Jeep Grand Cherokee L – 3-rows of off-roading!
One Jeep owners are a very loyal crowd. And when it comes time to transition from the rugged Jeep Wrangler to a more family-friendly vehicle, Jeep owners tend to gravitate to the still off-road capable Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV. Last year, Jeep redesigned the Grand Cherokee and at the same time debuted a spin-off version of the popular SUV, the Grand Cherokee L – a longer version of the regular Grand Cherokee that uses the extra length to make room for a third row.
The Grand Cherokee L benefits from a 7-inch longer wheelbase and is 15.1 inches longer than the standard Grand Cherokee. Of course, this extra room allows for the L to have a third-row seat which provides the Grand Cherokee L seating for six or seven, depending on configuration (a second-row bench that seats 3 is standard while 2 captain’s chairs are optional). With this additional seating, this Grand Cherokee now competes with the Kia Telluride, Hyundai Palisade, Toyota Highlander, Toyota 4Runner and Honda Pilot.
Like the standard Grand Cherokee, the Grand Cherokee L is available with either Chrysler’s 290 hp Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 or the optional 357 hp 5.7-liter HEMI V8 and are either rear or four-wheel drive. An eight-speed automatic is the sole transmission used.
Of course, being a Jeep, the Grand Cherokee L is offered with a variety of 4WD systems. Quadra-Trac I is a 4WD system with a single speed transfer case (there is no low-range gearing). Quadra-Trac II is a two-speed system that provides low-range gearing and enhanced traction for low-speed off-road conditions. Finally, there is Quadra-Drive II, which is the same as the Quadra-Trac II system but includes a fully automatic high-range all-wheel drive system.
The base Grand Cherokee L is the Laredo, which comes with 18-inch wheels and a tri-zone climate control system. Move up to the Altitude and the L is fitted with 20-inch wheels, a power liftgate, heated leather seats and remote start. The Limited gets a premium audio system and heated steering wheel. All three are available with the Jeeps Quadra-Trac I 4×4 system.
The Grand Cherokee L gets more luxurious with the Overland trim as it adds in ambient cabin lighting, full leather interior, power folding third row and dual-pane panoramic roof. It is available with the Quadra-Trac II 4×4 system. The Summit adds in a larger 10.1-inch touchscreen, four-zone climate control, automatic parking system and a selectable ride-height system. The ultimate L is the Summit Reserve, which gets a 19-speaker McIntosh audio system, special 21-inch wheels and an upgraded leather interior. The Quadra-Drive II 4WD system is available on the Summit and standard on the Summit Reserve.
Inside, the well-tailored cabin offers plenty of room and comfort for all on board. The second row can slide around 7 inches to make room for third-row passengers and the rear seating is pretty roomy by midsize SUV standards. Along with the interior roominess, the Grand Cherokee L has a lot of technology going on inside with many display screens dotting the interior along with an array of buttons, switches and knobs.
The tester, a top-of-the-line Summit Reserve had the base V6 powering it. After spending some time in it, I found the interior to be a comfortable and inviting place to be, especially with the Summit Reserve’s quilted leather. We even took it down to the beaches of south Texas. On the 300 mile road trip, the big Jeep was flawless and the extra room proved beneficially for luggage and beach equipment. Once on the beach, it felt right at home cruising in the soft sand. While we witnessed others getting stuck, the Grand Cherokee did what it did best and handled every off-road situation we threw at it.
There is room for improvement though. Some interior controls could be better placed and the glossy black trim that surrounded the interior controls left a trail of fingerprints and smudge behind. On the road, the V6 is a likable engine, but at times it feels overworked in a vehicle the size of the Grand Cherokee L. Tests indicate the V6 powered Grand Cherokee L needs about 8 seconds to hit 60 mph while V8s need a little over 6 seconds to reach the same speed. If I were purchasing an L, I’d look past the V6 and select the V8. But even with the V6 the L drove fine and delivered a comfortable and relaxing driving experience.
Pricing for the Jeep Grand Cherokee L starts at $42,120. The tester has an MSRP of $67,090.
In the past, Jeep, surprisingly, hasn’t been super competitive in three-row SUV market. But at the same time, the Grand Cherokee is one of the best-selling SUVs around. Making the Grand Cherokee available as a 3-row SUV makes perfect sense and really gives the L plenty of ammunition to do well in the market, while giving Jeep owners another reason to stay loyal to the brand.
— Christopher A. Randazzo
By The Numbers:
Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve 4×4
Base Price: $59,660.00 (2021 price)
Price as Tested: $67,090.00 (2021 price)
Layout: front-engine / four-wheel drive
Engine: 3.6 liter V6
Transmission: 8 – speed automatic
Horsepower: 290 hp
Torque: 257 ft/lb
EPA Fuel Economy: 18 city / 25 highway mpg
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