Review: Jeep Grand Cherokee L Offers Posh Off
The Jeep Grand Cherokee L offers a rare combination of space, luxury, and off-roading chops
Jeep is in the midst of a shift. You might even call it an attempt at climbing the obstacle that is going from a mainstream brand to a high-end luxury brand. One can’t just do that by bedazzling the Wrangler, the Renegade, and the Compass though. There have to be big clear shots over the bough of others in the space if anyone is going to take Jeep seriously.
The Grand Cherokee L is one of those deadly serious SUVs. This generation arrived early in 2021 as the first all-new Grand Cherokee since 2010. It had a lot of work to do to catch the Grand Cherokee nameplate up with modern rivals. All reports suggest that it’s made that headway and more but we hadn’t had the chance to test it ourselves – until now.
As the name might suggest, the Grand Cherokee L is the long version of this SUV and sports a third row that the normal Grand Cherokee doesn’t. Jeep offers both in at least eight different trim levels all with varying features and available options. For a deeper dive into those trims see our explainer here. The specific model that we’re testing is the Summit trim, one away from the very top and it features an MSRP of $73,515.
Attention To Interior Details
Jeep nailed the big things when it comes to the interior of the Grand Cherokee. The front-row seats seem like they could’ve been pulled out of some swanky lawyer’s office. They feature outstanding adjustable bolstering, an extendable thigh cushion, a massaging function, and exceptional contrast stitching. From those seats, the dash is a blend of cues from the Wagoneer and unique touches. Yes, there is way too much cheap piano black plastic but Jeep has also added real wood trim too.
The center control stack features a near-perfect blend of physical buttons and knobs along with a large easy-to-use touchscreen interface. This example even has the optional $1,095 interactive passenger display. It allows the front-seat passenger to control media, check on rear-seat occupants, load a navigation plan, or even hook up and play a third-party gaming system like XBOX. The driver’s information display is big and bright and even has small slits on each end with real ambient lighting (not part of the digital display) glowing from inside the dash.
The second-row seats aren’t anything to sneeze at though because they’re captain’s chairs with their own contrast diamond-patterned stitching. A large center console provides a handy armrest along with a very clever storage bin. It opens in two different ways for those second-row passengers providing two layers of storage and we’ll come back to its party trick in a moment. Ahead of that console are the rear-seat climate controls which are physical buttons instead of a touchscreen. Beneath that are more power points. The windows get sun shades too. Shy of having giant screens in the second row, this is about as nice as it gets at this price point.
More: 2024 Jeep Grand Cherokee Holds The Line On Price Increases
It’s the third row though where the Grand Cherokee L might stand out as the best in the business. I’ve not driven or ridden in every single three-row SUV out there so maybe I’m missing something but I know these to be the best third-row seats I’ve ever experienced.
Not only are they individualized seats but they are supportive, well-positioned, and actually spacious. No Cadillac Escalade, Ford Expedition Max, or Dodge Durango I’ve been in can compete on the combination of headroom, legroom, and hip room found in the third row of the Grand Cherokee L. I’m six-foot-six for reference.
Let me also say that they don’t just feel good or fit well, they look better than most second-row seats in other cars. There are two USB power ports on each side of the cabin too so each person gets their own. Each side has its own climate vent too. Finally, there’s the party trick I mentioned above.
The second-row center console actually has hinges at the front so that third-row occupants can open it from back there. It’s a very simple solution that empowers third-row passengers. The third row is so good that it feels almost intentionally made for adults, not kids. Of course, the kids that do find their way back there might enjoy the little Jeep easter eggs in the windows and they won’t be fighting over who gets the charging port either.
Storage behind the third row is solid at 17.2 cubic feet. Of course, that expands to over 80 once the second and third-row seats are folded down. That process is pretty simple too thanks to buttons in the cargo area that drop or raise the third row. You can drop the second-row too but you’ll need to go back up to it to raise it manually.
The Go-Anywhere-In-Comfort Crew Transport
Jeep uses the same 3.6-liter V6 engine as the basis for every Grand Cherokee but there are a couple of optional ones that we didn’t get to test. Those include the 4xe hybrid powertrain found in only the normal length GC and the 5.7-liter V8 that’s only available on the Summit and Summit Reserve trims. While either of those would’ve been fun and interesting from inside the cockpit, the V6 was surprisingly adequate.
While Jeep seemingly hides how much power this engine makes on its website (really, have fun finding it there), it feels like more than the 293 ponies claimed. Some of that comes down to the buttery smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox. Whatever is going on under the hood is somewhat overshadowed by the chassis and ride control though.
It drives more sharply than any Jeep I’ve piloted before. The steering provides nicely weighted feedback and the accelerator pedal is easy to modulate. Body roll is kept to a very acceptable level for a vehicle of this size and it’s easy to see out of as well. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few areas worthy of improvement though. The brake pedal isn’t very linear meaning that at about 30 percent engagement there’s a tipping point where a lot more stopping power comes in. It was hard to finesse that in the few days we had with the Grand Cherokee.
The suspension is sometimes compromised too. Some bumps in the road translated more vibration into the cabin than we expected but it’s worth mentioning that they were somewhat few and far between. Generally speaking, the Grand Cherokee felt confidence-inspiring on the road and very comfortable. Of course, the Grand Cherokee has something in its arsenal that few SUVs short of a Land Rover Defender can claim: real off-road capability.
This example has Jeep’s Quadra-Trac II, a semi-automatic 4WD system with a two-speed transfer case and a limited-slip rear differential. It can send power to just one wheel if it needs to and while we never got anywhere close to being stuck it was comforting knowing that the Jeep could likely pull itself out of just about anything.
In our mix of highway, city, and dirt-road driving we ended up with 19.3 mpg which is below the EPA estimate of 21 mpg combined but not enough that we’re complaining. We didn’t get a chance to tow with the Grand Cherokee but when properly equipped with the V8 it’ll tow up to 7,200 pounds.
The other bit worth discussing here is how well Jeep’s driver-aid package does its job. The adaptive cruise control is accurate and very smooth and the lane-keep assist keeps the SUV in its lane on the highway with ease. Another feature is night vision, which shows up in the gauge cluster and really works great through the use of yellow indicators when it sees a person or animal in the field of view. These tiny touches make piloting the Grand Cherokee less of a chore than its size might have you believe.
Claiming New Territory
Take a quick look around the automotive market and you’ll find that the Jeep Grand Cherokee and this, the longer L version, have few direct rivals. Sure, lots of SUVs cost this much, some offer this level of quality, and others provide more power but how many combine sincere off-road capability with this level of luxury?
Jeep also includes three full years of complimentary maintenance to sweeten the deal. In terms of rivals, the Land Rover Discovery or Defender are probably the closest and they’re simply not as posh inside as the Jeep is. Some might prefer the design aesthetic of the Brits but go look at the second and third rows and then come back and tell us. Which would you prefer to take your bougie friends camping in? We’re taking the Grand Cherokee.Attention To Interior DetailsMore: 2024 Jeep Grand Cherokee Holds The Line On Price IncreasesThe Go-Anywhere-In-Comfort Crew TransportClaiming New Territory