The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Deserves Its Badge

The standard Grand Cherokee is a solid Jeep SUV, but it’s often been hampered compared to some of its rivals in one category. That being its lack of third-row seating. With the launch of the three-row 2021 Grand Cherokee L, though, that issue has been resolved. But the new SUV is more than just its extra row of seats.

More room and extra seats aren’t the only things the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L offers

A white 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve parked in the forest shade
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve | Stellantis

For 2021, both the Jeep Grand Cherokee L and the two-row version have a new platform. And to accommodate its extra seats, the former gets the longer-wheelbase version. It’s longer overall, too, and has more rear cargo space. Plus, the third-row seats are available in bench or captain’s chair form, meaning the SUV can carry either six or seven passengers.

Those passengers will also get to experience the new interior that both 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee models offer. Even the $39,720 Laredo 4×2 trim gets a 10.3” digital gauge cluster and an 8.4” touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, and automatic emergency braking are also standard. But if you want features like heated front seats, a power liftgate, and a 115-volt outlet, you’ll have to get the Lux Tech Group Package. Or step up to the $42,285 Altitude 4×2 model.

If you want a more luxurious 2021 Grand Cherokee L experience, it’s available. However, it does come at a price. The next trim levels are, in order of 4×2 price:

  • $46,340 Limited
  • $53,340 Overland
  • $57,340 Summit
The tan-leather and wood-trimmed front interior of the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve front interior | Stellantis

Each trim adds progressively better leather upholstery and more power-operated features. If you want navigation as well as heated and ventilated front seats, the Overland has both and height-adjustable air suspension. It also offers a host of optional and standard off-road features, but more on these shortly. As for the Summit, it also gets a 10.1” touchscreen as standard, plus safety features like a 360° camera, lane-keeping assist, and cross-traffic collision warning.

There’s one more trim above Summit: the $64,235 2021 Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve. It’s only available in 4×4 trim, and it’s the only trim with the McIntosh audio system. And it has standard features like massaging front seats, ventilated second-row seats, and open-pore wood trim.

What about the powertrains?

Although the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L has a new platform and interior, it uses some older engines. More specifically, the same engines the outgoing Grand Cherokee used.

The standard engine for all 2021 Grand Cherokee L trims is a 3.6-liter V6 rated at 290 hp and 257 lb-ft of torque. And the optional upgrade is a 5.7-liter V8 rated at 357 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. Both engines use an eight-speed automatic transmission. However, the V8 is only available on Overland and higher trims, and only with 4×4 models.

Speaking of 4×4, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L has three different 4WD systems, MotorTrend explains. The Laredo, Altitude, and Limited trims offer Quadra-Trac I, which functions more like AWD. The Overland, though, comes standard with Quadra-Trac II, which has a two-speed transfer case, a locking center differential, and hill-descent control.

But if that’s not enough, there’s the Overland’s optional 4WD system, Quadra-Drive II. It’s standard on the Summit Reserve and Summit 4×4 and comes with an electronic rear limited-slip differential. And it sends power to the wheel with the most traction, rather than the axle. As a result, the brake-based traction control system doesn’t work as hard.

The 2021 Grand Cherokee L gives the midsize three-row SUV segment genuine “Jeep off-road capability,” MotorTrend says

The rear 3/4 view of a red 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Overland with Off-Road Group Package crawling up a rocky forest hill
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Overland with Off-Road Group Package rear 3/4 | Stellantis

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L’s extra length means it has slightly worse off-road angles than the two-row model, MT notes. But the air suspension mitigates most of that loss and gives up to 10.9” of ground clearance, Car and Driver reports. And if you equip the Overland with its optional Off-Road Package, it gets multiple skid plates and off-road tires. There’s also an optional low-angle camera for obstacle-spotting.

Add all this together and the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L makes for an impressive off-road SUV. It’s not quite at the Wrangler’s or Gladiator’s level, but it’s right behind them, Car and Driver says. The air springs offer plenty of articulation, and the multi-mode traction-management system manages grip well. Plus, the hill-descent control even works in reverse, Roadshow notes. Though if you’re truly venturing far off the paved path, the consensus is, get the skid plates.

In short, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L can wander further off-road than most $60,000+ SUV owners typically go, MT muses.

Does it work as a luxury SUV on the road?

Off-road, though, isn’t the only place the 2021 Grand Cherokee L can and will go. But the three-row Jeep SUV can handle itself well on-road, too.

Even the Laredo, on its standard steel springs, offers a “sophisticated” and comfortable ride, MT reports. That’s due to the stiffer chassis and the new suspension design. The 2021 Grand Cherokee L also has larger brakes, delivering shorter stopping distances and a better brake-pedal feel. And regardless of the upholstery, all the seats are comfortable. Plus, while the Summit and Summit Reserve trims are pricey, the interior material quality is “primo,” Roadshow says.

Downsides? Longer-legged third-row passengers may need to move the second-row seats forward slightly, MT notes. And while the V8 Grand Cherokee L can tow up to 7200 pounds, it doesn’t have a built-in trailer brake controller. The SUV’s blind-spot monitoring system also doesn’t adjust for the hooked-up trailer.

But overall, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L lives up to the reputation of its badge and nameplate.

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