The Grand Cherokee L in 2021, followed by the Grand Cherokee in 2022
Jeep continues to make strides as a global leader of four-wheel-drive models. Some 80 years after the first Jeeps crossed pock-marked battlefields in Europe, the brand has expanded to include seven models with several more on the way. The latest change involves the Grand Cherokee, a midsize model that now offers an available third row over a stretched wheelbase.
What’s New for 2022
Now in its fifth generation, the Jeep Grand Cherokee gains a third-row variant with the “L” designation prominently badged. The larger model arrived in early 2021, while the two-row version is new for 2022. This model is new inside and out, although the powertrains carry forward. For the sake of this review, we are limiting our discussion to the extended wheelbase version, which was our test model.
Grand Cherokee Model Overview
You can now choose between a two-row Grand Cherokee with room for five or a three-row Grand Cherokee with room for six or seven. This is the first Jeep with third-row seating since the Commander rolled out a decade earlier for a short and obscure run.
Jeep offers the Grand Cherokee L in Laredo ($38,635), Altitude ($40,195), Limited ($46,830), Overland ($55,135), Summit ($57,585), and Summit Reserve ($63,635) trims. Add $1,695 for the destination fee. All models come with standard rear-wheel drive and offer a choice of V6 or V8 engines. Add up to $2,000 for four-wheel drive, which is standard with the Grand Reserve.
Jeep’s iconic styling is evident, especially with the seven-slat vertical grille, squared wheel wells, and powerful roof pillars. But modern lighting elements, chrome trim pieces, and various wheel options basically lifts this model. As competent as it is off-road, the Grand Cherokee will most likely marshal children to sporting events and make it easier to bring the grandparents along on a holiday.
But it is inside where the Grand Cherokee L raises its game. The layout advances a genuinely premium presentation, especially on the top trims. The dashboard is beautifully constructed with available open-pore wood and microfiber trim. Cloth seats give way to leather on most trims, with chic quilted leather on the Summit trims.
The usual heated and ventilated front seat options now include available massaging. That’s truly a remedy on long trips. Otherwise, the front seats are thick and supportive – tall individuals should find them to their liking.
Jeep gives customers a choice of six- or seven-passenger configurations, depending on the middle-row arrangement. Two captain’s chairs are the norm, but they can be swapped out for a bench seat. If you don’t need seven seats, the chairs are tough to replace. In any case, we found accessing the third-row seat is easy with abundant space for two adults.
The standard cargo space measures 17.2 cubic feet and 46.9 cubic feet with the rear seat folded flat. Behind the first row, Jeep supplies 84.6 cubic feet of cargo capacity. That’s slightly below what the competition offers, but it easily supplies enough room for your home improvement store runs.
Tech & Safety
A 10.25-inch digital instrument panel cluster and an 8.4-inch touchscreen display kick off this model’s tech offerings. Six speakers, HD Radio, satellite radio, a staggering 12 USB ports across all three rows, and wireless smartphone compatibility are standard. The upgrades contain a 10.1-inch touchscreen display, wireless device charging, navigation, and 9- or 19-speaker audio systems, the latter from McIntosh.
On the safety side, Jeep includes forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control. Also, lane departure warnings with lane keep assist, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear parking sensors are standard. Additional safety features can be had and include a head-up display, front parking sensors, and park assist. The first elements of active driving assist are available and include automatic steering inputs to keep this SUV centered. Consider it the forerunner of a planned semi-autonomous driving package that will follow in the ensuing years.
On the Road
Jeep offers shoppers a selection of a 3.6-liter V6 engine with 293 horsepower and 257 pound-feet of torque or a 5.7-liter V8 with 357 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. Both engines work with a smooth-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission.
For our test Summit Reserve model with four-wheel drive, Jeep supplied the V6 engine. It offers average step-off power and acceleration, although we found its low-end torque is not especially strong, particularly for this size vehicle. The transmission languidly shifts upward in lower gears until it evens out. We think that anyone carrying a full passenger load might find the power wanting. Choosing the V8 would resolve that.
Accurate steering, strong brakes, and a comfortable ride on hard surfaces are among the attributes of note. Where this model shines brightest is when off-roading, especially with four-wheel drive engaged. This SUV features equipment few competitors can match, such as an available adjustable air suspension, skid plates, transfer cases, and a limited-slip differential. Although we did not put it through the most rigorous of experiences, the Grand Cherokee is a natural for handling tough terrain.
Grand Cherokee L: Our Recommendation
In conclusion, you will pay about $4,000 more for the Grand Cherokee L versus the standard two-row model. The added seating capacity and cargo room are bonuses that make this version especially enticing. We’d choose the V8 over the V6 for its performance and towing edge. The fuel economy drops by about 5 mpg with the V8, but we think it is well worth the added cost.
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