Car review: 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Overland

By Larry Lark, contributor

With almost 30 years and four generations under its belt, the Jeep Grand Cherokee breaks new ground in 2021, adding a third-row seat and joining the full-size SUV category.

The most awarded SUV ever, my Grand Cherokee L Overland tester delivers more legendary 4×4 capability, premium on-road refinement and craftsmanship, superior luxury and comfort, and the most safety and advanced technology in its class.

“With a near 30-year legacy guiding the Jeep team, the new 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee is crafted to exceed expectations and do what no other SUV can do: deliver legendary Jeep 4×4 off-road capability blended with superior on-road manners,” said Christian Meunier, Jeep Brand Chief Executive Officer. “The Grand Cherokee L truly stands out in its segment and continues to raise the bar in capability, performance and luxury, while also breaking new ground in versatility and functionality.”

Powered by a 3.6-liter, 24-valve, Pentastar V6 engine paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission, the Grand Cherokee is rated at 293 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. The engine is rated for a towing capacity of up to 6,200 pounds, an estimated class-leading driving range of nearly 500 miles, and 25 miles per gallon fuel economy down the highway.

Legendary off-road capability begins courtesy of three 4×4 systems – Quadra-Trac I, Quadra-Trac II and Quadra-Drive II with rear electronic limited slip-differential. All three systems are equipped with an active transfer case to improve traction by moving torque to work with the wheel with the most grip.

When equipped with the available Off-Road Group (mine was), the Trail-Rated Overland 4×4 model benefits from class-leading traction, ground clearance, maneuverability, articulation and improved water fording (capable up to 24 inches). The Off-Road Group also includes high-strength steel skid plates, electronic limited slip differential rear axle, 18-inch aluminum wheels and rugged, all-season performance tires.

The proportion of the all-new Grand Cherokee L was inspired by the original Wagoneer, first full-size luxury SUV from Jeep. Grand Cherokee L’s lean profile features a longer hood and cab, which shifts the vehicle rearward to give a sense of motion with a ready to react response. A forward-tipped grille further enhances the length of the hood and gives a respectful nod to Wagoneer’s iconic design. A lowered, tapered roof improves aerodynamic performance and efficiency, without sacrificing its cargo spaciousness and utility.

My tester came with four optional packages that slather on multiple cherries on top of an already fine sundae. A customer preferred package ($1,995), advanced pro tech III group, ($1,995) off-road group ($1,095) and navigation system ($1,795) are all worthy additions.

Highlights include Nappa leather seats with back massagers, wireless charging pad, four-zone climate control, heads-up display, surround view camera, integrated -road camera, 10.1-inch display, and a McIntosh luxury audio system with 19 speakers and a 950-watt amplifier.

The Grand Cherokee L includes room for six or seen passengers. The second-row comes with standard “tip and slide” bucket seats that move seven inches fore or aft. The power-folding third-row delivers uncommon room and comfort for those in the back of the bus.

The third-row seat features a 50/50 split and is easily folded from the rear of the vehicle. For even more utility, both the second- and third-row seats fold forward into a flat-load floor. When the second- and third-row seats are folded flat, the maximum cargo space is an expansive 84.6 cu. ft.

Safety features overdeliver as well. Highlights include adaptive cruise control with stop and go, active lane management system, full-speed forward-collision warning plus, rear back-up camera, blind spot and cross-path detection, advanced brake assist, pedestrian and cycle emergency braking, hill start assist, hill descent control, security alarm, and rear-seat object alert.

Base Price: $56,690

Price As Driven: $63,915

Destination charge is included in base price. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturer. List price may vary at local dealerships.