Jeep is expanding the Grand Cherokee family of vehicles to make room for America's expanding families.
The first-ever three-row Grand Cherokee can now fit two parents with all of their quintuplets and is called the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L. The new name works better than Jeep Grander Cherokee.
Despite already offering the Grand Wagoneer with three rows, adding another row to the Grand Cherokee has been part of Jeep's plans for the popular model for a long time. Work started on the three-row version five years ago, prompted by customer demand.
“While the current generation is still deeply loved by our customers, some asked for more space in a segment where 75% of the models offer three rows of seating. And we listened,” says Christian Meunier, Jeep brand global president.
Jeep listened, intending to keep Grand Cherokee sales strong, says Jim Morrison, head of the Jeep brand for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles-North America. Customers bought 1.7 million Grand Cherokees in the decade between 2009 and 2019.
“Every Grand Cherokee to date has been a two-row, and it still leads the segment in sales, so we see great opportunity to grow,” he says.
Jeep sold the three-row Commander SUV from 2005 to 2010, but Morrison says any bad memories of that vehicle should not be carried forward into the Grand Cherokee L.
Commander “was a very capable four-wheel drive and a nice off-road machine, but when it came to on-road dynamics and access to the second and third rows it was a little bit compromised,” he says, adding this isn't the case with the L.
The Grand Cherokee L (pictured below) “drives like a car, a really nice car, and it can still go up a 45-degree angle if you wanted to,” Morrison says.
As with the 2021 Grand Cherokee, the new Grand Cherokee L is powered by a 3.6L V-6 or an optional 5.7L V-8 if you choose the Overland or Summit trim levels.
In the L, the V-6 produces 290 hp and 257 lb.-ft. (348 Nm) of torque and has a maximum towing capacity of 6,200 lbs. (2,812 kg). The V-8 produces 357 hp and 390 lb.-ft. (520 Nm) and can tow 7,200 lbs. (3,266 kg). Both engines use an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The Jeep Grand Cherokee L uses steel uniframe construction and will be offered in four different trim levels starting with the Laredo and moving on up through Limited, Overland and Summit.
For off-roading chops, the new SUV comes with three 4x4 options: Quadra-Trac I (on the Laredo and Limited trims), Quadra-Trac II (Overland) and Quadra-Drive II with rear electronic limited-slip differential (Summit; also available as a package on the Overland trim).
The electronic limited-slip differential can send 100% of available torque to one rear wheel, a neat trick to get out of particularly sticky off-roading situations.
The Quadra-Lift air suspension system (which allows for up to 1 in. [25 mm] of suspension travel), electronic adaptive damping and hill-descent control are standard on the top two trims. The new suspension means the ’21 Grand Cherokee L (pictured below) has 24 ins. (61 cm) of water fording capability, four more than on the current Grand Cherokee. Also, for the first time ever, a 21-in. premium wheel will be offered on a Grand Cherokee.
No matter what the road surface, the L will offer enough interior comforts to keep pace with what customers expect in 2021.
Jeep says the new model will come with FCA’s “most advanced Uconnect system ever,” and all trims use a 10.1-in. (25.7-cm) display (pictured below) for the Uconnect 5 infotainment system that allows Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to both connect wirelessly.
A full-color, 10-in. (25.4-cm) head-up display is available as part of the Advanced ProTech Group package on the top two trims.
Six speakers are standard, but a nine-speaker Alpine audio system and 950-watt, 19-speaker Premium McIntosh high-performance audio are available. Firmware and map data can be updated over-the-air.
To accommodate every passenger’s devices, a total of 12 USB ports (type A and C) are standard, along with two 12V plugs and one 115V outlet (package required on the Laredo).
Finally, Jeep will offer its Jeep Wave customer service program on all vehicles in its lineup and it will come standard with all versions of the new Grand Cherokee.
Jeep Wave includes three years of maintenance, including oil changes and tire rotations, to be done at Jeep dealerships, as well as other benefits such as trip interruption and first-day loaner coverage as well as access to “select, exclusive Jeep brand events.”
The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L will be built at FCA’s Detroit Assembly Complex and first deliveries are scheduled for second-quarter 2021.
Fuel economy numbers and pricing will be announced closer to launch. Jeep will start building electrified “4xe” and two-row versions of the Cherokee at the same location later in the year.