The 2021 Wards 10 Best Interiors are being revealed in random, non-alphabetical order one per day until Oct. 15. This is the fourth winner profile. Winners will receive their trophies Nov. 16 during Automotive TechWeek in Novi, MI.
It’s often not easy to distinguish the sheet metal of one boxy SUV from another, which is why the game to establish brand identity and separate design from the rest of the pack is best played inside the vehicle.
So it’s no coincidence that’s where the all-new 3-row '21 Jeep Grand Cherokee L (pictured below, left) successfully runs up the score, earning a 2021 Wards 10 Best Interiors trophy.
To begin with, our $67,230 Summit Reserve test vehicle was decked out in striking tupelo and black trim, making for a strong first impression upon opening the door.
We’ve seen the folks at Stellantis (formerly FCA) demonstrate a mastery over color in the past few years, mixing the palette in eye-pleasing and often artistic ways, and this version of the new long-wheelbase, 4x4 Grand Cherokee L proves no exception.
Ultra-soft, pattern-stitched Palermo leather covers the seats (pictured below), console, door inners and a good part of the instrument panel, and its baseball-glove color tone contrasts nicely with the glossy piano black and black leather wrapping the steering wheel and upper door panels.
“Utterly breathtaking interior,” notes 10 Best judge Drew Winter. “A stunning mixture of rich colors and lavish materials.”
The lines of the IP are meant to evoke the wing of a plane as they wrap around the instrumentation and then taper as they extend to meet the front doors.
The light caramel-colored waxed-walnut trim bends and flows elegantly to flank the center touchscreen – no easy manufacturing trick – and adorns the steering wheel and door inners to put an exclamation point on it all.
Brushed metallic piping throughout the front two rows, a knurled, backlit shifter knob and ambient lighting are the decorative baubles that add to the Grand Cherokee L’s luxury quotient. A premium headliner tops off our tester.
Polished metal 1941 badging – commemorating Jeep’s birth year – can be found at the end of the IP when the doors are opened, a nice, unexpected touch of branding for the model.
But that’s just what makes the first impression. Spend time in the Grand Cherokee L and you begin to discover a number of other clever and practical features.
Among those is the manual, easy-access sliding function of the mid-row captain’s chairs (pictured below) that provides exactly that: a struggle-free way to reach the third row. And twin folding seats in the last row have a power feature to make quick room for cargo.
Let’s not forget the 4-zone climate-control system; heated, cooled and massaging front seats; and a heated second row. Like the rest of the passengers, third-row occupants get cupholders and USB ports, too.
Unexpected are the old-school McIntosh decibel meters on the center screen that dance to the volume (pictured, left).
It’s a bit of brand character longtime audiophiles will love, but even those uninitiated to the McIntosh brand will appreciate the sound delivered via a 950-watt amplifier and 19 speakers positioned throughout the cabin. Simply put, it’s one of the best audio systems out there.
Additional infotainment features include the latest-generation Uconnect system with a 10.1-in. (26-cm) display and packed with special off-roading apps to play with. A wireless phone charger, 4G WiFi hotspot, Alexa connectivity and a full complement of advanced driver-assistance features round out the package.
In a nutshell, the Grand Cherokee L (pictured below) provides an ultraluxury look and feel – and a healthy level of techno-gadgetry – at a more mass-market price.
10 Best judge Tom Murphy sums it up perfectly on his scorecard: “Warm and alluring inside, with a strong sense of handcraftsmanship.”