It’s pleasing to have an automaker really listen to their consumers and give them exactly what they wanted. Such has taken place in the Jeep brand as they have introduced a new 3-row Jeep Grand Cherokee L marking the fifth generation of an SUV that helped pioneer the ultra-popular segment that we know of today.
The new Jeep Grand Cherokee L builds upon a well-known name within the automotive world that needed some newfound recognition to compete with the newcomers. Now, Jeep has just what was needed to capture buyers who may be on the fence with other 3-row crossover utility vehicles but offering the appeal of Jeep’s go-anywhere attitude wrapped up in a newly polished premium package.
Having spent the last week with the new Jeep Grand Cherokee L, I can safely attest to it being much more than an extended wheelbase Grand Cherokee. It’s much more in the idea of the “L” signifying a new birth of a legendary vehicle that combines versatility and off-roading chops but with the availability of having a luxurious space to enjoy in the upper-level trims.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee L that is in my possession this week is the top-trim version, the Summit Reserve 4×4, which combines some of the best of what Jeep has to offer in premium touches throughout (outside of the forthcoming Jeep Grand Wagoneer) along with new unique styling cues that pit it against many luxury competitors. The base engine, the brand’s familiar 3.6-liter V6, produces 290 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque and is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission to power all four wheels. The 3.6-liter V6 is standard across the board for the Grand Cherokee L but in the Overland or higher Summit trims you can opt for the more powerful 5.7-liter V8 with 357 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque.
My Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve test vehicle has the 3.6—liter V6, which I find to be barely adequate for some situations having a shortcoming in getting the rather large vehicle up to speed in a hurry. The engine is mostly efficient easily hitting the EPA marks of 18 mpg city, 25 mpg highway, and 21 mpg combined. Zero to 60 mph takes a bit longer than I would like, about 7.7 seconds in my tests. Though, the max payload is 1,210 pounds and the tow rating is 6,200 pounds with the V6 engine and gets bumped up to 7,200 pounds and 1,380 pounds max payload for the V8 engine that hits 60 mph in just 6.7 seconds.
Ride quality is decent and smooths things out even with the large 21-inch wheels thanks to its adaptive dampers and its latest Quadra-Lift air suspension system. The air suspension, which comes standard on the Overland and Summit trim levels, can raise the body an additional 2.4 inches for a total of 10.9 inches of ground clearance and the ability to ford 2 feet of water. Additionally, the approach and departure angles are rather aggressive for such a vehicle in the Overland trim with its specialized bumpers. Fundamentally, the Jeep Grand Cherokee L is the most off-road capable mainstream vehicle of its type, exactly what I would expect from the Jeep brand. A two-speed transfer case with low-range gearing is also standard starting with the Overland trim.
Moving to the inside of the new Jeep Grand Cherokee L, where things take on a new never-been-seen-before life, there’s a rather cavernous cabin with premium materials and luxurious appointments. Jeep does well to add many luxury aesthetics to the picture when you opt for higher trim levels of the new Grand Cherokee L. At the level of the Overland trim, the middle of the row, there’s a nice premium touch about most areas of the interior. But, moving to my test vehicle’s Summit Reserve trim, there is a new level of premium touches to be found from the Palermo leather seats with the accented stitching and open-pore wood trim, to the quilted bolsters, door trim, and leather-appointed dash treatments. For a mainstream vehicle, the Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve takes Jeep to a new level to nearly rival the interior found in luxury branded large SUVs and sedans. The rotary shift knob is knurled metal, and even the lower door trim cards are soft touch with accented stitching throughout – something you don’t find very often even in some of the luxury brand circles.
Forward-thinking tech is found throughout the Jeep Grand Cherokee L utilizing the latest Uconnect 5 infotainment system that is now fed through a 10.1-inch touchscreen that has a neat waterfall design integrated into the dashboard. The system has some missteps in its response times that often hang up on certain menus for longer than I would like. Otherwise, the system is packed full of functions and a myriad of customization options that make the Grand Cherokee L an inviting and enjoyable space. A McIntosh 19-speaker audio system proves to pay homage to high fidelity systems of the past and even gives you an old-school-simulated decibel meter readout app.
The new gauge cluster, a 10.25-inch digital unit that has a floating panel look with LED backlights behind the borderless sides, incorporates several vehicle information screens and integration for a live navigation map, night vision display, and a wide array of customizations.
There are several active safety features as expected and the clever use of the adaptive cruise control with an advanced lane-centering assist function, blind-spot monitor/warning, front and rear automatic braking, and a 360-degree camera system with several angles. The rearview mirror can double as a live camera feed out back for a clear path view from a high-mounted camera. Lastly, there’s a clever FamCam system that allows you to display a live image on the screen of your second and third-row passengers to keep tabs on your kids if needed.
The seating areas, starting with the heated, ventilated and massaging front seats are comfy with the proper welcomed 16-way power adjustments. Here, the only downfall is the massage function only applies to the seat back and doesn’t offer massaging for the bottom seat cushion. Moving to the second-row seats there’s plentiful legroom with the sliding-adjustable seats moved aft. Here, a second-row bench can be optioned to configure the Grand Cherokee L for 8 passengers or a 7-passenger setup as in my Summit Reserve test vehicle with its second-row captain’s chairs that are heated and ventilated. Oddly enough, to get second-row seat ventilation you need to select this top-level Summit Reserve trim, which I think is a miss for the highly sought-after mid-level Overland trim considering what you find in some competitors at a lower price point.
The third-row seats are surprisingly roomy, in addition to being accommodating for two 6-feet tall individuals. In the third row, there’s a slight roof bubble that provides an extra inch or two of headroom in the suede-like headliner. The leg and shoulder room is also good for a third-row seating area along with having several USB ports for easy access.
Behind the third-row seats is an accommodating cargo area that can open to as much as 84.6 cubic feet when both the second and third rows are power-folded down by using the power-fold buttons. Access to the third row is easy and has a large opening when you pull the second-row seat latches at the shoulder of the seat.
The new Jeep Grand Cherokee L has elevated expectations in the mainstream for three-row crossovers with a price starting at $38,635 for the base Laredo trim. Moving to the Overland trim you’re looking at spending at least $55,135 while my top-level Summit Reserve test vehicle with the V6 tests out at $66,275 including all Summit Reserve Group, Advanced ProTech Group, and Luxury Tech Group V option packages and the destination fee of $1,695.