2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Adds Third Row to Best-Selling SUV

The three-row L will arrive first: two-row Grand Cherokee bows later in the year as 2022 model.

Jeep has unveiled the fifth-generation Grand Cherokee today. Well, not quite: what you see here is actually the Grand Cherokee L, a long-wheelbase version with a model-first third row of seating.

“Wait,” you’re saying to your screen, “I thought Jeep was bringing in the Wagoneer this year for three-row needs?” That’s correct—but why stop at one model in today’s SUV-obsessed market? The Grand Cherokee L will plug the three-row gap first, arriving in dealerships in the second quarter of this year.

When it debuted nearly 30 years ago, the Grand Cherokee bridged the gap between mainstream and luxury SUVs. This new model will head even further into premium territory, with available quilted and perforated leather seating, new tech additions like night vision and a Level 2 hands-on semi-autonomous driving, and the latest iteration of Jeep’s Quadra-Lift air suspension.

Baby Wagoneer Looks

The Grand Cherokee L draws plenty of visual inspiration from last year’s Grand Wagoneer concept. There’s the iconic seven-slat grille up front, with wider headlights emphasizing the rig’s width. The grille and headlights line up with the leading edge of the grille, giving the GCL a cleaner face than the larger concept. A stronger character line runs from just aft of the lights right back to the thin taillights, collecting the door handles along the way. The familiar squared-off wheel arches remain, too. Jeep has given the L a more upright D-pillar than the current model, but not quite the condo-building vertical one of the Grand Wagoneer. The concept’s window framing chrome treatment does transfer over though, wrapping down the D-pillar and across the rear window.

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All together, it’s a cleaner look than the Grand Wagoneer, and still identifiably Grand Cherokee. We think the new look will transfer to the regular-wheelbase model even better.

By the Numbers

Measuring 204.9 inches (5,204 mm) from bluff nose to tall tail, the GCL is slightly more than 15 inches (381 mm) longer than the current non-L Grand Cherokee, and 5.8 inches shorter than the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe. It’s a wideboi too, at 77.9 inches (1,979 mm).

Interior volumes are up in every direction, except for a tenth of an inch of front headroom (39.8 inches, or 1,012 mm). Second row passengers—either two or three—gain back that extra tenth, while third-row noggin space equals 37.3 inches (947 mm). Legroom is 41.3, 39.4, and 30.3 inches, respectively (1,050/1,000/770 mm), suggesting you won’t want to stick full-size adults in the way-back for too long. Again, that’s what the Grand Wagoneer will be for.

You’ll find 17.2 cubic feet (487 L) of storage behind the third row. Fold it down and you’ve got 46.9 cubes to play with (1,328 L), while the space expands to 84.6 (2,395 L) with only the front seats upright.

Tow ratings are kept pretty simple: 6,200 pounds (2,818 kg) for V6-equipped models, regardless of driven wheels, and 7,200 pounds for the V8, which comes only with four-wheel drive.

Models with the air suspension feature 8.3 inches (212 mm) of ground clearance in the default mode. It can raise by as much as 2.4 inches (60 mm) for more maneuverability off-road, or drop by 1.8 inches (46 mm) for easier ingress and egress while parked. An aero mode also lowers the body nearly an inch at speed, or when set to Sport Mode. The air suspension also gives the Grand Cherokee L a 30.1-degree aproach angle, 22.6-degree breakover angle, and 23.6-degree departure angle.

Luxurious interior digs

The Grand Wagoneer has clearly inspired the Grand Cherokee’s interior treatment too. A much more substantial center stack divides the front cabin, with a large touchscreen smack in the middle. There’s no secondary screen mounted further below it, but there is a fully digital instrument panel behind the wood-and-leather steering wheel. Powering all of it is FCA’s latest Uconnect system, which offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support. Thankfully, there are also physical buttons for the climate control. The rotary shifter in the center console uses haptic feedback when selecting gears.

Open-pore wood stretches across the dash around onto the doors. The quilted-leather seats look great, and every trim includes heating for the first two rows. Ventilated front-row seats join the lineup on the Limited and above, with cooling for the second row only available on the Summit Reserve Package. Front-row massaging is also available. Needless to say, it looks like a serious step up from the current model, which debuted way back in 2011.

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The Grand Cherokee L will offer up to two USB charging ports per person: there are 12 total. What’s more, an available wireless charger can send juice to two mobiles at once.

A 10-inch, customizable head-up display is also available, as is a digital rearview camera. A 19-speaker McIntosh audio system will belt out the tunes, plus a rear-seat monitoring camera, similar to the setup found in the Chrysler Pacifica.

What’s under the hood

Jeep will offer the Grand Cherokee L with two engines: the Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 and a 5.7-liter V8. The V6, rated at 290 hp and 257 lb-ft of torque, will come with either rear- or all-wheel drive. Meanwhile the 357-horsepower, 390-lb-ft V8 is exclusively the latter. Both engines hook up to an eight-speed auto. It’s pretty much the same setup as the current model—there’s no mention of a hybrid 4xe for the GCL, only the upcoming two-row model. Depending on trim and engine, buyers will have access to three 4WD systems: Quadra-Trac I and II, and Quadra-Drive II.

Jeep’s Selec-Terrain system will return in the GCL. It includes five drive modes (Auto, Sport, Rock, Snow, Mud/Sand). Hill-Descent Control is also on board for the Overland and Summit trims.

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Jeep is also planning on expanding its driver-assistance suite. A 360-degree camera will be available, as well as a night vision setup. Level 2 semi-autonomous driving will be available from launch; Jeep says it will be hands-on at first, with a hands-off version arriving the following model year. It offered no further details at the time, however, beyond that it will be available on Overland and standard on Summit trims. Adaptive cruise control, highway assist, driver alertness warning, and traffic sign display are all along for the ride too. Automated emergency braking, rear cross-path detection, lane departure warning, lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, and tire pressure monitoring are also standard.

Pricing and availability

Jeep hasn’t announced pricing for the 2021 Grand Cherokee L yet. There will be four available trims: Laredo, Limited, Overland and Summit. It will soon enter production at the brand’s Mack Assembly plant, and arrive at dealerships in the second quarter. Expect a sizeable premium over the existing, regular-wheelbase Grand Cherokee, which will see its replacement—including plug-in hybrid 4xe model—arrive before the end of the year.

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