When you are the most award-winning SUV, ever, with an almost 30-year history of awards and sales in the 7 million plus range, you need a very good reason to change the recipe. The all-new 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L retains the overwhelming majority of the Grand Cherokee’s previous formula, the same one that gave it the countless attaboys and top sales. But there’s a new ingredient inside the redesigned Grand Cherokee L we’ve never seen before – a third row of seats.
Why add seating to an SUV that already sells so well with standard two rows? Jeep executives told us that they have seen the mid-size SUV market evolve over the past 20 years, and a key component of this development is the increased flexibility that comes with a third row of seats. In fact, 70 percent of Grand Cherokee’s competitors now offer a third line, and Jeep’s own research showed that an increasing number of potential Jeep customers passed Grand Cherokee off their list of considerations for this reason.
Thus, the all-new 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee will come in two forms: a standard two-row version that we have not seen yet, plus the three-row “L” model shown here. And while the third line is the headline, Grand Cherokee L’s story is full of brand new features and technologies that will debut in 2021.
Is the Grand Cherokee L still an authentic jeep?
Before we dive into what’s new and different, let’s allay any fears that Jeep fans may have about Grand Cherokee L’s authentic “Jeepness”. During our drive, we drove the new jeep not only on city roads and rural highways, but also over a demanding terrain track consisting of mud, ruts, boulders and deep water. It’s a course we thought was perfect for testing the latest Wrangler Rubicon, not something we would have tried in a spacious and luxurious 3-row SUV. Despite our trembling, the Grand Cherokee L outperformed all the Jeep Grand Cherokee we have driven before, which means not only better than we expected, but better than any vehicle that celebrates so much passenger capacity and luxury level is entitled to.
In terms of size, the Grand Cherokee L is not a shrinking violet. Creating a fully functional seat on the third row meant that the outer dimensions increased by 15 inches in length, 7 inches in wheelbase and 2 inches in total height (the width is approximately the same). These changes did not jeopardize the Grand Cherokee L’s terrain readiness, with its available Quadra-Lift multi-link air suspension offering up to 4.17 inches of height adjustment. This means that the standard ground clearance of 8.3 inches can be adjusted down 0.8 inches for improved aerodynamics at higher speeds or down 1.8 inches when parked, for easier entry and exit. It can also go up 1.6 inches for light off-road driving or 2.4 inches for extreme off-road driving.
At its highest setting, the Grand Cherokee L has a class-leading ground clearance of 10.9 inches, a 30.1-degree approach angle, 23.6-degree departure angle and a 22.6-degree angle of refraction. In this setting, the forda 24 inch of water, and with the premium Quadra-Drive II two-speed active gearbox, with 2.72 low gear and an electronically locking rear differential, climbed the Grand Cherokee L upwards, clawed over and plowed through that kind of terrain which most three-wheeled SUVs (wisely) would avoid. The Quadra-Trac I 4×4 bass system has a gearbox with a speed that can redirect the torque between the front and rear axles (based on wheel slip), while the Quadra-Trac II system offers automatic torque distribution plus two-speed active gearbox (but not Quadra-Drive II’s locking rear differential).
The Grand Cherokee L’s 4×4 system, along with its steering, braking, accelerator, throttle and suspension settings, is coordinated by Jeep’s Selec-Terrain traction management system. With five modes to choose from (Auto, Sport, Rock, Snow, Mud / Sand), along with a Hill-Descent Control system, the Grand Cherokee L can quickly switch from high-speed sidewalk driving to aggressive off-road adventure. The Grand Cherokee L also comes in two-wheel drive form, which reduces off-road capacity while lowering the Jeep’s service weight by about 150 pounds.
During our personal adventure on and off-road, the SUV delivered quiet, comfortable travel between downtown Detroit and Stellanti’s test tracks in Chelsea, Michigan. The basic 3.6-liter V6 engine, with 293 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, connects to an 8-speed automatic and provides strong acceleration up to 80 mph. This is especially true in “Sport” mode, where a significant change in throttle response enlivens the driving experience. Fuel economy for the V6 is rated 19/26/21 city / highway / combined or 18/25/21 with four-wheel drive, and towing capacity is rated at 6,200 pounds for two- or four-wheel drive models.
The Grand Cherokee L’s available 5.7-liter V8, with 357 horsepower and 390-pound-feet of torque, twists everything up a notch compared to the V6. With the V8 and Selec-Terrain in “Sport” mode, the Grand Cherokee L feels downright sporty, providing responsive acceleration and safe handling that effectively hides the Jeep’s capacity of seven passengers and a weight of 5,200 pounds. The extra power and weight takes a toll on the fuel economy, with ratings of 14 city, 22 highway and 17 combined, and a towing rating of £ 7,200. Grand Cherokee L V8 models are not offered with two-wheel drive.
A Jeep Grand Cherokee L for every customer
Jeep knows that its customers appreciate a wide range of choices, and not just between two- or four-wheel drive, or V6 or V8 engines. The Grand Cherokee L will be offered in a wide range of equipment levels, with a wide range of features and options. The base model of Laredo, with a V6 and two-wheel drive, starts at $ 38,690 and includes standard LED exterior lighting, 18-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, an electric sunroof, a 10.25-inch digital meter cluster and Uconnect 5, which is Jeep’s latest user interface that includes a 10.1-inch touchscreen with Android Android wireless and Apple CarPlay. The Grand Cherokee L Laredo also comes with adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane change warning, lane keeping assistance and rear cross traffic warning. Like all new Grand Cherokee Ls, the Laredo can be upgraded from two- to four-wheel drive for an additional $ 2,000 ($ 40,690).
The limited tuning is the next level up and adds heated leather seats, a heated steering wheel, remote engine start, an electric tailgate, driver’s seat settings, an electrically operated passenger seat, LED fog lights and automatic headlights for $ 45,690 in two-wheel drive or $ 47,690 $ in four-wheel drive (four-wheel drive models also get the Selec-Terrain traction management system). The Jeep Grand Cherokee L Overland trim sits over Limited and is the first trim to offer the V8 engine. It has ventilated front seats in nappa leather, ambient LED interior lighting, a foot-activated tailgate and premium navigation for $ 54,690 or $ 56,690 with four-wheel drive. Adding the V8 engine to an Overland model raises the price to $ 59,885.
Jeep’s near-top-of-the-line Grand Cherokee L-trim is aptly named Summit, with a starting price of $ 58,690 for a V6 and two-wheel drive or $ 60,690 with four-wheel drive. All Summit models receive quilted Nappa leather seats, oak upholstery, 16-way adjustable front seats with memory, premium LED headlights, Summit-specific LED fog lights, Quadra-Trac II, reverse descent control, 20-inch wheels and jeeps new Active Driving Assist system with hands-free, eye-on-the-road driving for certain roads.
The very top of the Grand Cherokee L-line is called the Summit Reserve, with quilted Palermo leather seats, waxed walnut wood details with open pores, ventilated second-row seats, four-zone automatic climate control, 21-inch wheels and a 950-watt, 19-speaker McIntosh sound system. Summit Reserve includes standard four-wheel drive and costs either $ 63,690 with a V6 or $ 66,895 with a V8. A variety of advanced technology options are available in the various Grand Cherokee L-trims, ranging from a wireless charging pad to a high-resolution rear seat camera to night-vision technology that uses thermographic sensors to detect pedestrians or animals up to 219 yards ahead. of the vehicle.
Competition between premium, family-friendly SUVs continues to evolve, and Jeep’s all-new Grand Cherokee L represents what these buyers want in 2021. Adding a third-seat row and advanced technology will appeal to newer, family-oriented customers, while retaining its off-road pedigree. retain its appeal among loyal Jeep fans. It’s a powerful combination and a necessary combination if Jeep wants the Grand Cherokee’s next three decades to be as successful as the first.