The 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee, in its current generation, is doing a better job straddling the line between contemporary and traditional, perhaps better than any family-oriented Jeep to date. While some might not be fans of the latest grille and front-end styling, it still fits together in a way that's entirely cohesive, in this day of seemingly incongruous identikit details.
Perhaps in a move to fit in a bit better with the more radical look of the smaller Cherokee, the look of the front end and the grille were toned down a couple of years ago. As it stands, the grille is a bit thinner and smaller than it was, and it's an understatement in a segment that seems to prefer flesh and big chrome. We like it for that—and how Jeep doesn't feel a new to double-underline its iconic design cue.
The 2016 Grand Cherokee stands as a pretty sophisticated piece, even if you take it into perspective alongside luxury-brand rivals. The side view does remind us a bit—or a lot—of the BMW X5, while the all versions now get a spoiler. The LED taillights give the rear-end appearance a little more attitude—all amplified, of course, for the high-performance SRT model.
With its last full redesign, for 2011, the Jeep Grand Cherokee changed its ways, shedding its somewhat blue-collar look for something more affluent and pedigreed in demeanor. Then a couple of years ago, the addition of a stitched-leather dash and ambient lighting brought the perfect amount of glamping influences to this high-line SUV.
What it adds up to, today, is Chrysler's best interior. Even considering the now beautiful interiors for the Charger and Durango, and the excellent, stylish look afforded to the Jeep Cherokee and Renegade models, the Grand Cherokee stands on its own. And it's fairly amazing in how it feels like an GLE-Class, which it sort of is, or a Cayenne, which it supersedes in many ways.
Even in base versions, the Grand Cherokee interior feels warm, and anything but plain. All versions get a chunky three-spoke steering wheel, a usefully arranged center stack of controls capped with inoffensive metallic-plastic trim, and a 5.0-inch LCD touchscreen for audio.
Materials get stepped up, as you move up to Limited, Overland, and Summit models. Jeep applies real wood trim on the dash, doors, and the steering wheel, and it begs to be touched, just as the last-generation vehicle's trimmings wanted to be kept at a distance. This is an interior that's at its best with some of the warmer, organic trims—not the ones with a lot of brightwork—so it's in its best light in Summit's organic coloring, under the natural light of the panoramic roof.
Last year, the top Summit trim gained an available Summit California Edition, which traded in the brightwork or body-color pieces for a more monochrome look. This year there's a High Altitude Special Edition that does dark chrome with the look and includes some other feature upgrades.
The SRT model adds a Red Vapor package, with unique interior trim, a backlit steering-wheel emblem, Radar Red interior accents, and black chrome 20-inch wheels.
For 2016 SRT models can come equipped in a Night trim with blacked-out wheels, pillars, spoiler and roof for nearly $5,000. We hear there's one born every 15 minutes.