom for both front and rear-seat passengers. Rear headroom is at a premium for tall passengers, especially when ordering the optional panoramic sunroof. Where the NX falls flat is in ergonomics. For example, if you want to turn on the heated steering wheel, you need to press a button on a small control panel that is positioned towards your left knee. This is also where you find the switch to turn on the auto high beams and other settings. Who thought this was a good idea?! Then there is Lexus Remote Touch - a small touchpad that provides input for the 10.3-inch infotainment system. One wrong swipe or press on the touchpad means you’ll end up on a different screen or changing a different setting. It also makes using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto very unintuitive. The NX 300h’s power comes from a 2.5L Atkinson-Cycle gas engine paired with an electric motor. Output is rated at 194 horsepower. The 300h is only available as an all-wheel drive model. If most of your driving is around town, the NX Hybrid will impress. The electric motor helps add some pep to the acceleration and makes it a pleasure to drive. Where the powertrain falters is on the highway. It takes a noticeable amount of time to get up to speed and passes need to be planned out. Fuel economy figures for the NX 300h aren’t too shabby for the class. EPA figures are 33 City/31 Highway/30 Combined. My average for the week landed at 31.2 mpg. Handling is a bit of a surprise as the NX 300h feels confident around a winding road with minimal body roll. Ride quality is excellent with bumps of all sizes soaked up. Lexus still hasn’t ironed out the transition from regenerative braking to four-wheel disc braking, making it difficult to modulate the brakes. I feel mixed on the NX 300h. On one hand, the hybrid powertrain does give it a slight advantage over most of its competitors in terms of fuel economy. It can also be a nice place to sit in. But in other areas, the NX 300h does lag behind competitors - primarily in terms of ergonomics, infotainment, and performance if you’re doing a large amount of highway driving. The biggest issue is the price. My tester stickers at $50,905 which puts you in the realm of the RX. Unless you can score a decent deal on an NX 300h, wait for the next-generation model due out later this year. 
      UX 250h
      The only differences between this 250h and 200 F-Sport I drove last year in terms of looks are no sporty touches (mesh grille and side skirts), and new wheels. I liked the F-Sport, but the standard UX takes the cake when finished in this Nori Green color. The interior comes well furnished with leather upholstery, soft-touch materials, dual-zone climate control, and power adjustments for the seat. Front seat passengers will not have any issues finding a position that works, but they may be surprised with the low seating position. Those sitting in the back will like the amount of headroom on offer, but legroom can vary depending on where the front seats are set. Compared to standard UX and its small cargo area, the UX 250h’s space is even smaller. It measures 17.1 cubic feet, about 4.6 cubic feet smaller than the UX 200. This decrease in space is due to the battery pack which sits underneath the cargo floor. Infotainment duties are provided by Lexus Enform with Remote Touch. On the plus side, Lexus has finally added Android Auto compatibility, alongside Apple CarPlay. On the negative side is the Remote Touch touchpad which is imprecise and difficult to make fine selections. I can only hope that a new touchscreen system is around the corner. Under the NX 250h’s hood is Lexus Hybrid Synergy Drive which comprises of a 2.0L Atkinson-Cycle gas engine and electric motor to produce a total output of 181 horsepower. Unlike other UXs, the 250h comes standard with all-wheel drive via an electric motor on the second axle. Performance characteristics are similar to the NX 300h; does very decently around town with the added thrust of the two electric motors, but falters in terms of highway driving and passing. Fuel economy is pretty impressive for this vehicle - 41 City/38 Highway/39 Combined on the EPA cycle. My average for the week landed around just over 39. Handling is pretty impressive with little body roll and steering having some nice heft when turning. The suspension tries its best to smooth over bumps, but the standard run-flat tires do mean some will make their way inside. The UX 250h is an intriguing option in the subcompact luxury crossover class. The fuel economy figures and handling characteristics help it stand apart from other models. But the small cargo area and infotainment system are major negatives.  Disclaimer: Lexus Provided the crossovers, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Lexus
      Model: NX
      Trim: 300h
      Engine: 2.5L DOHC 16-valve Dual VVT-i Four-Cylinder, Electric Motors on Front and Rear Axles
      Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 154 @ 5,700 (gas engine); 141 (electric motor on front axle); 67 (electric motor on rear axle); 194 (combined)
      Torque @ RPM: 152 @ 4,400
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 33/30/31
      Curb Weight: 4,180 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Tahara, Aichi, Japan
      Base Price: $39,070
      As Tested Price: $50,555.00 (Includes $1,025.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Premium Package - $3,270.00
      Navigation/Mark Levinson 14-Speaker System - $2,920.00
      Triple-Beam LED Headlights - $1,515.00
      Panoramic Back-up View Monitor - $800.00
      Premium Paint - $595.00
      Power Back Door with Kick Sensor - $550.00
      Intuitive Park Assist with Auto Braking - $535.00
      Leather Heated Steering Wheel - $150.00
      Auto-Dimming Rear View Mirror - $125.00
      Year: 2020
      Make: Lexus
      Model: UX
      Trim: 250h
      Engine: 2.0L 16-Valve DOHC, VVT-i Four-Cylinder, Electric Motors on Front and Rear Axles
      Driveline: CVT, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 181 (combined)
      Torque @ RPM: N/A
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 41/38/39
      Curb Weight: 3,605 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: Miyawaka, Fukuoka, Japan
      Base Price: $39,550
      As Tested Price: $43,625 (Includes $1,025.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Triple-Beam LED Headlights with Auto-Leveling - $1,660.00
      Parking Assist, with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert - $565.00
      Head-Up Display - $500.00
      Heated Steering Wheel - $150.00
      Windshield Deicer - $100.00
      Wireless Charger - $75.00

      View full article
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