2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L: The Grand Revamp

Strong points
  • Great new look
  • More refined interior
  • Great off-road skills
Weak points
  • The Pentastar V6 may lack motivation in certain situations
  • More complicated infotainment system
  • Interesting models are expensive
Full report

A well-overdue redesign has finally happened for the Jeep Grand Cherokee after a ten-year stint with the current generation. Even if a decade feels like an eternity in automotive years, it would appear, however, that aging products are rarely a problem at Jeep, where dated interiors, powertrains and designs are often still very popular even where the competition has gone much further in terms of technology.

During the last few years, the Grand Cherokee was offered in so many trims and editions that it was starting to overlap on different segments, including the more luxurious niches, and cannibalizing some of the Cherokee’s sales. For its fifth generation, the Grand Cherokee carries on this multiplication tradition with an elongated “L” version that adds a third row of seats, a first for Jeep since the Commander.

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

Although there probably won't be a Trackhawk variant - at least not one equipped with the supercharged 6.2-liter engine -, Jeep just announced that the Grand Cherokee will benefit from trim that will spread its message throughout the Jeep catalogue over the years: the 4xe plug-in hybrid variant. But for now, we know that the proven Pentastar V6 and 5.7-liter V8 are in line for the 2021 Grand Cherokee L which is available in Laredo, Limited, Overland and Summit variants.

The team at The Car Guide spent a few days at the wheel of the 2021 Grand Cherokee L Overland. Here are our impressions.

3.6 litres - not great, not terrible

Our tester did have a whole new look compared to the outgoing Grand Cherokee, but upon opening the hood, we saw a well-known engine, the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. Faithful and consistent, it develops 290 hp and 257 lb-ft of torque and works with an eight-speed gearbox. With four occupants in the cabin and no load hitched in the rear, this powertrain is sufficient.

It offers the flavour we know so well, with the ever-existing hesitation upon shoving the accelerator, followed by a satisfactory delivery of torque at low rpm and efficient pickups at high speed. However, if you're thinking of towing anything remotely heavy, the 5.7 L V8 would be a smarter choice with 357 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque.

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

Great On-Road and Off-Road Skills

The engine and tranny are mated to the Quadra-Trac II 4x4 system, which is frankly one of the most advanced in the industry, and which gives the Grand Cherokee L the off-road capabilities worthy of this name. Alas, a question always remains: what kind of individuals intends to torture three rows of passengers on the trail for hours? Who knows! On the other hand, this system comes with several useful modes in everyday road conditions.

For more plausible eventualities, our test model was also equipped with the adaptive Quadra-Lift air suspension which gives the Grand Cherokee L rather impressive handling considering its size. In the majority of cornering situations, this suspension does a reassuring job handling the Grand’s 5,066 pounds. But where this component really shines is on terrible roadways, where it fights to provide a comfortable ride for occupants.

Photo: Louis-Philippe Dubé

A More Refined Interior

We couldn't wait to see how Jeep reinvented one of the most prehistoric interiors in the industry. And after settling in, we can confirm that it is frankly successful, in terms of comfort and finish, at least, with a compound of textures and materials that give much more panache to a cabin that was once thoroughly plasticized. While space is ample in all directions for the second row occupants, the third row occupants are still in the penalty box, as is often the case in the segment.

In the dashboard, the fifth and latest version of the Uconnect system can be accessed via an 8.4-inch screen standard in the Laredo and Limited, or 10.1 inch in the Overland and Summit models. Once so simple and intuitive, this system seems to have gained in complexity. And if its designer praised it as being "five times faster" when the Grand Cherokee L was unveiled, a few tweaks would be needed to get it up to its top speed.

What About the Jeep Grand Wagoneer?

Throughout our test-drive, we were asked many times if our vehicle was a Jeep Grand Wagoneer. Well, the subject of this review is the 2021 Grand Cherokee L, an elongated version of the Grand Cherokee which will arrive later this year as than model 2022. To their defence, the two share certain aesthetic characteristics. The Grand Wagoneer is the ultra-luxurious vehicle built on the same architecture as the Ram 1500. It aims to compete with the Cadillac Escalade and BMW X7 and other opulent mall crawlers.

And it, along with the Wagoneer, might be worth waiting for before making your final decision on the Grand Cherokee L, if you consider the following.

The Grand Cherokee L’s starting price is $ 52,495. The top-grade variant, Summit, has a starting price of $ 81,985. Regardless, you still have to shell out a minimum of $ 72,490 to get a V8. One must pay close attention the options and their cost, our Overland tester model powered by the Pentastar V6 and equipped with the off-road package, a group of advanced technologies and the McIntosh surround sound system has a price tag of $ 80,000.

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