2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee L: Living in the Wagoneer's Massive Shadow

Strong points
  • Grand look inside and out
  • Lots of trunk space, even with the third row up
  • Can be lowered to easily get in and out
Weak points
  • Can get $$$ at the pumps
  • You'll want to spring for all the extra interior design bits
Full report

A few months ago, when I got behind the wheel of the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, I thought Jeep had reached the pinnacle in its design and amenities capabilities. Here was the best. Here was the end all.

And then I was handed the keys to the Grand Cherokee L. Now, even though this is essentially a Grand Cherokee, the L makes it just a little bit “extra” and somehow puts it oh-so close to that Wagoneer top-tier - which had us questioning whether or not the Wagoneer’s price tag was really worth it.

Photo: Marc Lachapelle

L for Lovely and Large

As you might assume, the L in the naming stands for “long” and describes the fact that the Grand Cherokee L does indeed have a longer wheelbase than the standard Grand Cherokee and that it does in fact have a third row.

Third row SUVs are often touted as being so much more practical for larger families, when in actual fact that third row isn't fit for anyone over the age of 5 or the height of 4’2”. However the shape of the Grand Cherokee’s back end and the larger doors and easily-moveable second row meant that the third row was actually quite practical, despite eating into the trunk space.

With the third row up, the Grand Cherokee L boasts 487L of trunk space (and although that is about 250L less than the Grand Wagoneer) which is huge for a three-row vehicle. And that space jumps to a whopping 1,328L with the third row folded.

This vehicle has style AND space.

Photo: Miranda Lightstone

L is for Luxurious

If there’s one thing the Grand Cherokee has always been, it's a step above the rest. While some of the Jeeps in the lineup are a little grubby and “lower brow” the Grand Cherokee has always been just that: Grand. And, we have to say, this version is no exception. Especially in Summit trim. From the stunning white exterior to the black leather interior, this SUV is stunning in an understated and yet grand kind of way.

The grand obviously comes from its stature on the road. And yet, it is definitely nowhere near as large as the Grand Wagoneer but it commands just as much attention. Woodgrain accents and black piano finish throughout the interior help elevate the Grand Cherokee’s overall style and feel. And the simplistic shifter knob and terrain selection switch are a welcome change to the sometimes overly complicated centre stacks when it comes to off-road capable vehicles.

L is for Long Weekend Adventurer

And that’s another thing: Despite being fancy, this big boy can get down and dirty with the best of them. Equipped with a 3.6L 6-cylinder engine, the Grand Cherokee L produces 293 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. Coupled with an 8-speed automatic transmission, this large SUV isn’t going to win any ¼ mile races, but it is going to get the job done with it comes to merging on the highway or managing to make it to the office after a massive dump of snow.

The Grand Cherokee L is equipped with a terrain response system that allows the driver to toggle through various road surfaces (rock, sand/mud, snow, auto, sport) so that the traction and suspension and throttle response are adjusted accordingly.

We flirted between auto and sport and really only saw a major change in the throttle response and felt it was a little bit jerky in sport mode, but the intention was there and it definitely made the large car feel a bit more lively.

Photo: Miranda Lightstone

Why get a Wagoneer instead of the L?

Given the price difference between the two (a near $30k gap), and knowing how truly similar they are, at this stage I think the main reason would be to have the Wagoneer nameplate in your driveway and perhaps a bit more woodgrain and coloured leather throughout the interior. Otherwise, you are looking at extremely similar vehicles that drive nearly identically and offer the same amenities and design cues. Sure, the Wagoneer has slightly more legroom and a larger trunk, but is it enough to justify the price difference? We’re not sure.

After having driven both, if it was saving a few dollars at the end of the day that I was concerned about but I still wanted a high-end feeling three-row SUV with lots of trunk space, I’d opt for the Grand Cherokee L, no questions asked.

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