FINALLY: 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Is New and Packs a Third Row

FINALLY: 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Is New and Packs a Third Row

Room for Seven Off-Road Adventurers

What is the Jeep Grand Cherokee L?

The Jeep Grand Cherokee was last redesigned during Obama's first term, which means it's roughly [checks notes] ...100 years old at this point. While Jeep's constant updates have kept this generation on life support long past the typical sell-by date, it lacks the ride comfort and interior refinement delivered by its contemporaries.

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L launches the fifth generation of Jeep's venerable SUV, and the enhancements look to be worth the wait. Though the powertrains offered are essentially carried over from the previous model, everything else is new. Additional off-road features, revised technology offerings and a luxurious cabin are just a handful of updates in store for the redesigned Grand Cherokee. And for the first time in the Grand Cherokee's history, a three-row version will be offered, courtesy of the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L. The three-row model will go on sale this summer, with the two-row version following later this year, likely for the 2022 model year.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L.

What's under the Grand Cherokee L's hood?

The Grand Cherokee L debuts with two engines that will be familiar to current GC owners. The standard 3.6-liter V6 produces 290 horsepower and 257 lb-ft of torque and is rated to tow a respectable 6,200 pounds. Buyers looking for a little more oomph can opt for a 5.7-liter V8 with 357 hp and 390 lb-ft — this motor pushes the Grand Cherokee L's towing capacity to 7,200 pounds. The V6 is available with either rear- or all-wheel drive, and an eight-speed automatic transmission is standard for both engines.

There's no word yet on any high-performance SRT or Trackhawk models, but more extreme versions are almost guaranteed to launch within the next few years. We also expect a plug-in hybrid powertrain to bow later this year.

Though the Grand Cherokee L will employ a unibody construction — rather than a more capable but heavier and less refined body-on-frame chassis — it relies on other features to maximize its off-road capabilities. A two-speed transfer case and hill descent control are standard on the midtier Overland model, and more serious adventurers can get this system paired with an electronic limited-slip differential on the Overland (via the Off-Road Group package) and top-trim Summit. The Quadra-Lift air suspension, standard on both Overland and Summit grades, can lift the body an additional 2.4 inches. Fully raised, the Grand Cherokee L offers a maximum 10.9 inches of ground clearance and can ford up to 2 feet of water.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L.

How's the Grand Cherokee L's interior?

We haven't seen shots of the Grand Cherokee's more wallet-friendly Laredo and Limited trims yet, but the cabin spied in Overland and Summit levels is nothing short of transformative. Materials are a mixture of open-pore wood veneers, metal trim and leather, giving an impression more like what you'd expect in a luxury SUV. The Summit, shown here equipped with its Reserve package, is even more stunning. There's quilted leather on the seats and doors, and additional wood trim on the steering wheel. Both the Overland and Summit feature contrast-color stitching on the dashboard, helping the Grand Cherokee's dash look less monolithic.

Of course, the Grand Cherokee L's most significant difference is the third row of seating. Available in six- and seven-seat configurations, the Grand Cherokee L features a second row that can slide 7 inches to make room for passengers in the back. While the midsize SUV class is typically small enough that the third row is really only spacious enough for kids or smaller adults, the Grand Cherokee L's specs sheet suggests a similar amount of third-row headroom and legroom to the reigning champion of passenger space, the Volkswagen Atlas. We'll have to wait until we get our hands on a Grand Cherokee L to see what's what, but the Atlas has no problem fitting 6-footers in its back row.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L.

How's the Grand Cherokee L's tech?

The Grand Cherokee L is loaded with tech features that, again, wouldn't look out of place in a luxury SUV. All the typical creature comforts are here, with exotic items such as massaging front seats, ventilated second-row seats and imitation suede headliner included on the Summit's Reserve package. The Grand Cherokee L also offers configurable ambient lighting, four-zone automatic climate control, a backseat camera system so you can keep an eye on the kids, and a whopping 12 USB ports sprinkled throughout the cabin.

A 10.1-inch touchscreen commands the center stack, loaded with the newest version of FCA's infotainment system, dubbed Uconnect 5. The new system supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, so you don't have to tether your phone to the car if you just want to jump in and enjoy a podcast or navigate with Google Maps. Uconnect 5 can also download over-the-air updates, so you don't have to bring your car to a dealer whenever a virtual bug is squashed or features are added.

While we're sure the standard six-speaker and optional nine-speaker Alpine audio systems sufficiently fill the cabin with sound, the new halo setup will make audiophiles swoon. High-end manufacturer McIntosh is getting back into the car audio game in a big way with a 19-speaker system available on upper Grand Cherokee L trim levels. We're ready to crank the volume and melt our faces with a few choice Jimmy Page licks. A 10.25-inch digital instrument panel, digital rearview camera and head-up display round out the available tech toys.

As we'd expect of any new vehicle, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L is loaded with advanced driving aids. All the usual suspects are here, including standard adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, front and rear automatic braking, and lane-centering assist. Of course, there are a few surprises that are — you guessed it — typically reserved for luxury vehicles. There's a night vision camera that can detect pedestrians and animals up to 219 yards away. An Intersection Collision Assist feature will automatically hit the brakes if it detects a vehicle coming across your path in an intersection, helping reduce the severity of a side impact. The most intriguing feature — a hands-free driving system — will be available on the 2022 Jeep Grand Cherokee L, which will launch at the tail end of this year.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L.

Edmunds says

A brand-new Grand Cherokee has been a long time coming, but it seems to have been worth the wait. Packed with new technology and comfort features and an interior that wouldn't look out of place in a luxury SUV, the redesigned 2021 Grand Cherokee will debut first as the new three-row Grand Cherokee L, with the traditional two-row version following next year. This tech-heavy but capable SUV is set to conquer trail and tarmac this summer.