Bigger and Better
The Grand Cherokee has been a mainstay of the Jeep lineup since the SUV’s introduction almost 30 years ago, offering a comfortable and even luxurious interior with proper Jeep off-road capability. But this popular Jeep has always lacked something significant to large families — a third row of seats. That changes for the new model year. The all-new 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L comes with fresh styling, a wide range of improvements and — for the first time — a third row that gives the SUV seating for up to seven occupants.
Honoring Jeep Heritage
“When you set out to reimagine an SUV as beloved as the Jeep Grand Cherokee, building on its nearly 30-year legacy as an overachiever is paramount to every decision that is made,” said Christian Meunier, global president of the Jeep brand for FCA. The all-new 2021 model “is built on an all-new architecture and wrapped in a stunning new design that honors its iconic Jeep design heritage, while also extending to accommodate a third row to meet the growing needs of our Jeep customers who have asked for more space and functionality,” Meunier enthused.
With styling similar to the Wagoneer concept that debuted last fall, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L features slim LED headlights that flank a smaller forward-leaning 7-slot grille. A new larger front fascia houses new long-range radar and other high-tech componentry yet maintains the Jeep’s approach angle for maximum off-road accessibility.
With its new grille, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L features a longer hood — again inspired by the Wagoneer concept. The hood plays well with a long roof that tapers slightly to the rear spoiler. Overall the new Grand Cherokee L is 15 inches longer than the current generation, and the wheelbase increases by 7 inches.
At the rear of the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L, integrated exhaust outlets at the edges of the lower fascia combine with slim wraparound LED taillights to give the new SUV a wide stance.
“The Jeep design team envisioned a modern aesthetic for the all-new 2021 Grand Cherokee L — they worked to sculpt it down and gave it a clean and updated premium appearance tailored for today’s customer,” said Mark Allen, head of Jeep exterior design at FCA. “The design for the first-ever three-row Grand Cherokee pays respect to its heritage and honors its utilitarian roots. The results reflect its premium characteristics, contemporary style and legendary capability that has defined the Grand Cherokee since its inception,” Allen also noted.
Underneath the stylish new skin of the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L, an all-new unibody design features independent front and rear suspension, three available 4WD systems as well as an available Quadra-Lift air suspension. Utilizing both aluminum and high-strength steel, the new Grand Cherokee L features a body structure both strong and lightweight, which should enhance overall drivability on- and off-road.
Under the Hood
The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L has an all-aluminum 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine producing 290 horsepower and 257 lb-ft of torque. A great combination of power and fuel efficiency, this engine can provide up to 500 miles of driving range and tow up to 6,200 pounds. The other engine choice for the Grand Cherokee L is a 5.7-liter V8 producing 357 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque. With the V8 under the hood tow capacity increases to 7,200 pounds. Both engines get teamed with an 8-speed automatic transmission. For the first time ever, the Grand Cherokee features front-axle disconnect to reduce drag on the system when four-wheel drive is unneeded.
The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L has a choice of three 4WD systems: Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II. Quadra-Trac I features a single-speed active transfer case that employs multiple sensors to preemptively adjust torque distribution, sending up to 100 percent of power to the front or rear axle. Quadra-Trac II gets a 2-speed transfer case with low-range gear reduction. Quadra-Drive II adds a rear electronic limited-slip differential with the ability to direct torque to individual wheels as necessary.
Jeep’s new Quadra-Lift air suspension features electronic adaptive damping that automatically adjusts to changing road conditions for improved comfort and control. The system can be operated manually, and has the ability to lower the Grand Cherokee L by 1.8 inches for easy entry and exit, or increase ground clearance to 10.9 inches for traversing difficult terrain. At maximum ground clearance the new SUV can navigate up to 24 inches of water.
The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L has preset drive modes to optimize the SUV for different conditions. The modes include Sport, Rock, Snow, Mud / Sand and Automatic. These settings can configure the torque split, braking, steering, suspension, throttle control, transmission, traction control, stability control and anti-lock brakes as needed.
Active Driving Assist
In support of the move toward autonomous driving, Jeep offers the Grand Cherokee L with Level 2 autonomous driving. Active Driving Assist uses lane centering with adaptive cruise control for a hands-on-wheel and eyes-on-road driver assist system. Jeep plans to offer a hands-free version of this system in late 2021 for the 2022 Grand Cherokee.
The interior of the 2021 Grand Cherokee L is even more impressive than the exterior updates. “The objective for the interior design team was to create a unique statement for 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L. We viewed the overall design process through a wide lens that allowed us to use a new generation of Jeep interiors,” said Chris Benjamin, head of Jeep, Chrysler and advanced interior design at FCA.
The Grand Cherokee L dashboard’s clean design and horizontal vents give the cabin a wide look. A standard 10.1 inch display integrates seamlessly at the center, with a combination of digital and physical buttons for quick navigation. Climate control as well as volume and tuning knobs are within easy reach. A new rotary shifter as well as other drive controls for ride height and mode selection sit lower on the center console.
The latest version of Jeep’s infotainment system, Uconnect5 is standard equipment on all trim levels of the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Five times faster than the previous version, Uconnect 5 uses the Android Auto operating system and offers a long list of innovations. The system can be customized for up to five user profiles and includes not only music preferences but also temperature settings, seating position and mirror placement. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard, as is Amazon Alexa compatibility and dual-phone connectivity.
A 6-speaker audio system is standard fare for the Grand Cherokee L, although buyers can spring for a premium McIntosh audio system. This advanced system features a 17-channel amplifier, 19 speakers, a 10-inch subwoofer and 950 watts of output.
A Third-Row First
In a first for the Grand Cherokee, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L offers three rows with room for up to seven occupants, depending on the configuration. The second row comes with standard bucket seats, although a bench seat for three passengers is optional. Second-row seats easily tip and fold for access to the third row, and seats can move forward or aft 7 inches to provide additional legroom for third-row passengers. Multiple Type A and Type C USB ports can be found throughout the cabin so passengers in all three rows can keep devices charged.
The extended length of the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L not only provides comfortable space for the additional row, it also improves cargo space. With three rows in place the SUV has a bit over 17 cubic feet of space, and the third row can be split-folded via buttons in the cargo area for additional versatility. All rear seats can be folded flat when maximum cargo capacity is required.
Monitoring the Kids
The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L offers rear-seat monitoring for a clear view of the cabin from a camera positioned in the headliner between the second and third rows. The camera is surrounded by three infrared lights for additional visibility in low light conditions, and provides a view of the entire cabin or zooms into each seat location.
All trim levels of the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L come with a long list of high-tech safety features including automatic braking with pedestrian / cyclist detection, rear cross-traffic alert, active lane management, lane-keeping assist, blind-spot monitoring and advanced brake assist. Additional standard safety features on the top-level Summit trim include intersection collision assist and drowsy driver detection.
The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L will be available in four trim levels when it arrives this spring: Laredo, Limited, Overland and Summit. The new SUV will be built at the new Detroit Assembly Complex – Mack Plant. The updated two-row Grand Cherokee — as well as the hybrid Grand Cherokee 4xe — will arrive later in 2021.