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

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

Looks like: A more sculpted, larger Grand Cherokee and also resembles a Jeep-bodied Dodge Durango

Competes with: Cadillac XT6, Chevrolet Traverse, Dodge Durango, Ford Explorer, Lincoln Aviator

Powertrain: Standard 290-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 or optional 357-hp, 5.7-liter V-8 (there’s no word on any high-performance three-row variants … yet); eight-speed automatic transmission; rear- or four-wheel drive

Hits dealerships: Second quarter 2021

Jeep’s announcement of the coming Grand Wagoneer signaled its intent to go big with its future lineup, but another “Grand” three-row vehicle is coming first: the new 2021 Grand Cherokee L, the first-ever three-row Grand Cherokee. The Grand Cherokee L will be available in four trims at launch: Laredo, Limited, Overland and Summit.

Related: What’s New for Jeep in 2021?

Boasting a new platform — the current-generation Grand Cherokee’s platform is more than a decade old — the Grand Cherokee L is over 15 inches longer than the current-generation two-row model, with a wheelbase that’s 7 inches longer. The Grand Cherokee L’s body and front and rear tracks are also a smidge wider than the regular model.

Exterior

The Grand Cherokee L debuts new styling that the soon-to-be-redesigned two-row model will also wear. It’s handsome and more angular than the current model, with proportions Jeep says are inspired by the old (not-Grand) Wagoneer. Slim LED headlights and taillights give the Grand Cherokee L a modern look, as do the optional 21-inch wheels that are part of the Summit Reserve Package. Jeep’s signature seven-slot grille is present but the slots have been widened for a more modern appearance.

Jeep says the model’s lower beltline will improve the spacious feel of the cabin while also improving outward visibility. Above the windows, a gloss black roof is optional on the Overland and standard on the Summit; a new low-profile roof rack is available to carry extra luggage or gear.

Interior

The interior, shown above in the range-topping Summit trim with the Summit Reserve Package, gets a sleek and seriously upscale look. While lower trims might compete against the Chevrolet Traverse, Dodge Durango and Ford Explorer, this new luxurious interior looks like it gives the Cadillac XT6 and Lincoln Aviator a run for their money.

The centerpiece is a standard 10.1-inch touchscreen operating Uconnect 5, and a standard 10.25-inch digital gauge cluster adds to the luxurious tech. Below the touchscreen sits a new metal rotary gear selector flanked by controls for the Grand Cherokee L’s various terrain modes and, in Overland and Summit models, the controls for the adjustable air suspension’s ride height. 

Behind those controls are “streamlined” cupholders and improved center storage with an optional wireless device charging pad capable of charging two devices at once. Tech is a focus in the new Grand Cherokee L, with 12 USB-A and C ports throughout the cabin. 

The new Summit Reserve Package adds luxury features like Palermo leather upholstery, massaging front seats, and ventilated front- and second-row seats. Also included is open-pore wood trim and a specific Tupelo interior color.

Engines and Transmission

Not really new for the Grand Cherokee L are its engines, though that’s not really a bad thing. The base 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 makes 290 horsepower, down from 293 or 295 in the current-gen two-row Grand Cherokee, but that is likely more than adequate. Horsepower of 295 is certainly enough in the current two-row, and Jeep has used some lighter parts in the Grand Cherokee L, keeping its weight within 100 pounds of its smaller sibling despite the extra row of seats. For those who need more grunt, there’s an optional 5.7-liter V-8 with 357 ponies (instead of the current two-row’s 360). Both engines get paired to an eight-speed automatic transmission. 

Jeep says a plug-in hybrid two-row Grand Cherokee 4xe will debut later this year, but there’s no word yet on if that will end up in the Grand Cherokee L, and there’s also no word on if the current Grand Cherokee’s higher-performance SRT and Trackhawk variants will get a third row of seats. Both seem likely further down the road, however.

Safety

A bevy of high-tech safety features are available or standard on the Grand Cherokee L. These include Active Driving Assist, a hands-on semi-automated driving system, which is optional on the Overland and standard on the Summit trim. Jeep plans to upgrade to a Level 2 hands-off system beginning with the 2022 model year. Another active safety feature, Intersection Collision Assist, is standard on the Summit trim and detects traffic oncoming from the left and right of the vehicle as it approaches an intersection and will provide audio and visual warnings and, if the driver takes no action, automatically activate the brakes.

Camera-based safety features include Jeep’s first-ever digital rearview camera system that uses the rearview mirror to display images from a rear-facing camera in real time and is available on the Limited model and above. A night-vision camera system is optional on Overland and Summit trims, and a 360-degree surround-view camera system is available on Limited and Overland trims, and standard on the Summit trim.

Pricing and Release Date

Pricing is not yet available for the 2021 Grand Cherokee L, though a safe bet is that it’ll be “more” than a comparable two-row model. Pricing should be announced closer to when the Grand Cherokee arrives on dealership lots in the second quarter of this year, so stay tuned.

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