The 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee L is the first-ever three-row Grand Cherokee, and like its equally new two-row counterpart, it blends sharp good looks with a heavily upgraded interior that’s sure to impress anyone, but especially those who ever experienced the previous-generation Grand Cherokee. While that SUV was solid, it was also getting pretty old by the time this new version arrived for 2022. So, how does this new Jeep measure up as a larger, more-seater Grand Cherokee? While the cabin presents itself well at first glance, here’s what we found after spending a lot of time in it:
Bigger body, but not the biggest one out there
The Jeep Grand Cherokee L Limited is not as roomy as some of its competitors. The driver’s seating position, even at its lowest setting and not extending the arms of a 6-foot person, is solid, but the way Jeep angles the pedals almost vertically, the angle may not be comfortable for some drivers’ feet. On the other hand, the seats are supportive and comfortable, although taller passengers sitting in the second row may find there could be more knee room; legroom under the front seats is good, while second-row headroom is also decent.
How about third row seating? Yeah, forget it for anyone taller than five feet. The room on L’s third row is clearly aimed at children. This is not entirely unusual for the class, but there are other midsize three-rows with more spacious aft quarters. With the rear seats in use, at least storage space behind them isn’t overwhelmingly compromised as it can be in some three-row vehicles; obviously, folding the rear seats expands cargo space nicely.
The electric rear door controls are another bugaboo from way back. When you need to close the tailgate, you’ll find that the control isn’t on the tailgate itself, near the handle, like on most setups of this type. Instead, Jeep installs the button on the left side of the cargo hatch, by the quarter panel (this is fairly common practice among Stellantis/Chrysler/Dodge vehicles). If you had groceries or just some tall bags on that side of the trunk, you could easily cover the button, but the advantage is that once you get used to looking for the button there, it’s easier for smaller users than it would be if it was at the end of a long, open tailgate.
Convenience with less inconvenience
Some of the Grand Cherokee L’s minor conveniences, such as the button layout on the steering wheels, are just some of them. The innermost buttons could be closer to the steering wheel rim. Even for those with slightly larger mitts, it’s a reach for the thumbs to reach these controls without moving the hands while driving.
There are also two cruise control buttons, one for the regular, old-fashioned cruise control that holds a fixed speed, and another for the adaptive, radar-monitored version that can slow and speed the car to maintain a set speed. On the one hand, it’s nice that both buttons are presented rather than using one button and requiring the driver to press and hold it to toggle between fixed and adaptive settings; on the other hand, the two buttons look almost the same. (Hint: The adaptive control is the one between the follower distance adjustments.) Since there is no tactile difference between that button and the surrounding buttons for adjusting the follower distance, if you’re not looking, you could accidentally disable the radar cruise.
While the placement of lane keeping, auto stop-start, parking and other functions at the top of the dash above the touchscreen looks neat, the buttons blend in a little too smoothly with the surrounding trim. Light shining directly on top of the dashboard also reflects off these buttons, which can make them harder to read. It’s nothing insurmountable for an owner to get used to over time, just a first impression of the bugaboo.
Controls only for the familiar
We found the digital instrument cluster to look good, but accessing and manipulating some of its sub-menus has a learning curve. A standout? It’s not at first obvious how to change settings on the digital driver display, from switching from a digital speedometer layout to an analog-mimicking layout to choosing different blocks of information to display among the primary gauges (or digital readouts, depending on the view). Pressing a button on the left steering wheel brings up these alternate menu options, and then you have to scroll through them and select the one you want to jump into. In short, it’s easier to do when stationary, a little more mindful when you’re driving.
Once you get past the physical audio controls that share the same horizontal plane as the primary HVAC controls – the fan speed rocker switch is between the driver and passenger side heating and cooling switches, and all of these are tucked between two round knobs that are actually audio controls (volume to left, setting right)—you’ll remember how nice it is to have real dials and simple toggles in a modern interior.
As for the touchscreen above those controls, it runs Chrysler’s latest Uconnect software, which is just as intuitive as previous versions, all of which were among the most straightforward of them all. It’s easy to use and looks fresher than the Uconnect setup it replaces. Our only complaints are minor: We wish the speed limit indicator was larger and easier to spot on the navigation map, and if you plan to tow and wouldn’t mind seeing some extra gauges like your transmission temperature, they’re buried in the “terrain menu.” That wording isn’t exactly what you think of when you’re looking for that kind of towing-related information, but at least it’s there for display.
Hit D for Drive, but don’t rush
It’s a little too easy to turn the rotary shift knob for the transmission controls past the intended gear selection when you’re noodling around at low speeds during e.g. a parking maneuver. As long as your foot is on the brake (as it likely will be if you’re in park), you can turn the dial in reverse – useful for quickly shifting into reverse to, say, rock the Jeep out of a sticky situation in deep snow or sand, but it’s let down by the slow response of the gearbox itself, whose shifts can lag slightly according to your steering wheel position. In this Jeep and other new-generation Grand Cherokees, we’ve found that it can take a beat before, for example, the Jeep recognizes that you’ve selected park with the knob, causing the electronic parking brake to quickly engage if you open the door to exit, a safety feature likely intended to prevent rolling while passengers exit the vehicle.
When all is said and done… It’s pretty nice inside
The handful of minor user experience issues with the shifter and some buttons, all of which an owner would quickly get used to in daily use, pale in comparison to the impression of this new Jeep’s cabin. The materials used inside the Grand Cherokee’s interior are fine. Plastic parts don’t feel like plastic, and the leather looks and feels good to the touch, except perhaps for the fake wood trim, which feels like smooth, cheap plastic despite watching nice. The leather-wrapped steering wheel feels good in the hands and the seats keep you from sliding around during hard driving, even though this isn’t a sports car.
Everything about the Grand Cherokee L feels solid, a sensation backed up by its refined ride quality and general quietness at speed. Although the model we tested had a fairly muted color scheme inside, you can get richer, more expressive colors, especially at the higher end of the range.
Looks good! More details?