By on October 20, 2021

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve 4x4 Fast Facts

5.7-liter V8 (357 horsepower @ 5,150 rpm; 390 lb-ft @ 4,250 rpm)

Eight-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive

14 city / 22 highway / 17 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

16.7 city / 10.9 highway / 14.1 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $60,690 (U.S) / $77,990 (Canada)

As Tested: $67,575 (U.S.) / $83,680 (Canada)

Prices include $1,795 destination charge in the United States and $1,995 to $2,895 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

When the Grand Cherokee originally debuted back in 1993, Americans were just warming up to the idea of daily driven sport-utility vehicles. The idea was pretty straight-forward: Take the capability of the Cherokee XJ, tune it for real-world drivability, tweak the look, and add some creature comforts that shift the scales away from the utilitarian toward the premium.

Nearly three decades later the concept remains largely the same, but the all-new Grand Cherokee L is worlds apart from the first generation ZJ. Aside from the third row (a first for a Grand Cherokee), this decked-out SUV rolls around on decidedly massive 21-inch wheels, boasts massaging front seats covered in quilted Palermo leather and a 19-speaker McIntosh audio system, and floats on an adjustable air suspension with adaptive dampers – latter of which is also a first for the model.

It might be easy to dismiss this as Jeep abandoning any pretense of its off-road heritage – the gigantic hoops certainly reinforce that notion here in Summit Reserve trim. But the capability is still there, as evidenced by the presence of the Quadra-Trac four-wheel-drive system and a traction management system with five unique terrain modes, along with approach, breakover, and departure angles of 28.2, 22.6, and 23.6 degrees, respectively, and the 10.9 inches of ground clearance provided by the air suspension at its highest setting.

In reality, this is a case of an automaker just doubling down on what we already knew: Grand Cherokees spend a hell of a lot more time commuting and hauling the family around than they do rock crawling, and people like to have nice things to use when they’re doing that. Jeep is clearly through taking half measures in that regard, and the results are impressive.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

As with the Grand Cherokees that came before it, the fifth-generation SUV is underpinned by a unibody chassis. The platform is totally new and bespoke to the Grand Cherokee (for now, anyway), and about 60 percent of this new architecture utilizes high-strength steel, while aluminum is used for elements like the front subframe, shock towers, hood, and rear hatch to help keep the weight down.

The new look reflects the big changes underneath – the beltline has been lowered versus the outgoing model to allow for a more spacious cabin and improved outward visibility, and the bodywork adopts the simpler, tech-focused design language that we first saw on the new Grand Wagoneer. It’s less distinctive than the fourth-generation Grand Cherokee, but the streamlined aesthetic does an admirable job of hiding the sheer mass of this machine. It’s big, measuring a full 15 inches longer and an inch and a half wider than the two-row model from the outgoing generation. A two-row version will join the line-up by the end of the year, along with a 4xe hybrid variant that’s expected to arrive in early 2022, but all are noticeably larger than the Grand Cherokees that came before them.

The expanded dimensions pay dividends in interior space, though, and the cabin is where things start to get really interesting. It’s also completely reworked, and in this top-tier trim, it’s a genuinely lavish affair, outfitted with acres of high-quality leather and premium materials like open-pore waxed walnut wood. The new layout is complemented by luxury features like the aforementioned heated, ventilated, and massaging front seats, active noise canceling, and a sharp-looking 10.1-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Uconnect 5, the latter of which boasts five times the processing power of the previous generation system and supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

The Summit Reserve package also gets you that McIntosh stereo, and that’s worth noting again because it’s a brand normally associated with extremely high-end home audio equipment, and Jeep is the only automaker that the company is currently working with. It’s not quite on par with the Naim system in the Bentley Bentayga I drove earlier this year, but it does sound good enough to totally justify the $3,000 price tag for the options package all by itself, which includes those 21-inch wheels, the fancy quilted leather, heated and ventilated second-row seats, and some other odds and ends that add to the overall poshness of this thing.

A 3.6-liter, 293-horsepower naturally aspirated V6 is the standard powerplant regardless of trim level, but buyers can spring for the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 (a $3,295 option) if they need a bit more grunt. The eight-pot offers 357 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque (along with a much better engine soundtrack) and raises towing capacity by half a ton to 7,200 pounds. Power is routed through an eight-speed automatic regardless of which engine is under the hood.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

Settled in at the helm, I spent some time just looking over the interior and enjoying the seriously kick-ass stereo before venturing out into the world. You can find a few signs of the Grand Cherokee’s sub-$40K starting price if you look hard enough, but on the whole, the interior of the Grand Cherokee L is a remarkable achievement for a vehicle in its price range. The Summit Reserve package certainly puts the best foot forward, but the intrinsic elements make it a segment leader regardless of spec.

The air suspension and adaptive damper combo is a revelation out on the road, yielding luxury-car-like ride quality in the Auto drive mode during everyday motoring despite the big wheels and low profile tires. It’s a relaxed affair, with near-seamless shifts and very little noise from the outside world intruding into the cabin even at highway speeds. A downward click on the center console’s drive mode selector switches Grand Cherokee L over the Sport mode, which hunkers the suspension down, firms up the dampers, and sets the transmission up for a more urgent response. Weighing in at well over 5,000 pounds, the L isn’t sporty by any stretch of the imagination, but it doesn’t feel wayward and totally out of sorts when asked to hustle down a mountain road.

If there’s a weak link in Grand Cherokee L’s armor, it’s actually the power plant. Everything in this SUV expresses quiet, effortless luxury except the engine. As mentioned earlier, the 5.7-liter Hemi is an optional upgrade over the standard V6, but even the bigger mill seemed stressed when called upon to move the Grand Cherokee L with any urgency. While nearly every other element of the Grand Cherokee has seen continual improvement over the years, there hasn’t been much revision to the 5.7-liter Hemi since its last significant update way back in 2009, and in 2021, its age is really starting to show.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

We can, of course, expect the inevitable SRT model to properly address this with a 6.4-liter Hemi making somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 horsepower. And if the fifth-generation gets its own Trackhawk variant, it’s safe to assume that it will obliterate any notion of this SUV lacking power. But both of these models will likely command a lot more coin and appeal to a different type of buyer.

In the meantime, the new Grand Cherokee L sets a tone for models to come which indicates that luxury is becoming a much bigger focus. Although that can seem a bit incongruous with a brand that earned its reputation where the pavement ended, the reality is that Jeep is tuning for real-world use cases where on-road comfort and drivability are paramount and off-roading is an outlier scenario. To that end, this sport-utility authoritatively handles its primary role not only in terms of the features and technology available but from a dynamic standpoint as well. And with any luck, it will only get better from here.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L

What’s New For 2021

For the debut of the fifth-generation Grand Cherokee, just about everything aside from the powertrains – the platform, bodywork, interior, suspension, and technology all receive massive overhauls. The L model introduces an optional third row for the first time in Grand Cherokee history.

Who should buy the Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve 4×4

Anyone who wants Land Rover posh, near-S-Class tech, and a third row for Jeep money, but doesn’t mind the middling engine options.

[Images © 2021 Bradley Iger/TTAC]

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30 Comments on “2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Summit Reserve 4×4 Review: Baller Status...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Anyone who wants Land Rover posh, near-S-Class tech, and a third row for Jeep money, but doesn’t mind the middling engine options.”

    …or the fact its a Chrysler-Fiat-Stellantis-[INSERT NEXT MERGER HERE] product.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      It empirically is Jeep money but $70,000 isn’t what I think of when I hear the term.

      Zimbabwe, here we are!

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      I know, we have had so many issues with our Mopars. The truck had to have a new starter at 186k miles and new front suspension bushings at 196k miles. One time we had to take our sedan in to have the brake module replaced under warranty as it was not releasing the shifter when the brake was pressed. The roadster gets like 18mpg and is on its 4th set of tires in 11k miles! The minivan had to have the battery replaced already at 41k miles and the tires are all worn!

      Mom and dad had issues as well. One minivan had to have a replacement transmission at 163k miles. On their 2008 sometimes the electric sliding door doesn’t always slide correctly with the remote.

      Who would buy this junk?

      • 0 avatar
        SPPPP

        Flipper35, is this satire? Needing a new starter and bushings at almost 200k miles makes a car unreliable? A minivan auto trans made it to 163k miles? A 13-year-old power sliding door sometimes doesn’t work?

        If you seriously think that’s a bad list of issues, I think your automotive life has been very sheltered.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          I have a tendency to side with SPPPP on this one. I sort of disagree on the transmission though.

          I had a Dodge Grand Caravan that was a POS. Valve lifters needed work at 99,000 km. it always shifted kinda sh!tty but never needed a rebuild. The rear power door latch would fail regularly. Roughly every 40,000 km. Heater failed, various power window motors failed. Brakes never seemed to last more that 50,000 km (might have been the ex’s fault). Tail lights acted like they were haunted. A lot of intermittent issues. I can’t recall all of the recalls and other odds and ends. We kept it for 7 years because it was paid off.

          The only issues with my 2010 F150 have been rear shocks, a few front axle seals, a transfer case solenoid, brakes, tires, and battery. I just had to replace the blower motor resistor but that was an easy fix. With the exception of the transfer case warranty work, it’s basic wear and tear stuff.

          • 0 avatar
            JonBoy470

            Here here… Flipper35 is the outlier that’s actually had a good experience with Chrysler products.

            As for the starter, theirs outlasted the starter in my old XV20 Camry, which was (after the preceding XV10 model) just about the most bullet-proof, over-engineered car sold in the last 30 years.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Interesting to see up to 15 of these sitting on Jeep dealer lots along with Wranglers and GC’s but all the GM lots are empty save for a couple of used vehicles kicking around. Did they produce a ton of these things prior to Summer before the supposed chip crisis hit or is GM and Ford really that bad at planning ahead?

    • 0 avatar
      pmirp1

      They are optimistically priced. Just like the Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer.

      Current generation Grand Cherokees even now can be had for less than $45,000. If you go to Laredo you can find less than 40,000.

      The new generation is getting close to $50,000 transaction prices.

      For that as you mention or alittle more, one can have a larger class vehicle, Tahoe. With a base V8 and more solid foundation for towing.

      The Grand Cherokee L is in reality competing with Telluride and Explorer, not Tahoes.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      Hardly any Wranglers here and the GCs are thin but these Ls are piled up by the dozen. As short as everything else is the obvious answer is there’s something wrong with them.

      I’ll give you three guesses what and the first two don’t count.

      • 0 avatar
        hreardon

        Funny you say this, I read similar commentary on another forum from a dealership saying they’re having a hard time moving the new “L” models.

        We’ll likely pickup one of the new standard wheelbase GCs when our lease is up in two years, we don’t need the “L”, the powertrain isn’t up to snuff, they’re overpriced….and it’s the first year for a Jeep product.

    • 0 avatar
      PM300

      According to my dealer, Stellantis rightfully wanted to promote it’s latest product and moved chips to the L model while others sit in limbo. My sales guy said he ordered a Charger for a client last December and still hasn’t received a build date on it. Ram 1500’s are 3-4 months out for a 2022 order. My guess is a lot of their materials will or already going to the regular GC since those are supposed be on lots before year end.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I had a 1993 Grand Cherokee that I traded my XJ Cherokee in on. The change was revolutionary, but the capabilities were similar. I bought two more Grand Cherokees after that, they and the Explorer defined SUVs for years to come. This big Cherokee is long overdue, but looks to be competitive with other big SUVs. The interior is a knock-out. The price looks reasonable compared to what’s in the $100K category.

    It should do well with Jeep’s already built-in customer base. My only question is what took you so long?

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    It is unfortunate every review of this Grand Cherokee generation by media, is either this high end Summit or perhaps Overland trim.

    90% of Grand Cherokees sold are Laredo or Limited trims. It is good to see what reviewers think of trims that majority buy.

    Will they like its stereo in same kick-a** way? Will they like its cloth or low grade leather interior of Limited in same manner? How about all those blank buttons? How about acres of gross black gloss because Jeep is too lazy to see how it should be done (see last generation Grand Cherokee or Telluride)? How about the ride minus air bags to see what the real suspension is like. In fact Jeep is not even sending the air bag ride because supply chain issues.

    Consumer Reports reported lack of heft in current Grand Cherokee in the new chassis that is lighter.

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    As for engine and transmission, I see no reason for Jeep to change. Just for change’s sake. Pentastar V6 is plenty dependable and reliable and strong enough if you rev for what you need it. Think Toyota model. Don’t fix what is not broken (see 4-runner for case study).

  • avatar
    wjtinfwb

    Agree on the Hemi as being past it’s sell by date. I needs an update to aluminum block, more advanced VVT and perhaps Direct/Port FI. As it is, the Hemi is stone reliable, but down on power and thirsty compared to the 6.2L GM and 3.5 EB/5.0 Ford offerings. The base V6 is adequate but a bit overmatched with a load or a trailer and as mentioned, the Hemi is not a big enough step up for the cost and addl. fuel consumption.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      At this point, investing in ICE updates, let alone ones for a V8, would be a waste of money. FCA had been planning on replacing the 345 with a new turbo inline-6 but they cancelled development in early 2020.

    • 0 avatar
      ponchoman49

      I wouldn’t say the Hemi’s are stone reliable at this point. Several repair shops including the one at my buddies shop have seen plenty of worn cam lobes/lifters, lifter noises and other issues when the miles start creeping up. We have had several customers with exhaust ticks that ended up being defective manifold bolts and some with coil issues causing misfires and CEL lights. I have even had a coworker that needed his engine replaced at only 43K miles due to several failed lifters and a defect in the engine block. This doesn’t mean that all Hemis are affected and yes they are generally reliable. But it takes using the proper oil and religious maintenance to avoid mileage on many of these engines from what I have seen and read on forums.There are very few engine made today I would call stone reliable but the Hemi is a decent engine and one i wouldn’t have a problem purchasing.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    The top-trim interior sure looks nice. From the outside, I am surprised by how large this vehicle looks. Based on the door handles and lug nuts as clues to the scale, it looks almost as big as a classic Suburban. But the listed dimensions online say it’s 2 feet shorter and a few inches lower than a 2001 Suburban. Maybe it’s just the proportions chosen that make it look so big.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    By far the best three row domestic SUV on sale. And on par with GMs legendary reliability and FAR ahead of Ford’s yet far cheaper (or better equipped) than both.

    Win/Win

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      It’s a fashion accessory.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Piece of Chit

    • 0 avatar
      wjtinfwb

      That’s hilarious. Better than a Tahoe/Yukon? In what way? Better than an Expedition/Navigator or even Aviator? Please show me where. I’m not sure it’s substantially better than the ancient but still relevant Durango. I like the JGC just traded a well worn ’12 Overland Hemi for an MDX, but the new L versions are in some deep water, competition wise. And why exclude imported competition? AN Audi Q7 or M-B GLS 450 is not a big stretch money wise from the tested Overland Summit and offers some advantages over the Jeep prestige buyers may want.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Anyone know if this L will be getting the 4xe treatment? Jeep has showed the standard-length 4xe but not an L version of it.

    Every three-row CUV or van with a plug is of interest to me.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Does anyone still look at power-to-weight ratios? (Guess not, nevermind.)

  • avatar
    Chi-One

    I bought a ’21 JGC L Overland HEMI in August. My fifth one. The longer wheelbase and air ride give it a smooth and quiet ride. You hear bumps but don’t feel them. Power is adequate, I’ve yet to have to floor the accelerator. The interior is beautiful.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Anyone else think this is what the Grand Wagoneer should have looked like?

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