Jeep introduced the all-new fifth-generation Grand Cherokee on Thursday, promising more driving capability on road and off, more room, and a more robust tech suite soon to include hands-free driving. The Grand Cherokee family is topped by a new “L” model that offers three-row seating for the first time, expanding the Grand Cherokee’s ability to shuttle families around to local and distant adventures in comfort and style.
Jeep ushers in the fifth-gen Cherokee with the introduction of the 2021 Grand Cherokee L, which gains just under 7 inches (17.8 cm) of wheelbase (for 121.7-in/309-cm total) over the outgoing Grand Cherokee to accommodate the new three-row interior. Jeep will provide a closer look at the new two-row Grand Cherokee ahead of its launch, which will follow the Grand Cherokee L’s launch later this year.
The new Grand Cherokee L doesn’t change dramatically in look or feel over the outgoing model but gets some subtle stylistic changes, starting with a stronger, more upright appearance accentuated at the front and rear ends. The new design was inspired by the original Wagoneer, a fact most obvious in the widened, forward-tipped seven-slot grille and elongated hood and cab. Other generational updates include ultra-slim LED headlights and taillights, a lower, more aerodynamic roofline, expanded windows and 1.4-in (36 mm) wider tracks.
The bigger changes are to be found inside the re-penned silhouette, where a new architecture incorporates next-gen steel and aluminum construction to lighten things up and ensure a smooth, quiet ride. The new direct-mounted front axle adds to the weight savings and disconnects automatically as part of the all-wheel drive.
The Grand Cherokee’s range-topping Quadra-Lift air suspension gains electronic adaptive damping in the new L, automatically adjusting around the road/trail conditions under-tire. Its ride height also adjusts depending upon the path that lays ahead. The normal ground clearance of 8.3 inches (212 mm) jumps up to a max height of 10.9 in (277 mm) via two off-road settings, giving the new Grand Cherokee L an even 2 ft (610 mm) of water fording capability, 4 extra inches (102 mm) over the outgoing Grand Cherokee. The Quadra-Lift system can also lower the ride height for more aerodynamic driving, dropping lower yet for easier ingress/egress when parked.
The Grand Cherokee L’s standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 puts out up to 290 hp and 257 lb-ft (348 Nm) of torque for up to 6,200 lb (2,812 kg) of towing. Those looking for more power and towing can opt up to the available 5.7-liter V8 for 357 hp, 390 lb-ft (529 Nm) and 7,200 lb (3,266 kg) of towing.
Jeep covers traction with three available 4×4 systems, starting with the Quadra-Trac I with single-speed active transfer that adjusts torque output to the wheels based on sensor data. Quadra-Trac II adds a low-range gear reduction, and the top-tier two-speed Quadra-Drive II system adds in an electronic limited-slip rear differential. The available Selec-Terrain system adjusts powertrain, suspension, torque split, steering and more around five selectable on/off-road modes: auto, sport, rock, snow, mud/sand.
Jeep calls the new Grand Cherokee L the most technologically equipped Grand Cherokee ever, and it arrives as Fiat-Chrysler’s latest step toward the autonomous future with 110 standard and available safety and security features. Topping the list is the available active driving assist system that combines lane-centering tech with adaptive cruise control to offer Level 2 automated driving. That system will go hands-free (but still Level 2) on MY2022 Grand Cherokees, offering drivers the ability to pull hands off the wheel and let the vehicle take over on select roadways.
Other notable driver-assistance features available on the Grand Cherokee L include a night-vision camera, intersection collision assist, and traffic sign recognition. Features like full-speed collision warning with active braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane management, and advanced brake assist will be offered standard across the Grand Cherokee L lineup.
The focus on tech continues on the other side of the windshield, where drivers face a 10.3-in digital instrument cluster and reference an 8.4- or 10.1-in Uconnect 5 infotainment touchscreen. The latest Android-based Uconnect features Alexa “Home to Car” voice functionality, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot for up to eight devices, dual-device Bluetooth connectivity, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, TomTom navigation, SiriusXM 360L, and over-the-air updating.
Moving around the cabin, other available tech features include a rear-seat monitoring camera with day/night modes, digital rearview mirror, full-color head-up display, and 950-watt, 19-speaker McIntosh surround sound system. The new Summit Reserve interior package dresses the cabin up with luxurious touches like quilted Palermo leather seat trim, memory and massage front seats, and open-pore waxed walnut accents.
As the first Grand Cherokee to offer three rows, the L comes standard with two third-row seats and two second-row bucket seats, a three-seat second-row bench being optional. Larger rear doorways and fast second-row tipping and sliding provide convenient access to the rearmost seats. Both second and third rows fold flat to multiply load area from 17.2 cu ft (487 L) behind the third row to a maximum of 84.6 cu ft (2.4 cu m).
Jeep will build the Grand Cherokee L at its new Detroit Assembly Complex. The model will roll out to dealerships in the second quarter of 2021 in four trims: Laredo, Limited, Overland and Summit. Production of all-new two-row Jeep Grand Cherokee models will get started at the same facility later in 2021.