Who Needs the Subaru Ascent When There’s the Jeep Grand Cherokee L?

The Subaru Ascent satisfies a unique niche. This Subie is one of the few mainstream midsize SUVs that are comfortable and adventure-ready. Though, it’s easy to overlook the Ascent now that we have the Jeep Grand Cherokee L

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L is more capable than the 2021 Subaru Ascent 

A red 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Overland in a forest
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Overland | FCA

So, the Grand Cherokee L finally gives us a Jeep with three-rows. And even though the Grand Cherokee L has a unibody frame, it’s still capable. As Car and Driver highlighted, the new Grand Cherokee generation has the same engine options as the outgoing one. 

That said, you’ll be more interested in the Grand Cherokee L over Subaru’s Ascent if power is a priority. The Grand Cherokee L’s standard engine is a 290-hp, 3.6-liter V6 available with rear-, all-, or four-wheel drive. Additionally, this Jeep has an optional 357-hp, 5.7-liter V8 with 4WD. The V6 can tow up to 6,200 pounds, and the V8 can haul up to 7,200 pounds.  

Both of the Grand Cherokee L’s engines come with an eight-speed automatic. Furthermore, Jeep will introduce a plug-in hybrid 4xe model, as part of the Grand Cherokee family similar to the Wrangler. Some enthusiasts like Car and Driver muse that this Jeep will Hellcat treatment its corporate cousin, the Dodge Durango. 

2021 Subaru Ascent parked outside of a house
2021 Subaru Ascent | Subaru

Conversely, the Ascent doesn’t offer as many options. The Ascent’s sole engine is a turbocharged 2.4-liter four-cylinder that makes 260-hp; it can tow up to 5,000 pounds. A continuously variable automatic (CVT) is standard, and so is AWD. 

One advantage the Ascent has over the Grand Cherokee L is that it comes with 8.7 inches of ground clearance. The Jeep comes with 8.5 inches but if you opt for the upper-level Overland and Summit trims, there’s an available air suspension that raises ground clearance to 10.9 inches

The Grand Cherokee L offers more luxurious features than the Ascent does

Bright, open Subaru Ascent Interior featuring white upholstery
Front seats of the Subaru Ascent

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Both the Grand Cherokee L and the Ascent are pretty big midsize SUVs. The Ascent can seat more people, though, since it’s available with seven or eight seats. The Grand Cherokee can carry six or seven people.

Like most of the competition, the Ascent and the Grand Cherokee come with cloth upholstery. If you want to make things more lavish, there are plenty of ways to do so. Both SUVs have frills, including premium leather and heated/cooled seats. But the Grand Cherokee L is more luxury-focused and offers amenities like a massaging driver’s seat. 

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L's cockpit area.
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L | FCA

Tech lovers will appreciate that the Ascent and Grand Cherokee come with connectivities such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. They also come with lots of active safety features, including adaptive cruise control. Once again, the Grand Cherokee has more attractive options. For example, the Jeep offers an 8.4-inch or 10.1-inch touchscreen; the Accent provides a 6.5-inch or an 8-inch one. Plus, the Jeep has more available safety features, including a heads-up display.

Yes, the Ascent is cheaper but…

The rear 3/4 view of a brown 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve by a desert lake
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve rear | Jeep

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The 2021 Ascent begins at $32,295. Jeep says the Grand Cherokee L will officially be on sale later this spring. We expect this new Jeep to start around $40K. While the Ascent has the advantage with pricing, its poor reliability ratings are a reason to avoid this SUV. The Grand Cherokee L’s promise of luxury and power make it worth the premium price tag.