While the Jeep brand is usually better known for the rough and rugged Wrangler and Gladiator models, the Grand Cherokee SUV still plays a vital role in the company’s sales ambitions. First making its debut in 1993, the Grand Cherokee has been a vital cog in Jeep’s operations and is the true bread and butter model of the off-road focused brand. The current generation Grand Cherokee is still a strong seller, but as we mentioned in our last GC related piece, it’s long overdue for a revamp. Jeep has finally addressed this with the unveiling of the 2021 Grand Cherokee L
L is for length and more people space
For buyers wondering if the 2021 Grand Cherokee L is replacing the teased but still not revealed Grand Wagoneer SUV fear not because that’s not this model’s mission in life. Rather, it addresses a long standing complaint of many Grand Cherokee owners by adding a third row seat. That feature was always reserved for the Dodge Durango and the Grand Cherokee was always a two row offering, until now.
We wouldn’t blame you for being confused though when you walkaround the revamped SUV. The exterior styling here is much bolder than before and is a welcome evolution over the outgoing Grand Cherokee. The front fascia does share a number of traits with the fore-mentioned concept including a bolder front grille, a more prominently sculpted front hood, as well as new headlights with LED accents. The side profile is where the extra mounts of length will be noticed and it also comes adorned with stylish 21-inch wheels which is the first time such an option has ever been offered on the Grand Cherokee.
The roofline leads the eye to a sleeker rear end that now features revamped taillights that work their way from the rear liftgate into the fenders. A new set of integrated dual exhaust tips also helps round out the package, and lend even more elegance to the Grand Cherokee at the same time. Overall the changes here are very welcome, the Grand Cherokee L is much more butch looking than before but without going too far overboard in its attempts at being macho.
More Luxury, Screens, and Utility
Slip inside the 2021 Grand Cherokee L and the transformation between it and its predecessor is night and day. Material quality is perhaps the best we have yet seen in a Jeep offering and it’s obvious that technology will play a prominent role in the Grand Cherokee moving forward. The instrument cluster now features a large digital screen and the revamped center stack also houses a larger infotainment system. Overland and Summit models naturally bring higher amounts of polish to the package and include trim exclusive leather accents as well as real wood trim.
These models also coddle second row passengers with heated second row seats with the Summit Reserve model adding ventilation to the package. As you look around, you can see that this newest Grand Cherokee will also boast more cargo room than ever before. While cargo room with all the seats up is a rather modest 17.1 cubic feet of space, this figure grows as you start folding down the seats with the extended length of the platform helping that figure reach a max of 84.6 cubic feet. That’s far more than the 68.3 cubic feet of space that the out going model offered with the second row folded down.
But ultimately the center stack of the new GC will be the proverbial conversation starter for owners. The base system is housed in an 8.4 inch screen, but buyers looking for more tech can opt for a larger 10.1 inch screen that comes equipped with the all new Uconnect 5 system. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are welcome pieces of standard equipment, and Jeep designers even added 12 different charging ports through out the interior. Audiophiles will enjoy the optional 19-speaker premium audio system which is the first time a sound system from Mcintosh has ever been used in a Jeep product.
With all the changes that took place inside and out, Jeep engineers chose to leave the performance hardware virtually unchanged. That means base models come equipped with the familiar 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 still producing 290 horsepower and 257 lb-ft of torque. The optional 5.7 liter Hemi V8 also carries over with that motor producing 357 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque. An eight speed automatic transmission will also continue to be offered with the Grand Cherokee being offered in either two or four wheel drive.
As you can imagine, the carryover engines are joined by a carryover suspension with the old model’s air suspension being carried over to the new model. Quadra Lift II is still a very potent suspension system and the Grand Cherokee L actually benefits from a very slight increase in clearance with the new model now offering 8.3 inches of clearance versus last year’s model.
Safety is the powerplay here
Thankfully, Jeep chose to not do that maneuver when it comes to safety equipment and has added a number of new weapons to the Jeep’s arsenal for 2021. Along with the usual suspects like adaptive cruise control, rear cross path detection, and lane departure warning the Grand Cherokee also debuts the all new Active Driving Assistant. This new feature uses the adaptive cruise control and the lane keep system to deliver semi-autonomous driving to consumers. Jeep reps revealed that this is just the beginning with the Grand Cherokee also slated to get a Hands-Free Active Driving Assistant which promises to further enhance the amount of autonomy that the SUV is capable of.
Other goodies include night vision, a heads up display, 360 degree camera, and even a new intersection collision alert system which alerts the drivers to oncoming vehicles on either side with an audible tone. As mentioned, technology is expected to be a much bigger motivator for Grand Cherokee sales and it appears that Jeep is betting big on consumers embracing some of its technological charms.
When can I buy one?
Jeep did not release any pricing information in its release, but the brand did reveal that the Grand Cherokee L will be making its way to showrooms in the middle of the year. In a move that we have seen a couple other automakers do in recent years, the 2021 Grand Cherokee L will be sold alongside the current two row model which will be largely unchanged for 2021. Look for the three row version to command a slight hike in price versus its older counterpart.
As for whether a two row version is still in the cards, Jeep did not directly confirm it but if it is coming, look for that variant to emerge later after the three row model has a chance to entrench itself in dealerships. After that occurs we could see other models enter the pipeline including a reborn Trackhawk model, a fuel sipping 4xe variant, and perhaps even a Trailhawk. However, for the moment, the 2021 Grand Cherokee L will only be available in four distinct trim levels (Laredo, Limited, Overland, and Summit) with the Summit model also offering a special Reserve package.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.