Up until now, if you wanted a third row of seats in a Jeep SUV, you were out of luck. Although the automaker once offered such a model, the Commander, it bowed out in 2010. And the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer still aren’t out yet. However, with the announcement of the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L, the brand finally has a 3-row SUV again. And the extra seats are just the start.
‘L’ for ‘long’: what makes the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L a 3-row SUV
The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L is technically separate from the ‘base’ 2-row version, Roadshow reports. While both are part of the SUV’s redesigned fifth generation, the L rides on a longer-wheelbase version of the new platform, MotorTrend explains. The 3-row SUV is also longer overall than the standard model, and has more rear cargo space, The Drive reports. Plus, buyers can order in the last row of seats in a bench-seat configuration, meaning they can carry seven passengers instead of six.
It may seem odd for Jeep to release the Grand Cherokee L, given that it also plans on releasing the Wagoneer models. And it’s not just a potential case of internal competition. The 5th-gen Grand Cherokee even draws inspiration from the original Wagoneer, Automobile reports. So, why release two different kinds of 3-row SUVs?
It’s important to note that the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L isn’t a modern Wagoneer clone. Unlike the upcoming Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer, all Grand Cherokee models are unibody, rather than body-on-frame, Autoblog explains. And Jeep isn’t the only automaker to offer both unibody and body-on-frame 3-row SUVs, MT reports. Ford has the Explorer and the Expedition, for example, and Chevrolet has the Traverse and the Tahoe. And there’s also Toyota with the Highlander (unibody) and the Sequoia (body-on-frame).
With that unibody design, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L arguably puts a greater emphasis on urban commuting compared to the Wagoneer models. However, being a Jeep, that doesn’t mean it can’t venture off-road. And as it’s a Grand Cherokee, it can do so in luxury, Car and Driver reports.
Extra seats and space aren’t all the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L offers
Along with the long-wheelbase L model, the fifth-gen Jeep Grand Cherokee gains a number of interior and exterior refinements.
Compared to the outgoing model, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L has an updated interior, with an 8.4” center touchscreen, a 10.3” digital driver’s cluster, as well as WiFi, wireless Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto, Road & Track reports. The touchscreen can be further upgraded into a 10.1” unit, Car and Driver reports. The base Laredo trim has cloth seats, but stepping one trim up into the Limited adds leather upholstery, Car and Driver reports.
But if you want to go all-out on luxury, go for the top-of-the-line Summit trim’s Summit Reserve package. It grants quilted-leather heated and cooled first- and second-row seats, a 19-speaker McIntosh audio system, massaging front seats, and open-pore walnut wood trim. Plus, it has a 360° camera system with night vision.
Every 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L comes standard with an extensive ADAS suite, Motor1 reports. Automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, lane-departure warning, and rear cross-path detection are all standard. And Jeep claims the Grand Cherokee L will offer Level 2 driving assistance by the end of 2021.
But, while the fifth-gen Jeep Grand Cherokee, L and otherwise, have a new platform, their powertrains aren’t new. Both the 290-hp 3.6-liter V6 and optional 357-hp 5.7-liter V8 carry over, as does the 8-speed automatic. The 3-row SUV can tow up to 6200 pounds with the V6 and 7200 pounds with the V8. However, Jeep plans on launching a 4xe plug-in hybrid trim by the end of 2021, Automobile reports.
The off-road features
If you want to go off-road, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L can handle it. The 3-row SUV has upgraded 4-wheel independent suspension and optional air suspension. Equipped with the latter, the Grand Cherokee L has up to 10.9” of ground clearance, Motor1 reports. And even in its normal setting, ground clearance is up by 0.2”.
Along with the air suspension, the 2021 Grand Cherokee L is available with five driving modes. And while it’s unclear if rear-wheel drive will be available, the SUV offers one of three four-wheel-drive systems, Car and Driver and MT report. Quadra-Trac I is standard on the Laredo and Limited trims, and is an always-on 4WD system with no transfer case, MT reports. The more off-road-focused Overland trim has the Quadra-Trac II system, which has a 2-speed transfer case and hill-descent control.
Optional on the Overland and standard on the Summit is Quadra-Drive II, which has a 2-speed transfer case and an electronically-active limited-slip differential. And if you order it on the Overland as part of its off-road package, you get skid plates, too.
Pricing and availability
Somewhat confusingly, the 2021 Grand Cherokee L will be briefly available at the same time as the outgoing standard model. Although the 3-row model is part of the fifth-gen lineup, the fourth-gen 2-row model carries over for now. The fifth-gen 2-row Grand Cherokee won’t arrive until later in 2021, Roadshow reports.
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As of this writing, Jeep hasn’t released official pricing for the 2021 Grand Cherokee L. However, MT estimates it will start at around $40,000. For comparison, a base 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo E 4×4 starts at $36,220.
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