2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

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$38,085

starting MSRP

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L
2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

5 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

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Our 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L trim comparison will help you decide.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L review: Our expert's take

By Aaron Bragman

Updating an icon is a tricky job for any automaker, and it’s especially challenging when your brand has more than one icon. But Jeep’s been in that situation before, and it’s always a momentous occasion when the Grand Cherokee SUV gets an update, and that day is upon us. This is the new 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L, something new from the Jeep brand — a Grand Cherokee with seating for six or seven. It’s not Jeep’s first three-row SUV (that would be the unloved, unlamented Commander from a decade ago), but it is the first three-row version of the Grand Cherokee (a two-row, five-seat model will be following soon). 

Related: 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L: Three Rows and Grand, but Not the Wagoneer

Jeep expects the explosion of big, three-row SUVs to drive a lot of people into the Jeep showroom when this new model arrives this summer, and invited us to the company’s Chelsea, Mich., proving grounds to drive the new Grand Cherokee L through the rural countryside and over some tough off-road obstacles to prove that despite its newfound family orientation, this all-new Grand Cherokee is still, at heart, a Trail Rated Jeep.  

Smart, Evolutionary Styling

There are a few distinctive elements that make any Jeep a Jeep, and those elements are maintained on the new Grand Cherokee L. The seven-slot grille will always be there, as will the squared-off wheel arches. But there are new elements that are fresh for 2021, like the big, upright front end with standard LED headlights and active grille shutters for improved aerodynamics (and fuel economy). There’s also a “floating” roof look with a neat piece of brightwork trim that starts at the tips of the side mirrors and extends up and over the side windows and down around the liftgate glass in one seamless, flowing arc. It gives some models the option of having a contrasting two-tone black roof, which looks pretty fantastic on a light-colored vehicle (but even Jeep’s designers wondered out loud if it might be “the next [generation] vinyl roof” styling affectation).

I think it looks fantastic, and the extra length of this extended-wheelbase Grand Cherokee L model to accommodate a third row doesn’t seem out of place, unusual or ill-proportioned at all. The rear-wheel-drive platform that underpins the Grand Cherokee L is longer, taller and slightly wider than the Grand Cherokee, and the emphasis on horizontal lines definitely gives it a wider look and feel. From the short front overhang to the well-proportioned, upswept lines in the rear (also a nod to the SUV’s improved aerodynamics), this new Grand Cherokee L is instantly identifiable as a Jeep SUV but also doesn’t feel retro or staid in the slightest. Opt for the top-of-the-line Summit trim with the Summit Reserve Package and you can spec 21-inch wheels that look tremendous. So Jeep most definitely didn’t ruin the way the new Grand Cherokee looks. 

Premium Feel, On-Road and Off

Jeep says that the new Grand Cherokee L sits on an entirely new platform, one created specifically for the model (it’s not a modified version of an Italian Fiat platform, as was originally considered). That means Jeep engineers could tune the new chassis and suspension specifically for duty as a Grand Cherokee, albeit one that is intentionally aimed at more family duty than overlanding duty. Jeep believes that this three-row version is going to be popular with families, but as my drive in the thing proved, it still wears many hats quite well: luxury SUV, highly capable rock crawler, excellent highway road-trip companion, even a decent towing rig.

jeep-grand-cherokee-summit-2021-01-angle--exterior--front--towing--white.jpg 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L | Cars.com photo by Steven Pham

Grand Cherokee L models will be offered with rear- and four-wheel drive, with three different four-wheel-drive systems to choose from, depending on trim level. The standard engine across all four trims (Laredo, Limited, Overland and Summit) is the familiar 3.6-liter V-6 making 293 horsepower and 260 pounds-feet of torque. The optional motor, available only in the 4×4 Overland and Summit, is the venerable 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, pumping out 357 hp and 390 pounds-feet of torque. Both engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but four-wheel drive is an option — the Laredo and Limited get the Quadra-Trac I full-time four-wheel drive, but the more off-road-oriented Overland gets the Quadra-Trac II with a two-speed transfer case. The top Summit trim gets the Quadra-Drive II system that adds an electronic limited-slip differential, also available on the Overland as part of an option package. 

I sampled two versions of the Grand Cherokee L: a V-6-powered Overland and a V-8-powered Summit. The V-6 provides adequate punch off the line, but its job is more about smoothness and efficiency than brute power. The Grand Cherokee L felt like the big SUV that it is around town and out on the highway, but the new steering and suspension tuning do give it a very buttoned-down feel. It feels like a big, substantial SUV, because that’s exactly what it is — but it’s not floaty, not tippy, and it exhibits outstanding body control. Even the brakes feel excellent, with firm, progressive action that isn’t grabby or soft. You can hustle the big SUV around on twisty back roads to levels that would make the family protest in nausea, if you’re so inclined, but it really is happiest just being a big, plush station wagon that can scale impressive boulders if need be. 

Graduating up a few more kilodollars to the Summit trim level equipped with the Hemi V-8 brings an entirely different perspective. This is the one that feels like a Land Rover Range Rover competitor … because it is. The V-8’s riverine power delivery is boundless and smooth, with acceleration coming quickly and effortlessly whenever you want it. The bigger wheels and tires don’t affect the ride at all, and in fact, the Summit actually felt smoother and even more well damped than the Overland did, despite both of those trim levels coming with standard air suspension and active electronic shock absorbers. 

Overall, every level of the new Grand Cherokee L’s driving dynamics feels top-notch, sophisticated and more refined than the previous model, which wasn’t exactly a slouch in this department to begin with. The biggest improvement might be in steering feel — Jeep engineers have managed to make an SUV that provides both ease of use and sufficient responsiveness and feedback so as to not feel like you’re using a video game steering wheel, something that can’t be said for other big three-row SUVs. 

Still Does Jeep Things

Of course, no update to a Jeep Grand Cherokee — new long wheelbase or not — would be appropriate without a demonstration of its continued off-road prowess, and this model is certainly no slouch in that department either. Jeep set up an off-road course in Chelsea with the help of the fine folks at the Jeep Jamboree USA and sent us through it in Overland models, currently the best-equipped trim to handle such activities until a Trailhawk arrives (if it even does for the Grand Cherokee L). All models except the Laredo get a variant of the new Selec-Terrain system that adjusts things like throttle, braking, all-wheel-drive engagement, torque split and other systems per the environment being traversed. There’s honestly not much to say here except that the new Grand Cherokee L scales anything you throw it at with a level of posh, air-conditioned comfort that honestly feels like cheating — going over a hill of boulders is supposed to be challenging, rough work, but you can sit back, turn on the massaging seats, enjoy the available lush McIntosh-branded premium audio system and let the Jeep do all the work. The new Grand Cherokee L has more ground clearance than the old Grand Cherokee, and still features the requisite underbody skid plate protection and outstanding approach and departure angles that help it scale terrain that you’d have trouble walking over.

Did You Say Massaging Seats?

Yep, I sure did. Jeep (and all the brands at parent company Stellantis, formerly known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) has been producing some amazing interiors in recent years, even leading us to declare the Ram 1500 our 2020 Luxury Car of the Year. With the designers setting their sights on the new Jeep Cherokee, you’d expect that the next-generation model would be something special, and you’d be right.

Everything inside is new, with a new design theme, too — a kind of wing that extends from side to side, again emphasizing the width of the cabin. Panels slope away from the driver to aid in that feeling of expansiveness, and in higher-trim levels, large digital screens are seemingly everywhere. The new Uconnect 5 multimedia system measures 10.1 inches (a smaller 8.4-inch screen is standard in lesser trims), and it’s a joy to use. The optional 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster is reconfigurable to a few different looks including a full-screen navigation option. The optional 10-inch head-up display features the duplication of a lot of other information, allowing you to reconfigure things like the gauge cluster for navigation, the central screen for audio or other apps, and leaving all your relevant driving information on the HUD.

Materials quality is outstanding across the board. Even the basic Laredo has fine cloth seats, stitching on the dash and doors (even the rear ones) and high-quality soft-touch plastics throughout. The top-of-the-line Summit trim with the Summit Reserve Package is outright stunning, especially in its exclusive Tupelo brown-and-black interior. Leather quality is excellent, the metal trim looks and feels like metal trim, the steering wheel is chunky and hefty in your hands and all the controls are logically laid out. Of the interior concerns, there are only two obvious ones: First, there’s a lot of shiny black plastic surfaces on the center console. The touchscreen, the cupholder doors, the console buttons — everything is shiny black plastic, and that’s going to be a fingerprint magnet in a family vehicle like this. The other quibble is the positioning of the climate control buttons — they’re low and angled such that they’re almost vertical, making some of them hard to see from the driver’s seat. 

How’s That Third Row?

But the point of the “L” in Grand Cherokee L is the fact that this is a three-row Grand, the first ever. Jeep engineers did a decent job of putting room for two in the cargo area, with a seat that’s wide enough and tall enough to fit two full-size humans in it in a pinch, and it’s easy to get into and out of thanks to the tilt-and-slide second row. The fact that the second row slides is also key because it will be necessary for second- and third-row passengers to negotiate legroom between them. There isn’t much foot room in the third row for adults, and the high floor in the rear does result in a knees-up seating position, not unlike that in the Ford Explorer (another rear-wheel-drive three-row SUV). It’s not as spacious in that third row as it is in a Volkswagen Atlas or Hyundai Palisade, but neither of those front-wheel-drive car-based SUVs has the capability that the Grand Cherokee L delivers for towing, off-roading or even flat-out luxury appointments.

Pick Your Price

While the top-spec versions of the Grand Cherokee have increasingly been seen as viable luxury vehicles and status symbols, it’s good to know that Jeep hasn’t completely abandoned the lower end of the family spectrum with this latest update. The entry level for the Grand Cherokee L will be the Laredo trim with rear-wheel drive, starting at $38,690, including an increasingly obscene $1,695 delivery fee (included in all prices here). Add $2,000 for 4×4 across the board to all prices. From there is the slightly nicer 4×2 Limited for $45,690, while the 4×2 Overland off-road oriented trim starts at a heftier $54,690. The most luxurious version is the Summit, which starts at $58,690 for a 4×2 version, while the fully loaded 4×4 Summit Reserve Package with the V-6 will run you $63,690; with the V-8 it’s $66,985. This one, as I mentioned before, is Land Rover territory. 

That’s quite a spread in pricing between the topmost and lowest trims: nearly $30,000. But it’s not all that different from the range the Grand Cherokee commands today. The Grand Cherokee L maintains the Cherokee’s status as an excellent off-roader and luxurious SUV but now adds a greater dash of practicality as a family vehicle thanks to the expanded seating. And lest you think $67,000 is a lot of money for a Jeep SUV, don’t forget that the new Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are also on the way: bigger body-on-frame truck-based SUVs that will hit the $100,000 mark, fully optioned up. But if you don’t need something quite so big and ostentatious, the new 2021 Grand Cherokee L is easily a match for the latest Ford Explorer or nearly any of the rear-wheel-drive SUVs still out there — and better than a lot of the front-wheel-drive ones, too. 

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Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman grew up in the Detroit area, comes from an automotive family and is based in Ann Arbor, Mich. Email Aaron Bragman

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.7
  • Interior design 4.9
  • Performance 4.6
  • Value for the money 4.9
  • Exterior styling 4.9
  • Reliability 4.6

Most recent consumer reviews

5.0

Safest SUV

The car handles very well in all situations. I love is because it feels great, reasonably priced and safe to drive around with the family.

3.0

Jeep, take a second look

The more I drive it, the more I think it drives like a lumber wagon. Off the showroom floor it has a bad shake when it goes over 70. The service department at the dealership has yet to figure out. Lemon law sounds pretty good at this point.

5.0

Go big or go home!

The grand Cherokee Laredo is by far the best for the buck! So much room for my busy family! Very happy I upgraded to the larger version!

See all 7 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Jeep
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
5 model years or newer/less than 75,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
3 months/3,000 miles
Powertrain
7 years/100,000 miles
Dealer certification required
125-point inspection
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

Have questions about warranties or CPO programs?

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