The Jeep Grand Cherokee has long been a staple in the SUV brand's lineup. The first one debuted in 1993, and it's consistently been one of the best-selling crossovers in America since then. Last year alone the company moved nearly 210,000 examples. But the current model has grown long in the tooth, considering the platform has been around since 2011, so it's well overdue for an update.
Today Jeep has pulled the cover off its brand-new 2021 Grand Cherokee L – the "L" marking an extended platform with a three-row seating configuration. For now, this new three-row Grand Cherokee will seemingly be sold alongside the current two-row 2021 model. But this is the first glimpse of the new three-row in the metal – and it's quite the looker.
Exterior: Bold And Brash
The styling of the new Grand Cherokee L marks a subtle but noticeable evolution over the model we’ve been used to for the last decade. At the front end, the new Jeep draws inspiration from the Grand Wagoneer – both the iconic original and the new concept that debuted last year. It features a more prominent hood with an aggressive downward slope, smaller seven-slat grille pieces that cant forward, perched atop a large lower opening, and slim LED headlights flanking on either side.
The side profile of the new Grand Cherokee L is sharp and defined, much like the front, and features 21-inch wheels for the first time. Again, much like the Grand Wagoneer, the Grand Cherokee has a sharp roofline that flows into a sleek rear. The back end of the new Grand Cherokee L wears slim LED taillights that extend from the center trunklid out and around the rear fender.
Given that this is the three-row model, the Grand Cherokee L grows by a significant amount over its predecessor. The wheelbase of the L model extends to 121.7 inches, giving way to a total length of 204.9 inches. By comparison, the current two-row Grand Cherokee has a wheelbase of 114.8 inches and stretches out to 189.8 inches in total length. The track of the Grand Cherokee L also grows by 1.4 inches in width.
Interior & Technology: More Screens, More Space
The inside of the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L represents a stark contrast to last year's model. The three-row Jeep sports totally new center cluster and digital cluster designs, a multifunction steering wheel, attractive leather finishes, and more high-quality trim pieces like wood and metal. The new-for-2021 Summit Reserve trim is now the range-topper, and offers all of those features and then some. Premium hand-wrapped Palermo leather covers the seats with a new Tupelo interior color available, while genuine open-pore waxed walnut wood covers the dash and faux suede lines the A-pillar and headliner.
On the Overland and Summit models, the front bucket seats are 16-way power-adjustable, heated and ventilated, and offer a massage function with five customizable profiles. The Overland and Summit models also offer heated second-row seats as an option, with heating and ventilation standard on the range-topping Summit Reserve model.
Thanks to the Grand Cherokee L's newfound size, this Jeep now has more cargo room than any other model before it. Behind the third row is a modest 17.1 cubic feet of space, which grows to 46.9 cubes behind the second row, and with both rows folded flat, the cabin expands to allow for 84.6 cubic feet of total cargo room. By comparison, the two-row model offers 36.3 cubic feet behind the second row and 68.3 cubes with the second row folded flat.
But the piece de resistance is that center stack. The standard touchscreen measures in at 8.4 inches, while the optional unit is a hearty 10.1 inches and runs the latest UConnect 5 infotainment system. It also offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot. Joining that sizable center stack is a 10.3-inch digital instrument cluster with over two dozen menu options, including access to features like adaptive cruise control, night vision, and traffic sign detection. Jeep also touts a class-leading 12 USB-A and USB-C ports located throughout the cabin, an optional high-performance audio system with 19 speakers, and a dual-pane sunroof on the Overland and Limited models.
Performance: Better Off-Road Capability
Not much changes under the hood of the new Grand Cherokee L. The same base 3.6-liter V6 engine from last year's model remains, producing 290 horsepower and 257 pound-feet. The optional 5.7-liter Hemi V8 also carries over, available on the Overland and Summit models, producing 357 hp and 390 lb-ft. Both of those engines come paired to the same eight-speed automatic transmission, with two-wheel drive standard and four-wheel drive available as an option. With the 3.6-liter V6, the Grand Cherokee L can tow up to 6,200 pounds in either two- or four-wheel-drive configurations, while the more-robust V8 can tug up to 7,200 pounds with 4WD.
In terms of off-road capability, the Grand Cherokee L comes with three optional 4x4 systems: Quadratrac I, Quadratrac II, and Quadra-Drive II with a rear electronic limited-slip differential, and all three of those AWD systems offer an active transfer case. Another carryover from last year's model is the Quadra-Lift adaptive air suspension, which has five different firmness settings available depending on the situation.
With the air suspension set to Normal ride height, the Grand Cherokee L offers a solid 8.3 inches of ground clearance – or 0.2 inches more than last year. The Off-Road 1 setting lifts the Grand Cherokee L by 1.6 inches, putting the total ride height at 9.9 inches, while the Off-Road 2 setting adds 2.4 inches to the total ride height, lifting the Jeep to 10.9 inches. That's a nine percent improvement compared to last year. When you're not on the trail, Park mode lowers the ride height by 1.8 inches from the Normal right height and Aero mode drops the body by 0.8 inches.
In the most aggressive setting (Off-Road 2), the Grand Cherokee L has a 30.1-degree approach angle – a significant improvement over last year's model (25.7 degrees). The 23.6-degree departure angle and 22.6-degree breakover angle are down compared to last year's model, but that's simply a result of the Grand Cherokee L's larger size and rear overhang.
|Approach||20.6 Degrees (Standard) / 30.1 Degrees (Air)|
|Breakover||18.2 Degrees (Standard) / 22.6 Degrees (Air)|
|Departure||21.5 Degrees (Standard) / 23.6 Degrees (Air)|
|Ground Clearance||8.5 Inches (Standard) / 10.9 Inches (Air)|
Safety: Advanced Active Suite
The Jeep Grand Cherokee L will arrive with a bevy of standard safety features, including full-speed collision warning with automatic emergency braking system, rear cross-path detection, adaptive cruise with stop and go, lane-keep assist, lane-departure warning, advanced braking assist, and more. Also new for 2021 is a suite of optional active and passive equipment available on higher trim levels like the Overland and Summit models.
That list of optional equipment starts with the brand’s new Active Driving Assistant, which uses lane-centering and adaptive cruise control with distance assist for Level 2 automated driving. Joining Active Driving Assist later this year will be the Hands-Free Active Driving Assistant, which promises even more in the way of semi-autonomy. Other optional features available on the 2021 model include night vision, a head-up display, an intersection collision alert – which gives an audible warning of oncoming traffic from either side – drowsy driver detection, traffic-sign recognition, and a 360-degree camera.
Pricing & Availability: Coming Soon
Jeep hasn’t announced official pricing details for the new Grand Cherokee L, but we expect the new three-row to hit dealerships in early to mid-2021. The current Grand Cherokee two-row, which soldiers on for 2021 unchanged, starts at $37,765, so pricing for the new three-row should be slightly higher.
Notably, the Jeep Grand Cherokee L is on our list of the SUVs with the Best Towing Capacity.