Jeep Grand Cherokee L – Knox County VillageSoup

In November, Jim Morrison, Jeep brand manager for Stellantis/FCA, came to New England to introduce the four new products rolling into dealerships. Headlining his program for New England auto writers were the all-new Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer full-size SUVs, followed by the Wrangler 4Xe hybrid and what may ultimately be the best-selling newcomer of all — the Grand Cherokee L.

Jeep has been missing from the three-row section of the SUV/crossover segment and now has three entries arriving at the same time. A nod to the importance of this niche market, the Grand Cherokee L debuts ahead of the regular two-row midsize Grand Cherokee, which is now in showrooms. The Grand Cherokee L is an immediate competitor to Ford’s Explorer, Chevy’s Traverse, Kia’s Telluride, Hyundai Palisade and Dodge’s Durango. In fact, Durango fans (and dealers) may believe that the Grand Cherokee L will soon replace the Durango in the Stellantis portfolio – Morrison did not claim.

The entire Grand Cherokee platform is updated with increased length and width in the chassis, for better driving dynamics, while retaining its off-road capabilities with three versions of Quadra-powered all-wheel drive – including a new all-wheel drive format. The Grand Cherokee L stretches to 205 inches – eleven inches longer than the standard two-row Grand Cherokee – which is five inches longer than the Explorer and Durango, eight inches more than the Telluride/Palisade duo and ten inches longer than the Toyota Highlander. It’s noticeable in both rear seat space and third-row seating, plus maximum cargo capacity.

Jeep expects consumers to take the larger Grand Cherokee at about 50% of total production, according to Morrison.

Powertrains remain the same, so far, with the venerable 3.6-liter 290-horsepower V6 standard and the 5.7-liter 357-hp Hemi V8 optional. No word on a larger Hemi engine, but a plug-in hybrid version should debut in mid-2022. Each engine is backed by an eight-speed automatic transmission with a towing capacity of 6,200 pounds for the V6, 1,000 pounds higher for the Hemi. Environmental Protection Agency ratings are 18/25 miles per gallon for 4WD V6 versions, like our sample Overland, while the V8 model is two mpg less. We saw a steady 19 mpg in windy, cold winter weather, and we used the remote start feature regularly.

Jeep Grand Cherokee L interior. Photo by Tim Plouff.

Although the styling is modest, given that the best-selling midsize SUV hasn’t been redesigned in over ten years, buyers will recognize a stylish new interior packed with technology in the fifth-generation Grand Cherokee. Features such as forward night vision displayed in front of the driver, plus a heads-up display and selectable rear-view camera mirror make driving easier day or night. A new intersection collision program detects vehicles approaching from the left and right, not just in front, while a front terrain camera and an in-cabin camera are also new.

Jeep Grand Cherokee L interior. Photo by Tim Plouff.

The central screen is a 10.1-inch unit that feels almost perfect in shape and scale while using the latest U-Connect 5 apps and assists. The graphics are sharp, the maneuvering controls are concise and the general command panel of the latest Grand Cherokee is convenient for everyone. The shifter is a Jeep/Ram/Dodge-wide rotary, while the quilted Nappa leather seats and finely detailed cabin move the Grand Cherokee up a notch in refinement to luxury class. With massaging power front seats, heated and cooled too, buyers will cross-shop the new Grand Cherokee against the Lexus and other large crossovers.

Pricing starts at $41,175 for the Laredo L, the new Altitude is $44,080, with the popular Limited starting at $46,200. Our Overland 4×4 started at $55,795 before adding the excellent 19-speaker McIntosh Audio system, dual-panel panoramic sunroof, plus the Off-Road Group with underbody skid plates, limited-slip rear differential and front tow hooks. Buyers can now get wheels up to 21 inches in diameter, while our Overland wore 18-inch tires that work with the adjustable air suspension. Top Summit Reserve trim, with Palermo leather, pushes the price past $63,000.

Second-row bucket seats are standard; a three-person bench is optional, giving the Grand Cherokee L potential seating for seven.

With greater ride compatibility and even more stability thanks to the larger chassis design, the Grand Cherokee remains a smooth driver on the road and a ready companion when the pavement runs out. Adding a third row opens up a profitable new segment for the Jeep brand and makes this Grand Cherokee L a viable alternative to traditional large crossovers.

Tim Plouff has been reviewing cars for more than 20 years.

Jeep Grand Cherokee L. Photo by Tim Plouff.

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