Pricing for the 2021 Grand Cherokee L starts at $52,495 in Canada, $36,995 in the US.
Jeep is expanding its large SUV offering and it starts with the all-new 2022 Grand Cherokee L.
The Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer are next and might be worth waiting for.
The 2021 model year marks Stellantis’ full-on assault on the midsize and large 3-row SUV segments. With the all-new 2021 Grand Cherokee L (GC L), Jeep will return to a segment it dabbled in, if only briefly, with the 2005-10 Commander. The 3-row SUV segment is growing quickly and Stellantis has not one but three vehicles to satisfy this hunger and this is something of a problem.
Our addiction to credit (guilty as charged) has emboldened automakers to offer a plethora of products that ostensibly overlap each other. The idea is that, for only a few more dollars more per month, we can step up into the nicer, better equipped, and more luxurious version of the vehicle we are pondering. And the all-new 2021 Grand Cherokee L is the vehicle that is being considered.
Heavily and properly updated cabin
Priced from $52,495 in Canada ($36,995 in the US), the new Grand Cherokee is a big step up from the current, soon-to-be-replaced Grand Cherokee, in many regards. From a technology standpoint, the GC L outstrips the old truck with many standard active safety features, a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, Uconnect 5 with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and much more.
The cabin is also immensely more modern – a given as the WK2 Grand Cherokee was launched way back in 2011. The dashboard is far more dynamic, texture- and surface-packed. The eye immediately focuses on the touchscreen display which, in our tester, is the optional 10.1-inch unit that replaces the standard 8.4-inch one. As is, this screen offers up some of the sharpest graphics and resolution, and Uconnect continues to please with its straightforward interface.
Front and second-row seats are plush, comfortable, and supportive. Access to the third row is relatively easy even for a portly 5’10” fella like myself. The two rear-most spots are decently comfortable so long as the 2nd-row perches are two or three notches from their most far-back position. Storage options, USB ports, and cupholders are plentiful for all aboard as well.
Styled too conservatively
Overall, the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L’s passenger quarters are luxurious and well-conceived. The truck’s exterior design, however, is bland if a little boring. The hype generated by the coordinated introductions of the Grand Cherokee L, Wagoneer, and Grand Wagoneer had put visions of grandiose uber-premium SUVs with a huge presence in my mind.
Even after many minutes of staring at and walking around the tested Overland-trimmed SUV, despite its nice Velvet red paint, tasteful chrome accents, and front tow hooks, I can only barely say it’s attractive. In contrast, the GM full-size SUVs are beyond handsome. On top of this, our GC L featured the Off-Road group that includes 18-inch wheels with off-road tires which should have helped. But the GC L, one of less than a handful of GC Ls in the Greater Montreal Area, is going by completely unnoticed.
On paper, the Overland is the Jeep Grand Cherokee L to get. With its Quadra-Trac II 4×4 system and Quadra-Lift air suspension, it’s the most capable of all. There’s no need to drive a Laredo or Limited to confirm this statement. Its great abilities, thanks to its new electronic adaptive dampers, deliver astounding levels of comfort and various ride heights for all situations including up to 10.9-inches of ground clearance or an aero mode.
The Quadra-Trac II 4×4 setup includes a two-speed active transfer case with low-range gear reduction. If things get slippery, the system will send as much as 100% of available torque to the axle with the most traction. In other words, if you get stuck, you’re toast. For most typical off-roading situations, the 4×4 Low button is not necessary. There’s no doubt that the GC L crushes nearly all of its midsize 3-row SUV brethren when the pavement runs out.
Nothing wrong with the V6 but…
As standard, all versions of the GC L are powered by the 3.6-litre V6. With 293 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque, the power is adequate. That is until there are four or five passengers on board and some gear. The tested version tipped the scale at 5,000 lbs which indicates a few things. First, when loaded and/or pulling a trailer (up to 6,200-lb towing capacity), the 3.6-litre will be working hard. And second, there’s no way anyone can expect to average below 13L/100km in combined driving. Thankfully, the accompanying 8-speed automatic was flawless during the drive.
Things get dicey as we climb the trim ladder or when options are added. The tested Overland, with all its features, is priced from $68,995, or only $1,000 less than the upcoming 2022 Wagoneer. While the latter may not have some of the Overland’s off-road accessories, it is powered, by default, by the 5.7-litre HEMI V8. On top of this, the Wagoneer is visually more distinct and offers a more upscale cabin.
Wait for the Wagoneer
If one considers the competition outside of Stellantis, the GM trucks are impossible to ignore. For just over $57,000 for the Chevrolet Tahoe, one gets a 5.3-litre V8, a 10-speed automatic transmission, and more interior volume. And again, it’s got presence, style, and substance, in other words, it’s smokin’.
I can only explain Stellantis’ Canada pricing structure by thinking that they expect buyers will effortlessly be swayed into a Wagoneer for a few bucks more per month, especially if they’re considering any version above the Limited with a few options.
Fundamentally, I can find no real faults with the all-new 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L but at the moment, priced as it is, I’d wait for the Wagoneer or consider something else.