2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Preview

Erin Riches-Wong | Jan 07, 2021
  • Redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee debuts midway through 2021 model year
  • Initially sold only as a 3-row Grand Cherokee L
  • Revamped 2-row, 5-passenger Grand Cherokee and plug-in hybrid 4xe versions arrive for the 2022 model year
  • All-new platform architecture should improve the ride quality and crash performance while preserving this SUV's famed off-road capability
  • V6 and V8 engines with 2WD or 4WD
  • 2021 Grand Cherokee L release date is the second quarter of 2021, and Jeep will build it in Detroit

Introduction - Find the best Jeep deals!

Redesigned from the ground up, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L is the longest Grand Cherokee ever and offers the third row of seating buyers have wanted for years. Additionally, its all-new platform architecture promises improved road manners and better crash protection.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve Gray Front Quarter View

Initially, the only redesigned 2021 Grand Cherokee is the L version. Other 2021 Grand Cherokee models you might see at dealerships are still the older generation version of the SUV, which has been around for a decade. 

Equipped with three rows of seats, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L can accommodate six or seven people, depending on the seating configuration. It comes in familiar Laredo, Limited, Overland, and Summit trim levels, and you can choose between a gasoline V6 or V8 engine, each of which comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission. 

You'll also choose between two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive, and because this is a Jeep, there are three different 4WD systems to consider.

Exterior Features - Find the best Jeep deals!

The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L features evolutionary styling with strong ties to the previous generation. But it has a longer hood and a more upright version of the seven-slot grille that leans slightly forward. The standard LED headlights and taillights also stand out. Eighteen-inch wheels and all-season tires are standard, and there are 20- and 21-inch options as you move up the trim ladder.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Overland Red Rear View

The Grand Cherokee L is also much longer than the outgoing generation of Grand Cherokee. Jeep stretches the wheelbase by 7 inches, and it is an incredible 15 inches longer overall. The width doesn't change much, but the Grand Cherokee L is 2 inches taller.

Jeep says the new platform architecture underneath the Grand Cherokee L is lighter than the outgoing generation, which bodes well for fuel economy. A quick comparison of the specs suggests this much longer JGC is not significantly heavier than its 2-row predecessor.

Interior Features - Find the best Jeep deals!

Although owners of the previous-generation Grand Cherokee rated it highly for interior design, the redesigned JGC's cabin appears to be a significant upgrade, especially if you like modern touches. All trim levels have a digital instrument panel and a rotary dial on the console for selecting gears. Paddle shifters are standard to allow manual gear selection.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve Dashboard Front Seats

Cloth upholstery is standard in the base Laredo, but all other trim levels have leather. The Overland and Summit have nicer leather with ventilated front seats, and the latter has additional power adjustments and a massage function (optional on Overland). Meanwhile, the available Summit Reserve package provides lovely, quilted leather upholstery, ventilated second-row seats, and real walnut wood accents.

Second-row captain's chairs are standard on all trim levels (with a power-fold feature on Overland and Summit). Jeep expects owners who will be installing car seats in the second row will prefer this layout. An optional second-row bench seat increases capacity to seven.

Triple-zone climate control is standard, with a four-zone system available on the Overland and Summit.

Even with the addition of a third-row seat, the 2021 Grand Cherokee L has about an inch more legroom in both the first and second rows. There's no additional headroom, even with the increase in overall height, and shoulder room and hip room are also about the same.

As you'd expect, there are big gains in cargo capacity over the outgoing 2-row Grand Cherokee. The maximum capacity is 84.6 cubic feet versus 68.3 previously. Behind the second-row seats, you'll have 46.9 cu.-ft. compared to 36.3. If you're using all three rows, there's 17.2 cu.-ft. of space behind the third-row seat.

Jeep is promising reduced cabin noise in the new Grand Cherokee, thanks to various quieting measures, including the use of active engine mounts and a standard active noise cancellation system.

Under the Hood - Find the best Jeep deals!

The engines are carryover designs. You can choose either a 290-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 or a 357-hp 5.7-liter V8, and both come with an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Towing capacities are unchanged from the previous generation. A properly equipped Grand Cherokee L V6 is rated to tow a maximum of 6,200 pounds, while the V8 can handle 7,200. These are good numbers for an SUV this size.

Rear-wheel drive is standard. Four-wheel drive is optional. To conserve fuel, new-generation Grand Cherokees with 4WD will now automatically disengage the front wheels when extra traction isn't needed (resulting in a temporarily rear-drive Grand Cherokee).

There are three different 4WD systems: a single-speed light-duty system, a mid-range Quadra-Trac II system with low-range gearing and hill descent control, and the most deluxe Quadra-Drive II setup, which includes an electronic rear limited-slip differential. Also available is a Selec-Terrain traction system to help you manage grip on different surfaces. 

Jeep is again offering a Quadra-Lift air suspension for the Grand Cherokee L, and now it includes adaptive damping to improve ride comfort and control. Standard on the Overland and Summit, it's definitely worth considering if you want to go off-road without making aftermarket modifications, as it increases the SUV's ground clearance to 10.9 inches over the standard 8.5. 

Predictably, the extra length of the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L results in a less favorable departure angle than the outgoing JGC, so the redesigned 5-passenger 2022 Grand Cherokee is likely to be a better choice for serious trail work.

Safety Systems - Find the best Jeep deals!

Every 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L comes with a typical array of advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS), including adaptive cruise control, a forward-collision warning system with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking, blind-spot warning, and lane-keeping assistance. A surround-view camera and parking assistance are standard on the Summit; the camera system is optional on lower trims.

Jeep also offers Active Driving Assist, a Level 2 autonomous driving aid, which helps with lane centering when you have the adaptive cruise engaged. It's optional on the Overland and standard on the Summit.

However, on 2021 models, Active Driving Assist will only work if you keep your hands on the wheel. Jeep says it will add hands-free capability for the 2022 model year, and the ability to slow the vehicle down automatically when approaching tight curves. 

Other options to consider include a head-up display and an infrared night-vision system.

Infotainment and Technology - Find the best Jeep deals!

An 8.4-inch touchscreen interface for the infotainment system is standard in the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L. Still, most buyers will want to upgrade to the 10.1-inch touchscreen that's optional on the Limited and Overland and standard on the Summit.

Either way, though, you get the Uconnect 5 interface that allows for wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration along with over-the-air system updates and a Wi-Fi hotspot. A TomTom-based factory navigation system is also available.

Twelve USB ports are standard (they're a mix of the usual Type-A and the newer Type-C), and if you step up to the Limited, there's a 13th port in the third row. Wireless phone charging is optional.

A 19-speaker McIntosh audio system is part of the Summit Reserve package and includes a 990-watt, 14-channel amplifier, and 10-inch subwoofer. We expect it'll be a pretty big step up from the measly 9-speaker Alpine system your Grand Cherokee L Overland or Summit would otherwise have.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Competitors - Find the best Jeep deals!

Most sport-utility vehicles have abandoned any pretense of off-road capability, but not the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L, which appears to be as capable as Grand Cherokee before it. The addition of third-row seating will certainly give family-minded shoppers reason to consider it. However, it won't match the fuel-efficiency and comforts of true crossovers like the Honda Pilot and Kia Telluride.

But if your family travels off the beaten path or tows a travel trailer, the Jeep Grand Cherokee L is pretty unique. It would be easy to justify choosing this Jeep over the Land Rover Discovery as well as larger SUVs like the Ford Expedition and Nissan Armada – if you don't need quite so much room.

Jeep is the source of information in this article. It was accurate as of January 7, 2021, but it may have changed since that date. Always confirm product details and availability with the automaker's website or your local dealership.

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