How Does The 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L Measure Up?

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We compare it to the mid-size competition.

The competitive three-row mid-size segment just received a new contender with the 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L. This is the first Jeep model to have a third row since the Commander left production more than a decade ago, thrusting the brand into new territory. Though Jeep unabashedly called the Grand Cherokee L a full-size SUV, it more closely stacks up against the midsize segment. At the same time, the upcoming Grand Wagoneer should take on the Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Expedition, and GMC Yukon.

To see how the Grand Cherokee L stacks against the competition, we will compare it against some of the midsize segment's hottest players, including the top-rated Kia Telluride and massive Chevrolet Traverse, as well as other important models like the Ford Explorer and Hyundai Palisade.


Design: Macho And Fashionable

Kia won over a lot of buyers with the Telluride's macho aesthetic, and we believe Jeep can do the same with the Grand Cherokee L. It boasts the same aggressive front end found on other Jeep models, with a rugged style that tells onlookers that this SUV isn't meant for the pavement only. Jeep is also catering to a more affluent buyer who might consider the Grand Cherokee L as a budget alternative to a luxury SUV.

Next to the midsize competition, the Grand Cherokee L holds a major advantage in curb appeal. Only the Telluride comes close to matching its off-road-themed design, with models like the Highlander, Pilot, and Traverse all looking like family mall crawlers by comparison.

2020-2021 Kia Telluride Front Angle View CarBuzz
2018-2020 Chevrolet Traverse Front Angle View Chevrolet

Interior: Competing In A New Class

Jeep has slowly crept into near-luxury territory, but it wants to throw away its utilitarian image with the Grand Cherokee L. The cabin is filled with premium materials, including real wood and genuine leather, which, combined with stellar technology, creates a futuristic and inviting cabin. With new features like a 10.1-inch Uconnect infotainment system, a fully digital instrument cluster, and heated/ventilated front and rear seats with massage functions, we predict the Grand Cherokee L will be near the top of its class for interior comfort.

Of course, Jeep will still face some stiff competition. The Kia Telluride and Hyundai Palisade both offer similar features, likely at a lower cost. These Korean models aside, Jeep looks to have an advantage over its competitors with only larger options like the GMC Yukon Denali coming close.

2020-2021 Kia Telluride Central Console CarBuzz

Practicality: America-Sized

The Grand Cherokee L offers more passenger and cargo capacity than the standard Grand Cherokee, but nowhere near enough to be grouped in with the full-size American options. Jeep will offer this new model with up to seven seats or as a six-seater with second-row captain's chairs. Occupants in the second and third rows should have plenty of space, though it's worth noting that the Palisade, Telluride, and Traverse all over more headroom and legroom.

In terms of cargo capacity, the Grand Cherokee L can accommodate 17.2 cubic feet of space behind the third row, 46.9 behind the second row, and 84.6 in total. With some minor discrepancies, the aforementioned competitors all offer more total space, with the Traverse trumping them all at 98.2 cubic feet. The Grand Cherokee L is pretty large, but it's nowhere near class-leading in this respect.


Performance: Old-School Engines

The Jeep comes standard with a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 producing 290 horsepower and 257 lb-ft of torque, which is similar to most of its V6-only competitors. Kia and Hyundai's 3.8-liter V6 produces 291 hp, while the one in the Traverse produces 310 hp. The Grand Cherokee L has a trump card, however, in the form of an available 5.7-liter Hemi V8 with 357 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque.

If having the most power is important to you, the Ford Explorer is the only option, with its 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 delivering 365 hp. In the Explorer ST, that number is dialed up to 400 hp. Grouping the related Dodge Durango into the mix, it's available with a 485-hp 6.4-liter V8 and a supercharged V8 with 710-hp. Jeep says a plug-in hybrid 4xe Grand Cherokee is on the way but didn't specify if it would be available on the L.

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Pricing & Competition: A New Niche

Jeep has yet to reveal pricing information for the Grand Cherokee L. Still, with the outgoing two-row Grand Cherokee already commanding a $32,370 starting MSRP, we can't imagine that this new model will undercut any of its rivals. The Kia Telluride is one of the best values in the segment, starting at $31,990. The larger (but less premium) Chevy Traverse is an even bigger bargain, starting at just $29,800.

Jeep only showed off the Grand Cherokee L in its top trim levels, so we will have to wait to see what the base model looks like. It seems like Jeep will lean into its off-road message and capability, opting for a higher price tag in search of customers who want a more premium product.


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