The Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV is about to start its fifth generation, and it’s being introduced with a three-row model called the Grand Cherokee L that seats up to seven. In case the choice of a three-row design raises a question about the off-road cred of this new Jeep, the division’s leader, Jim Morrison, responds, “Don’t let the third row fool you, this Jeep is still capable.”
The popular SUV will continue to offer a two-row model, which is set to enter production by the end of the year along with a plug-in-hybrid 4xe. Hands-free driving capability is coming in the second model year, too, Jeep says. Meanwhile, the 2021 Grand Cherokee L shown here will go on sale this spring, likely starting just under $40,000.
By the end of the year, Jeep will have three new three-row SUVs in its lineup: the unibody Grand Cherokee L, available in Laredo, Limited, Overland, and Summit trims, and the body-on-frame Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer full-size utes. The Wagoneer will start in the $60,000 range while Jeep says that fully loaded Grand Wagoneers can reach over $100,000. The Grand Cherokee L and Wagoneers will compete with the likes of Ford’s Explorer and Expedition, Chevy’s Traverse and Tahoe, and Toyota’s Highlander and Sequoia.
Jeep says that the Grand Cherokee L’s proportions were inspired by the original Wagoneer, and you’ll see a bit of the new Grand Wagoneer concept’s flair blended in as well. The largest dose is in the seven-slot grille, which is slanted slightly forward, with slim LED headlights attached on either side. Below, the new model’s front fascia features active openings and has grown, hiding driver-assistance tech, compared with the previous generation. A gloss-black roof is available on the Overland model and standard on the Summit, and the roofline flows into thin LED taillights. An available Summit Reserve package includes a set of 21-inch wheels (pictured above) while the top two models get standard 20-inch wheels. The Limited and base Laredo models sit on 18-inch wheels.
The Grand Cherokee L’s wheelbase is 6.9 inches longer than the current model’s, and the new model is equipped with an independent front and multi-link rear suspension. (The current two-row version will carry over into the 2021 model year and the new two-row model is coming later, likely as a 2022 model.) The L’s second row seats fold and slide forward to allow easier access to the third row, which has available power-folding seats and 30.3 inches of legroom—1.9 inches less than the Ford Explorer. There are 47 cubic feet of storage behind the second row, 11 cubes more than the two-row Grand Cherokee, and when all the seats are folded to a flat load floor, the L boasts 85 cubic feet of storage, three less than the Explorer.
Same Engines, Plug-In Hybrid Coming
Jeep kept the Grand Cherokee’s powertrains the same for its new generation, though it’ll announce a plug-in hybrid 4xe model, a moniker first introduced on the Wrangler, later this year. We also won’t rule out the mega-powerful Hellcat supercharged V-8, either, because Fiat Chrysler stuffs the beast into just about anything with four wheels, including the three-row Dodge Durango. The 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 with start-stop is standard, whether with rear-, all-, or four-wheel drive, producing 290 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque. A more powerful 5.7-liter V-8 with four-wheel drive and cylinder deactivation is available on the Overland and Summit models, which makes 357 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. Both engines use an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The L’s two powertrains make slightly less power than the two-row model simply because of the different configuration in this new generation, Jeep told Car and Driver. The Grand Cherokee L can tow up to 6200 pounds with the V-6 and 7200 pounds with the V-8, the same as the 2021 Grand Cherokee two-row.
Same Jeep Capabilities
Three drive systems are available: Quadra-Trac I and II, single- and two-speed transfer cases, as well as Quadra-Drive II, which includes the two-speed transfer case and a rear electronic limited-slip differential. The latter is optional on the Overland model and standard on the Summit. Those two models are also equipped with adaptive dampers and a standard air suspension that has five height settings ranging from 6.5 to 10.9 inches of ground clearance. The Grand Cherokee L has five terrain modes, including auto, sport, rock, snow, and mud/sand, and hill-descent control, standard on the Overland and Summit, is governed with the paddle shifters.
An off-road package is available on the Overland model, which gives it Jeep’s “Trail Rated” badge, and it includes skid plates, an electronic limited-slip rear differential, and 18-inch aluminum wheels wrapped in Michelin Primacy all-season tires. The Grand Cherokee L is also equipped with a front axle disconnect that automatically puts the SUV in two-wheel drive if it senses that four-wheel drive is not required.
Luxurious Interior with Larger Screens
The new Grand Cherokee’s biggest improvement is in the cabin, and well-equipped versions might even compete with luxury SUVs such as the BMW X5 and Mercedes-Benz GLE-class. An 8.4-inch touchscreen is standard with FCA’s new Uconnect 5 infotainment system with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability while a 10.1-inch screen is available on the Limited and Overland and standard on the Summit. A 10.3-inch digital gauge cluster is standard. The center console is finished in gloss black and features a backlit rotary shift knob similar to the one seen in the Grand Wagoneer concept.
Overland and Summit models get 16-way power front seats with an optional massaging function. All Grand Cherokee Ls have customizable interior LED lighting and 12 USB Type A and Type C outlets. The available Summit Reserve package includes cooled front- and second-row seats with nicer leather, massaging front seats, special trim, and a McIntosh audio system.
Jeep says that the Grand Cherokee L will have Level 2 self-driving capability, which should be available by the end of the year. For now, FCA’s lane-centering and adaptive cruise control technology is available on the Overland model and standard on the Summit. Those two models also receive a night vision camera and head-up display. Limited models and above have the option for a 9.2-inch digital rearview mirror. All 2021 Grand Cherokee Ls come standard with collision warning with active braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist with lane departure warning, brake assist, and blind-spot monitoring.
The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L will go on sale in the spring. Pricing is expected to start at just under $40,000 for the Laredo, around $45,000 for the Limited, $50,000 for the Overland, and $55,000 for the Summit.
From: Car and Driver
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