Growing Jeep Families No Longer Have to Look Elsewhere for 3-row Capability
Whether you consider it an every man’s Range Rover, or the ultimate 4-season suburban family adventure cruiser; the Jeep Grand Cherokee has been many things to many people over the last 28-years. But, with the arrival of the 5th–generation, it offers something it has never offered before.
When it comes to go anywhere or do anything vehicles off and on road, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is one of the first that comes to mind. But, up until this point, Grand Cherokee adventures were limited to 5-passengers. For 2021, Jeep is set to grow Grand Cherokee appeal, by growing its seating capacity with the 3-row Grand Cherokee L.
And the additional row of seating is not just an afterthought, or compromised into the existing architecture; there’s an all-new uniframe structure here, providing ample space for adults in that 3rd row. Rear door openings are larger as well, providing easy access.
Middle row passengers, whether they’re riding in the standard buckets or the optional bench seat, have plenty of legroom too; and it’s important to note that for those that don’t need 6 or 7-passenger capacity, the traditional 5-seat Grand Cherokee will switch to this platform later this year as a 2022 model.
So, just how much bigger is it? Well, its 121.7-inch wheelbase is 7-inches longer than the current WK2 Grand Cherokee and about 2-inches longer than the Dodge Durango.
All of this elegantly done around customary Jeep cues such as the 7-slot grille, trapezoidal wheel arches, and limited front and rear overhangs.
And it certainly drives like a much larger vehicle. The independent front and rear suspension, with available Quadra-Lift adaptive damping, also feels much more softly sprung; giving it a tendency to roll enough in corners that it makes you very conscious of your speed.
Standard engine is the familiar 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 with 293-horsepower and 260 lb-ft. of torque. Adequate, but not exciting. If you want a little more pep, or are looking to take advantage of the exceptional 7,200-lbs. towing capacity, you’ll need to upgrade to the 357-hosepower 5.7-liter V8. Both work with the same 8-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel-drive is standard; but with 3 different 4-wheel-drive systems available, as well as more ground clearance than before, the Grand Cherokee L offers off-road capability found in few other 3-row SUVs.
With the same V6 engine, and more vehicle to move than before, our on pavement performance expectations were tempered heading to Mason Dixon Dragway. And indeed, it was a leisurely trip to 60 of 9.4-seconds; about a second slower than last gen. The engine revs high and makes a lot of noise, but feels a little overmatched moving this big of a vehicle. The ¼-mile trip was a full 17.1-seconds at 82 miles-per-hour.
More of the same softly sprung tuck and roll that we experienced on the street here in our handling course; but steering feel was better than past Jeeps, and the L certainly behaves appropriately for its size. Brakes were well above average though; with strong and consistent stops of only 105-feet from 60 miles-per-hour.
Regardless of trim, the Grand Cherokee L is a quite luxurious and inviting space to be in; and with the stretch, there’s a lot more of it for cargo too. Behind 2nd row space climbs from 36.3 cubic-ft. to 46.9, and max grows from 68.3 to 84.6; there’s even 17.2 cubic-ft. of space when the 3rd row is up.
Up front, a pair of 10-inch screens are standard; one in the center for Uconnect 5; and one for the driver, as a frameless digital gauge cluster. The wider center console is trimmed in piano black, and houses a rotary shifter.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for the V6 are 18-City, 25-Highway, and 21–Combined. But we averaged just 19.1 miles-per-gallon of Regular. Still, that’s only slightly worse than average for the Energy Impact Score; consuming 15.7-barrels of oil yearly, with 7.1 tons of CO2 emissions.
There’s a wide spread of Grand Cherokee Ls to choose from, starting at the base Laredo for $38,690, with another 2-grand for 4-wheel-drive, and stretching all the way to top Summit Reserve trim beginning at a healthy $63,690.
When you have something great, you want to share it with as many people as possible, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L now provides seating for up to 7, which means growing Jeep families no longer have to look elsewhere for comfortable 3-row capability. And, Jeep is doubling their efforts; as in addition to this Grand Cherokee L, is an all-new full-size Wagoneer on which we’ll have a full road test soon. So, plenty of really big new Jeeps headed our way, with plenty of room to bring more friends along for the adventure!
Engine: 3.6L V6
Torque: 260 lb-ft
0-60 mph: 9.4 seconds
1/4 Mile: 17.1 seconds @ 82 mph
EPA: 18 City / 25 Highway / 21 Combined