We have to wonder just what Willie and Joe would have thought about the 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit, and not just the length of its name. Willie and Joe, cartoon creations of Bill Mauldin in Stars and Stripes during World War II, were a couple of war weary “dogface” GI’s who often as not were in company with the original military Jeep, a warzone workhorse but as far from luxury as Bastogne was from Beverly Hills.
The real life Willies and Joes are leaving us at about 700 per day now. But over the decades since the dogfaces slogged through Europe, the original military Jeep has evolved into a lineup that includes the a direct descendant—the Jeep Wrangler—as well as an off-road ready vehicle cushier than a Packard and far more unbelievable than the greatest flight of Buck Rogers fantasy. Who knew? The Jeep of sixty years into the future would have a place to plug in one of Joseph Schick’s fancy new electric razors. Howzat! And music beamed in from space.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee is, of course, a familiar sight on the American highway today, enough so that Jeep has been able to develop a wide range of trim levels for its full-size SUV. At one end there’s the rear-wheel drive Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo, starting at $27,695 at the low end, and at the other, the max lux Grand Cherokee Overland Summit (with, along with the on-pavement high-performance Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 models with prices into the low $60k neighborhood, and the ultimate off-road Grand Cherokee, the new-for-2013 Grand Cherokee Trailhawk, debuting for the 2013 model year).
“Summit” was added to “Overland” with the 2011 model year. Prior to then, Overland was the niftiest you could get, but getting to the top of the hill meant polished 20-inch aluminum wheels replacing painted rims the same size, plus chrome around the fog lights and a new chrome grille with a chrome mesh. Dark burl real wood inserts graced the instrument panel, steering wheel, and door panel, with leather not only on the seats but stitched together for the dash as well, all in saddle-brown and black. The floor mats were Berber carpet. Adaptive cruise control and a blind-spot warning system, optional at $1295 option on the Overland, was standard for those who reached for the Summit.
Flash forward to 2013. Our test 2013 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland Summit—we should have a macro to type that out—adds new features for 2013, including headlight washers, power folding side view mirrors and front park assist. It’s mandatory option package—at least to make the Grand Cherokee an Overland Summit— that adds $4,000 to the price tag, bringing it to $47,595.
Newly available for 2013 is an all-black Nappa leather with accent stitching in Saddle, along with black Berber floor mats with black binding. Our tester, however, had the—let Jeep say it—the “Black lower and New Saddle upper interior trim, along with saddle-color Nappa heated and ventilated leather seats – with perforated inserts, accent piping and unique stitching.” Again, a long description, but one Willie and Joe would have appreciated, and so did we. It looks and feels, well, rich.
And that power tilt and telescoping steering wheel is heated. The “for the duration” would have been more endurable with that. It feels so good we can’t wait for it to be cold.
Standard under the hood for the Overland Summit is the same as other non-SRT models, Chrysler Group’s excellent 3.6-liter V-6. More appropriate for this level of trim, however, is Chrysler Group’s beloved 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, which is what powered our tester. The engine is rated at 360 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s the torque that impresses in this application, a solid midrange belt that makes driving around town or on the highway effortless. Full throttle doesn’t seem to produce that much additional acceleration, though our Grand Cherokee’s overall mass of 5,264 lbs might have something to do with that.