2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee

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2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Review: Soldiering On

While the Jeep Grand Cherokee nameplate has been around since the early 90s, the current fourth-gen has been on sale since 2010. In a world where manufacturers traditionally update their models every five to six years, the Grand Cherokee is the Betty White of the automotive world; but Betty White gets better with age, while the GC is now lagging well behind the competition in the midsize SUV segment.

Jeep recently introduced the new Grand Cherokee L, but for the time being, it will only be built as a three-row SUV. The all-new two-row Grand Cherokee is coming later, so until then, the Grand Cherokee as we know it lives on, bridging the gap between the Honda Passport, Hyundai Santa Fe, Chevrolet Blazer, and more luxurious offerings like the Acura MDX. It's time to retire the Grand Cherokee, but it has some merits even in the current SUV-infested market: Jeep's design still looks contemporary, the 3.6-liter V6 is reliable, the 360-horsepower V8 is a delight, and the GC is a genuinely capable off-roader in a sea of softroaders. Is that enough to warrant a look, or is the Grand Cherokee a dinosaur in a modern world?

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 8 /10
  • Performance 7 /10
  • Fuel Economy 6 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 7 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 9 /10
  • Reliability 7 /10
  • Safety 8 /10
  • Value For Money 7 /10
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2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2020 Jeep Grand Cherokee?

As this is the Grand Cherokee's final push towards the finish line, Jeep includes several additional features on almost every trim level, including an all-new 80th Anniversary Edition. The latter comes with leather seats with Light Tungsten interior trim, 18-inch wheels with a Granite Crystal finish, and model-specific badges. As a bonus, Jeep also adds the ProTech II Package as standard. This safety package adds full-speed forward collision warning with active braking, parallel and perpendicular park assist, adaptive cruise control with stop and go, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, rain-sensing wipers, and advanced brake assist.

Elsewhere in the range, the Laredo X gets the 8.4-inch UConnect infotainment system with navigation, remote start, a power liftgate, heated front seats, a vinyl/suede interior, and a heater leather-wrapped steering wheel. Limited models can now be ordered with the Sun and Sound Package, consisting of a sunroof and a nine-speaker sound system. The standard Laredo gets 18-inch wheels as standard, while Limited X models get gloss black exterior details.

Pros and Cons

  • Powerful V6 engine
  • The design has aged well
  • Still a proper off-roader
  • Even more standard features for 2021
  • Easy to use infotainment
  • Newest rivals are more practical
  • The V6 engine isn't frugal
  • The suspension is on the firm side
  • Well past its sell-by date

What's the Price of the Jeep Grand Cherokee for 2021?

There are nine models in the Jeep Grand Cherokee lineup, excluding the SRT and Trackhawk, Grand Cherokee models we review separately. All models apart from the Trailhawk come with rear-wheel-drive as standard, with a 4x4 system costing $2,000. The price of a 4x4 system increases to $3,000 on Overland, High Altitude, and Summit models. From Limited spec and upwards, you can add a V8 engine for an additional $3,395.

The line-up kicks off with the base Laredo E - in this most basic form, the price of the new Jeep Grand Cherokee is $34,395. The Freedom costs $36,840, followed by the Laredo X at an MSRP of $37,895. The Limited is the starting point of the mid-spec models and the first model to add V8 power. In this spec, the Jeep Grand Cherokee has a cost of $40,375. The 80th Anniversary retails for $42,665. Limited X retails for $45,470, while the 4x4-only Trailhawk costs $45,575. Next in line is the Overland at $46,915, followed by the High Altitude at $49,860. The top-spec Summit retails for $52,915. These prices exclude Jeep's destination charge of $1,495.

Best Deals on 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
3.6L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
Laredo E
3.6L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
Laredo X
3.6L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
Limited X
3.6L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
80th Anniversary
3.6L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
Four-Wheel Drive
See All 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trims and Specs

Handling and Driving Impressions

On the road, the Jeep is comfortably beaten by just about every modern crossover out there. That's because the Jeep Grand Cherokee is no crossover, and rivals like the Kia Telluride, Honda Passport, and Hyundai Palisade provide a smoother, more refined ride. That's simply down to improvement and advancement over time and the Grand Cherokee's more rugged underpinnings. Still, the Grand Cherokee SUV remains surprisingly capable, albeit on the firmer side. Over the years, Jeep also made many improvements to bring down the noise, vibration, and harshness levels, which also counts in its favor. On the downside, the steering is uncommunicative, and the body lean through the corners is noticeable.

The Grand Cherokee shines off-road, with even the most basic Quadra-Trac four-wheel-drive system offering enough 4x4 ability to give the previously mentioned crossovers and SUVs something to think about.

It's a smart move, offering two different 4WD systems. Quadra-Trac I is perfect for towing, snow, and driving on dirt. It just so happens the available driving modes are exactly for these conditions. By eliminating the more hardcore bits, Jeep was able to bring pricing down by roughly $2,000.

The more serious Quadra-Trac II adds a two-speed transfer case with low-range and an electronic limited-slip differential on the rear axle. When you couple it with the optional air suspension (standard on the Trailhawk), you get an off-roader that can do around 80% of what a Wrangler can. If your family is adventurous by nature, there are very few SUVs left that can cope with harsh conditions. The Grand Cherokee is one of them.

Verdict: Is the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee A Good SUV?

There are various reasons why the Jeep Grand Cherokee isn't a good car. The V6 and V8 engines feel a generation behind and deliver the kind of fuel consumption figures you'd expect from naturally aspirated, large-displacement designs. Design-wise, it's also a generation back, especially on the inside. The ride is too firm, not to mention that an all-new model is just a few months away.

That being said, there is one excellent reason the Jeep Grand Cherokee remains a good SUV to a select few. Across all our reviews of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, it's praised as being one of the last remaining SUVs that can handle proper off-roading. Even 4x2 models feel robust and confident on a gravel road, with the 4x4 option adding even more confidence. A Grand Cherokee with Quadra-Trac II is one of the few SUVs that doesn't mind if you want to play dirty. Where most SUVs and crossovers equipped with basic all-wheel-drive systems would rather you turn around and go home, the Grand Cherokee encourages you to go further.

So it depends entirely on what you want. If you want an SUV for the added practicality and the odd drive down a well-maintained gravel path to an agreeable picnic spot, almost every other crossover SUV out there is better. But if you want to drive up a difficult ravine, through rivers, and over boulders to get to a remote camping spot, the Grand Cherokee is the business.

What Jeep Grand Cherokee Model Should I Buy?

There's only one reason why you'd go for the Grand Cherokee over its more modern rivals available in the US, and that's off-road prowess. Luckily, Jeep has the Trailhawk, which is already equipped with almost everything you need. It looks charming in Green Metallic, while the interior gets a unique makeover thanks to a Trailhawk leather/suede combo with contrast red stitching. Since the Grand Cherokee is a family vehicle, we'd add the Trailhawk Luxury Package and the ProTech II safety package. Naturally, we'd tick the box with V8 next to it. The total is $53,805. Not half bad when you consider it's 4x4 ready, equipped with all of the safety gadgets, and nearly as luxurious as the top-spec Summit.

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee Comparisons

Ford Explorer Ford
Toyota 4Runner CarBuzz

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee vs Ford Explorer

The 2021 Ford Explorer is an excellent example of what the SUV has become - a practical exterior with a refined, entertaining chassis underneath. In the engine department, the Ford is years ahead. Even the base 2.3-liter turbocharged engine offers more power than the V6 and more usable performance than the V8. Not to mention the fuel savings. For performance enthusiasts, Ford also offers a 400-hp ST model.

The Explorer has a better (minimalist) interior with more room and seating for seven in addition to all of the above. A long list of driver assistance features is included from the base upwards.

The outcome of this battle is quite clear. As an everyday SUV, the Ford easily beats the Jeep in every category, except for one. If off-road prowess is high on your list, rather get the Grand Cherokee.

See Ford Explorer Review

2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee vs Toyota 4Runner

It's the USA vs Japan for this comparison. The 4Runner is another midsize SUV that hasn't shied away from its 4x4 roots. It's even one year older than the Grand Cherokee.

The question is, which SUV aged more gracefully? Toyota's 4Runner also comes with a naturally-aspirated V6 powerplant, slightly less potent than Jeep's V6. Unlike the Jeep, there isn't a more powerful option available, though. As standard, the Toyota is a more capable off-roader, and it comes standard with seven seats. But to get to Toyota's most impressive approach/breakover/departure angles, you have to opt for the air suspension option on the Jeep.

The Jeep has a higher maximum towing capacity, superior on-road performance, and a more user-friendly modern interior. Therefore, the Jeep is a more well-rounded product and the better older car out of the two.

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