First things first, the superficial: How good does the Jeep Grand Cherokee Altitude look in a snowy environment?
We continue to think that the Grand Cherokee Altitude is one of the best looking Jeeps in recent memory. It appears menacing, tough, capable, and the way that the darker “Altitude” cosmetic features contrast with wintry surroundings… We’re fans.
So then, the more practical – is it winter ready from the factory?
Many Jeep commercials display adventurous imagery; Jeeps of all varieties plunging through mud puddles, climbing slick rock, and blasting through feet of snow.
A recent snow storm gave us some insight into the winter readiness of the Grand Cherokee Altitude. The storm delivered about 6” throughout the course of the day, so the progressively worsening conditions allowed us to evaluate how the Altitude manages in both light and moderate-heavy snow conditions.
More than about 3” of snow and the Grand Cherokee Altitude begins to be pushed around a bit by the conditions, and “shifts” laterally with the ruts and small drifts encountered on snowy roads.* The 20” all season Goodyear Fortera HL Edition tires feel overwhelmed in the deep stuff.
Longitudinal grip, however, remains very solid. Even in 6” of snow the Grand Cherokee Altitude doesn’t struggle for forward momentum, and we found both light and deep snow braking performance very respectable.
The Jeep’s traction control system is a point of frustration. It’s not dissimilar to previous generation performance car traction control systems, if you’re familiar with those.
When traction is compromised – no matter in a major or (very) minor way – the system intervenes suddenly and with authority. The sensation from behind the wheel is that the system basically shuts vehicle drive down altogether. And then, some moments (emphasis added) after the Jeep recovers from the traction loss, power is restored.
Our only other quibble has to do with the wiper blades. For whatever reason they have a magnetic attraction to ice and snow, even long after the vehicle is warmed up, defroster on, etc. In a storm we’re routinely forced to hop out to knock the blades off. No such issue with any of our other winter vehicles.
So while the Grand Cherokee Altitude doesn’t quite live up to the deep snow adventure imagery, most drivers will find it plenty capable on road through the winter months. Not to mention, it looks extra awesome in any winter landscape, and the interior heated elements make it a very hospitable winter vehicle.
*No doubt this would be counteracted with a good set of SUV snow tires like the Dunlop Grandtrek SJ6.