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  • William Maley
    William Maley

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

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      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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