Oops, this got kinda long, so appologies in advance. Sorry, there are no Cliff's Notes.
I flew in to Houston Wednesday, 01-29-14 and was met at the airport by Brainstormer. Since I covered most of the delivery stuff in the "Texas folks group buy" thread I won't repeat it here. It took about 2 hours to get everything finalized (bought the rear cargo mat and took the Chrysler 1.9% financing) and I hit the road to my sister's house without setting any of the features other than the navigation.
At my sister's house:
Spent 3 hours or so the next morning re-reading the 600+ page owner's manual (pdf on my laptop), then took the laptop out to the jeep to get everything set up. Got my phone synced, Sirius stations pre-set, and all the other settings the way I wanted (at least, to start out).
Later, I tried to buy some oil at the local parts stores, but none had any in stock. The local Jeep dealer did, though, and so I picked up 4 qts of Pennzoil Ultra Euro L @ $9.35 ea. (about the same as O'Reilly's was charging, if they had it in stock). Since I haven't driven it today, I just checked the level and it didn't use any on my trip.
I left Houston early Friday morning for SoCal. I drove about 820 miles to Las Cruces, NM, leaving about 765 miles to reach home on Saturday.
I'm going to be pretty picky in my comments that follow, so it may seem like I'm not happy with this absolutely awesome vehicle. Nothing could be further from the truth, I love it - but still...
The paint is nearly flawless, with only a very slight amount of orange peel effect. Not so much that it looks bad, and it only shows at certain angles in a few places. I could find no other imperfections in the paint, and it was a nice sunny afternoon that day. Speaking of sunny days, the Deep Auburn Pearlcoat really "pops" in the sun; I'm really glad that's what I chose!
Alignment of the doors, hood, tailgate, tailights and exhaust tips are as close to perfect as can be. None of the window rubber seals were out of place. There were no loose or improperly installed door handles, trim pieces or anything else. I like the (relatively) small amount of chrome on it, and I'll leave it the way it is.
Deduct: .2 for the minor orange peel effect.
Fit and finish is exceptional; I haven't found any deficiencies in those areas. The materials are very nice, and I like the different textures of the various surfaces, both tactile and visual.
With the audio muted, I could barely hear the engine. With my usual audio level, I couldn't hear it at all. There was some wind & road noise, but mostly on the roughest road portions, and I was driving into high headwinds the entire trip. Much quieter than any other vehicle I've been in in quite awhile.
The only complaint I have is that the seats are too firm for long drives. Even stopping every couple of hours to stretch, my butt was sore by the end of the day (11-12 hours behind the wheel). I believe my ZJ has more comfortable seats as far as that part is concerned. Other than that, they look great and allow plenty of adjustment options, which helps.
Deduct: .5 for the hard seats
Engine & Transmission: 10/10
Well, what can I say that hasn't already been said? The engine just purrs, and pulls effortlessly. The 8 speed tranny is smooth, without any gear hunting. I don't think it ever downshifted on hills.
My trip home was all on interstate highways, primarily I-10 until I hit Riverside, CA. For the first 300 or so miles I varied the speed between 55 - 65, depending on the speed limit. After that, though, I kicked it on up to 75 mph through San Antonio. Once you get out of SA, the limit goes up to 80 through hill country and almost all the way to the New Mexico border.
Texas hill country - rest stop:
My calculated mileage was 24.8 for the first tank, dropping slightly to 23.6 on the 2nd tank (this was mostly the 80mph portion until NM, and then it was back to 75 mph again thru the first part of NM).
The 3rd tank got me thru the rest of NM and to the western side of AZ; I filled up for the 4th time in Quartzite, AZ. Mileage on the 3rd tank was 27.1, mostly cruising at 75 mph. The difference was that western NM and AZ were relatively flat compared with west Texas hill country.
The EVIC showed similar readings throughout the trip as my calculations, and for quite awhile during the 3rd tank it was showing 29.4 mpg. The bottom line is, when I kept it at around 65 mph, it looks like the 3.0 can easily achieve it's rated mpg, and can probably do better than 30 mpg. I'm more than happy with it!
I describe the ride quality as more on the firm side (rather than soft) but not harsh, and controlled in turns with little body roll.
The suspension went into "aero" mode without any issues, and I actually couldn't detect it lowering when it did or raising as I slowed down, but maybe I was just overwhelmed with everything else and didn't notice. I haven't tried any of the other 4WD modes yet.
The steering takes a little more effort than I expected, and I'm feeling it in my arms today. Nonetheless, I like the responsiveness so I'll just get used to it (probably too many miles behind the wheel of my highly modified and sloppy-steering ZJ!). Oh, the tight turning radius was an unexpected surprise - no wide swings for this one. Very nice.
Electronics & other features: 9.8/10
Wow, do these have all the bells and whistles, or what? And amazing to me is that for the most part after reading about everything in the owner's manual, it was very easy to set up, and on the road, fairly easy for me to remember how to adjust most things. OK, my age is starting to show on this item! The only thing I couldn't remember how to adjust while driving was the Active Cruise Control; it was set at the factory default of the longest distance, and that was annoying so I turned it off.
I really appreciate the blind spot detection; Brainstormer pointed that out to me on the ride from the airport to the dealership. Now that I'm more used to it, I can catch the little orange triangles out of the corner of my eyes without having to fully look at the mirrors. And the forward collision warning works well, too. The backup camera will take some getting used to, as I still haven't figured out the relationship between what I see on the screen and the actual distance to the object behind me.
Use of the navigation system was very similar to my Garmin Nuvi, so that was a breeze. I do wish you could set it to stay at a specific map scale after hitting the "-" soft key (i.e., zoom out); it changes back to the default position after some seconds. I like that when I was coming up on a highway split, the "lane feature" pops up in the center of the speedometer display, showing which lanes you should be in for the you've selected. No need to look over at the center stack, as it's right in front of you.
The voice command is a cool feature, and seemed to work perfectly for adjusting the climate control, using my phone, sending voice initiated texts, etc.
Probably the only thing that's slightly irritating is that the audio settings for balance don't stay set; every time I get in I have to re-adjust them as it defaults to mostly the front right side. Someone let me know if I missed a setting somewhere, but I didn't see one to "save" my preferences.
Deduct: .2 for the audio balance not staying set to my preference
Overall thoughts & rating: 9.8/10
Jeep's designers did a heck of a job with this model. Exterior styling, ergonomics, interior accoutrements - I am very pleased with this latest Grand Cherokee.
The JNAP crew did an outstanding job with assembly and QC; I didn't find a serious flaw with anything on my Summit.
I had a great 2 days driving back home after delivery, and I am glad I had that experience. I'm running out of adjectives to describe it, but it is an awesome Jeep. Thanks to all of you who made this happen!
I can't wait to get it out on some mild trails so I can check out it's off-road capabilities.